With a marching drum corps demonstration, hymns of holiness, and the New England Youth Ensemble playing Vivaldi, the 2019 Annual Council meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee opened Thursday evening, October 10, 2019.
Quick profiles of International Youth Department Initiatives were featured in the evening program — One Year in Mission, Global Youth Day, Youth Alive — along with statistics about membership in Pathfinders (1.7 million), Adventurers (1.5 million), and Ambassadors (482,161). The General Conference Youth Department is putting on the LEAD Conference that always opens Annual Council and continues through Friday.
The 138-page meeting agenda was posted on October 9 to the Executive Committee website. Included in the document were the materials for the four agendas of the meeting: the General Agenda, the Policy Agenda, the Constitution and Bylaws Agenda, and the Consent Agenda.
The policy agenda has 34 separate items to consider with changes being proposed for model constitutions and tithe policy to be reviewed before being sent on to the 2020 General Conference Session in Indianapolis.
Tithe parity will be on the docket for discussion during consideration of the General Conference’s finances, specifically the amount of tithe that each division sends to the General Conference. In November 2018, the North American Division’s Executive Committee voted to request parity in the amount of tithe sent from each of the Divisions. Currently NAD gives 6.10% while the other divisions give 2%. In discussions earlier this year, the other divisions showed no interest in raising the amount of tithe they send to the General Conference. However, the proposal in the Annual Council Agenda calls for parity to be reached at 3% in 2030, and for the North American Division to be down to 3% as early as 2024.
While news that the Compliance Committees voted into existence at the last Annual Council meeting may be disbanded, the fireworks around compliance issues promises to return with proposals to move directly to sanctions without the committee process. The topic is slated for discussion on Tuesday, also the day that the committee will take up the new statement on abortion that has been drafted by the Biblical Research Institute but not yet released to the public.
It is the morning devotionals that seem to carry through the theme for the year: Faithfulness in Christian Lifestyle. Weimar President Neil Nedley, Michigan Conference Health Ministries Director Vicki Griffin, Australian Physician Ross Grant, and Berrien Springs Village Church Pastor Ron Kelly are set to speak at the 8:00 a.m. hour during the business sessions of the committee next week. Nedley’s topic is “Wholeness in Christ and Our Commitment to His Health Principles.” Griffin will address “God’s Leading in My Life and Yours.” Lifestyle Choice will be Grant’s topic. Kelly will consider complete restoration in Christ.
Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.
Image Credit: Brent Hardinge / GC Communication, courtesy of the Adventist News Network on Flickr.
The live stream schedule for Annual Council can be found on the Executive Committee website here: https://executivecommittee.adventist.org/live/
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