Recently, the Southeastern California Conference-which I believe is the largest conference in the North American Division – made history by electing Dr. Sandra Roberts as the first elected female Conference President in the history of our church.

I wanted to share with you my thoughts on her election and the events that took place as a result.

I remember a conversation I had with one of our Pastors, Elder Furman Fordham, Senior Pastor, Nashville Riverside Chapel. I cannot remember the discussion, but in it, Elder Fordham used a quote from Steven Covey that he said guided him. My middle-aged memory will probably prevent me from remembering the quotation verbatim. But it went something like this: In order to be understood, seek first to understand. 

I thought about that quote when I thought about what I should say to you relative to the election of Dr. Roberts and the reaction to it, especially the reaction to the message that Dr. Ted Wilson, the President of the General Conference, reportedly sent to Dr. Ricardo Graham, President of the Pacific Union, who was chairing the constituency meeting that elected Dr. Roberts.

Dr. Wilson was reported to have told Dr. Graham that, if Southeastern elected Dr. Roberts, the General Conference would not recognize her election.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks engendered a lot of commentary around the North American Division (and probably around the world field as well).

As you formulate your own thoughts and ideas about what the leader of our church said, I would like to suggest the last part of the quotation from Steve Covey: Seek to understand.  That is to say, one may not agree with what they think is the position of Dr. Wilson or the constituents of the Southeastern California Conference. […]