Unity Amid Diversity
When you stand, as I did recently, in the midst of tens of thousands from every corner of the world, you cannot escape the realization that Seventh-day Adventists are part of a miracle of grace. During the final Sabbath of this year's General Conference Session in Atlanta, Georgia, I joined with 70,000 voices to sing "Lead on, O King Eternal," and all the cultural differences that make us unique faded into the background as we stood, one united body of Christ. At a moment like that, it all comes home to you — the significant resources we spend every five years on these worldwide sessions are crucial to keeping our world church united and focused on a common mission.
Judy Fowler and I represented the Northwest on the GC nominating committee. It's a complex and time-consuming task. Only the Holy Spirit could enable 230 delegates speaking 50 different languages to reach consensus on hundreds of nominations for church leadership. It is a fair process that has become increasingly difficult as our church grows, with less contact between leaders in various parts of the world. I hope it can be streamlined in the future, with more information made available.
I was happy to observe the overwhelming support of the assembled delegates in reaffirming the Creation account as it reads in Scripture. At a time of increased dialogue on the topic of origins, it is helpful to have the Session specifically reaffirm Creation occurred in seven literal, 24-hour days, forming a week identical in time to what we now experience. This is biblical Adventist teaching, and I am thankful it remains our officially-voted position.
The monumental task of rewriting and reorganizing the Church Manual was completed and voted. The new edition of the Manual will be available for distribution in a few months. It has been divided into two sections — the main body, which applies to the entire world church, and a second section of notes to include additional advice or cultural adaptation principles. The Church Manual can only be amended or changed once every five years at GC Session.
I greatly appreciated the main devotional presentations throughout Session, which were given by local pastors representing all the divisions of the world field. It was remarkable to see the variety of homiletical styles and yet hear "the good old Seventh-day Adventist message" woven through every sermon.
The final challenge of the Session came from Ted N. C. Wilson, newly elected world church president. He called earnestly for the church to remain faithful to the sacredness of Holy Scripture, as it reads. He called for revival and reformation in the church to prepare us for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Latter Rain proportions. He reminded us we are the Remnant Church, called to a special task in God's plan to prepare the world for the Second Coming of Jesus. He encouraged us to embrace the special gift God has given in the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy. And he pleaded with the church to remain hopeful and focused on the soon coming of Jesus.
I have returned from GC Session convinced our new leader is a true believer in the message and mission of the Advent Movement. And I'm renewed in my conviction that "the good old Seventh-day Adventist message" is a contemporary calling we can be passionate about here in the Northwest and around the world.