Friday, July 10, 2015

Final Day of Business

First, sorry . . . I have no more pictures!  Just a lot of words.

Today, Friday, represented the last day of official session business, and, as true for most of the week's sessions, it was interesting!  I attended the Atlanta GC Session in 2010 as a delegate, but, for some reason, perhaps owing to the drama of the women's ordination issue, this one has proved more engaging in terms of the 'business' side of things. This session also seemed to have a longer list of revisions to the fundamental beliefs and to the Church Manual then in Atlanta.

Yesterday, it was shared that the last of the Nominating Committees work was over, but, indeed, that was not the case as today, the committee had to return to work - briefly - and present an officer in the Japan area of the world field for the delegates voted support.  That passed easily.

More interesting, at least to me, was the return today of a number of items that had been sent back to committee for consideration to be revised, AFTER, they had been presented to the delegates earlier in the week.  The delegates had been waiting for this as most were aware that a number of items had, as per delegate vote, been returned to committee for further review.

So . .  how does that take place and why?

The process on the floor - for delegate review - is that revisions to the Church Manual are crafted by the GC's Revisions committee, the proposed wording changes are brought "to the floor," and, the delegates can approve the revision, OR, vote to return it to the committee for further work. If voted to return to committee for revision/review, that work must be accomplished before the last of GC business session ends -  today.  When returned to committee, the committee must convene,  and its members give consideration to whatever  expressed concern or opinion was expressed/ suggested. It can be something as simply as one word, OR, a significant change in the intent and meaning of the original proposal.

Importantly:  No item can be returned to committee without the vote by simple majority of delegates on the floor . . .
(by the way, did I mention that on Sunday, it was proposed by one delegate that NOTHING would be passed except by 2/3rd majority vote?  THANKFULLY that motion DID NOT pass, and had it . . . there may have been many issues that could not have been addressed as on many items brought to the delegates,  there is not a 2/3 majority.  Back to the process of revising issues brought by the committee to the delegates . . . 

What is NOT allowed by GC rules, is revising the document/proposal offered by committee from the floor, or, even making any meaningful "new agenda item" decision from the floor via a motion. 

 I think with wisdom, the GC rules demand that ANY  revisions, or, almost any motion that is something other than a parliamentary procedure issue, MUST be returned to committee.  This prevents 'blocks' of individuals, or single individuals for that matter, proposing some "new initiative" or striking down an old one, directly from the floor without the issue being vetted by the respective committees.

Without this 'safe guard" the potential for extremely problematic and not carefully thought out issues being voted into policy would be the reality.

So . . .  a number of issues were presented to the delegates in todays session that had been 'returned to committee' earlier in the week.  8 issues to be exact!

I'll comment on only two. Several were very minor, but these two, perhaps were more significant.

One has to do with the 'right' or 'process' of a church or organization to appeal to the "next higher level" of organization when the unhappy entity (an organization like a church NOT an individual) feels that their concern, or issue, was not properly addressed by the local field, generally meaning a local conference, or, perhaps a "governing board." This proposed 'new wording' on an already existing policy, was being returned to the floor for a final vote, and this time, as before, was STILL significantly debated, for probably, two hours?  

The parts of this that came up for vigorous debate included, "why can an individual appeal all the way up to the GC, but this wording limits an 'organization' such as a church, to appeal ONLY to the next level in the ecclesiastical structure, and it can never go to the Division or GC UNLESS, those organizations, in successive ascending order, would agree to hear the issue being appealed?" In other words, if the Union Conference replied to an appeal, that they WILL NOT hear the appealed decision of say, a local conference?  Then, that concludes the matter.

What I just wrote may not even make sense to you, but in my view, having been in administration for almost 14 years now in two organizations, I've never seen even ONE church attempt to 'appeal' an issue to the next level of ecclesiastical authority, meaning the Union Conference. IN fact, I never saw ANY church desire to appeal anything even to the local conference (that's not to say that we have not had congregation/church issues that needed to be brought to Executive Committee)!

Some concerns expressed today included, IF you opened up the appeal process too broadly, the GC could be flooded with frivolous appeals .  Again, not seeing how that's possible as an "appeal" from a  church, a school, an institution, that feels it's issues were not handled appropriately by the local organization, with this policy,  as in the past, can "appeal"  ONLY one level up, IF, that next level agrees to hear the appeal.  GC reps., had already expressed that they are NOT inundated with appeals.

