Second Business Meeting
Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 25, 2010, 9:15 a.m.
SARAH NYENDE: [Prayer.]
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Good morning, saints.
It is good to come back after the inspiration this morning to continue with the business of the day. There is some unfinished business from yesterday, which we will first deal with. We must vote on the daily program.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: It is moved and seconded; any comment? [The motion was voted.]
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Yesterday there were questions about the membership of some of the standing committees. We have decided that we will come back to vote the membership of the standing committees, and Larry Evans, the undersecretary, will bring it to you.
LARRY R. EVANS: On page 17 of the agenda book you will find the standing committees. The list of names constitutes the recommendation of the Executive Committee. It concerns the Church Manual Committee, the Constitution and Bylaws Committee, and the Steering Committee. [The recommendation was seconded and voted.]
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Before we go to the Secretariat report, we have some important announcements. The first one is regarding the participation of some delegates who are not comfortable with the English language. If you want to speak at the microphone, just look for someone who can translate for you, and bring that person with you to the microphone.
The other one concerns the fact that each division has a specific assigned area. We encourage each one of you to sit in the appropriate area, just to avoid confusion.
Also, we have another very important announcement from Sheri Clemmer. [The announcement concerned easier exiting from the dome floor after the program.]
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Sheri. Before we go to the Secretariat report, let me tell you that we have been blessed with the messages during the day of spiritual emphasis and today. Before we move ahead with our agenda, I would like to invite Elder Homer Trecartin to pray. [Homer Trecartin offered prayer.]
Now I would like to invite the executive secretary of the General Conference, Elder Matthew Bediako, to present his report.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to explain one or two things about the Secretariat report this morning. I believe you have received a written report. That includes all the departments and some services. I hope you each have a copy. How many of you have copies of that report?
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Please be sure to have a copy of the Secretariat report. It is entitled “Tell the World.”
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Could we arrange for the distribution team to make sure that everybody has a copy of that written report? I am going to give an oral report that will be a summary of the written report. For this session we want to present the clear picture of what is happening around the world. When we attend a General Conference session, some of us return home with the impression that much work has been done, that strong progress has been made. We cannot relax! We are almost home. Our intention is to report what God has done and to praise Him. We also want to bring to you a report regarding the unfinished work. We want to introduce to you persons you have sent around the world as your ambassadors—missionaries. Mr. Chairman, I will begin the report. We welcome you once more to the fifty-ninth session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Atlanta, Georgia. Delegates, thank you for honoring the invitations and for your willingness to serve. We have many special guests among us. We appreciate your effort to join us. In many of the meetings that we will have here we will be discussing church business matters; however, our church is not merely a multinational corporation. First and foremost, it is a spiritual movement with a message of hope for every man, woman, and child on this earth. Even the business decisions are meaningful only if they help to foster church growth, unity, and quality of life. We pray that what takes place here in Atlanta during these next few days will help us prepare for the soon coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. One of the many responsibilities of the General Conference Secretariat is to process calls for missionaries. These we refer to as interdivision employees, traditionally called missionaries. There are also volunteer missionaries, who are processed through the volunteer service. Another important responsibility is to liaison with the divisions and to support and work with the division secretaries.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Elder Bediako, I’m sorry to interrupt you, but I have the impression that some of the delegates do not have the report. I would like to see your hand if you don’t have any copy of the report—yes, raise your hand. [A large number did not have a written report, so copies were distributed.] Let us proceed.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: With all the responsibilities of Secretariat I cannot do it all by myself. So at this time let me introduce you to the other members of our Secretariat team. And I’d like them to stand. I have asked them to introduce themselves.
LARRY R. EVANS: Larry Evans, undersecretary, also serving as the liaison for the South Pacific Division.
ROSA T. BANKS: Rosa Taylor Banks, secretary liaison to two wonderful African divisions, East-Central Africa and West-Central Africa, numbering more than 3 million members located in 32 countries.
AGUSTIN GALICIA: Agustin Galicia, associate secretary of the General Conference. I have the pleasure to work with the Inter-American Division, the South American Division, the Euro-Asia Division, and the Euro-Africa Division.
CLAUDE SABOT: Claude Sabot, associate secretary of the General Conference and the liaison officer with the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division and Southern Asia-Pacific Division.
GT NG: G. T. Ng, associate secretary of the General Conference. The three divisions I represent are the Trans-European Division, the Northern Asia-Pacific Division and the Southern Asia Division.
