I have been in the Washington D.C. area since last week, anticipating attendance at NAD events and meetings prior to the annual NAD Year End Meetings (YEM) which officially launched last Friday afternoon. The pre-meetings are add-ons and are offered to provide information to delegates as well as to highlight various ministries including Adventist Risk Management, a unique 'Diversity Celebration' on Friday, and Philanthropic Ministries. I'm likely leaving a few out. These sessions preceed the NAD Year End Meeting business session which began this morning in earnest, and continues through next Tuesday. Other ministries, such as Religous Liberty and the Adventist Review, host luncheons for delegates, and during these luncheons give reports and highlight their respective areas of ministry.
Due to the impact of Superstorm Sandy, Wednesdays pre-event meetings were cancelled. After my own flight was cancelled and re-scheduled twice, I did get to Baltimore Thursday after visiting the day before with my mother and sister who live near Richmond, VA. A note on Sabbath before a report on today's meeting . . .
Sabbath here, as always, is a real quality event with the focus this time around on 'ordinary people doing extraordinary things.' The choir from Southwestern Adventist University provided worship music and Elder Dan Jackson, NAD President, preached on the biblical theme of how leaven was used in Scripture. It often served biblically as a symbol of influence and change, sometimes for evil, and sometimes for good. His summary point and conclusion as I understood it, was the call to treat each other, even when we differ, with dignity, love, and respect. A good message to consider as the business agenda launches.
This mornings (Sunday) session had gone quite smoothly, after worship, opening with the President's Report, and, as the President's Report was being moved and seconded for acceptance, numerous individuals began to line up at the session microphone, the line growing after being inspired by the first delegate to the mike. The speeches from the floor were in response to Elder Dan Jackson's final President's report comment; a brief one, focused on the role of ADRA and it's absence to serve and minister to the needs in North America. This became a point of impassioned discussion particularly on the part of leadership from New York and New Jersey who were impacted by 'Sandy' and who confessed that the SDA Church's ability to meaningfully provide help in this disaster is far from adequate. This opened up a bigger discussion which revolved around the lack of a coordinated Division agency to help in catastrophic disasters throughout North America.
The most recent discussion at the mic, interestingly, is whether offerings given this week to 'ADRA' to help the victims of Sandy - and which we all now know, provides no disaster help in North America - would actually be given in relief of Sandy victims. My guess is from this discussion there will be a renewed resolve to address organizational support from the division when disasters take place. There will also be renewed study to the role ADRA should play, if any, in North America and whether the time has come for some NAD structural support, outside of what has been present in the past, for areas affected by disaster
I'll write another update later today after the afternoon session.