Not sure why this was so widely debated though I suspect that in the world field, this is perhaps more common than in the U.S., and, it has certainly happened here in the States possibly with media ministries, publishing houses, and occasionally, even local congregations. 

I learned many things this week, including . . . "Hot topic" issues, as reflected a number of times this week, issues when individuals/delegats feel their 'rights' are being marginalized or ignored . .  when that feels like its happening?   GREAT debate usually follows!

The 2nd item that I'll mention, which was voted on right before we closed the morning session today before lunch, was, quite frankly, a surprising but welcome outcome.  In a previous post, on the 2nd day of business (last Sunday), I mentioned an item that was being presented for revision that would have deleted the "male exclusivity" language and used more "gender neutral" wording,  in the context of recognizing BOTH men AND women pastors.

Here's the beginning of the old statement "When MEN have given evidence of a call to ministry . . .  (then it goes on).  Thats the old wording.  The NEW wording was proposed, Sunday, to include men and women, recognizing of course that both genders are pastoring, and, we were reminded this week, that in China in particular, women pastors are extremely common, and, possibly with no exception, every Division has women serving in some pastoral capacity, some divisions of course, with more women than others.

Well, in my first post, I mentioned that this 'inclusive' wording was voted down, meaning, to be sent back to committee, after one delegate commented that it was not biblical. I am assuming that his concern was that women should not be authorized to perform pastoral duties?  I don't know as he did not give detail only mentioning "not supported by Scripture." 

After this delegates brief expressed concern on Sunday, the wording was voted to be sent back to committee,  by, I thought,  a rather surprising majority vote, but, it "was what it was."

 I fully expected that today, as this issue was returned to the delegates from committee, with really no revision to the original revised, "gender inclusive" language submission on Sunday, (which is often the result of the committees review; they feel that their original work needs no revision, so, they decide to return the 'proposal' again, the 2nd time, with no changes or, perhaps some small clarifying word change). My concern was we were going to have another contentious debate over this wording today . .  but . .  that's not what happened.

The new wording, again, striking out the old language of "when men give evidence of their calling . . ." was being proposed/changed to "when PASTORS give evidence of their calling .   . ." and, then the rest of the policy changes the word  "ministers" to "pastors."  I suspect the changed wording had some tie to eliminating 'pastoral male exclusivity' language, again, something not all delegates supported.  Back to what happened . . . 

When it was brought to the floor today to be considered the second time . . . it not only passed, but, maybe only a dozen or so"no" ballots were waved in the air as I could see?  Maybe 1900 yes, votes, and maybe, maybe, a dozen or so Nos? . . .  In other words, a 99% supportive vote?  I turned to Elder Don Livesay, president of Lake Union,  and his wife, who were seated beside me and said, "That was unbelievable!"  What happened between Sunday and today?

The only difference in the vote was that it was, today, unlike Sunday,  moved and then given support, by the delegates, to IMMEDIATELY present the item for voting by rather than allow for debate.  No one had a chance to get to the mic. But that was what the delegates seemed to desire. Did that in turn, make the difference? ( I can't imagine almost ANYONE wanted to return to the drama of the speech making on this  issue again today, but, there are some interesting delegates here for sure!)

Were the delegates weary of fighting the "women" in pastoral ministry issue?

Did God simply perform a miracle that avoided the possibly of a very divisive and lengthy debate on the floor  - again - between the delegates over the issue of recognizing women in pastoral ministry?

I don't know.  I do believe, with welcome relief probably on the part of maybe all?  The item was simply voted  as returned by the committee, by an enormous majority, and perhaps, if nothing else, while the ordination issue on Wednesday did not pass, for most of the days' debate, extremely passionate speeches were given sometimes with great emotion, and almost entirely from men, advocating for women to be affirmed in ministry. Did that "soften" some of those most opposed to women serving pastorally?  I really don't know . . .

Again, I just think God, wonderfully, got us past this so that the Sabbath could be welcomed in without another long day of contention over this issue. So, we are coming to the end of the 60th GC Session.  60 sessions, in the past 150 years.  What to make of it? Only time and history will tell.

Thanks for tuning in to my posts . . . while not a LOT of people have read them, I know several of you have expressed appreciation for these personal reviews.

This is my final post as I must return to Nashville before heading out on another week of meetings with the Southern Union.  Appreciate the prayers of many this week; I believe God has been present in a real and meaningful way, these past ten days, in San Antonio.