HOMER W. TRECARTIN: Homer Trecartin, associate secretary of the General Conference and director of Adventist Volunteer Service.
DIAN R. LAWRENCE: Dian Lawrence, assistant secretary of the General Conference. I work very closely with Elder Bediako.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Thank you. And as you know, the General Conference, the world church, is divided into 13 divisions. The secretaries of the world divisions work closely with us. Permit me to introduce you to the division secretaries.
BLASIOUS M. RUGURI: I am Blasious Ruguri, secretary of the East-Central Africa Division, which has a membership of more than 2.5 million. I praise the Lord.
GABRIEL E. MAURER: I am Gabriel
Maurer, secretary of the Euro-Africa Division.
MICHAEL F. KAMINSKY: I am Michael Kaminsky, Euro-Asia Division secretary.
JUAN O. PERLA: Juan Perla, Inter-American Division secretary.
G. ALEXANDER BRYANT: G. Alexander Bryant, secretary for the North American Division. I also serve as the associate secretary for the General Conference as a liaison for the North American Division.
AKERI SUZUKI: I’m Akeri Suzuki, secretary of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division.
MAGDIEL PEREZ SCHULZ: I am Magdiel Perez Schulz, representing the South American Division, with more than 2 million members.
LAWRENCE P. TANABOSE: I am Lawrence Tanabose, secretary of the South Pacific Division, also representing the secretaries from that division.
SOLOMON MAPHOSA: I am Solomon Maphosa, secretary of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
GORDON E. CHRISTO: I am Gordon Christo, secretary of the Southern Asia Division—1.5 million members in India, Nepal, and Bhutan.
JOSHUA MOK: I am Joshua Mok, secretary of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, with headquarters in Manila, the Philippines.
HARALD WOLLAN: My name is Harald Wollan, secretary of the Trans-European Division.
ONAOLAPO AJIBADE: I am Onaolapo Ajibade, secretary of the West-Central Africa Division.
BERT HALOVIAK: Bert Haloviak, Office of Archives and Statistics at the General Conference. We count 16.3 million Seventh-day Adventists.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: These are your servants who serve the Secretariat throughout the world. I thank God for this dedicated team, supported by a committed staff, hundreds of them. Serving faithfully for the past five years, these people keep the machine running.
Since we met last time in St. Louis, the world has 350 million more people. The church has 3 million more members. We have been impacted by tsunamis, fires, floods, wars, and earthquakes, and by the death of friends, loved ones, and coworkers. We have discovered that war situations may destroy our records. Also, when people have left their place, have become immigrants or refugees, they find it very difficult or even impossible to locate their previous membership records. So they often join their new church by profession of faith. This means that some of them may now be counted in the membership of numbers of two divisions. I appeal to this world representation to please help with the transfer of membership so that wherever your people are moving to they will have the right records.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Elder Bediako, for your excellent report.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: The next will be the statistical report.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: OK, please go ahead.
BERT HALOVIAK: The nine-page printed statistical report is on the gray paper in the front of your delegate notebook. It not only is available to delegates, but also has been printed in the Adventist Review report of this session.
At this session we are offering a brief 50-year perspective on Adventist mission. We observe in our report that it is somewhat surprising that the first Seventh-day Adventists lived in Richmond, Iowa, and that their baptism occurred October 22, 1860. A Seventh-day Adventist baptism could not have occurred much earlier, because the name Seventh-day Adventist was not generally accepted before October 1, 1860.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you very much, Brother Haloviak, for your report, and thank you, Elder Bediako.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Mr. Chairman, it just occurred to me that there might be former missionaries in the congregation. With your permission I would like to invite all those who have served as volunteer and regular missionaries sometime in their lives to please stand. Isn’t that wonderful? This is a church that believes in spreading the Word of God around the globe. We take our commission seriously. Mr. Chairman, I would like to move that the Secretariat report be accepted.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: It is moved and seconded. So we are now ready to receive comments and questions. If you have a comment, please go to one of the mikes. Gerry Karst.
GERRY D. KARST: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’d like to pay tribute to the Secretariat. For many of the delegates, they probably don’t know how much work Secretariat puts into a session: all the details, the minutes, the handout materials, registration, etc. They are busy from morning till night for months getting this prepared for us. I want to thank Secretariat for their work!
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Thank you.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you very much.
