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Episode 3: The Room Where It Happens

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Two men sit at a desk and talk in a whisper
Benjamin Reaves and Gordon Paxton, both associate pastors at Pioneer Memorial Church, discuss a matter at a youth conference, cir. 1972. Courtesy of the Center for Adventist Research.

Despite its humble beginnings, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is now an institution with millions of members from a wide variety of backgrounds and diverse perspectives. So who gets to call the shots?

From the local church to the General Conference, we peek inside the room where it happens...and tell you how to get your foot in the door.

Guests: Pastor Bonita Shields, Lowell Cooper, George Knight, G. Alexander Bryant, Kyoshin Ahn


Dive Deeper

1888 General Conference Session - one of the most pivotal in Adventist Church History. Courtesy of the Center for Adventist Research.

A brief overview of the General Conference Session's purpose and history.

Ellen White at either the 1901 or the 1903 General Conference Session. From the Center for Adventist Research.

Article | 1901/1903 Reorganization - Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists

This article explains the issues surrounding the 1901/1903 reorganization of the church detailed in Episode 3: The Room Where it Happens.

The first page of the 1901 General Conference Session Minutes.

The General Conference Session happens every five years. This constituency session is where the most important church business happens - the election of the GC and Division Presidents, changes to the GC Working Policy, and updates to the Fundamental Beliefs.

These sessions shape the church for decades to come.

For anyone wanted to get involved in church leadership or decision-making at the local level, the Church Manual is an important resource. Everything you need to know about church board meetings, conference constituency sessions, and nominating committees is in this manual. The purpose of the Church Manual is to help us do community together.

Some churches follow the Church Manual to a tee. Others use it more as a guideline. It just depends on your local church.

The Church Manual is updated at every General Conference Session.

The 43rd General Conference Session, San Francisco, California. Cir 1936. Courtesy of the GC Archives.

In 2020, the General Conference Session, which is scheduled to happen every five years, was postponed due to COVID-19, until May 2021. It was then postponed again until May 2022.

In this article, Author Dr. David Trim explores other world events that contributed to cancelling or postponement of General Conference Sessions in the past.

Explore | Gallery

General Conference Session - September 1860

Newspaper clipping about what may be the first ever General Conference Session.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church officially organized three years later, in 1863.

Courtesy of the Center for Adventist Research.

North American Division Working Policy

This red book contains all of the working policy that guides decisions made by the church, everything from how conferences purchase property to the requirements for pastoral ordination.

This policy is dynamic - it can be changed through official vote in a General Conference Session.

This thick book is only available to necessary entities.


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Twitter: @htcwpodcast

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