The 61st General Conference Session, and the first Hybrid meeting with 2000 delegates on site in St Louis and approximately 700 delegates online in every one of the 24 time zones, concluded a few days ago. As I’ve been travelling the long journey home, I’ve been reflecting on our world wide church and our 22 million baptised brothers and sisters in 214 countries.
Allow me to try and put those numbers into perspective; there are 15.2 million Sabbath-keeping people of the Jewish faith in the world, with 6.5 million of them living amongst the 9.27 million Israelis in Israel and the other 8.7 million around the world as the diaspora. Incredibly, we have 7 million more Seventh-day Adventists in 214 countries! Seventh-day Adventists are not connected by the ancient genes of the Biblical patriarchs, but are of the New Testament church, connected through the birth, life, death and glorious resurrection of the soon returning Jesus Christ, Creator and King of the universe.
Being a Seventh-day Adventist is easy to quantify. Undeniably, it’s our 28 fundamental doctrines and historical prophetic interpretation and understanding that unites us even though we may not practice our faith in the same manner from country to country or even church to church within the same conference! We are united by our proclamation of the 3 Angels messages of Revelation 14 and the Angel of Revelation 18 and the promise, by faith, of Jesus’ soon return.
A General Conference Session is a massive version of our local conference sessions or your local church business meeting. Officers of the GC are elected along with 140 appointed positions that the nominating committee is responsible for bring to the delegates, who either ratify or send it back for more thought and prayer. Any change to the Church Manual can only be made at a GC Session and there are resolutions or proclamations that are discussed amongst other agenda items. There are moments of wonderful spiritual joy as believers engage in worship with sermons from some of the best preachers in our denomination or hear the amazing, faith inspiring mission stories from all 13 world divisions of how the sharing of our faith is going. Then there are some moments of drudgery and obsequiousness as we discuss, challenge and argue the wording in the church manual.
While it can be deflating when your point of view is not accepted by the majority, one must stop and reflect on why. It’s in the book of James, chapter 1 that I conclude with 10 points of Biblical wisdom that have helped me immensely during this session:
- Count it all joy
- Be steadfast in your faith, especially in trial
- Ask God for wisdom by faith
- Do not be deceived
- All good things come from God
- Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger
- Put away the world and implant the word to save souls
- Be does and not only hearers and you will be blessed
- Religion that does not trasform your tongue and character is decidedly worthless
- True religion is pure/undefiled in it’s action with those most vulnerable
Maybe there won’t be a need for a 62nd General Conference if these 10 points are inculcated in our hearts. We have this hope that burns within our hearts. . .