A Silenced Voice in Decisions
Our local churches have many committees such as the nominating committee, the church board, and the elders. All of them have their area of influence and ability to voice decisions. Yet the church business meeting has the authority to work within all of the areas of the church.
Is it not because the church business meeting possesses the greatest representation that it has the greatest voice in decisions?
What would happen if the voice of the church business meeting was reduced and its authority transferred to the smaller committees? This may be happening on a larger scale.
With the Oregon Conference constituency session coming up on September 17, there is a proposed change to the bylaws in the section of the election process that is troubling. We should all think about this because the same concept is present in other conferences.
The Nominating Committee shall present its report to the delegates on the day of the Session. If, on the day of Session, any portion of the Nominating Committee’s report is rejected by the delegates, they shall refer that portion of the report back to the Nominating Committee for further consideration.
Proposed (take note of the italicized words):
Section 7. Elections. The Nominating Committee shall present its report to the delegates on the day of a regular or special Session. All nominations for elective office or Executive Committee membership shall be made only by the Nominating Committee.
a. Debate and referral. The Report is non-debatable by delegates, but may be referred back to the Nominating committee by an objector making such a request of the chair. If the request becomes a motion, it is non-debatable and is decided by simple majority vote. The Nominating Committee shall determine the procedure for hearing the objection(s) to the report.
b. Election Completion. If the election process has not been completed by the end of theSession, the delegates shall, at their option, (1) reconvene the Session within twenty-one(21) days or (2) empower the Executive Committee and Nominating Committee jointly (as outlined in Article 7, Section 4, Paragraph b.) to complete the election process withintwenty-one (21) days.
Should we with the little word "only" completely remove—under every circumstance—the ability of the representative body to act in the nomination process?
Does this silence discussion by the delegates on the most important decisions of the constituency?
What other qualifiers come under the decision of HOW the nominating committee will hear objections?
Will it be in person or in writing?
If they will even hear it at all as a committee?
When will they hear it? Tomorrow or some time in the next 21 days?
Does this give the nominating committee the power to remove all controversial decisions from the constituency and give them to the executive committee at a later date?
Does this proposed process strengthen the voice of representation?
Or does it limit the voice of the constituency and transfer its power to the smaller committees?
Is this the direction we desire to go?
An Open Door in Policy
In between the constituency meetings the responsibility of business rests upon the executive committee. Creating conference policies is one activity. The bylaws are being changed to recognize this responsibility.
Proposed (italicized words are new):
Article 8. Section 2. Responsibilities.
d. to establish personnel and other conference policies.
As a smaller representative group, do they know the direction the churches want to take in policies? Does it matter to them?
Are we open to them making ANY conference policy?
In recognition of our being a part of the General Conference should we at the same time add the wording that our policies "be in harmony with the policies of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists"?
Something Special Lost – Our Lay Advisory Council
It can be very true that if you do not use it you lose it. In the Oregon Conference we, the local churches, have had a great opportunity to connect with those working at the conference. The lay advisory committee met once a year with the officers, with the executive committee, and even with the directors. We had the ability to speak directly with those making our conference decisions. But sadly we have not valued it. There have been only a small percentage of churches participating. Therefore, the proposal is to replace our Lay Advisory council with Town Hall meetings (Article 16).
Do the executive committee members come to the new proposed town hall meetings?
Even with the best intentions, can the officers really take back to the executive committee all of our points discussed at the town hall meetings?
Is this deadening the ear of the executive committee to listen to the represented churches?
Will the local churches be better connected with the conference after this change? Or will they be more alienated, with Conference authority resting in the hands of a small (often hand-picked) group.
Any counsel or input to these questions will be much appreciated as I prepare to attend our upcoming constituency meeting.
From a concerned delegate.