Several Seventh-day Adventist churches in the Ark-La (ARKLA) Conference are calling for a special constituency meeting. Why?
The current President of the Conference is retiring and many SDA constituents are concerned about the selection of a new president. Here are some of their concerns, written by a Pastor in the Conference and taken from the Heber Springs SDA Church Facebook page:
"Some of my church members have concerns regarding this procedure. I will list some of those concerns here:
1. The position of President is such an important servant leader position that it would be better if the entire conference constituency had a voice and a vote in his/her election.
2. It would seem better for the incoming President to be received and welcomed and affirmed by the Conference as a whole, rather than a small committee.
3. The perception of an “inside job” would be eliminated from the equation.
Some have asked whether it would be allowable to ask for a special constituency session for the sole purpose of nominating and electing our next President. The Constitution does allow for a special session to be called. I will copy the relevant portion of the Constitution here and at the end of this will attach a link to the full document:
Section 2. Special Meeting:
a. The executive committee of this conference shall call a special constituency meeting, at a time and place it deems proper when:
1). It is voted by the executive committee, or
2). It is voted by the delegates at any constituency meeting, or
3). It is requested by fifty-one (51) per cent of the churches of the conference through their
church boards or,
4). It is voted by the Southwestern Union Committee, North American Division Committee or General Conference Committee.
b. The union committee or the division committee may call a special constituency meeting of the conference.
It is number (3) that I would call your attention to at this time. If 51% of the church boards in the ARKLA Conference request a special session, then a special session will be called.
I have placed a call to the ARKLA Conference for confirmation regarding the number of churches in our conference. That number is 88. 51% of 88 churches is 45 churches. That would mean that if 45 churches in the ARKLA conference request a special session so that the office of President might be chosen by a much larger group of delegates at a constituency session, rather than the small executive committee, that session would be scheduled.
That said I want to be clear about a few things:
Neither I nor any of my church members have a “candidate” we would like to promote. This is not an attempt to sway a vote or promote a person, rather it is a way to expand the discussion and ultimate decision regarding this important office.
I would love for you to pray about this. My churches have been making this upcoming vacancy a matter of prayer since we heard of it. It is because of this prayer that 2 of them, Mt Ida and Bonnerdale, have decided to ask for a special session. (Amity has not yet met to discuss this but will be doing so soon).
Their request is for us to follow the procedure for the election of officers as though this were a constituency session year. This would include the election of an at large committee, the selection of a nominating committee, and that the nominating committee would then present their nominee to the conference delegates at a duly called session, all of this is per our Constitution and bylaws."
Brandon Westgate is the Pastor of Mount Ida, Bonnerdale, and Amity SDA churches in Arkansas. His church members' request--to expand the selection of a new Conference president to more than just the Executive Committee--appears to be a legitimate request.
For some 25-years now, progressive church members have been slowly loading executive and conference committees with liberal-leaning individuals. They have infiltrated, influenced and predictably gained control of most North American SDA academia while the grassroots slept. And the grassroots are starting to wake up.
And what does the current Conference President (Stephen Orian) think about ARKLA grassroots calling for greater participation of the constituent members in the selection of a new conference president? Here's a letter that he sent to ARKLA pastors and head elders a couple weeks ago, in an attempt to quash his members' efforts to have a greater voice in significant leadership decisions.