Gods' church, meeting in world wide session IS amazing, and, I hope my little blogs help you feel as if you were a part of it .  . . . and perhaps you heard?  an 18 million dollar event? But perhaps, every five years, for the purpose of bringing the world church together and hopefully building some sense of mission and unity, money well spent.

God lead and hopefully, w'ere ALL home in the kingdom very soon,  and there will be no more GC constituencies!  (the 2020 event is planned for a return to Indianapolis - instead, may it be in the Kingdom of God!)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Day Six

I could possibly have entitled this post, "on the sixth day there was light!" All who have been following the GC Session, and even the months/years leading up to it, have anticipated the debate and decision on the proposal to allow the 13 World Divisions to make their own decisions, within their respective divisions, as to whether to authorize the ordination of women to pastoral ministry.  This would be a change of 'terms' which is called "commissioning." Some see the change 'in terms' from commissioning to ordination, to be very significant, on BOTH sides of the issue!

Certainly, with this post,  a full day after the debate and vote, anyone who had any interest in the outcome already knows the conclusion and result of yesterday's epic vote.
A few personal observations from the 'for what they're worth' category.

From the opening "bell" Wednesday, not surprisingly, there was obviously a sharp divide, as evidenced in the parade of speakers to the microphone, between the opinions of most delegates representing North America, Europe, and Australia- Asia, and  the South American/ African Continent/Inter-American areas. The former world division delegates, mostly, who spoke at the mic supported the motion; the latter, did not.

Before the day began, Chairman Elder Mike Ryan with help from others, shared with all delegates the summary documents of the  General Conference Theology of Ordination Committee (TOSC).  The three positions that resulted from the TOSC study which involved over 100 individuals form an international body of scholars, were as follows:

One Position:  Biblical authority headship denies women the right/authority to be 'set apart' for ministry.

Second Postion: Biblical authority allows/encourages women to be 'set apart' for ministry.

Third Position: The Bible recognizes the 'male headship' role of men but does not deny women the right to also be 'set apart.'  ( a position that says both of the above have merit, but position one does not negate the above position two).

TOSC clearly agreed, that the Scripture CAN be interpreted to support ANY one of the three positions above! Despite the opinions of others that Scripture clearly supports their position, the 'summary' conclusions of TOSC ended with "no consensus," though, I am told, the majority on the TOSC committee were open/favorable to ordaining women.  In order to be a "consensus" it was determined that 75% would have to agree on one of the positions,  and that did not happen.

I felt it important that nothing in the TOSC documents made the ordination of women a biblical command OR a sin. Nothing in the TOSC document equated it with a salvation issue as some have suggested; nothing in the TOSC document linked ordination with leading to endorsement of homosexuality or its practice.  In other words, nothing shared with the delegates suggested that it deserves the level of anger/division that has arisen from the debate, on either side of it.  At least that's my view . . .

In the end, the long day of debate concluded with a vote that gave about a 58 to 42 percentage "no' vote to the motion. I was not the only one predicting, before GC session ever began, that the motion would not pass. What was surprising is that the vote was closer than I, and some others, had thought it would be. North America is now, only "number 7" in size of the 13 world divisions, and while it may have, up until ten years ago, been one of the major players in terms of size, that will never again be the case! Africa and Inter America will lead the world church in the foreseeable future, in terms of size, and delegate votes at GC session.

In the end, I have mixed feelings on the outcome.  Despite Elder Wilson's valuable and expected plea at days end to "unite" to "press together" as EG White use to advocate, many on the loosing side were as disappointed as those who in defeating the issue, were elated.

I fear had the measure passed, the division in the church would have deepened, and perhaps it will despite the need to "move on."  I predict the issue will not 'go away.' Interestingly, I learned through the debate on Wednesday that while some viewed this prospect of ordination as a "liberal act of apostasy," some on the 'pro' side strongly see it as raw, almost evil prejudice against women serving in ministry.

I don't think its either of those things, but I do agree with probably the majority of good faithful church members. They are weary of the debate, do not join EITHER side in attempting to magnify the importance of this, and are probably sick of individuals waging warfare on this topic.

After the vote was over, the NAD had a meeting with all of its delegates for the purpose of affirming the divisions support for women in ministry. I personally think that this issue has served to distract and divide and harm, but I also respect that many good people, have strong convictions on either side of the issue, convictions that I do not feel "as strongly" about as they do.  It was a long day, and my own prayer was, at days end, God's will be done on this matter.  I believe it was, but I'm not thinking the issue is . .  over?

