R. Steven Norman III
R. Steven Norman III
R. Steven Norman III
R. Steven Norman III
A bit of history was made during the 61st General Conference (GC) Session of Seventh-day Adventists, held June 6-10, 2022, in St. Louis, Missouri. For the first time, Southern Tidings, the official publication of the Southern Union Conference, hosted a daily GC News Show that was broadcast to the Southern Union and the West-Central Africa Division (WAD) during the four days of the GC business session.
The show, which was livestreamed from the Southern Tidings Facebook page and YouTube Channel, was hosted by Roger Wade, South Central communication director, who pitched the idea of a talk show to R. Steven Norman III, communication director for the Southern Union, and Louis Bakari, communication director for WAD. Wade and Bakari interviewed church leaders and laymen to gain their perspectives regarding the GC experience and how the various voting actions will impact members and churches.
“We relayed the presentation on our social networks in Africa and more specifically on Hope TV Ghana,” said Bakari. “Each night’s program was recorded and sent to the channel for rebroadcast. Despite the time difference, many stayed awake very late in the night to watch the show. People from many countries around the world commended us for the multicolored and multicultural perspective we brought to our analysis at the end of each day.” Bakari added that the “Africa-America axis” the show created was helpful in the achievement of missionary goals.
“I believe that we should not walk alone,” he said. “There is an African proverb that says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ I just love the way we worked together with the Southern Union Conference team. My sincere wish is to see more and more church ministries team up to give the best they can through the power of the Holy Spirit, and thus prepare the world to meet the Lord.”
The show was produced by Bryant Taylor with assistance from Kirk Nugent, expert livestream coach and accomplished content creator. Daily man-on-the-street interviews were made by Daniel Claudet, communication director for the Gulf States Conference.
Guests on the show included newly elected North American Division President G. Alexander Bryant and Southern Union Conference presidents: Leslie Louis, Carolina Conference; Steve Haley, Kentucky-Tennessee; Benjamin Jones, South Central; Allan Machado, Florida; Gary Rustad, Georgia-Cumberland; Brian Danese, Gulf States; William Winston, South Atlantic; and Martin Fancher, executive vice president of the Gulf States Conference. Other guests were Dingindawo P. Shongwe, president of the Trans- Orange Conference in South Africa; Debleaire Snell, Breath of Life speaker/director; Jim Davidson, Southern Union executive secretary; Jennifer Patterson, the youngest South Central Conference delegate; and Terry Shaw, president/CEO of AdventHealth.
Guests specific to the West-Central Africa Division were Elie Weick-Dido, pastor and former president of the WAD; Emmanuel S.D. Manu, pastor and former treasurer of the WAD; and Solace Asafo, communication director of the Southern Ghana Union Conference.
Among some of the highlights of GC, delegates on day one voted not to add the issue of vaccination to the General Conference Session agenda after a delegate made a motion to amend the agenda to add the item.
By way of explanation, the delegate cited that it was necessary to discuss the position the Church has taken on vaccination specifically relating to the 2015 and 2021 statements of the Church. He indicated that many people have suffered because of the position the Church has taken. The delegate also mentioned having a document signed by 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists in 138 countries asking that the Church reconsider its stance on vaccinations.
Before the vote, Ted Wilson, General Conference president, asked the body not to put the item on the agenda since the issue of vaccination did not constitute as an item pertaining to the Church’s constitution or bylaws, fundamental beliefs, or the Church manual. The vote: 1,579 delegates chose not to put the item on the agenda, and 203 voted in favor of the addition.
On day two, in the morning session, delegates elected seven general vice presidents of the General Conference. The individuals elected to serve for the next term are Gulliermo Biaggi, Abner De Los Santos, Thomas Lemon, Geoffrey Mbwana, Artur Stele, Audrey Andersson, and Maurice Valentine. Five of the seven elected previously served as general vice presidents and were re-elected.
According to the Church’s bylaws, a general vice president is “elected to assist the president with the general administrative work of the General Conference.” In relationship to the divisions of the World Church, the general vice presidents serve as “liaisons between the General Conference president and the divisions,” “administrative resource counselors,” and to “strengthen the bond of the World Church.”
During the evening session of day two, delegates elected the departmental directors of the General Conference who will serve for the next term:
• Ivan Omana, director of GC Adventist chaplaincy ministries
• Williams Costa, director of GC communication
• Orathai Chureson, director of GC children’s ministries
• Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director of GC education
• Wilbert Oliver, director of GC family ministries
• Elaine Oliver, associate director of GC family ministries
• Peter Landless, director of GC health ministries
• Ramon Canals, ministerial secretary of GC ministerial association
• Aurora Canals, associate secretary, pastoral spouses, and family of GC ministerial association
• Ganoune Diop, director of GC public affairs and religious liberty
• Almir Marroni, director of GC publishing ministries
• James Howard, director of GC Sabbath School and personal ministries
• Dennis Carlson, director of GC planned giving and trust services
• Marcos Faiock Bomfim, director of GC stewardship ministries
• Heather-Dawn Small, director of GC women’s ministries
• Busi Khumalo, director of GC youth ministries
On day three, delegates elected 13 division presidents of the General Conference who will serve for the next term. Eight of the individuals invited to serve are incumbents, including Bryant, who began serving as president of NAD in July 2020.
Robert Osei-Bonsu was elected president of the West-Central Africa Division. He currently serves as dean of the Theological Seminary at the Adventist University of Africa.
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is a freelance writer and communications strategist who lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Southern Union | August 2022