With one third of baptized Seventh-day Adventist church members slipping out the back door, officials at the General Conference have decided it is time to address the issue in a major way. To do so, academic researchers and church administrators are meeting this week in Silver Spring to discuss the data and suggest a strategy to reverse the trend during the “Summit on Nurture and Retention, 2013: Discipling, Retaining, and Reclaiming”.
Amidst the avalanche of material that has been written on women’s ordination in the past several years, the North American Division Report presented this past week distinguishes itself as a comprehensive document that covers all the important aspects of the topic, includes material from multiple viewpoints and presents a way forward for the church.
It was the last day of Annual Council. General Conference Vice President Lowell Cooper was pitching a document on governing board autonomy, independence, and accountability in colleges and universities. He said the original version of the document had been circulated to the administrations and board chairs of the various Adventist colleges and universities. Recommendations from that group had been used to revise the document that was being presented. As usual the chair of the meeting asked if there were any comments. And this time, surprisingly, there were.
In the beginning there were movies about creation, animal encounters and beyond. And it was very good. There were also reports from every possible General Conference department on how they are participating in the “Creation: The World is a Witness” evangelism project for 2014. From creation care features in the stewardship magazine to children’s curriculum on creation, it seems every possible angle has been considered.
Annual financial reports were presented to the Executive Committee of the General Conference on Monday and a $175 million budget was voted. Treasurer Robert Lemon’s report mixed philosophical musings with the reality of the numbers. For a variety of reasons, he said, the September financial statement shows the church is $9 million behind where it was last year at this time.
When the General Conference Executive Committee meets each fall in Silver Spring, all kinds of other meetings are put on the schedule, too. Sunday morning, the Council on Evangelism and Witness resumed presentations that it had started on Friday night. Today it was time to talk about creative evangelism ideas. My favorites came from the United Kingdom where an evangelistic series is underway in London.
Ever since I read about the personal love languages as described by Gary Chapman, I’ve been thinking about how those languages might apply to people and their relationship with the church. Words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, all could be applied appropriately. So, it was that while I sat listening to General Conference President Ted N.C. Wilson preach Sabbath, Oct. 12, on “Communicating God’s Truth in Love,” I fell to wondering just what his love language for the church might be.
Sandra E. Roberts, the executive secretary of the Southeastern California Conference for the past nine years, has been nominated to be the conference president. The constituency will vote on her nomination at their meeting Oct. 27. If elected, she would be the first woman to be a president of a Seventh-day Adventist conference.