Event will discuss a constitutional change to allow virtual attendance.
Published on: 05-28-2021
On Tuesday, April 13, 2021, members of the General Conference Executive Committee (GC EXCOM) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted to hold a special General Conference (GC) Session on January 18, 2022.
The vote took place on the opening day of the 2021 Spring Meetings, one of the two annual business meetings of the denomination’s top governing body between world sessions. This year’s meeting took place virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The special one-day, one-item GC Session at the world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, is being called for the sole purpose of amending the GC Constitution to allow delegates to participate by digital means in a future GC Session in the event that unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances arise.
Before the vote, Adventist Church undersecretary Hensley Moorooven detailed some of the factors considered in presenting this proposal to the GC EXCOM members. He reminded the committee that the church’s constitution stipulates that GC sessions and all voting must take place in person and onsite. Additionally, Article V, section 1, of the constitution states that postponing a GC Session should not “exceed two years” beyond a regularly scheduled date. Moorooven then explained that amendments to the GC Constitution and Bylaws can be done only by the delegates at a regular or special GC Session.
“Our goal was to be transparent at each step of the process,” Moorooven said. “The proposal we bring today is the more plausible solution.” This solution would allow delegates to participate in the upcoming GC Session June 6-11, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, even if they could not physically travel to St. Louis because of the pandemic.
GC administrators, though planning for an in-person GC Session, felt it prudent to work on an alternate solution. The GC EXCOM would still have to make a decision at the appropriate time based on the then circumstances whether the GC Session would be held virtually, in person, or a hybrid of the two.
Based on the authority granted to it in Article V of the Constitution to reduce the total number of delegates to a GC Session for reasons of a “major crisis within the church or international arena,” GC EXCOM also voted to reduce the total number of delegates to the January special GC Session to 400 people for this specific meeting. The motion included a request that divisions unable to send their allotted quota of delegates because of travel restrictions or other reasons be allowed to reallocate their unused quota back to the GC. The GC Administrative Committee would then designate these positions to individuals currently working at the GC headquarters, primarily from the divisions that shared their quota. A final element in the voted motion was to request all 13 world divisions and 137 union executive committees to discuss and vote on the proposed constitutional amendment and to report back to the GC Secretariat by August 31, 2021.
After discussion, the three motions passed with overwhelming majority support.
The first motion, to approve the special General Conference Session proposal, was approved by a vote of 169 to 3. The second motion, to convene a special General Conference Session on January 18, 2022, was approved 168 to 3. The final motion, to reduce the total number of delegates to the January 18, 2022, special General Conference Session to 400, was also approved by a margin of 170 to 1.