GERRY D. KARST: However, Mr. Chairman, because of that busyness and the multitude of details, sometimes things are overlooked. I would like the delegation to know that during the past quinquennium the Ministerial Association, which was inadvertently left out of the report, has been active doing pastoral training programs, professional growth seminars, evangelistic efforts, support for pastor’s spouses through Shepherdess International, the monthly publication of Ministry magazine, and the production of numerous resources. I just want the session to record that the Ministerial Association has been active and working during this quinquennium. Thank you.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Thank you.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you very much. Let’s go again to mike 4. We have there Jurrien Den Hollander from the Trans-European Division.
JURRIEN DEN HOLLANDER: Mr. Chairman, I really want to say that the report is brilliant. I would like to request that in the future the reports be handed out in advance. Second, I would like to see figures regarding the active membership of the church, as compared to the inactive.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you for your comments. John Matthew Fowler from the General Conference.
JOHN M. FOWLER: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make three remarks concerning the Secretariat support. First of all, I would like to congratulate the Secretariat for producing an outstanding report and faithfully recording the achievements of the church during the past five years. The story this morning truly reflects historically, philosophically, and theologically the growth and the mission of the church worldwide. It has been faithful in recording the growth, unity, and quality of life, the theme to which this quinquennium was dedicated.
Second, I would also like to commend Secretariat for mentioning the necessity to conduct periodic membership audits in all the divisions. I want to also commend the able former secretary G. T. Ng for instituting this membership audit and bringing new focus on the quality of membership. We see that in certain parts of the world the statistical reports reflects only one aspect—baptisms. And it looks as if nobody dies and nobody apostatizes and nobody transfers membership. So I am glad that the Secretariat is pursuing this, and I wish them well in the new quinquennium that every division’s membership will be properly audited. Because such audits will ensure proper representation in a body like this—that is very important for the health of the global church.
Third, I want to commend the Secretariat for recognizing our great valiant army of missionaries—those who have left their homeland and have gone to unknown parts of the world and have worked work under difficult, trying circumstances. We salute their contribution to the growth and mission of the church. Having said this, I do have one concern. I have noticed several of these missionary families suffering when they return to their homeland. The same enthusiasm that Secretariat takes in recruiting missionaries to send to distant parts of the world should be reflected in the Secretariat’s relocating them when they return to their homeland.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Thank you.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Brother Fowler, for your comments. Now we are going to move to mike 3, Giampiero Vassalo.
GIAMPIERO VASSALLO: Mr. Chairman, I read the proud growth statements but am concerned about membership retention. We read, “Southern Asia-Pacific Division, 93 percent loss. South American Division, 88 percent loss. Euro-Asia Division, 73 percent loss.” How come?
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Any response to that? Elder Bediako?
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: That’s why the divisions have taken church audits very seriously. They are beginning to ask what the solution to this is. I am happy to tell you that the retention rate is now turning around and is on the positive side. We will begin to see an improvement in retention.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Let’s go to mike 3, Alex Rajakumar Ponniah.
ALEX RAJAKUMAR PONNIAH: Mr. Chairman, allow me to congratulate the Secretariat, Elder Bediako, and his team for the excellent report. I have seen a transformation in the reporting style and format since the time that I have attended the quinquennium meeting in the year 2000. I see a professionalism expressed in the reporting format. I am deeply grateful for this world body to hear about the work of God throughout the world. It is not easy to report world church activities in this small booklet, and yet the essential work is captured. Challenges such as the membership audit are very crucial. It is difficult to define what an active member is, however. It would be good if Secretariat listed the 29 countries the church has not yet entered. The least the delegates could do is to pray for these countries. Perhaps this could be reflected in the future.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you very much, Brother Ponniah. Let’s move to Dr. Daniel Duda, mike 1.
DANIEL DUDA: Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate and commend the secretary and Elder Haloviak for a thorough and encouraging report. I have one suggestion and one question. The suggestion is regarding this: yesterday we started by reading the mission statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which stated that discipling is one of the ways we achieve our mission. Yet in the report I heard nothing about discipling. My suggestion is that some key performance indicators should be developed so that we can measure how we
disciple our members.
Now I have some comments regarding the retention rate. I do believe that every soul is important and that we need to do better in retention of our members. However, when we say that the retention rate is between 20 and 30 percent, it seems that we have 20 or 30 percent apostasy, because we calculate the retention rate by comparing it with the number of baptisms. To be statistically precise, we need to calculate them to the overall membership—not only to the people that we baptized last year or the past five years. So my question is “Why do we calculate it in this way? Is it just to get a higher percentage number that will encourage us to work harder for saving those souls, or is there another reason for that?”
