Educational and organizational matters topped the agenda of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 2012 Annual Council on the afternoon of October 15, with world church leaders voting to reorganize the Chinese Union Mission, headquartered in Hong Kong, and rename the Greater Middle Eastern Union.
The Chinese Union Mission (CHUM) will now focus on the territories of Hong Kong and Macau, each a “special administrative region” of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The PRC’s “unorganized territory” of 400,000 Seventh-day Adventists will also be a constituency of CHUM.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Taiwan, and an affiliated hospital, university and publishing house, will directly link to the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), headquartered in Seoul, Republic of Korea.
“Since China is so huge,” said Pastor Jairyong Lee, NSD president, “they always feel they need more help. Meanwhile, our people in Taiwan feel they have been neglected by the Union, even though the Union did their best. The idea [of the reorganization] is to let the China Union Mission do more for mainland China.”
In a separate move, Annual Council delegates approved a change in name for the Greater Middle East Union Mission to the Middle East and North Africa Union Mission, with an acronym of MENA. “MENA,” as an acronym to describe the region, is in common use by businesses and non-governmental organizations, said Pastor Homer Trecartin, regional church president.
In other actions today, the Adventist world church Education department emphasized the importance of greater oversight by the boards of educational institutions, in light of scandals at the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Virginia. Though Adventist institutions have a different focus than Penn State, for example, the need for board involvement remains.
“We have to find [an] interdependence that is healthy, functional and builds up the Body of Christ,” said Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director of education for the world church.
One Adventist institution reporting good results was Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama, a historically black school owned by the General Conference. Oakwood president Leslie N. Pollard said the school passed its recent regional accreditation visitation by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges with high marks: of 99 criteria for accreditation, only one recommendation was made to the school, resulting in a grade of 99.98-percent, he said.
Pollard also reported that of 833 active students surveyed about spiritual life, 95 percent reported their adherence to the Bible as the guiding moral standard for their lives, a number exponentially greater than the 9 percent of American evangelical Christians or 2 percent of American evangelical teenagers reporting the same commitment in a Barna Research study.
In the wake of the September 2012 Global Media Summit, Annual Council delegates approved a resolution “support[ing the] general direction of collaboration among divisions of the world church to increase the impact of the name SDA in the world community, and to make more effective use of media and communication resources to reach the world for Jesus Christ.”
And the Adventist Church's Youth Ministries department promoted March 16, 2013, as a Global Youth Day for community service and outreach.