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Annual Council agenda: church’s response to two unions’ unilateral actions

Secretary, treasury reports; highlights of Great Controversy, prayer initiatives

Annual Council agenda: church’s response to two unions’ unilateral actions

An engineer conducts tests of audio and visual equipment in the Adventist Church’s headquarters auditorium last week. Crews were preparing the auditorium and its translation booths for next week’s Annual Council.

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Next week’s Annual Council will likely have a packed agenda, from a discussion on how leaders should respond to actions of two administrative unions that conflict with world church policy to a possible name change for the denomination’s Euro-Africa Division.

Annual Council, set for October 11 to 17, is the yearly meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Executive Committee, a group of more than 350 world church leaders. It is the church’s top business meeting other than General Conference Session, which is held every five years.

The General Conference’s office of the executive secretary offered ANN a preliminary agenda but stressed that it is not official until it is adopted on the first day of business. Annual Council begins the evening of Thursday, October 11, and business sessions start Sunday, October 14.

“We appreciate the prayers of members worldwide for this council and expect that the Spirit will be evident throughout the proceedings,” said Myron Iseminger, undersecretary for the Adventist world church. “It’s encouraging to see world church leaders representing diverse cultures passionately yet peacefully expressing their positions on tough issues and then praying together.”

Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson will deliver the Sabbath Sermon on October 13, which will be broadcast on the church’s Hope Channel network. Leaders will also give updates on several presidential initiatives, including the Great Controversy Project, a global distribution of the book written by church co-founder Ellen G. White, and Revived by His Word, a Bible-reading program. 

Adventist Church Secretary G. T. Ng is scheduled to deliver his report regarding the world church’s membership and steps the denomination is taking enhance its records.

Secretariat is also expected to recommend a change in church structure to enhance ministry in the Northern Asia-Pacific Division and in Burundi in the East-Central Africa Division.

Church Treasurer Robert E. Lemon will deliver his report on the state of the church’s finances and a revised policy on tithe incorporating recommendations from a study commission.

Delegates are also expected to receive an update on the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, which was established last month. The move follows last year’s unveiling of a roadmap for how the denomination will study the role and practice of ordination in response to a 2010 request at General Conference Session.

While the Adventist world church’s policy does allow for women to be commissioned as ministers, it does not allow for the ordination of women to ministry. The issue has become one of intense discussion again in recent years. Church officials said two union constituency sessions have authorized their executive committees to ordain women as ministers despite requests from Adventist world church leaders to wait for the committee’s conclusions.

Delegates are also expected to vote on wording of a policy change that adjusts the percentage of tithe from the North American Division that is offered forwarded to the General Conference headquarters. NAD currently contributes 8 percent of tithe to the General Conference, and the proposal is a reduction to 6 percent by the year 2020. The other 12 divisions, by comparison, each contribute 2 percent of tithe to the General Conference.

There could also be a name change for the denomination’s Euro-Africa Division, based in Berne, Switzerland. Last year, the division’s territory in Africa was aligned with the newly-created Greater Middle East Union.

Secretariat also said the two church statements on homosexuality will undergo rewording to more clearly articulate the denomination’s position.