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General Conference-Day 5: Lamentation Vs. Speculation

Day 5 dealt primarily with 2 things:

The fundamental beliefs of our church, and,
The elected leaders of our church, specifically, the Vice Presidents, the Associate Secretaries and the Departmental Directors of the General Conference

It was made clear to the delegates at the beginning of the discussion on fundamental beliefs that no changes in the fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were being contemplated. The changes were more editorial in nature, dealing with the fact that certain words had different meanings now than when they were first inserted in our fundamental beliefs.

One example was the common use of the term ”man” as a generic word for the human race. It is more common now to use words that are more gender-neutral, such as “human beings.”

We shall begin our blog tomorrow by mentioning the fundamental belief that caused the most discussion-Fundamental Belief Number 6, which dealt with creation occurring in 6 days that consisted of 24 hours each, with the 7th day being a rest day.

While that may not seem as though it is something that would cause a lot of debate, it did. Tomorrow, we shall briefly discuss why I believe that it did and what that means for our church in the future.

The action that sparked the most debate-especially among African-American Seventh-day Adventists-was the recommendation of the Nominating Committee on the General Conference Vice-Presidents. Going into the General Conference session, there were 9 General Conference Presidents.

Four of the incumbent Vice Presidents retired. It is probably safe to assume that, to the extent people thought about it at all, that there was an expectation that the Vice-Presidents who retired would all be replaced.

Instead, the number of Vice-Presidents was reduced from 9 to 6. Of the 5 […]

July 7th, 2015|Categories: 10 Day GC, President's Blog|0 Comments

General Conference-Day 4: I Still Believe in the Captain

I had an experience when I first came to work in the conference office that reminded me of the challenges that we shall face in this General Conference session over the next 3-4 days. I have used it as a sermon illustration dozens of times, so some of you reading this will quickly recognize it.

I was flying to California for a meeting. I was excited-for one thing; it was my very first major trip in my new job.  Second, I have always liked visiting California.

This particular time, the weather was just terrible flying out of Nashville-it was raining cats and dogs (I have always wondered: Where we do we get some of the expressions that we use? For example, I just said, “It was raining cats and dogs.” Where did that come from? Cats and dogs have never fallen from the sky. Here is another one: “The whole 9 yards;” we use that to describe completeness. But why 9 yards, why not 10 yards, or 8? When I ask my wife those kinds of questions, she patiently looks at me-we have been married for 37 years; she is used to it-and says,   “Everything does not have to be logical.” Anyway…)

The fact that the weather was bad did not deter me. I got on the plane and settled in for the 4 hour flight to Phoenix, Arizona and from there, we would go to Los Angeles.

We were not in the air very long before the plane nosedived; I mean, it just dropped-not a good sign. A few minutes later, it happened again-an even worse sign.

Now, I am not at all afraid of flying. The alternative to flying for me is driving. I ran into one of […]

July 6th, 2015|Categories: 10 Day GC, President's Blog|0 Comments

General Conference-Day 3: The Sabbath

Sabbath at the General Conference session is special. There is no business to address on Sabbath, so the main item is Sabbath School and Divine Worship service with 50,000-70,000 fellow believers. It is quite something to behold.

Mrs. Edmond and I walked the mile from our hotel to the Alamo Dome. She carried her shoes with the high heels and walked in her low heels-as did some of the other ladies. It is an interesting phenomenon with which you ladies are familiar: Wear one pair of shoes to walk in and carry another pair, essentially, to sit in church (as soon as church was over, my wife changed back into her walking shoes). Usually, I do not understand those kinds of things, but I actually get this one-I could not walk a mile in 90 degree heat and 3-4 inch heels, either.

The day began with Sabbath School. There was a concert that included Lyndon Carriger, the husband of Pastor Tina Carriger, our Seminary intern, whom the Lord used to do a beautiful number.

The three individuals who led the Sabbath School lesson study were introduced by the person who served as the editor of the Sabbath School lesson for the quarter. They did a fine job as well.

By tradition, the sermon on the first Sabbath of GC is given by the incumbent General Conference Secretary.

