GC Session Day 3: Response to Diversity Concerns

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Published:
June 9, 2022

During the Wednesday night business meeting at the 2022 General Conference (GC) Session, Lowell Cooper, chair of the nominating committee, responded to concerns about diversity and representation during the nomination process.

“There was some uneasiness in the body last night in the process of selection and recommendation of names for leadership positions at the General Conference,” Cooper said. “I just wanted to assure the body that the nominating committee has asked many of the same questions perhaps more times than they have been asked here; the questions of diversity, the questions of representation, and the question of age—which you cannot ask in the United States.” 

Cooper said the nominating committee reviews many factors during the nomination process and that a single factor alone cannot determine a candidate’s qualification.

“We look at a number of areas, and in the total mix of all the considerations that are given, to try, under God’s guidance, to exercise our decision in a way that would bring a recommendation to you,” he said.

GC Human Resources Director Lori Yingling provided demographic information of GC employees in executive, professional, and managerial positions. According to a 2021 report, 62% of employees in the positions are men and 38% are women. Regarding ethnicity, 55% are white, 17% are Latino or Hispanic, 16% are Black or African American, 9% are Asian, and 3% are two or more races. The average age of employees in executive, professional, and managerial positions is 54, while the average age of elected officials is 60. Every division was represented in the report.

Nominations for world division officers, with the exception of those from the Euro-Asia Division (ESD), and GC departmental associates were announced and approved during the afternoon and night business meetings. The term of office for the ESD officers has been extended until the 2022 GC Annual Council due to unusual circumstances prevailing in the division.

See below for a list of positions confirmed on Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

Adventist Possibility Ministries

A new addition to the Church Manual, Adventist Possibility Ministries, was proposed during the Wednesday night business meeting. The addition is an initiative to be more inclusive of people with special needs and those who are deaf. 

The addition, according to the session agenda, states that the church recognizes deafness “as more of a cultural characteristic than … a disability.” It also recommends that church boards appoint a local possibility ministries leader, preferably one who has direct experience or education with the ministry.

Diane Thurber, North American Division delegate, stood in support of the addition. She stated that she is an advocate for people who are blind through her work at Christian Record Services and as a member of the GC Adventist Possibility Ministries advisory and task force for the blind.

“Adding this section to the Church Manual will raise awareness and will help to ensure there’s representation at the local church for anyone with a visible or hidden disability who may need accommodation and for someone who is deaf,” Thurber said. “But even more important, we as a church will learn more about how to include all God’s children who desire to help advance the mission of our church. The body of Christ is not complete without these brothers and sisters.”

Deaf pastor and GC delegate Jeffrey Jordan also supported the motion.

“There are millions and many, many people that are deaf that are not yet represented,” said Jordan through the American Sign Language translator. “I’m happy to be the representative as a deaf individual here on the floor. But we are supporting this motion, this part of the Church Manual, to be more inclusive of deaf, and blind, and those who are people that are on the list that you have read, and each person that has the possibility that God can use.”

The addition of the new section passed with 99.6% approval.

Delegates also addressed amendments that encouraged the diaconate to assist church members who have special needs under the “Duties of Deacons” and “Duties of Deaconesses” sections. Concerns about resources and specific qualifications to assist people with special needs were voiced. Concerns about having separate sections for deacons and deaconesses were also voiced but dismissed by the chair since the specific additions being addressed did not deal with gender. 

The amendment to the “Duties of Deacons” section passed with 96.7% approval. The amendment to the “Duties of Deaconesses” section passed through common consent since the additions were similar to the “Duties of Deacons” section.

Spirit of Prophecy Writings Coordinator

Delegates passed another addition to the Church Manual that creates a Spirit of Prophecy writings coordinator position in local churches. The motion passed with a 66.3% approval rate, one of the lowest of the session.

According to the session agenda, the Spirit of Prophecy writings coordinator would be responsible for “promoting the importance and right use of the Spirit of Prophecy writings.”

Many delegates stated that they respected Ellen White’s writings, but they had concerns with establishing the new position. Some concerns included idolization of Ellen White’s writings, abuse of the position, threat to freedom of conscience, and lack of training materials.

South German Union Conference delegate Rabea Kramp supported the addition, stating that it could benefit the church during the end times.

“I really appreciate this idea to create a new position of a coordinator for the Spirit of Prophecy, especially because we know that one of the signs of the end will be the making of non-effect of the Spirit of Prophecy,” Kramp said. “So, I hope this position of the coordinator in our local churches might help to minimize this development in the end time and makes us aware of the wonderful gift of Ellen White and her writings. 

“Several fields in our world church treat these inspired writings very differently after the fact that in some areas, church members are not allowed to distribute Ellen White books for our mission because the church leaders hinder that or even forbid it,” Kramp continued. “So, this new section can be a sign that we need to uplift her writings even more. And I know many church members in Europe, young and old, who would enthusiastically welcome this new section and would be more than willing to put it in practice.”