BERT HALOVIAK: If I understand the question, it’s the interrelationship between accessions and “dropped” and missing. It is a ratio. It should be understood that it is a ratio that helps determine the relative health of the church. And so it does not mean to imply that out of every 100 members we lose 38. This should be clearly seen as a ratio between baptisms and the “dropped” and missing. Those are the only factors that are considered here. It is very similar to what would be called a growth rate. These are two criteria that help to depict the relative health of the church, but they by no means imply that we’re losing more than we are gaining.
The audits have greatly diminished our growth rate in some cases. Chart 7 [see Bulletin 3, p. 25] is an attempt to do a retention analysis for those five years. In 2005 the Southern Asia-Pacific Division did a huge church audit that showed an interrelationship between their baptisms and their losses—meaning that for every 100 that were baptized, the ratio was 405 losses. But that was only because this was the year that that division did its auditing. It will therefore show a growth rate of minus 21 percent. So, yes, all of the auditing that was done during that particular year did have a negative impact, but when we do it in terms of a ratio, that could mean that people had dropped out of that division some 20 years prior. The statistical way of doing it is to put all of that information in the particular year in which the audit occurred.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Let’s move to the Inter-American Division, to Yenny Carolina Grimont de Fernandez.
YENNY CAROLINA GRIMONT DE FERNANDEZ: I’d like have the Secretariat report in my language, the Spanish language, to take it back to my church.
MATTHEW BEDIAKO: Thank you. We will work with your division to see that they translate it.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Let’s move to Cesar Alberto Monterroso in the South American Division.
CESAR ALBERTO MONTERROSO: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make the same point that we should have the various documents in our own language, including the Rules of Order.
ARMANDO MIRANDO: We are going to move to Jason Turner, from the North American Division.
JASON TURNER: To use lingo that some of us among the North American Division’s youth use—this is an awesome report. I do have a comment regarding the financial part of the report and the increased tithes and offerings. As membership has increased we have had more tithes and offerings coming in. Is this a trend we can continue to count on? In some divisions, and even in ours in North America, there is a growing concern whether tithes will increase sufficiently to meet the increased costs and the needs. In a region in which the average age of the members goes up, what will happen? Because they are the ones who are paying the bulk of the tithe and offerings. I urge the Secretariat to study these and related issues closely.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Mr. Chairman, this afternoon Elder Lemon, the treasurer, will be giving the financial picture of this church. Regarding the other issues you have raised, Secretariat plans to study these in depth. This will help us in the future in our strategic planning.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Elder Bediako. We have a list of nine people waiting for the opportunity to speak. We recognize that you have a right to speak, but also we have to be careful with the time, and we would like to suggest that we limit the time per speaker.
AGUSTIN GALICIA: I move that we limit the time per speaker to two minutes. [The motion was seconded and voted.]
ARMANDO MIRANDA: The next speaker is Antonio Laureano Livisi Mamani from the South American Division.
ANTONIO LAUREANO LIVISI MAMANI: The growth of the church is really because of the work of the laypeople of the church. This must be recognized. I ask the General Conference to have a strategy to enable the laity to finish the work in these last days.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you. We now have Elehelvina Trejo Morales, from the Inter-American Division.
ELEHELVINA TREJO MORALES: I represent the laity from Chiapas. I would like to let you know that we have many ethnic groups in Mexico, in Chiapas, that need to listen to the Word of God. So I would like to ask you to prepare Bibles and send them to us, so that laypeople can go and win those souls for the Lord, Jesus Christ.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Now let’s move to Wellington Zemba from the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
WELLINGTON ZEMBA: Mr. Chairman, I want to raise two things. I want to propose that the Secretariat will include in their next report the pastor-to-member ratio. Also, it would be good to have the amount of tithe paid by the individual member in each division.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Mr. Chairman, the issues dealing with finances will be dealt with this afternoon by Elder Bob Lemon, and your questions probably will be answered. After that, if you still have some issues, let us know. When it comes to a pastor-to-member ratio it’s very hard to say that for the whole world. In some places every church has a pastor. In other places a church may have two or three pastors. In other areas a pastor might be taking care of 15 churches. We must encourage our church to supply enough workers so that the pastors can really take care of the nurturing of the members. But I tell you that the number of pastors will not be able to take care of all the business—that’s why we need to educate our elders and our laypeople so that they join hands with the pastoral staff to do the work that is expected of us. So we cannot set a ratio for the whole world. Each division will have to study its own needs.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Elder Bediako, and now let’s move to the Inter-American Division: Clive Dottin.
