I’m delighted to welcome you to the fifty-ninth General Conference session here in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s always an extraordinary moment in the life of our church when the family gathers from every part of the world. No matter what country you’ve traveled from, regardless of the culture you represent or the language you speak, you can feel at home here; for you are with your brothers and sisters in Christ. By coming together in this way, we affirm that we are indeed one people, with one mission, bonded in service to the one Lord of us all.

Sister White describes the days before Pentecost when “the disciples were gathered together of one accord in one place.” Bereft of their Lord and fearful for the future, they met together in a small upper room in Jerusalem to seek God’s guidance.

We are far removed—in time, place, and circumstance—from those first Christians. And yet like them we stand in need of a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Like them, we’ve come together to search our own hearts and to make “humble supplication to God.” Like them, we have before us a God-given mission to accomplish. And like them, our first desire is that the church will be a “vitalizing power” in the world, a force that will enlarge Christ’s kingdom (E. G. White, [Australasian] Union Conference Record, June 1, 1900).

Please join me in praying that the Spirit of God will move powerfully among us; that all we say and do, and all our deliberations and plans, will ultimately serve a single purpose—to make the unsearchable riches of God’s grace more clearly visible to humanity. For this is the task that lies before us unfinished, until our Lord returns.

As we meet together, may “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit” be with us all (2 Cor. 13:14).

Jan Paulsen
President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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