October 8, 2015:    The annual meeting of the Adventist denomination’s governing body began last night (October 7) in Silver Spring, Maryland, a suburb of Washington DC. It will continue through the end of next week and Adventist Today’s new Executive Editor, Loren Seibold, will be on site reporting via Twitter, Facebook and providing information for daily reports here on the Web.

The General Conference (GC) executive committee has its main meeting each year in October at which policy changes are voted, strategic plans are adopted and financial decisions made. Between the GC Sessions every five years, this is the top decision-making body for the denomination.

The members of the executive committee include GC officers, department heads, the officers from the 13 world divisions of the denomination, union conference presidents, presidents of GC institutions such as Andrews University, as well as three church members and one pastor from each division, plus one additional denominational employee for every 500,000 members. There are also 30 other “at large” committee members.

Today and tomorrow the agenda includes in-service education for the committee members and a meeting of the denomination’s Council on Evangelism and Witness. This year the focus is on cross-cultural missions. The business agenda will begin on Sunday (October 11).

A major item on this year’s agenda is a new five-year strategic plan setting global goals for the denomination from 2015 through 2020. The committee will also appoint or re-appoint a number of GC staff whose positions were not considered at the GC Session in July.

Among the roles to be voted on are field secretaries who lead special projects; a treasurer of the Southern Asia Division; a director and two associate directors for Planned Giving and Trust Services; a director and two associate directors for the Stewardship Department; three associate directors for the Health Ministries Department; the director of Archives, Statistics and Research; the director and associate directors of the Biblical Research Institute; and editorial personnel for 14 major publications, including the Bible study guides used in Sabbath School for each age group.

The committee will also appoint the members of four key boards for Adventist organizations. These include the International Board of Education; the International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education; the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges, and Universities; and the International Health and Temperance Association.