CLIVE DOTTIN: I want to say that it is impossible to discuss retention without focusing on spiritual gifts. There are many members who are not public evangelists, but they have spiritual gifts, and we will not reach the world and the unentered territories until they exercise their spiritual gifts. I feel the time has come for all divisions to set up a task force to explore the giftedness of the members. Then we will have a better retention rate and more effective evangelism. More than 20 years ago Pastor George Brown, former division president, wrote an article and showed the relationship between inreach and outreach. We don’t have to decrease our evangelism to increase our retention. So I am recommending that we set up a task force to help the members identify their spiritual gifts, and to create ministries to utilize those gifts and affirm the members in exercising their gifts. My last comment is that I think that sometimes as a church we’re becoming more power-driven than mission-driven. It’s the mission that should excite us, not the politics.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Brother Dottin, and now let’s move to the North American Division: Malcolm Wayne Wesley Clarke.
MALCOLM WAYNE WESLEY CLARKE: I would just like to recommend that in the next quinquennium the Secretariat’s report be based entirely as a whole on the mission of the church, so that each part of the report would actually refer to one of the goals listed.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: I know that all of you are expecting the report from the Nominating Committee. We now have a partial report of the Nominating Committee. And then we will continue with the observations and comments on the Secretariat report. So Brother Bob Kyte, who is the chair of the Nominating Committee, please proceed.
ROBERT KYTE: Mr. Chairman, delegates and guests, it’s a pleasure to be here this morning on behalf of the Nominating Committee, which represents each of you as delegates to this session. The meeting was formally organized last night, when I was selected to serve as chairman. I’m pleased to have a very good team working with me in the leadership of the committee. To my right is Dr. Delbert Baker, president of Oakwood University. Cindy Tutsch, an associate director for the Ellen G. White Estate, is the secretary for the committee, and Ismael Castillo, the president of Montemorelos University, is the assistant secretary for the Nominating Committee. Our committee convened this morning, and after devotions and prayers we felt led by the Spirit as we discussed the candidates for the office of president of the General Conference. We are here to submit a report on that one position, and Cindy Tutsch, our secretary, will make that presentation.
CYNTHIA TUTSCH: Mr. Chair, for president of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, the Nominating Committee presents the name of Elder Ted Wilson to serve for the next term of office. I so move.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: We have a motion, and it has been seconded. Any comments or questions? So it seems to me that we are ready to proceed. All in favor, please take your yellow cards and lift them. Thank you. Opposed, the same sign. It is carried. Thank you very much. We would like to welcome Elder Ted Wilson as the General Conference president. Elder Ted Wilson and Mrs. Wilson.
TED N. C. WILSON: Nancy and I are deeply honored and humbled. We are humbled beyond words at the confidence and the encouragement of our people. This is not just a regular organization. This is not just another denomination. This is God’s remnant church. It is that which He has supreme regard for, and to be requested to serve as a servant leader is something that truly brings us to our knees. I know personally that I do not know everything, I do not have the answers for everything, and so we must seek the wisdom of counselors; we must, as Scripture says, fall on our knees before the Lord and ask for wisdom; we must seek counsel in the holy Word of God; and we must follow the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy. And let me tell you, brothers and sisters, the Spirit of Prophecy is one of the greatest gifts God has given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It is applicable not only for the past but for the present and for the future, for, brothers and sisters, we are going home soon.
Each of you in your own languages knows that precious phrase “Jesus is coming soon.” I hope to learn it in many different languages.
Jesus is coming soon. And this church needs, beyond anything else, to fall on its knees, to ask for God’s guidance, to recognize that we need to humble ourselves, to ask for forgiveness from the Lord, to ask the Holy Spirit to bring us revival and reformation, so that the latter rain will fall and the work will go forward in a powerful way. In the book Selected Messages, book 1, page 121, the servant of the Lord says that our greatest need is a revival of true godliness, and that to seek this should be our first work. And I pledge by God’s grace that we will work together to humble ourselves personally, and corporately, to ask the Lord to lead us into the kingdom. I think of a beautiful text that is one of my favorites, Joel 2:21: “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the Lord will do great things.” And I want to claim that for each of us here at the fifty-ninth session of the General Conference. Don’t be afraid for the future. Don’t shrink back from the task God has given to us—the proclamation of the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14—that we are a called-out people. Revelation 12:17 tells us who we are. Know who you are! By God’s grace, let us move forward under the direction of the Holy Spirit as we humbly bow before Him.
