Adventists Plan for 2010
General Conference Session
Ministry networks, friendship evangelism planned for 'Good News Atlanta' effort
reparations are underway for the 2010 Seventh-day Adventist world church business session in Atlanta, Georgia, according to a press statement released September 10 from the church's headquarters.
GIFTED HANDS: Dr. Ben Carson is one of the world's most respected neurosurgeons and a devout Seventh-day Adventist. Carson, 56, said he prays for guidance before every surgery. [Photo courtesy Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly/RNS]
NETWORKING MINISTRIES: The Adventist Church is focusing on networking ministries and promoting friendship-based outeach in the Atlanta area. Gordon Retzer (above) is presdient of the Southern Union Conference. [Photo: SUC]
The General Conference, the church’s top administrative body, organizes the business sessions, which are held every five years. In what will mark the global Protestant denomination's 59th session, the June 23 to July 3 event is expected to draw some 35,000 international delegates, members and guests, with attendance doubling during the weekends.
"As I talk to members and visit churches here, there's great excitement," said Gordon Retzer, president for the church's Southern Union Conference, which includes the metro Atlanta area. "It's a great privilege to be able to host this event and we're eager to show the people here that Adventists want to be involved in their communities."
Atlanta was in part chosen for its cultural diversity, session planners said. Some 430 people move daily to the metro Atlanta area. The region's nearly 5.5 million residents represent myriad ethnic groups, Bill Levine, director for church planting for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, told Adventist World magazine last month.
"Yet, Adventists represent less than two percent of the community's church membership, and that presents a formidable challenge for our church," Levine added. In the run-up to session, local church officials are collaborating to better establish the church's presence in the city.
Efforts include both evangelism and community outreach. In 2005, the church's Georgia-Cumberland and South Atlantic conferences -- both of which operate churches and ministries in greater Atlanta -- established Good News Atlanta, an effort to network ministries and promote "relational" evangelism. Church research suggests new Adventists are more likely to keep coming to church if their friends also attend.
The effort marks the first time every Adventist pastor in the region has "gotten together to think and pray and strategize about outreach to the entire city," said Retzer. "We want this cohesive approach to be permanent. It's going go on until the Lord returns," he added, responding to concerns that the church's presence in Atlanta may lessen after session ends.
Themed "Proclaiming God's Grace," the 2010 session will represent the more than 25 million-strong Adventist Church family around the world. While the session is largely a business meeting -- delegates elect leaders and make policy decisions -- world church president Jan Paulsen said the theme of grace would guide the business of the church.
"When God's grace reaches into our lives ... it's impossible to go on with business as usual," Paulsen said. "By focusing on this theme, we're acknowledging that the experience of grace is absolutely central to the life of each believer."

-- Reported by Elizabeth Lechleitner, Adventist News Network

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