Sixth Business Meeting

Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 28, 2010, 9:15 a.m.


SERGIO AZEVEDO: [Invocation.]

LOWELL C. COOPER: We welcome you, brothers and sisters, to another working session here at Atlanta.  Elder Wilson has asked that we begin each of the business sessions with more than a moment of prayer, and to help guide and lead in that, he has asked Mark Finley to take charge of that aspect of each business session. And so I would now invite Elder Finley to come to the microphone and lead us in this spiritual moment in preparation for the business of the morning.

MARK A. FINLEY: Each morning at 6:45 the Steering Committee meets to prepare for this session.  The officers of the General Conference, the general vice presidents, and the division presidents meet together. And this morning, as we met together, Elder Wilson, our General Conference president, opened his heart to us and shared his great desire that every session be bathed in prayer; that every decision that we make in the business meeting we make with a conscious awareness that this is not a corporation but a church, and that we have a mission to the world.  And before we start each business session, Elder Wilson has suggested that we get together in groups of two or three and have a very focused approach, opening our hearts, asking God to anoint us with His Spirit, the spirit of spiritual renewal, rekindling of the fire for Jesus in our lives and the rededication of our hearts to the mission of the church. He has asked me to guide, at the beginning of the session, in the selection of a Bible passage or statement from the writings of Ellen White that may be helpful. Because, after all, when we go home from this session, our goal is not simply to pass policies but to be different men and different women; it is to be used of God in our local church, in our conference, in our division, at the General Conference, to be agents of the Spirit, to be guided by the Spirit. 

There was a time 2,000 years ago that the disciples faced a task that was overwhelming as well, and they came together and sought God and prayed. And I want to read to you just one paragraph for our meditation before we pray. It’s from The Acts of the Apostles, page 37: “These days [that is, the days shortly before Pentecost] of preparation were days of deep heart searching.  The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised.”

Now, there are two things of interest in that statement that I would like to focus our attention and prayer on first. The disciples recognized their insufficiency. They recognized their inability. They recognized that they could not reach the world without the added power of the Spirit.

And the second thing that is quite fascinating is that they didn’t ask for the promise of the Spirit. They recognized that that promise was already theirs in Christ, and they claimed it by faith.  So today, as we kneel in groups of two or three, may I suggest that in this first session we open our hearts and acknowledge our insufficiency; we acknowledge our inability to reach the world.  God already knows it. Our acknowledgment is that we recognize it. And second, that we claim the promise that He has made. He has promised His Spirit.  Shall we not claim it today and, by faith, open our hearts to receive it?

So let’s pray in groups of two or three, and as I sense that that prayer session is coming to a close, I will offer a general prayer here from the platform.  So find somebody that you can pray with today—praying, acknowledging our insufficiency, and claiming the promise that God has given. [Session of prayer, followed by prayer by Mark Finley.]

LOWELL C. COOPER: Thank you very much. We will turn to the business of the morning, but perhaps we should look at the contour of our day, because there will be one or two things that somewhat change the pattern of our meetings. If you have looked at the schedule, you will notice that for today and the remaining days of the week we have a special focus on pastors at 11:00. The first of those events will take place this morning, so wherever we are in the agenda items for the day, we will suspend our discussion by 11:00. This is with the understanding that if we are in the midst of discussing a particular motion and there are people at the microphones who wish to speak, we will keep track of that record, and when we reconvene in the afternoon and return to the business items, we will pick up at that point with the next speaker in line, or who was in the line when the meeting was suspended.

The other thing for us to bear in mind for today is that the afternoon business session will begin at 3:00. So if you can just reprogram your clock in that direction.

And one other item. We are operating with the understanding (and it is with understanding of the delegation) that whenever we receive a request from the Nominating Committee we will suspend the business immediately in order to receive a report from the Nominating Committee. Now, there may be some who feel that technically and procedurally speaking, we cannot entertain a motion from the Nominating Committee if there is a motion on the floor, but we will take it that you understand the situation and have no objections to our suspending our discussion of a motion, in order to receive a report from the Nominating Committee.