Some pics from yesterday . . .

The final vote as it appeared on the screen to delegates

Elder Dave Weigly, President of Columbia Union, marking his ballot, with the assistance of a friend to help steady his "X."

Elder Lloyd Schomburg, and behind him, Randy Robinson, and in front of them, speaking to Lloyd, Dr. David Smith, Sr. Pastor Collegedale Church.

The entrance and "approach" to the Alamodome that all the delegates and attendees take as they near the auditorium.

I'm told this tree is over a 100 years old.   A "Live Oak" that  grows in the South West and South East. We used to have these beautiful trees in South Georgia when we lived and pastored there.

I will probably post one more time as I am leaving the session after the Friday business session.  God bless and lead his Church!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Day Four

Before I forget . . . a "big" story out of San Antonio?  The "inescapable hike" to get to the Dome! Perhaps a few like Elder Wilson can avoid "the walk," as he deservedly gets a security escort and a ride from his hotel right to VIP entrance to the dome, but nearly everyone else, must walk the nearly one mile - one way -  and in many cases more, from wherever you park, or, where you're staying to the Dome (site of the meetings). One mile there, one mile back, and if you're not missing anything . . . 3 times a day!  Six miles a day, IF, you don't do any other walking!  Its really been stressful for the elderly, etc., and a big disappointment to many.  It is unfortunate, but it is what it is.

The days are so busy here that the events are starting to become a bit of a blur. What happened of interest and when? Sunday's business session was interesting in that at one point, the GC "manual revisions' committee" (that's not it's technical name but that's the purpose they serve), proposed a change in language that simply struck out the word "men" when referring to licensed ministers, and was proposing language "men and women."  It seemed to be a 'no brainer' must needed change as it has no relationship to ordination, and, simply acknowledges what has existed for many, many years , ie. there are women serving as pastors around the globe, both in this country and in many other countries.

A couple of comments were made at the mic; one from Elder Dan Jackson simply reminding delegates that the wording change was not linked to ordination but was simply correcting male exclusive policy language.  Doug Bachelor came to the mic, made a brief speech adding the words, "not in harmony with Scripture," and, the revised language did not pass.  It would seem clear to me that there is a "push"  - by some - to disenfranchise women from serving in pastoral roles based on the conviction that it is not biblical. There are a number of divisive issues that will arise from such a movement in my view, including the reality that women, in small numbers, have always served pastorally almost from the very start of the denominations history.

A bigger problem? They are serving in many places - presently - and doing a great job advancing the Kingdom.  To argue that serving in THAT role is not biblical seems to be a fight that some are willing to wage.

A short story.  It was in the 1970's that my home church in Maryland was assigned a female pastor. That was a long time ago, and I remember, though a teenager, that her being a woman was not a popular choice for the small congregation.  She was, as I recall, very educated, and though I didn't know her personally very well, a highly qualified and very  nice person, but, some in the congregation I believe, determined to make her job hard . ..  and they did . . . and she eventually left, bitter and wounded by the experience.  No one objected back then that her work was 'unbiblical' it was simply she shouldn't be doing a man's job, and if, and I'm sure she did, do something that was not agreeable, some were willing to "pounce." Perhaps she was set up to fail from the start on the part of conference folk who wanted her to succeed.  I don't know . . .  a sad memory from long ago.

I'm not sure what Jesus would make of all of this 'women in ministry' debate, but I resonate with what a couple of devotional speakers have said here in San Antonio.  Let's stop getting "side tracked" in issues that are harming us more than helping us fulfill the commission of the church. I continue to be of the opinion that "ordination" is not as important as some want to make it out to be.  The Bible doesn't use the word but does recognize "being set aside for serving Christ." What is important, in my estimation,  is serving God, fulfilling the mission of His Church, and I think that means women are and should be invested in leadership to make that happen.  I think that's God's plan.  Thanks for asking!

Ok.  A few more observations than some pics.

Yesterday was a 'breath of fresh air' in terms of spirit and atmosphere.  Elder Wilson made a very good appeal at the start for "a spirit of Christlikeness and "patience" to characterize the meetings. At the Sunday session, there was unquestionably tension and a very heated 'assault' by one prominent person from the microphone on the perceived mismanagement of the Session chairman on the issue I referenced above with Doug Bachelor's speech and then a motion to "return the women inclusive wording" to the committee.  It was obvious tensions were rising, so, yesterday was much better and I think Elder Wilson helped set the tone.

