Idaho Conference’s 50th Constituency Session Our Passion: Telling the Story
Elizabeth Parker sat in one of the front rows of the Gem State Adventist Academy gymnasium. Her knitting needles worked rhythmically on an afghan, but she listened intently along with nearly 350 other delegates who had come from all points of the compass to attend the 50th Idaho Conference Constituency Session on April 13. For Elizabeth, it had already been a long day, having answered the strident call of her alarm in Baker City, Ore., at 3:30 a.m. in order to arrive in Caldwell on time.
In spite of the long hours, Elizabeth and the other delegates carefully set a course for the next four years, including the re-election of all incumbent conference officers. Stephen McPherson will continue as president, Don Klinger as secretary, and Rick Roy as treasurer. In addition, Klinger will direct the communication and trust departments, while Roy will oversee stewardship development.
Bruce Juhl, Caldwell church pastor, will direct the ministerial department in addition to his full-time pastoral duties, and Bill Mansker, associate treasurer, will continue to serve as Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASI) director. Although highly-regarded Larry Blackmer will soon be moving to a new position in the North American Division, delegates reinstated him as education director to allow more time for consideration of a replacement. The conference executive committee expects to fill that position after a thorough search process is completed.
In other actions, two new congregations were voted in as official churches: Garden Valley, a result of ASI-encouraged growth, and Middleton, with more than 60 current members. Delegates also voted to change conference bylaws to reflect the expanded role of the K-12 Board of Education as separate from the regular program committees.
Responding to new counsel from church legal advisors, delegates also approved a resolution to combine the Idaho Conference and the Southern Idaho Corporation into one incorporated organization called Idaho Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Inc. Early church pioneers desired to form a strong organizational structure without becoming entangled with the state and its requirements. They conceived the two-tiered system, with a conference organization to promote the mission of the church and an association or corporation to hold property and serve as the legal entity. That has become the standard model for church organization.
In recent years, however, issues of multiple organization liability and ascending liability have increased the potential of jeopardizing conference finances and ministry under the traditional system. Attorney Bob Kyte, who presented the proposal to the session on behalf of the constitution and bylaws committee, noted this as an issue of stewardship. “We want to be faithful to the mission our pioneers first initiated. Our leaders have counted the cost and determined that a conference, in one incorporated system, is the best possible way to be good stewards in today’s litigious society.” With the new system, the mission of Idaho Conference remains the same, while the structure is modified for legal protection.
In his president’s report, McPherson noted that conference baptisms had averaged 200 per year for the past term, reflecting the second highest Anglo growth rate in the Northwest. But he challenged delegates to pray and work for a five percent annual growth, a rate that would translate to approximately 300 new members each year.
In other reports, Idaho delegates heard that:
Gem State Academy has a goal of increasing dormitory population by 50 percent during the next two years.
GSAA has adopted a balanced budget for next school year with a plan to pay down previous losses over the next two years.
Camp Ida-Haven usage has doubled and income is up 50 percent.
A goal of raising $50,000 per year has been targeted to develop a new Church Planting Fund.
More than 80 student baptisms have occurred in the past four years due to the influence of Christian education.
Youth Council activities, led by Pastor John Bryson, have included one short-term mission trip each year—most recently to the Dominican Republic.
Plans for the Future
Conference evangelism plans include a goal of connecting with significant numbers of Idaho’s unchurched population. Radio KTSY plans to play an important role in that strategy. In the near future, manager Mike Agee and his staff plan to add an additional station in Middleton and one in the Twin Falls area, as well as doubling the current KTSY listening area via translators. The conference has recently hired Brian Yeager as a church planter and part-time KTSY chaplain. He is developing a new church specifically for the unchurched populace—10-15,000 of whom currently tune in to KTSY.
Prior to the constituency session, leadership followed a well-defined process of accountability to membership. From December to February, officers held town hall meetings in John Day, Baker City, La Grande, Enterprise, Payette, Caldwell, Cloverdale, Salmon, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls and Kuna. These meetings were advertised in church bulletins and helped leaders move into the constituency session and the new term ahead with guidance and suggestions from a wide cross-section of church membership.
Although a tight regional economy continues to impact the conference budget, delegates left the session with a renewed sense that God has given the church a unique mission in Idaho. As North Pacific Union Conference president Jere Patzer pointed out in the morning devotional, taking his cue from the experience of Elisha’s servant at Dothan, “God has unlimited resources already at our disposal to encourage, protect and enable us to do His work. We must commit ourselves to Him and pray, ‘Lord, open our eyes.’”
Executive Committee (as voted—pending individual acceptance)