Atlantic Caribbean Union

Reflections on 60th General Conference Session

Reflections on 60th General Conference Session

GC - A Proud Moment for ATCU
            It was gratifying to hear mentioned or to read about the Atlantic Caribbean Union (just nearly five years old), on several occasions during the past 60th session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in San Antonio, Texas. Seventh-day Adventists will long remember the morning devotion of Monday, July 6th, by Pastor Shiann O'Connor, president of the Cayman Islands Conference, the second largest field of ATCU. In fact, a sense of satisfaction was felt among the entire Inter-American Division delegation in the Alamodome. Pastor Israel Leito, who was returned as Division president, commented: "Shiann did us all proud."  Additionally, I was privileged to present the devotion on July 5th, for the nearly 250 members nominating committee on which I served as one of the 40 delegates from the Inter-American Division. Also, ATCU was honored to have as a delegate Waylon Johnson from the North Bahamas Conference. Having emerged as the overall winner of the IAD Bible Boom, Waylon was rewarded with an all expense paid trip as a youth delegate to the GC session. He was featured on television as well in the Adventist Review magazine. However, a most significant moment was the election of Pastor Al Powell as youth director for the Inter-American Division. Though serving in the St. Andres Island Mission, Columbia, Al is from ATCU specifically, Cayman where he was born. He, together with his Associate Director Louise Nocandy, will have oversight for millions of youth throughout Inter America.
Position of Church Regarding Female Pastors
            Since the recent vote at the General Conference session to deny divisions from ordaining female pastors, the question has arisen: "What will happen to current female pastors?" The official position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the same- meaning that female pastors will continue to serve, and female students will continue to study theology and religion, but the church does not ordain them as pastors. Following the vote on Wednesday, July 8, Pastor Ted Wilson, GC president, told delegates at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, that "Wednesday’s vote simply barred the church’s world divisions from making decisions on the ordination of women."  Wilson added, “So let us be clear on what was voted on Wednesday . . . . We are now back to our original understanding, and I would strongly urge all to adhere to what has been voted. But do not place into the vote other things which were not listed in the vote. We need to be fair, we need to be open, and we all need to accept what is voted at a General Conference session." As the Atlantic Caribbean Union is part of the world church, the same applies to the union. We have one female pastor in our union, and she is doing a wonderful job. She as well as any of our female students pursuing theology will continue to be accorded the respect and opportunity to serve where needed by the church.
Position of Church Regarding Female Elders
            The recent vote did not affect the ordination of female elders and deaconesses. The action of the church to ordain female elders adopted over 20 years ago and a recent decision to ordain deaconesses remain intact. In responding to the GC vote, Pastor Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division, explains, “It is vital to understand that the NAD will continue to follow the directions found in the General Conference Working Policy allowing conferences and unions to license women as commissioned ministers in pastoral ministry. We will also continue to encourage utilizing the services of women as ordained local elders and deaconesses.”
Appealing Through the Various Levels of the Church
             Regarding amendments to the Church Manual on referring an appeal, Elder Wilson, sought to squash concerns from some church members that a revision to the Church Manual that delegates approved earlier Friday might limit the authority or activities of the General Conference. “The reason for the wording is to limit any … frivolous appeals from coming up through the system,” Wilson said. Essentially, "the amendment gives divisions the right to stop a dispute from reaching the level of the General Conference. The levels where an appeal can be considered in a division include the local church, conference, and union."
Where Do We Go?
            Now that the GC session has ended, the Atlantic Caribbean Union forges ahead with its mission agenda in the light of Revelation 14:6-12. In this vein, I note the upcoming mission to the city in South Bahamas Conference beginning in September.  Also, there will be various efforts in North Bahamas, Cayman and the Turks and Caicos Islands during the final quarters of 2015. Your support in terms of your prayers, participation and presence will go a long way in fulfilling the mission. Furthermore, I ask that you take note of the upcoming sessions in our union. Union Session - December 6-7 at the Centreville Church, and the Cayman Islands Conference Session December 9-10 in George Town, and ATCU year-end committee December 11-12. Finally, I urge you to subscribe to the newly launched “Revived By His Word’ initiative under the caption “Believe In His Prophets.”