At one point, I believe it is the same delegate who five years ago from Europe proposed recognition of same-sex marriages, THIS time around?  Proposed language that would recognize "faithful church members" who choose to live together outside of marriage?  That got an almost unanimous "voted down."

Much of yesterday's session was spent in reviewing proposed wording changes in the 28 fundamental believes. There was NOTHING proposed that would in any way even remotely change the substance of doctrine, but wording changes, particularly in the area of the role of Ellen White and the prophetic gift, literal creation, and even a change that would indicate our beliefs arise from "the Christ as revealed in Scripture" rather than the old wording, "Christ AND Scripture" drew  lengthy, and possibly unnecessary debates.

By the way . . . as always the case.  The same 10 to 12 people continually come to the microphone. There are probably 2200 delegates present, but, the same 10 to 12 seem self-designated to address every issue?

The Session wisely elected a two minute 'cap' on delegate speeches and many times, again with appreciation as evidenced by the strong vote,  a couple of individuals will come to the mic and "question on motion" meaning a vote to cease debate, and actually vote.  Every time that's happened a huge majority vote to stop debate and vote.

The day ended yesterday with the election of Division Presidents and, after being returned to committee, the  re-affirmation of the election of six GC Vice-Presidents.  Of no small level of 'angst' on the part of some, before this session?  There were 9 GC vice-presidents. They've reduced that to six, meaning three learned only in arriving here, they no longer have a job.

Some scenes from yesterday . . .

"Present and Accounted for!" I wanted to prove that on one day I wore my jacket. Imagine what its like: it's 94 degrees outside, but when you come into the Dome, the AC works great! It drops to maybe 68 degrees?  Brrrr.  

Dr. Gordon Bietz and beside him, Dr. David Smith, Sr. Pastor of the Collegedale Church.

The newly elected, in most cases, re-elected, World Division Presidents and some with their spouses. Dan Jackson , in the middle of the pic with his wife Donna, was re-elected with very strong support from the NAD leadership.

Most of you know my love for history, so, arriving downtown yesterday at 7am, I took a short walk over to the famous "Alamo." It was too early to get in to see it, but I struck up an enjoyable conversation with the security police who opened the gate for me to look in.  The Alamo is considered one of the most "haunted" places in the U.S., so, the officer was telling me his ghost story while working the midnight shift. Hearing the story, I told him, "I think the Devil was trying to  scare you."  I was serious, but he gave me a big laugh on that point.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sabbath, July 4

A lot has happened since I wrote my first day post. Initial impressions? Amazing that despite as many as 65,000 attendees, the SDA world is very small, particularly if you've worked for the church for a while.

As I was boarding my flight out of Nashville, I saw Debra Jones and her grandaughter getting on the same flight, another friend from Madison Campus who's name I can't remember, and even as I stepped inside the airport, I immediately almost literally bumped into Giselle Kroll and her daughter who were preparing to fly to San Antonio.

And as I parked in the public garage across from the Convention Center in San Antonio upon my arrival?  I hear someone, in the garage, calling my name!  Greg Gerard, principal at GCA. Within minutes, walking the crowded hallways of the Convention Center, I began seeing people I've known over the years, and even some from our own beloved Kentucky-Tenn!

Pastor Mel and Juliet Santos are here. As are Fred Calkins, Dennis and Dorothy Altrogge, and our pastoral delegate, Lloyd and Sheila Schomburg. I have visited the massive convention center once, so far, and here are a few pictures of some of the booths, probably several hundred presenters/booths? A few pictures follow . . .

Colorful Menau Booth

Adra has a large "market place" look to their booth
The Union College rep and behind her a big table with "legos" for future 'some-day' students to enjoy!
A sizable 'theater' within the convention hall for preaching/presentations on behalf of World Mission

 A "replica" of the Wittenburg, Germany Church door and the 95 theses
The news from Friday was the re-election of Elder Ted Wilson as GC President, probably by around a 80 to 85% majority vote? Juan Prestol , former Undertreasurer of the GC, was elected GC Treasurer replacing Bob Lemon who retired, and G. T. Ng  (pronounced "ing") was re-elected as Secretary of the GC.  Speaking of voting?  The electronic voting devices failed to work for the 2nd day in a row, and all of the above voting had to be done by raising a voting card once again.

