Fulcrum7 recently reported on several proposed bylaw changes to the Montana Conference Bylaws.
Here is what happened on Sunday, June 17 at the 62nd Regular Montana Conference Constituency meeting held in the gymnasium of Mount Ellis Academy in Bozeman.
Barry Taylor was re-elected as Ministerial Director after delegates voted to hear a special Board of Director’s financial report before ultimately voting on the nominating committee’s recommendation.
It is not customary that a financial report be considered prior to electing a departmental leader, but some felt this was necessary because one day after the nominating committee met on Sunday, June 4, the Board of Directors voted to eliminate the Ministerial Diretor position based on financial considerations. Several townhall meetings took place throughout the state in the month of May for all members to ask questions and hear reports from conference leaders. No mention that a financial crisis was facing the conference was made.
Elder John Freedman, NPUC president and chairman of the constituency meeting, stated to delegates that it is not in harmony with church tradition for a position to be eliminated once a nominating committee has voted to recommend a person for that position. It appears that the constituency’s decision to re-elect Taylor has nullified the Board of Director’s decision to eliminate his position.
Another major item on the agenda was the election of a new president to replace Merlin Knowles, who had not been re-nominated. The conference nominating committee brought forward the name of Ron Halvorsen Jr., a familiar name to many Montana members for his prior experience as Mount Ellis Academy pastor. Halvorsen currently serves as Ohio Conference president. He was elected by a majority of the delegates, and his coming to Montana is pending his acceptance.
There were also several new members placed on the Executive Committee. That's a good thing.
This could have been a somewhat complicated constituency session due to significant changes to the Montana Conference bylaws proposed by the constitution and bylaws committee. Some delegates felt that three changes in particular arose from the NPUC penchant towards women’s ordination. These were presented in one of eight set of changes. The other seven changes generated very little discussion.
When the controversial set of changes was moved and seconded, a very interesting period of discussion followed. The first delegate to the microphone addressed her concerns and moved an amendment to the motion that the three changes be referred back to the bylaws committee. After much discussion from the floor, the amendment to the motion was barely voted down. When it was time to vote the acceptance of the controversial proposed changes, 60% of delegates voted in favor. However, prior to hearing the results, delegates were reminded by a delegate-at-large that bylaw changes require two-thirds majority vote.
Initially there was uncertainty as to whether each set of changes needed two-thirds majority. The chairman eventually conceded that it was necessary, and so the motion with the proposed changes did not carry.
The Montana Conference Bylaws still reads:
“Each church is required to conform to the Fundamental Beliefs as defined in the current edition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual and the current general church operating policy of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination as amended by appropriate committees.”