is a huge leap forward,” Seventh-day Adventist world church president Pastor Jan Paulsen declared after being handed six versions of the magazine in six different languages during the afternoon business session of the 95th
Annual Council on October 16.
This month marks the launch of the printed magazine in Bahasa (Indonesian), English, French, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish, with a Chinese-language version available online. For the first time since the 1870s, said Bill Knott, Adventist World editor-in-chief and executive publisher, a church magazine is now available to one in every seven members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Paulsen added, “In a rapidly growing church, it is important that we look after each other.” He said the magazine was a way of aiding that shepherding role, and lauded the effort to reach members in China.
“One of the most thrilling things is that it is going into China on the Internet,” Paulsen said.
Copies of the magazine were distributed to delegates in their preferred language, following a presentation on the international scope and readh of the magazine. Some 2 million copies each month are printed and distributed around the globe, Knott said.
, like its sister publication Adventist Review, is now available on the Internet, Knott said. At www.adventistworld.org
, readers can consult articles and archives in English, Chinese and Korean, with other languages to follow.
Knott also emphasized the special character of the 158-year-old Adventist Review
magazine, which is published 36 times a year. The Review
offers a place for in-depth Bible studies, accelerated news coverage, and publication of articles offering a more detailed look at critical issues. He said the magazine will implement special overseas subscription rates to help expand its reach.
Administrative Options Voted
In other news from the business sessions, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s leadership has, in the past two days, decided several important matters.
On Oct. 15, the church leadership voted to allow a three-tier administrative structure for some areas of the world. Local congregations would be organized into “unions of churches,” instead of local conferences that then would report to a union conference.
Traditional church structure operates on four levels: local churches, conferences, unions and the world church's headquarters, or General Conference.
The report on flexibility implied that some aspects of that arrangement might be needlessly unwieldy. In some areas of the world, adhering to the church's traditional model of structure was deemed "unworkable and not financially viable" by the commission. In other cases, commission members decided to grant local leaders more leeway to decide which method of structure best fits their needs.
In some countries, such a “union of churches” has already been established. Reinder Bruinsma, president of such a union in the Netherlands, said this structure allowed a greater percentage of personnel to be used in pastoral ministry than under the previous structure of one union and two smaller conferences.
Adventist pastor Atte Helmenen, president of the Finnish Union, said the new structure would allow Finland’s Adventists to better organize their fields.
In those areas where the union of churches structure would not be effective, Paulsen noted, it would not be approved at the divisional or General Conference level.
Dealing With Social Challenges
Also on October 15, the church voted guidelines for instances when the Adventist beliefs are at odds with social legislation, particularly with regard to hiring practices.
The world church's executive committee approved a document identifying the church's mission within changing social environments. The preamble notes “legislation concerning employment practices represents one area in which Seventh-day Adventist values and beliefs may be subject to challenge. For example: societies may establish laws providing new definitions for marriage or protecting a range of expressions and behavior associated with gender identity.”
The document affirms the church's stance rejecting the idea of same-sex marriages or condoning homosexual practices or advocacy. It recommends legal consultation, rather than unilateral action, when such situations arise.
Delegates also voted the 2008 establishment of an Office of Global Software and Technology to be based at the church's headquarters. Lowell C. Cooper, a general vice president of the world church, said the decision came about after church leaders realized similar software was being developed and duplicated in different parts of the world.
The role and function of the office's staff has not yet been established. However, Cooper said, "Someone based at the world headquarters would have the responsibility of creating the networking and the discussion forums in which software development questions could be addressed and collective decisions made about what kind of software would be developed."
The church also voted to accept the gift of netAdventist 3.0, a software platform developed by TAGnet, to enable churches and institutions to publish and share information with their constituencies.
In its final significant action of the morning of Oct. 16, delegates also voted to expand a definition of acceptable health modalities for Adventist institutions. The move was expected to ease concerns over the use of various therapies.
--With reporting from Adventist News Network