Snapshots From the Session
Twenty-one delegates and additional guests represented North Pacific Union Conference members at July's General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas. Here are several comments from them following the session.
"On the final evening of the session, I climbed up to the top deck of the Alamodome (section 306) to commemorate this date. The date was July 11. On that same date in 1990, after singing with Auburn Academy’s Sylvan Chorale at the GC Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, I sat in a seat in the upper deck of the Hoosier Dome and watched the debate on the issue of women’s ordination. I listened as delegates gave voice to their positions and convictions. (There weren’t as many points of order, by the way.) After the vote, I committed to become an active participant in my church. The world is run by those that show up. That also applies to the church organization. Please don’t misunderstand. It’s not about ordination. It’s about service and making a small difference in a church I care deeply about. But during this session's intense discussion on ordination, as the debate raged around me, I looked up into the stands and wondered if there was an 18-year old kid that was ready to make a similar decision as I did 25 years ago."
— Andre Wang, NPUC general counsel
"I was continually impressed with the reality of how diverse in thought our church has become. With all the cultures and customs represented, we have moved forever beyond a North America-centric body of believers. As the church continues to grow, that diversity will only increase.”
— John Loor Jr., NPUC executive secretary
"I am thinking of three areas. 1) The presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit at in each one of the world church business meetings in the Alamodome where we gathered as delegates with different views, but exhibited respect for one another during and after the discussion voting points. 2) Seeing the tens of thousands of our brothers and sisters from around the world that beautified the streets of San Antonio, dressed with beautiful typical clothing from their country, listening to conversations in many different languages, observing the facial expressions that resembled joy and kindness as greetings, hugs and smiles were shared. It was such a special and unforgettable experience to share such harmony with all regardless of color, nationality or language. This experience makes me think of what it will be like in heaven, where we all will be sharing the same joy of being in Jesus' presence. I’m so thankful to have had the blessing of being in a place where we all shared the desire to participate in the mission to share Jesus and to answer to the call to 'Arise! Shine! Because Jesus is coming!' 3) The great organization for the GC Session event that included the participation of the San Antonio city mayor to accommodate the great number of people in such way that it brought honor and glory to God."
— Maria Lopez, Oregon Conference member
"This was my first GC Session. I was impressed with how fair the chairperson endeavored to be, even during challenging discussions. The fact that each person had to go to the mic no matter what position they held and wait to be recognized by the chair was a neat reminder that all are equal in the process. The special music was fantastic. It was great to know that God was with His body even when we work through tough and controversial items. I appreciated the respect that delegates, for the most part, had for others."
— Merlin Knowles, Montana Conference president
"This was a powerful reminder that we are succeeding in our overseas mission, with North America now only representing 6.5 percent of our SDA world membership. For our continued unity, we're going to need to allow for diversity in our practices of taking the gospel to the entire world. How the Three Angels' Messages are delivered in an African village is drastically different from how we share them with our neighbors and friends here in the Northwest."
— Paul Hoover, Upper Columbia Conference president
"The administration and chairpersons made impressive efforts to establish a constructive, prayerful atmosphere and encourage solutions-focused dialogue, particularly for Wednesday’s discussion of the theology and practice of ministerial ordination. I was delighted with the nightly mission reports and engaging church history presentations from Jim Nix. If there is a GC Session in Indianapolis in 2020, my husband and I are planning to bring our family to celebrate what is good in our church and refocus on our identity and mission."
— Jerilyn Burtch, Alaska Conference member
"I was impressed that so many people would travel from all over the world to spend 10 or 12 hours a day in meetings. But probably the biggest impact came from the division reports and the intense focus on completing the mission of the church around the world. ... There is good reason to think we have a short time to reach a lot of people. I was impressed that, even though there were some strongly contested issues, the main focus seemed to be on the mission of the church."
— Ron Oliver, Oregon Conference member
"When it was announced [about] our worldwide church membership of 18 million, it just came to me that we have as much members as the population of Chile or the combination of Israel, Hong Kong and Uruguay. It was just such an incredible experience I will never forget. It was like an exquisite seven-course meal when it came to excellent sermons, the history of our church thru our pioneers, our growth through the eyes of the division reports, the world-class music and the mission spots where we saw in detail that there is room for everybody who wants to witness near and far, no matter who we are or where we are from ... there is always room for mission."
— Pedro Pozos, Oregon Conference member
"The first thing that comes to mind is the walk from the hotel to the Alamo Dome six times per day. The scene is reminiscence of the thousands of the children of Israel walking through the hot Southwest heat, but this time they were clothed in their finest apparel. The next memory for me is the packed auditorium from 8 in the morning until 6 in the evening waiting for the vote on women’s ordination. The atmosphere was very charged with anticipation of a history-making day for a decision that would either bring the church into the 21st century or take it back to the time of Christ and the Pharisees. And finally, I rejoiced to see the thousands of people from all around the world fulfilling the command of Jesus that this gospel should be preached into all the world to every nation, kindred, tongue and people."
— Alphonso McCarthy, North Pacific Union Conference vice president
"Most young adults, including myself, wonder why you would spend millions of dollars for a 10-day camp meeting. Isn't this something that could take place remotely? However, after spending many hours in meetings, discussions and more meetings, I believe it is somewhat my duty to inform the naysayers about the importance of these sessions. I believe the most impactful thing for me was the handbook given to us on the "Rules of Order." As a teacher of math and physics for Gem State Academy, I believe God has given us rules of order to live by. There are rules that govern the physical universe, and there are rules that govern our spiritual lives. And while our first order of business seemed a little formal, I soon understood just how important it was to have these rules that we ALL could abide by. Many times throughout the session, individuals tried to argue, change or even break these rules. But each time it was met with strong opposition from the chair of the committee. Some of my impressions of the session were not as positive. However, all of those tended to be cultural annoyances rather than events involving the GC. Overall, I was impressed at the organization, the work accomplished and the overall atmosphere of the session. My goal now is to convince the younger generation that having this event is NOT a waste of money. The business of Gods church is an important undertaking. We should not take it lightly.
— Mark Waterhouse, Idaho Conference member