And on behalf of Nancy, my precious wife, and me—let me tell you, wives are so important. Our spouses are so important. This wonderful woman is a spiritual backbone for me. She loves the Lord. She loves the Bible. She loves the Spirit of Prophecy. And I honor her today. And I thank God for her.
We cannot lead in any way without the united camaraderie of each of you. And so I ask that you will join us in a special humbling of ourselves as we seek God’s guidance and revival and reformation in our own lives and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church so that we can truly see God do great things.
I also want to add a word of deep appreciation for those who have been serving during this past quinquennium. I want to pay honor and tribute to Elder Paulsen and to those who have associated with him. There will be opportunity to say additional words in the future, but it is always good to show appreciation for those things that have happened that will uplift the church. So by God’s grace we will fulfill the task that you have assigned, and we will do it with humility, and I ask and covet your prayers for this precious, precious church and for the mission that it has and for the task that you have assigned to us. Thank you very much.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Let us go back to the Secretariat’s report. And now we are going to the Southern Asia-Pacific Division: Victorine Caroline Katemba.
VICTORINE CAROLINE KATEMBA: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. First of all, I would like to congratulate President Wilson.
When I was reading the report, I was happy to see and to know how many souls are being baptized. But as I went over the report I was a little bit sad to see the numbers of losses. So I was thinking, What are we going to do? How can we retain the members that we already have so that five years ahead there will be no lost members, so that by the next GC session in 2015 we will have no report of lost members?
ARMANDO MIRANDA: The next person is from the North American Division: Melvin Santos.
MELVIN SANTOS: I have a concern regarding chart 7, which has been addressed already, regarding the retention and attrition rates of various divisions. One of the things that I have noted is that this is a five-year report and that some of the divisions have taken proactive steps to work on their percentage. But the report shows for five years a continuous decline, or an increase in the attrition. What is the General Conference doing to take proactive steps?
I want to say, in the context of the apostle Paul, that we are one body in Christ, and when one rejoices, we all rejoice; when one suffers, we all suffer. So in connection with that, what is the General Conference doing to help those divisions, those unions and conferences, to take active steps and roles? So just what our sister just mentioned—we do not have to wait five years to see a report with high percentages.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Thank you; we appreciate your comment. It was only at the beginning of this quinquennium that we really intensified the membership audit. Some divisions have finished their membership audit. We need to be very careful not to eliminate members when they cannot be found. I know that by next quinquennium you will see that the rate of retentions will be improved. There was a cutoff date, and since then many of the divisions have joined hands in doing membership audits. We want to plead with all the divisions to do the church audit. So I know that by God’s grace the next quinquennium report will be different.
ARMANDO MIRANDO: Thank you, brother.
MELVIN SANTOS: May I make one more point here?
ARMANDO MIRANDO: All right.
MELVIN SANTOS: We are called to make disciples in Jesus. Is it possible that our church also can add and focus on how many disciples we are making for the Lord? We are emphasizing just one aspect in terms of our church growth.
ARMANDO MIRANDO: Thank you very much for your comment; your time is over. And I would like to suggest that we limit the number of participants to five persons on the list, because we have only 10 minutes before the lunch break, and before that we have to take the action to accept the report. Frank Sam Barden Chirwa from the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division.
FRANK SAM BARDEN CHIRWA: My concern is about the membership audit. I don’t know how we apply the policy on membership auditing and the frequency of our membership audit. I am not sure if that policy allows the local conference or the union to also make membership audits. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
MATTHEW A. BEDIAKO: Mr. Chairman,
I am happy to let you know that some divisions have already gone to an electronic form to be more accurate. We don’t need policy to know who are in church and who are not coming to church on Sabbath. We know which persons are missing, and we should go out to visit them. We are working with the division secretaries, with the unions or the administration of each division, and they are all on board trying to make sure that we audit our membership. It is not going to be just a one-time audit;
it has to be a continuous effort.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you, Elder Bediako. Now let’s move to Nestor Abel Alberto from the South American Division.