Positions Confirmed on June 8, 2022

World Division Presidents: 97.1% approval, 1,534 total votes received

–         Blasious Ruguri, president, East-Central Africa Division (ECD) (incumbent)

–         Mikhail Kaminskiy, president, Euro-Asia Division (ESD) (incumbent)*

–         Elie Henry, president, Inter-American Division (IAD) (incumbent)

–         Mario Brito, president, Inter-European Division (EUD) (incumbent)

–         G Alexander Bryant, president, North American Division (NAD) (incumbent)

–         Yo Han Kim, president, Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD)

– Positions previously held: director, Adventist Mission, NSD; assistant to president, NSD

–         Stanley Edilson Arco, president, South American Division (SAD) (incumbent)

–         Glenn Townend, president, South Pacific Division (SPD) (incumbent)

–         Harrington Akombwa, president, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID)

–Position previously held: union president, Zambia Union Conference/Southern Zambia Union Conference, SID

–         Ezras Lakra, president, Southern Asia Division (SUD) (incumbent)

–         Roger Caderma, president, Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD)

–Position previously held: president, South Philippine Union Conference, SSD

–         Daniel Duda, president, Trans-European Division (TED)

–Position previously held: director, Education, TED

–         Robert Osei-Bonsu, president, West-Central Africa Division (WAD)

–Position previously held: dean, Theological Seminary, Adventist University of Africa, GC

*Term of office has been extended until the 2022 Annual Council due to unusual circumstances prevailing in the division.

World Division Secretaries and Treasurers: 96.4% approval, 1,528 total votes received

–         Musa Mitekaro, secretary, EC

–Positions previously held: secretary, Ministerial Association, ECD; director, Family Ministries, ECD

–         Jerome Habimana, treasurer, ECD (incumbent)

–         Viktor Alyeksyeyenko, secretary, ESD (incumbent)*

–         Vladimir Tkachuk, treasurer, ESD (incumbent)*

–         Leonard Johnson, secretary, IAD (incumbent)

–         Filiberto Verduzco, treasurer, IAD (incumbent)

–         Barna Magyarosi, secretary, EUD (incumbent)

–         Norbert Zens, treasurer, EUD (incumbent)

–         Kyoshin Ahn, secretary, NAD (incumbent)

–         Randy Robinson, treasurer, NAD (incumbent)

–         Hiroshi Yamaji, secretary, NSD

–Position previously held: director, Health Ministries, NSD

–         Joel Tompkins, treasurer, NSD (incumbent)

–         Edward Heidinger, secretary, SAD (incumbent)

–         Marlon S. Lopes, treasurer, SAD (incumbent)

–         Ch. John Victor, secretary, SUD

–Position previously held: president, East Central India Union, SUD

–         Riches Christian, treasurer, SUD

–Position previously held: assistant to the treasurer, SUD

–         Wendell Mandolang, secretary, SSD

–Position previously held: ministerial secretary/chaplaincy director, SSD

–         Jacinth Adap, treasurer, SSD

–Position previously held: undertreasurer, SSD

–         Gideon Reyneke, secretary, SID (incumbent)

–         Hopekings Ngoma, treasurer, SID (incumbent)

–         Michael Sikuri, secretary, SPD (incumbent)

–         Francois Keet, treasurer, SPD (incumbent)

–         Robert Csizmadia, secretary, TED

–Position previously held: president, Duna Conference, TED

–         Nenad Jepuranovic, treasurer, TED (incumbent)

–         Selom Kwasi Sessou, secretary, WAD

–Position previously held: assistant secretary, WAD

–         Markus Mussa Dangana, treasurer, WAD

–Position previously held: treasurer, Northern Nigeria Union Conference, WAD

*Term of office has been extended until the 2022 Annual Council due to unusual circumstances prevailing in the division.

GC Departmental Associates: 98.3% approval, 1,496 total votes received

–         Samuel Neves, associate director, Communication, GC

–Position previously held: associate director, Communication, GC

–         Hudson Kibuuka, associate director, Education, GC (incumbent)

–         John Taylor, associate director (4), Education, GC (incumbent)

–         Julian Melgosa, associate director, Education, GC

–Position previously held: associate director, Education, GC

–         Richard Apelles Sabuin, associate director, Education, GC

–Position previously held: director, Education Department, NSD

–         Zeno Charles-Marcel, associate director, Health Ministries, GC (incumbent)

–         Katia Reinert, associate director, Health Ministries, GC (incumbent)

–         Torben Bergland, associate director, Health Ministries, GC (incumbent)

–         Pavel Goia, associate secretary, “Ministry” editor, Ministerial Association, GC (incumbent)

–         Jeffrey Brown as associate secretary, “Ministry” editor, Ministerial Association, GC (incumbent)

–         Robert Costa, associate secretary, Evangelism, Ministerial Association, GC (incumbent)

–         Anthony Kent, associate secretary, “Elder’s Digest” editor, Ministerial Association, GC (incumbent)

–         Jennifer Woods, associate director, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, GC (incumbent)

–         Nelu Burcea, associate director, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, GC (incumbent)

–         Scot Coppock, associate director, Planned Giving and Trust Services, GC (incumbent)

–         Stephen Apola, associate director, Publishing Ministries, GC (incumbent)

–         Justin Kim, associate director, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries, GC

–Position previously held: assistant director, Sabbath School and Personal Ministries, GC

–         Eric Barbe, associate director, Stewardship Ministries GC (incumbent)

–         Nilde Itin as associate director of GC Women’s Ministries

–Position previously held: administrative secretary to the president, GC

–         Pako Mokgwane, associate director, Public Campus Ministries, Youth Ministries, GC (incumbent)

–         Andres Peralta as associate director, Pathfinders and Adventurers, Youth Ministries, GC (incumbent)

 

The 2022 General Conference Session continues on Thursday, June 9.

 


Megan Yoshioka is a reporter for Spectrum and a recent mass communication-writing/editing graduate from Southern Adventist University. She has lived in California, Hawaii, and Tennessee.

Title image: Lowell Cooper, chairman of the nominating committee, addresses the delegates on Wednesday, June 8. Photo by Tor Tjeransen / Adventist Media Exchange (CC BY 4.0)

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