#GCAC21: First Day of Annual Council Sees Birth of a Union, Pennies Not Dropping for Mission Offering
10 October 2021 | The Annual Council 2021 business meetings of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee kicked off today. The Executive Committee is composed of the Adventist denomination’s world leaders. The first business meeting was predictably unusual: travel restrictions meant the General Conference auditorium was mostly empty and Mark Finley read from an Ellen White letter for a long, looong time. To watch the entire meeting, click here. Other highlights included:
- The charismatic Pastor Carlton Byrd, formerly the senior pastor of the Oakwood University Seventh-day Adventist Church and now newly elected president of the Southwest Region Conference, spoke for this morning’s Annual Council devotional.
– From Byrd’s devotional: “Go and make disciples.” This is not a request. This is an order. It’s good to help the needy. But let us never forget why we do what we do. We do this because our Commander-in-Chief gave us our marching orders to go and make disciples.
- Mark Finley, assistant to the General Conference (GC) President Ted Wilson, read an extended section from an Ellen White letter. The letter can be found on the White Estate’s website at this link.
- Erton Kohler, the relatively newly elected Executive Secretary of the General Conference, presented his first report.
– The Adventist Church has lost at least 17,000 members due to the pandemic, including nearly 800 pastors and church workers.
– Modern technology allowed for churches to meet virtually through livestreams, social media, and conferencing software. Others innovated new ways of conducting socially distanced in-person church services.
– Kohler summed up his talk, tweeting, “Today I presented my first report, together with the GC Secretariat team. An opportunity to evaluate the tragedies that we are facing during the pandemic, but especially showing how the power of God is helping us to be a church bigger than the crisis.”
- A good General Council rule of thumb: If David Trim, Director of the GC Office of Statistics, Archives and Records is presenting, it’s worth paying attention. His combination of waist coats, ties and unfailingly wild hair, on top of the stats, always makes for a good presentation.
– A transcript of Trim’s statistical report can be viewed at bit.ly/2YCYlsl. The slides can be viewed at https://bit.ly/3BGvmCg.
-The net loss rate in membership is 41 percent, which means 4 out of 10 church members leave the church.
-Tithing has pretty much remained the same since 2019 (Tithe in 2019: $2.48 billion; 2020: $2.39 billion).
-However, mission offerings have decreased markedly, going from $88.6 million in 2019, to $66.5 million in 2020, a decrease of a whopping 25 percent.
– Accessions (baptisms and professions of faith) also showed a steep drop-off in 2020, going from 3.21 million in 2019 to 803,430 in 2020.
- Delegates voted to grant the North Ghana Union Mission union conference status after it proved it could handle money and members. As the North Ghana Union Conference, it will have more local control.
The business meetings will continue until Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, and can be viewed at: https://executivecommittee.adventist.org/live/
(Photo: General Conference Executive Secretary Erton Kohler speaks during the first business meeting of the 2021 Annual Council on Oct. 10, 2021. Photo via screenshot of Annual Council livestream.)