I think that with that, we are ready to do business, and we have some individuals at the microphones already. First, Brother Johannsson from the Trans- European Division.

JOHANN E. JOHANNSSON: Mr. Chairman, I have picked up from a number of our delegates some frustration regarding the election processes and democracy. Yesterday morning we had a long discussion about whether we should move the election process for the associate directors to the General Conference Executive Committee, and this body voted that it wanted to be in control of that process. Yesterday, when the Nominating Committee reported back, one of the delegates from this floor asked if it would be possible to see a picture or a face of the people who were proposed for the positions.  This was denied on the basis that these people could not be here while we were voting. At the same time, we were informed that these people were backstage.  I think that it is only fair if the people who are being elected are presented on the screens so that the delegates know whom they are voting for.  I don’t know of any other organization that votes for an individual unseen, and since the people were here, this could have been easily accomplished.  The people could have come in, and they could have gone backstage while we voted.

At the same time, we also voted groups of people. Nine vice presidents together. I think that we can do better than this. I think we should present and show the people who are being proposed for elective positions. I also propose that we vote name by name, just as we do line by line or paragraph by paragraph when we are dealing with the Church Manual and the Working Policy.  Thank you.

LOWELL C. COOPER: Thank you very much. We will take that comment and pass that on to the administration and to the Nominating Committee.

The business meeting next turned to a discussion of Church Manual items.For an abbreviated record of discussion, proceedings, voted actions, and text of the voted documents, please go to (See Bulletin 2, p. 41 for the rationale.)

MARK A. FINLEY: [Introduced the series of programs during the session that will focus on the role of the pastor.]

GERRY D. KARST: Our first speaker in this series is Pastor Dwight Nelson. Since 1983 he has served as the senior pastor of the Pioneer Memorial church in Berrien Springs at Andrews University. He has been in that same pulpit for 27 years, and because I have been on the campus of Andrews University frequently over the past 10 years, I consider Pastor Nelson my part-time pastor, and I’ve appreciated his ministry. He’s the speaker of a weekly radio and television program called New Perspectives, and hosts a telecast called The Evidence. Among the books he has authored are: Outrageous Grace, The Eleventh Commandment, Pursuing the Passion of Jesus, and his most recent book, Creation and Evolution. Pastor Nelson is married to Karen, who is a registered nurse, and together they have two married children.

The topic he is dealing with today is called “Pastoral Leadership: The High Responsibility of Ministry.”

[Dwight Nelson made a meaningful presentation reminding everyone that regardless of their role in the church and life in general, they are spiritual leaders.]

DWIGHT K. NELSON: “O God, Good Shepherd, Lord Jesus, teach us to follow so that we might lead. Amen.”

MARK A. FINLEY: Were you blessed? I know my heart was moved as Pastor Dwight spoke to us. We’ve invited Pastor Dwight to sit down with us to talk a little bit about his ministry practically. [An interesting discussion ensued concerning Dwight Nelson’s ministry at Andrews University church. Mark Finley and Gerry Karst asked the questions.]

We want to pray for Pastor Dwight and his ministry at Andrews University. We want to pray as well for each of our pastors just now. After the prayer we will turn the chair back over to Lowell Cooper. Let’s pray for Pastor Dwight. What a responsibility that he has to shape the minds of young people on that campus and what responsibility every one of our pastors have. Thank you so much, Dwight, for sharing your heart with us today.

“Father, we thank You for Pastor Dwight, that for 27 years he’s stood at the pulpit at Andrews University. He’s walked the halls of those dormitories. He’s visited in those homes. He’s touched the lives, not of thousands, but of tens of thousands of students, and through them, hundreds of thousands. We pray that You’ll keep him strong in Jesus. We pray that You’ll give him wisdom as he deals with the complex issues of pastoring in that setting. And we pray that his influence will continue to grow in the hearts and minds of those students for the kingdom of God. And we would pause and pray for each of our pastors today. We thank You for them. We thank You for each shepherd, each one that has a heart for You.

“Give them Your strength, and give each one a greater heart hunger for You, a love for their people, and a compassion for the lost. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.” Now we turn the chair back to Elder Cooper.

