CHURCH MANUAL BUSINESS DOMINATES JULY 5, 2015 GC

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Today moved into more typical business session activities. The session took up several Church Manual revision proposals. While considering various items, some of which proposed changing the designation of minister to pastor, since in the secular world, minister can be someone with different portfolios, such as the minister of education, the minister of defense, the minister of agriculture, while the designation of “pastor” is widely recognized as being specific to the gospel ministry. However, a few delegates were adamant to leave the designation as minister. Also, they were concerned that the more inclusive language being proposed pre-determined an outcome on Wednesday in favor of ordination of women, and they were opposed to that outcome.

Also, of great concern to a number of delegates is the ongoing concern about using the electronic voting devices for “secret” or anonymous voting by all delegates (which we have used for NAD meetings and which the GC Nominating Committee is currently using). On Thursday, it was determined that the WIFI for the Alomodome was interfering with the frequency for the remote voting devices. By Friday, that had been totally repaired and restored. However, every time it was tested with the delegates, it was apparent that several hundred votes that were not being cast, compared to the number of delegates present. I personally spoke with the GC IT personnel who I know personally on Friday, Sabbath and today. And they said point-blank, “Ray, the devices are working perfectly. There are no problems with the voting devices at all.”

Some delegates had heard (disclaimer – hearsay on my part) that certain delegations had been instructed not to use the electronic devices. And that other division leaders had instructed their delegates to vote all together in a certain way. It was also said to them that if the electronic devices were used, the leader would personally interview each individual later to ask how they voted. Normally I would not give much credit to such stories. However, today, there were multiple requests by delegates (predominantly from the NAD) to use/test the voting devices today for voting on names brought in by the Nominating Committee.

Eventually, all the delegates were asked to stand and hold their devices. Each section was counted as to who/how many had devices. Then a test question was put to the delegates to vote yes or no.

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It didn’t matter how anyone voted, it was just to see how many devices where registered in the electronic receiving equipment. When the tally was reported there were about 500 votes less than there were delegates with devices present. So the motion was made to NOT use the devices. Later, delegates requested that paper ballots be used for “secret ballot” voting. This motion was voted down by the delegates. Yet it was interesting that the NAD delegates voted overwhelming in favor of that proposal, and the other parts of the world field (predominantly Africa) voted against a secret ballot. It was interesting to me, that in the discussion of that motion, a delegate from Africa, specifically stated his opposition to using voting devices or secret ballots, because he felt those systems could be manipulated. And if you believed in a position strong enough, you should be very public about expressing your vote.

So it appears that the rest of our voting through this session will be by uplifted voting cards. And the concern of some from some parts of the world field, is that this process of voting by upraised cards in public can be used to control or intimidate delegates from certain fields to vote as instructed by their leaders and be watched and punished if they deviate.

The dynamic all through the day brought into clear focus, that the NAD with only 7% of the population of the world church, is now clearly in a minority in regards to official church decisions. Almost all the votes today of any interest to the NAD delegates was soundly voted down.

Another interesting development, is that in order to speak as a delegate to any issue before the body, you have to take your name tag, present it to a person sitting at a designated area near your seating area. They will “scan” it with a laser reader, and this will indicate to the chair of the session that someone in the delegate area wishes to speak to an item. There are about 6 such stations and microphones spread out in the delegate area. The microphone, # 3, that was in our section, several times had difficulty with the laser scanner reading that a delegate wanted to speak, and the chairperson would not recognize them and would proceed with calling for the vote. One time I had to go to a different microphone some distance away from our seating area to call attention to the fact that several delegates were not getting recognized by the microphone in the NAD section.

Though all of this, I love our church. I love our message. I love our mission, and I love our Lord. May the Lord of heaven and earth guide and bless us so that we can continue to work together for the mission that we have in revealing Jesus and making disciples.

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At noon, Jeanne and I joined Mark and Bev Sorensen for lunch in the large delegate dining area. We got to sit across the table from an Adventist missionary surgeon serving in South Africa who was originally from Argentina. Just a couple of years ago, he was asked to head up the Adventist work to minister to AIDs victims. This very dedicated Adventist Physician told us some inspiring stories of his work as a surgeon for over 20 years, and now with the ministry to those with AIDs. There are more than 30 million AIDs victims just in Africa alone.

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Tonight, Jeanne and I participated in the governing board of The Hope of Survivors meeting held in conjunction with General Conference Session. Jennifer Jill Schwirzer of the PA Conference is also a member. This excellent organization ministers to the victims of clergy abuse. At the conclusion of our board meeting, I was elected chairman of the board for THOS. We were privileged to have THOS at our 2015 PA Conference Camp Meeting.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Karin Lebo on July 6, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful updates!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Margaret Ernst on July 6, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Dear Ray,
    I have been following the news from GC SA 2015, and very much appreciate your conscientious efforts as well as these updates. Thank you for your fearlessness. I’m thankful for the grace God is giving you.
    Praying for all of you/all of us.

    Reply

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