There was a special prayer of dedication for the three General Conference officers, given by one of the General Conference Vice-Presidents. The VP’s were the platform participants for Divine Worship. There are 9 General Conference Vice-Presidents. That may sound like a lot to some people, but this is a world church and the 9 Vice Presidents are each assigned to different areas of […]

July 5th, 2015|Categories: 10 Day GC, President's Blog|0 Comments

Presidential Coverage of the 2015 General Conference Session

July 4th, 2015|Categories: News|0 Comments

General Conference-Day 2: The Re-Election of the President

Day 2 began with the reports of the General Conference Secretary and the Treasurer. The Secretary’s name is Dr. G.T. Ng; in the few meetings that we have had together, he is most often referred to as “G.T.”-for reasons that are pretty obvious to me-no one can pronounce his name!

I remember when the General Conference had their Spring Council in Huntsville a few years ago, at the Oakwood University Church. For the Sabbath service, I was asked to give the welcome and then to introduce one of the many special guests that were present that day. I was supposed to introduce Dr. Ng, which was a challenge, since I had never met Dr. Ng and had no idea how to pronounce his name.

The person in charge of the program had mercy on me and switched my assignment and asked me to introduce the North American Division President, Elder Dan Jackson; his name, I could pronounce!

Dr. Ng (pronounced “ing”) gave a very interesting report, one that informed us of both the blessings and the challenges of being a part of a highly diverse church. At the end of 2014, there were nearly 18.5 million people in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Last year-and for each of the last 10 years, I million people were baptized into God’s church.

Most of that growth came outside of North America-specifically in Africa and in Latin America. The membership in those two areas compromises roughly 70% of the church, while North America is down to down to 7%. By way of comparison, in 1960, North America comprised approximately40% of the Seventh-day Adventist Church-the same percentage that Africa has today.

Diversity is a wonderful thing but it brings challenges. It means making changes because […]

July 4th, 2015|Categories: 10 Day GC, President's Blog|0 Comments

First Thoughts From the General Conference Session-Day 1

In our last blog, we shared some final thoughts before the General Conference. If you have not read it, I hope that you take a few minutes and read our call to prayer. We are asking everyone to pray daily for the General Conference and especially for the discussion on Wednesday-the vote on the issue of Women’s Ordination.

Whatever your position on this issue, all of us want the will of the Lord to be done. We also want to be able to address this issue-and every issue at this General Conference-in a manner that is pleasing to God and in a way that will bring glory to His Name.  

Therefore, in South Central, we have issued a call to prayer each day of the General Conference and a day of fasting and prayer for next Wednesday.

Mrs. Edmond and I arrived for the General Conference session on yesterday. To my delight, Mrs. Edmond arrived without the 9 million pairs of shoes that she brought to the GC session in Atlanta five years ago- she brought only half as many as she brought to Atlanta. That is still three times as many as I brought-but still, that’s progress!

It is probably just as well that she left a lot of her high heels at home. One of the differences between Atlanta and San Antonio is the transportation system for the delegates.

Five years ago, there was a superlative shuttle system that ran between the hotels and the Georgia Dome-the site of the 2011 GC session.  With the exception of the final day of GC, just about any time of day-up until about 11:00 p.m., there was always a shuttle bus between the hotels and the dome. Not only […]

July 3rd, 2015|Categories: 10 Day GC, President's Blog|0 Comments

Final Thoughts before the General Conference Session – A Call to Prayer

In a few days some 2,500 delegates, plus another 60,000-70,000 Seventh-day Adventist from around the world, will gather in San Antonio, Texas, for what is called General Conference, or in Adventist parlance “GC.”

Five years ago, when the General Conference session was in Atlanta, my late mother, Mrs. Marcelle Edmond, suggested that I do a daily blog from the session and share some news and notes with those of you who are unable to attend. I took her suggestion.  It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed it.

My mother passed away several months after the GC session in Atlanta.  Even though she will not be able to read it, I am following her counsel and doing a daily blog from General Conference–beginning this Friday morning. I hope that you will enjoy it.

Even more than that, I hope that what will happen in San Antonio will strengthen the mission of the church and hasten the day when Jesus comes, and I can see my parents once again.

Before GC begins on this coming Thursday, I would like to share the following information and thoughts:

1. Some of Our Members Who Operate Restaurants in Our Conference, Will Provide Meal Services during the GC. The Owners of Jamaica Way in Nashville, TN, and Mangos in Huntsville, AL, are collaborating in San Antonio.