AT least one delegate challenged the nomination of Elder Wilson asking for the nominating committee to re-consider due to the failure of the voting process to honor the privacy of delegate voting as would have been possible with the electronic devices.  Without them working properly, one wonders what else could have been done?

A number of important items are slated for the business session starting tomorrow thru next week. New proposed language on sexual misconduct/church discipline issues, and, of course, the "big" Women's Ordination debate/vote slated for Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the worships both last night and today were, as always the case at GC, outstanding! Mark Finely preached last night, a powerful sermon on continuing to prioritize evangelism, and, the sermon itself ended with a number of baptisms, the result of recent public meetings here in San Antonio. Today's worship was highlighted by Elder Ng who gave another powerful sermon on the "special" calling and work of Adventism, as identified in Daniel/REvelation and ended his stirring appeal with
data on how "big" the church has grown since 1863.

The music today was incredible! A choir from Montemorelos University, another choir from Washington Adventist University, and a full orchestra from throughout the NAD; the singing ended
with the hallelujah chorus, "We Have this Hope," and "Lift up the Trumpet" -  a "goose bump" experience in an auditorium with 50,000 people perhaps in attendance and singing?  Amazing.

A few more pics from today's worship:

Directly behind me, Elder Ralph Watts Jr., and his wife, President of Hawaii Conference, and to his left, Pastor Dwight Nelson, with his wife.

On the delegate floor for worship, beside me Pastor Lloyd and Shelia Schomburg, and to their left, Elder Steve Rose and his wife Doreen.

A little fuzzy, but from Elder Ng's sermon, "I don't search google, My wife knows everything" His point was "what are we SDA's supposed to know and share?"  He preaches with great humor; much appreciated by most!
Another fuzzy pic, but at the bottom, below the railing, is the orchestra, and above them, both the Montemorelos and WAU Choirs.

Pastor Dennis and Dorothy Altrogge got to the lunch line quick after Worship! With probably 10,000 people getting ready to eat, they were wise to get there in haste.

You can't see this well, and I didn't catch her name, but in the Missions report/Sabbath School today, Elder Kraus of GC Missions, told the story of this woman, now around 95, from Australia, who, when she was around 20 years old, went with her husband to the Solomon Islands as Missionaries, braved incredible adventure and dangers, and with no SDA presence on the Islands. Recently, she returned to the Solomons to see 1,000s of SDA's, the result of the humble efforts of her and her husband investing their lives there so many years ago.  A very moving tribute!

Friday, July 3, 2015

GC Day Two

I arrived late this morning in San Antonio; it's been 40 years almost to the week since I was last in this city and last time I was here, it was courtesy of Uncle Sam and the memories are of a brief military career!

You may have heard that on opening day there were several highlights and a couple of major tech failures. The highlights?

35 new Union's were recognized and voted by the delegate body; that represents an enormous new
organizational governance to manage the growing membership, particularly in South America, Inter America, and Africa. Our world membership now stands in the 19 million range?  Amazing!
I heard Elder Jim Gilley remark last nite that someone has crunched the numbers and suggested that at the current rate of growth, within 40 years, we will have 144 million members worldwide.

Another poignant moment from yesterday was the affirmation and recognition of a "split off" Hungarian Adventist group who, over 40 years ago, separated from the denomination, but have now asked to re-unite with the world church.  Wonderful!

You have heard about the failure of the electronic voting devices.  These are small hand-held instruments about the size of a small "remote" like you have for your television.  Regrettably, they did not work on the first day of operation, and I have not heard whether they have corrected the problem today.  Representatives from the  tech company that rented them to us were en route to San Antonio to remedy the issue.  Without the devices, voting is done in the old style method of holding up a colored card which works great when a vote is strongly in one-direction.  If it's a close vote, it
becomes much more problematic!

The other minor tech glitch is that wireless, offered to the delegates only while in the Alamo Dome, is "spotty" at best.

Most importantly, a great spirit of fellowship, unity, and joy in coming together as a world church has characterized the start of the session. Make sure you're tuning in to Hope TV or 3ABN tomorrow, because at 6:30 pm, the Madison Campus Children's Choir will be singing for the main meeting in the AlamoDome.  What an honor to have a Kentucky-Tenn group present to bless the possibly over 60,000 attendees tomorrow night!

I'll post again tomorrow following Sabbath services.