Why Adventism's Representative Government Doesn't Represent Adventism

Why Adventism's Representative Government Doesn't Represent Adventism

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Published:
July 2, 2015

During the afternoon business session on the 2015 General Conference Session's opening day, session chair Benjamin Schoun announced the 252 members of the nominating committee who will name a president and the church's other top leaders. When the names were presented, the list appeared on only two screens in the cavernous Alamodome, displayed in a font small enough to make the names illegible from many places in the dome. Further, the list scrolled up the screen slightly slower than film credits, but fast enough to make reading them next to impossible.

Members of the media complained about not being given copies of the delegate list or being able to see the screens from the press box. Delegates seated on the main floor of the arena came to the mic complaining of not being able to read the names either. One delegate asked that the font be enlarged (it was). Another delegate asked that the list of names be read aloud (they weren't).

Megen de Bruin-Molé, a young delegate from the Netherlands, asked that the composition of the delegates be given by age and gender. After some hesitation, those numbers were read to the delegates, dispelling any idea that the Seventh-day Adventist Church's representative government represents the Adventist Church. The following three graphics show why Adventist governance doesn't represent the people.

The first image provides demographic information for the Adventist Church at large. Note numbers related to women and to church members under the age of 40 in particular.

The second image depicts the delegates selected for the 2015 General Conference Session. Significant differences already become apparent.

The final image represents the members of the General Conference nominating committee. Only 34 of the 252 members of the committee are women, and while 62% of Adventist members are under 40, only 6% of the members of the committee that will select the church's top leaders fit that age bracket.

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