LOWELL C. COOPER: Thank you. We will receive a report from the Nominating Committee. There was an appeal earlier this morning as we began for the body to have an opportunity to see nominees before the vote is taken. There was another part of that request dealing with how we vote. The request was that we vote name by name. I believe our rules of order indicate that we vote the report of a Nominating Committee, and when a report comes with a cluster of names we vote the whole report, not the individual. So that’s the way we will proceed.

ROBERT E. KYTE: Mr. Chairman, we are prepared to submit two partial reports from the Nominating Committee today. We are pleased that we are able to bring the first report by Dr. Castillo, who will be presenting the list of the presidents for the 13 divisions.

ISMAEL CASTILLO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased to present this important report for world field. First, for the East-Central Africa Division, we have a new name, Blasious Ruguri. Elder Ruguri has been a departmental director for the local field and the division, and since 2003 he has been the secretary of the division.

For the Euro-Africa Division, the recommendation, Mr. Chairman, is for the incumbent, Elder Bruno Vertallier.

For the Euro-Asia Division, we have here another new name. It’s Guillermo Biaggi. Elder Biaggi has been treasurer at the local and union level, vice president for finance in the Universidad Adventista del Plata in Argentina, and since 2000 has been the treasurer of the division.

We continue with the Inter-American Division. The recommendation is for the incumbent, Elder Israel Leito.

For the North American Division, we have a new name, Dan Jackson. Elder Jackson has been, since 2002, the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada.

For the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Jairyong Lee.

For the South American Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Elder Erton C. Kohler.

For the South Pacific Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Barry D. Oliver.

For the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Elder Paul S. Ratsara.

For the Southern Asia Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Elder John Rathinaraj.

For the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Elder Alberto C. Gulfan, Jr.

For the Trans-European Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Elder Bertil Wiklander.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, for the West- Central Africa Division, the recommendation is for the incumbent, Gilbert Wari.

I move that we accept this report. [The report was seconded and voted.]

LOWELL C. COOPER: We’ll turn back to the Nominating Committee to proceed with another portion of the report.

ROBERT E. KYTE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We have begun to work on departments, and we have chosen to work on certain departments first because of current vacancies, so that those department directors can have a little more time to work on the proposals regarding their associates. So Dr. Tutsch will bring us the report for the Education Department and the Family Ministries Department.

CYNTHIA TUTSCH: The Nominating Committee recommends the name of Dr. Lisa Beardsley for the position of director of the Department of Education. Dr. Beardsley was born in England. She holds a Finland and U.S. passport. She began her work in the Trans-European Division. She has worked in educational capacities at Andrews University, as the vice-chancellor of Loma Linda University, and, since 2006, she has been an associate director of the General Conference Department of Education.

The Nominating Committee recommends the name of Dr. Willie Oliver to serve as director of the Family Ministries Department. Dr. Oliver has worked in various capacities in the North American Division in family and marriage as well as youth ministries. Most recently he has been the marriage and family director of the North American Division.

The Nominating Committee is recommending, that his wife, Elaine Oliver, serve as an associate director of the Family Ministries Department at the General Conference. She is currently working as an associate vice president of Washington Adventist University. She is also a marriage and family consultant to the North American Division. Mr. Chairman, I move the preceding report.

[The motion was seconded and voted.]

ROBERT E. KYTE: Mr. Chairman, that concludes our partial report, and we thank you for the opportunity of presenting it.

LOWELL C. COOPER: And thank you to the Nominating Committee. I think that will bring us to the conclusion of our business session for the morning. We remind you that the business session begins at 3:00 this afternoon.

LOWELL C. COOPER: [Benediction.]

CLAUDE SABOT, Proceedings Editor
REINDER BRUINSMA and LARRY COLBURN, Assistant Proceedings Editors

Fifty-ninth General Conference session, June 28, 2010, 9:15 a.m.

The business meeting next turned to a discussion of Church Manual items.For an abbreviated record of discussion, proceedings, voted actions, and text of the voted documents, please go to (See Bulletin 2, p. 41 for the rationale.)

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