NESTOR ABEL ALBERTO: Mr. Chairman,
I am sure we are all happy in seeing the remarkable growth of tithe as it was referred to in the report, but we must recognize that the increasing of offerings does not follow the same pace. As a matter of fact, the gap between tithe and offering is growing larger and larger year after year. Could we vote a recommendation to the worldwide church for the next quinquennium to continue underlining the faithfulness of tithe and to emphasize the gladness of offerings? Especially I refer to mission offerings.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Thank you very much. Let’s move to the next. It is Nilton Amorim, North American Division.
NILTON AMORIM: Mr. Chairman, I suggest that those who have not spoken address their questions/comments to Elder Bediako privately. I move the previous question.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Seconded and approve. O.K., let’s go back to the motion to accept the Secretariat report and the statistical report. [The motion was approved.]
ARMANDO MIRANDA: So we are just in time to adjourn our session. Let’s stand for our closing prayer.
JOSE RICARDO DE CAMARGO ORTOLAN: I will pray in my own language.
[Prayer was in Brazilian Portuguese.]
ARMANDO MIRANDA, Chair
AGUSTIN GALICIA, Secretary
CLAUDE SABOT, Proceedings Editor
REINDER BRUINSMA and LARRY COLBURN, Assistant Proceedings Editors
Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 25, 2010, 9:15 a.m.
DAILY PROGRAM—GENERAL CONFERENCE SESSION - 2010
VOTED, To approve the daily program for the 2010 General Conference Session as it appears in the Session program booklet.
132-10GS STANDING COMMITTEES—GENERAL CONFERENCE SESSION - 2010
VOTED, To approve standing committees for the 2010 General Conference Session, as follows:
Armando Miranda, Chair
Ted N C Wilson, Vice-chair
Homer W Trecartin, Secretary
Tamara K Boward, Recording Secretary
Members: Onaolapo Ajibade, Bert B Beach, Matthew A Bediako, Paulo E Iglesias Bravo, G Alexander Bryant, Caroline Catton, Gordon E Christo, Joan Y Clarke, Orlando Deocades, Karnik Doukmetzian, Larry R Evans, Carolyn Forrest, Agustin Galicia, Jobir I Iskhakov, Mikhail F Kaminskiy, Linda Mei Lin Koh, Israel Leito, Robert E Lemon, Solomon Maphosa, Gabriel E Maurer, Edith Mkawa, Joshua W Mok, Daniel L Mukeya, Pardon K Mwansa, Emmanuel K Noudoda, Frensley Panneflek, Jan Paulsen, Angel M Rodríguez, Blasious M Ruguri, Nikolaus Satelmajer, Carmen Schulz, Magdiel Perez Schulz, Ralph Shelton, Heather-Dawn Small, Akeri Suzuki, Lawrence P Tanabose, Ivan Leigh Warden, Harald Wollan, Joseph Hin-Chung Wong
CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS
Gerald D Karst, Chair
Eugene Hsu, Vice-chair
Larry R Evans, Secretary
Ivette C Hernandez, Recording Secretary
Members: Niels-Erik A Andreasen, Delbert W Baker, Matthew A Bediako, G Alexander Bryant, Barry W Bussey, Lorna Cedras, Shirley Chang, Bookwon Chun, Lowell C Cooper, Karnik Doukmetzian, C Garland Dulan, Agustin Galicia, Richard H Hart, Keith R Heinrich, Daniel R Jackson, Swamidass Johnson, Erton C Kohler, Jairyong Lee, Robert E Lemon, Jose R Lizardo, Solomon Maphosa, Gabriel E Maurer, Veronique M Mbio, Pardon K Mwansa, G T Ng, Mario H Ochoa, Lorna G Okotto, Barry D Oliver, Daisy J Orion, Moisei Ostrovski, Orville D Parchment, Ruth E Parish, Jan Paulsen, Philip Philipsen, Juan R Prestol, Orlando E Ramos Giles, Ian H Sleeman, Filiberto M Verduzco-Avila, Harald Wollan
As provided for by the General Conference Constitution and Bylaws.
Since so many delegates were lined up to comment on the Secretary’s Report, it was
VOTED, To limit speakers to the Secretary’s Report to two minutes.
Because of the length of time devoted to comments to the Secretary’s Report, it was
VOTED, To not allow any more speakers to the Secretary’s Report.
VOTED, To accept the report of the General Conference Secretary, Matthew A Bediako.
VOTED, To accept the statistical report from the Director of Archives and Statistics, Bert B Haloviak.