:: The 21st General Conference Session
Bulletin #1, August 29, 2011
On Tuesday afternoon, August 23, 2011, the 21st Delegation Session of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement was seated with 159 of the 204 delegates present representing a worldwide church membership of 37,330. The meeting was held at the new youth property building that was developed by the Romanian Union near Sibiu in a village called Porumbacu de Sus, Romania.
It was our privilege to recognize two units on the continent of Africa that have become self-supporting members of the world sisterhood of churches. The Angola Union with 1,367 members and the Rwanda Field with 1,017 members.
It is always exciting to see the work of the Lord entering into new territories. During this term, the Ethiopian Union Mission was established in Africa with a total membership at the end of 2010 of 551. In the northern part of South America a new unit was also established, the Suriname Mission with just a few members.
Several former ex-GC presidents were present during the meetings to give their experiences and share their advice when needed. Francisco Devai (1967-1979), Wilhelm Volpp (1979-1983), John Moreno (1983-1991), and Alfredo C. Sas (1995-2003). Neville S Brittain (1991-1995) who left just before the delegation session began, although he did attend and spoke at the public meetings in Sibiu, Romania.
After all the reports were presented from the outgoing administration, along with many questions being asked and responded to, on Thursday, August 25, 2011 the temporary officers were elected. Davi Paes Silva is the temporary chairman, Peter D. Lausevic as the assistant to the temporary chairman, and Eli Tenorio as the temporary secretary. After the election of these officers, the outgoing administration laid down their offices and the temporary officers took over the responsibilities of operating the Session.
The delegation subsequently divided into six temporary committees: Nominating, Doctrinal, Finance, Bylaws, Medical, and Plans.
Further information will be given as the meetings progress. Below is the opening address of the outgoing president of the General Conference, Duraisamy Sureshkumar, to the delegates assembled from the 6 inhabited continents representing 77 countries.
Once again, after many years (since Puslinch, Ontario, Canada in 1983), we are holding a delegation session on our own church property. We read (COL 69) that Christ is waiting for a perfect reproduction of His character before Jesus will come again. A prophecy is recorded for those living in the last generation that their identity sign will be "in their mouth was found no guile" (Revelation 14:5). God claims that He would produce a people without deceit. In the book Desire of Ages, p. 671, we have an account that the honour of God and Christ is involved in accomplishing the perfection of the character of His people. If we are His people, then a progressive character must be seen as we develop from one grace to another grace, from one glory to another glory. In Romans 8:17 it states that we will have a wonderful opportunity to partake in the heirship of Christ. In 1 John 3:2 it states that we are His children. The children of a royal family have a clear recognition of who they are, whether they contribute something or not, simply because of their title. Who can be the children of God? Romans 8:14. We need to have leadership because of who we are. We need to be guided by the Holy Spirit and then we become the children of God.
God's people have a great work to do. The world must see that in the church the truth is preached, the truth is lived. Jesus says I am the truth and He is the complete system of truth. David said, thy law and commandments are truth and holiness. These are the people that have that truth, that practice the truth which also have the commandment of God and the testimony of Jesus. This is the identification mark of His people. To this people He gives the title of a holy nation, a peculiar people who are called out of darkness into this marvellous light.
We have a duty to give this light to others. Isaiah says, "arise and shine." Unless we shine, how can we be the watchmen on the walls of Zion? We are watchmen and are given the duty. God says we have to give the warning and if we do not give the warning and the wicked will surely die, then their blood will be upon us. We have a life and death obligation. It is not just a privilege but an obligation to fulfil the requirements of duties.
This peculiarity must be seen. I want to share with you an experience of the early pioneers, when Joseph Bates was sent to Battle Creek to tell the story of the Sabbath. When he arrived there, he did not know where to begin. He prayed. The only GPS is prayer and he got direction from God. He went to the post office and asked the postmaster who was the most honest man in this city. The postmaster wanted to make sure he understood the question and repeated it. Then he said, "Do you mean David Hodges?" Bates went out of the post office and asked the first young man where does Mr. David Hodges live? He said, "Do you mean the honest man?"
The young generation recognized him as an honest man. The old generation also recognized him as honest. And he was the first Sabbath keeper in Battle Creek, and later on that city became the headquarters of the SDA church.
