I‘m sitting in the constituency meeting of the Western Australian Conference. It’s a cool evening in the gym at Carmel College. The rest of Australia is glued to its collective TV screens as votes are being tallied in the federal election. Pastor Lionel Smith, as the ranking officer of the Conference, is in the chair. He has asked a member of the executive committee, Sharon Lawtie, to assist him with the responsibilities of the chair. According to the conference constitution, the chair has the discretion to ask a member of the executive committee to do that. There’s a degree of formality, mixed with light-hearted goodwill and humour about the proceedings. I think there are about 300 delegates in the room.

Constitutions, delegates, executive committees, constituencies. Boring? No way. Well not really! They’re simply the labels that ensure that the Church belongs to the people of the Church. The Adventist Church is at its very best at its grassroots. When the community of faith is gathered to consider strategies and plans for the future; when it’s electing leaders and holding them accountable; when it’s seeking the will of God and presence of the Holy Spirit—this is what makes this Church stand out from the pack.  

The Adventist Church is at its very best at its grassroots.

I thank God every day for the people of this Church. Loyalty, commitment, passion, integrity, humility and wisdom—these are just some of the descriptors that come to mind when I think about the people of this Church.

Dr Barry Oliver is president of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.