After a riveting morning where GC Executive Secretary G.T. Ng presented on the historical crises within Adventism, the afternoon got down to more mundane matters. The only female GC Vice President, Ella Simmons, presided over the afternoon with Elder Ted Wilson assisting at times.
The afternoon session consisted of four reports with some policy items. The first report appeared as an agenda item known as “Gateway Website." Unbeknownst to this millennial author, the title was euphemism for the church’s program to deal with the problem of pornography. Peter Landless, the Director of the Adventist church’s Health Ministries department described how the church has created an 8-session program to deal with the problem through a partnership between Bowling Green State University (BGSU), AdventSource, the North American Division and Versacare.
After showing a video, the session then heard a testimonial from a Psychology Professor at BGSU who promoted the program as being beneficial not just for psychological or social health but also for strength in spiritual struggles. The professor shared some sobering statistics on the use of pornography in the United States, such as $12 billion spent on the practice. The major advantage of Gateway, according to Landless & his team is that the program is anonymous. As the presenter joked, “My guess is at lunch today very few of you talked about pornography.” Elder Wilson closed by dedicating the program and made a reference to other sexual distortions such as homosexuality which will be discussed in the days to come.
The second report came from the Geoscience Research Institute with Artur Steele and the director of the Institute, Jim Gibson. Gibson shared how the focus of the institute is on presenting the Biblical understanding of creation through the themes of Design & Catastrophe. Gibson then suggested three ways for partnership to strengthen Adventist belief in Creation: open “Creation Centers”, participate in “Creation Sabbath” and assist in mentorship. Gibson then showed a quick video from a field conference
“Thank you for remaining alert, I’m watching your faces”, said Madame Chair as the afternoon moved to the third report: Mission to the Cities. Jeff Scoggins, the Director of Planning for Adventist Mission brought up various officials who reported on 3 urban locations that the church was focusing on evangelizing: Nairobi, Kenya, London, UK and Houston, TX in the United States. The London presentation shared how Adventists have been engaging the community through music and have even been on the national broadcaster BBC, many times but have struggled to transition from music influence to faith. Dan Jackson, NAD President, then shared how in Houston 300 local Adventist members showed up after Hurricane Harvey destroyed a local Adventist school and cleaned it up for free since it couldn’t afford the $300,000 payment.
The final report (which came after the policy discussion) was from Larry Evans on special needs ministries. After sharing some changes in the mission statement he provided some strong Ellen White and Mark Twain quotes about making the world a better place regardless of one’s disability.
With the reports finished it (or so it seemed), it was time for everyone’s “favorite item of the afternoon”: policy review training & agenda. Earlier the session had voted to approve a new associate stewardship director, Eric J. Aniel Barbie, of Mauritius but now came time for heavy policy items.
Myron Iseminger, the Undersecretary of the GC led an afternoon discussion on the history of church Working Policy and why it was important as well as voting through of some changes. Changes that received no objections got voted through unanimously while others were referred back for more edits. As a reward for those paying attention, he had a few pop quizzes with prizes being either an apple or a copy of the 790-page General Conference Working Policy. For the harder questions, an addition award of a signed copy by GC officers was promised. One interesting question, was what to do when civil laws conflict with GC policy.
The correct answer was obey the law of the land but try to work with the GC to stay as much in policy as possible. Since, this has been suggested by some in Europe as a way to mandate women’s ordination, the topic was definitely portending the discussion to take place, Monday afternoon. In case anyone had forgotten, the last member of the session to speak from the floor was the Columbia Union Conference President Dave Weigley, who tried to get Elder Wilson to surrender to the delegates the details of the plans to be voted in the afternoon session dealing with rebellious unions on the issue of women’s ordination.
Elder Wilson didn’t budge but did express hope that each would be as “Christlike as possible as we focus upon God’s church.”
Jason Miller received his Law degree from C.U.A. and resides in Michigan.