If we do not receive the fire, we are powerless. Without power, we are actionless. Without action, we are dead, and this would be a very dangerous situation. In TM 50, "through the church eventually will be made manifest the final and full display of the love of God to the world that is to be lightened with its glory." Our prayer should be, "Lord, help me to have thy light" or we lose our purpose.
The first settlers in America were a people of vision. They made a city council. In the next year they built a road for 5 miles into the forest. In the fourth year they impeached the council for they did not understand where that road would go. But in the USA today, it is the only country that has the longest and widest network of roads. If they did not catch the vision, they would be only a nation among the nations. We need to catch the vision.
It has been four years now since we met in the same capacity in Korea. We have now come here in the same capacity to transact the Lord's business. We need to have a vision. Forward, march! It should be onward Christian soldiers marching on to war. We should not retract but be reformers and move forward. There were many difficulties—social, economical, and physical barriers. All these we met. There were some delegates that were with us, some have rested in the Lord, some have departed from the truth. But we can say "Ebenezer." The Lord has led us thus far and He will lead us further. We can in our generation finish the work. Many times we challenge the youth and tell them this. Do you know that you will finish the work? Then, why wait? Why not ask for the power to finish the work today?
We have something to tell the people, we have something to tell Jesus. One thing we can say, Thank you Lord, for saving my soul, for guiding my hand, for bringing me here, for choosing me. We need to experience the depth of His love and His blessing.
I am now sorry that some of our fellow workers and ministers are not here with us. Bro. Paul Balbach commenced the work and the devil attacked him physically. Even with this difficulty we worked with him. We involved him in all the major decisions. We communicated with him and whenever we had to transact something he had words to speak. Whenever we called him, he had difficulty to speak. But when it was the Lord's business, somehow he had power from above. The committee was travelling in many places but we, by God's grace, held regular committee meetings through means of communication. It is my recommendation that we use more virtual committee and council meetings. We can still have some seat-in committees but we need to make use of this technology.
As we commence our work, we need to do an evaluation, a self-evaluation and then strategic planning. I want to thank you so much for your understanding for some of the glitches we have in this program.
Just to mention some of the brethren that have departed during these past four years: Harry Weymark from Australia; then one brother from Sri Lanka, P. Mariyathasan. In Pakistan the devil tried to take the life of our ministers, but thank God that they are still with us. There will be others from South America, you can read this in the reports. At least they have finished the race and are sure of what they have done. We still have to run the race. It is not how far we ran, but if we finish the race! We may be living for so many years, so many generations, but how important is how I have done my job until the end.
My burden is for the young people: One group are those that need to be sustained; the other are the young professionals with quality of life and quality of strength and talent. These resources of our young people are wasted in the Philistine land. I want to thank the Lord that my son is working for the church. When he was about to be employed by a large corporation, one of our ministered talked with him. That prompted his decision. We need to pull the talents of the youth to work for the Lord.
We pledged ourselves to the work of training our leaders and youth, to establish missionary schools in many places, and hold seminars. Many ordained people have increased since then. The training programs were our priority.
"Missionary operations are constantly embarrassed for want of workers of the right class of mind—workers who have devotion and piety that will correctly represent our faith. There are many who ought to become missionaries, but who never enter the field because those who are united with them in church capacity or in our colleges do not feel the burden to labour with them, to open before them the claims of God upon all their powers, and do not pray with and for them." CT 500, 501. We should appeal and pray for them and with them, so we can channel the resources for the benefit of God.
"Those who have the spiritual oversight of the church should devise ways and means by which an opportunity may be given to every member of the church to act some part in God's work. Too often in the past this has not been done. Plans have not been clearly laid and fully carried out whereby the talents of all might be employed in active service. There are but few who realize how much has been lost because of this." 9T 116. We cannot overlook the talents of our young people.
We should keep in our mind the 11th commandment: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34, 35. Please read John 17 repeatedly that we may fulfil the prayer of Jesus.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Philippians 1:21. May this conference have this aim. Let us ask His grace that we can do all things through His power and Grace. This is my prayer for this afternoon. Amen.
Bulletin Committee: Peter D. Lausevic, Paul Chapman, and Daniel Lee