While it is not my practice to endorse businesses or products, I do believe that we should try to be very intentional about supporting businesses that are operated by Seventh-day Adventists as often as we possibly can. As a conference office, we have used the services of these businesses on several occasions, and we wanted to make you aware of their services in San Antonio.

An information picture/link is provided […]

July 1st, 2015|Categories: President's Blog|0 Comments

Office Comings and Goings

There have been a number of things that have happened at the South Central Conference of late. Here are a few of them:

Personnel Changes:

There have been several changes in the Department of Education. Mrs. Eunice Warfield, our Superintendent of Education announced her retirement, effective June 30.

Dr. Warfield accepted a call to our conference approximately four years ago from the Southwest Union Conference, where she was serving as their Superintendent of Education. We have benefitted from her wide-ranging experience and her professionalism. Additionally, we benefitted from the services of her husband, retired Pastor Melvyn Warfield, Sr., who stepped in as an interim Pastor of our church in Gallatin at a time when he was very much needed.

We thank the Warfields for their ministry to our conference and wish them well in their retirement.

The Executive Committee asked Associate Superintendent Sharon Lewis to step into the role of Superintendent of Education. Mrs. Lewis is also a long-time Adventist educator, who has served as a teacher, principal and conference educational administrator in the Seventh-day Adventist school system for nearly forty years.

She came to our office from Huntsville, where she served as Principal of Oakwood Adventist Academy for approximately five years. She too is married to a Seventh-day Adventist Pastor, Elder James Lewis, who serves part-time in our conference as the Associate Stewardship Director, as well the Associate Pastor for the Huntsville Mt. Calvary Church, in addition to his full-time responsibility as the Director of the Office of Regional Ministries in Huntsville, Alabama.

We are blessed to have a person of the experience and expertise of Mrs. Lewis and we look forward to her leadership of our schools.

Mrs. Lewis promotion to Superintendent of Education created a void in the Associate Superintendent’s position. The […]

June 30th, 2015|Categories: Executive Committee Actions, News|0 Comments

2015 Goals for the South Central Conference

Each year the President sets goals for the conference. It is part of a desire to be intentional about setting a direction for the conference.

Without this intentionality there is the danger of the conference not having a clear direction, to “aim at nothing,” as the late President C.E. Dudley, used to say, “and hit it.”

These goals are set at the end of each previous year. Then they are sent to the Executive Committee, the Pastors, and the office staff. During each Executive Committee and the monthly office staff meetings, the President reviews the goals for the year. Additionally, a report on the progress that the Lord is granting toward reaching these goals is given.

Around March of each year, the final numbers for the previous years are available. A report of the goals that were/were not reached is given to the Executive Committee, Pastors, and office staff. In the case of the goals that were not reached, an explanation is given as to why the goal was not reached and what can/cannot be done to address the missing of those goals.

The final step in this process was taken last year when the President made a report to the constituency in his blog regarding the yearly goals and which ones were/were not reached. Though we are sharing the goals for the year later in the year than we would like, nevertheless, here are the goals for the South Central Conference for 2015:

 

1,000 baptisms
4% Tithe Gain
Operations Gain
Evaluate every full-time employee
Reduce Fall Drive Goals by 7-10%
7,000 Message Magazine Subscriptions
Establishment of an intentional, step-by-step discipling of new members
Implementation of Young Adult Ministries Initiative
Reduce Budget Percentage Going to Salary/Benefits to 65-67%, without layoffs
Increase Working Capital so that we can return monies […]

June 29th, 2015|Categories: News|0 Comments

South Central’s President’s Statement on Gay Marriage

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus:Happy Sabbath.Please allow me to share the following:On yesterday, the United States Supreme Court made a ruling that legalized gay marriage in the United States.As President of the South Central Conference, it is important that I make the following things clear:

As Seventh-day Adventists, we are committed to following the Word of God, which teaches that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman. As such, though we respect the rule of law, gay marriages are not to be performed in the churches of the South Central Conference.
As Seventh-day Adventists, we are also committed to the belief that that ALL human beings are created in the image of God and are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. We claim gays as our brothers and sisters in Christ and as precious souls for whom Christ died. While we shall not compromise our position on homosexuality, neither shall we shrink from our responsibility to treat gay men and women in the manner in which Christ would treat them.

May the same Holy Spirit that blessed and refreshed us during Camp Meeting rest on your worship today.

June 27th, 2015|Categories: President's Blog|1 Comment