Monday, October 31, 2016
Days 3 and 4
Sabbath at NAD meetings is always a great blessing! The music and special features that focus on mission throughout the Division are wonderfully inspiring. Elder Dan Jackson provided the worship sermon focusing on the biblical theme of "Open Our Eye's Lord."and drawing from the great passage found in 2nd Kings 6:15-17 which records the prayer of Elisha to make visible the protecting armies of the Lord. The point? God IS with us in the midst of impossible odds and challenging times.
Some of the special music this year was provided by the Union College Choir (below left) and the always inspiring Jennifer LaMountain (right), who's sister Jan, is married to my older brother; outstanding inspiration!
The picture below, right, is of our Sabbath "potluck" at the home of Elder Dave Gemmel, Church Ministries for the NAD. It was not only a time of informal sharing, but allowed for each of the Church Ministries dept. Associates to talk with conference presidents about the programs and support they offer the local field. I found it helpful and learned about some resources that I would like to tap into for KTC.
NAD meetings takes "no break" for Sunday, so we launched immediately back into the agenda Sunday morning which became a very lengthy discussion and review of the NAD Governance Committees report which had 8 separate recommendations. Many of these recommendations were financially focused and the most controversial or, most conversation generated issue, included a desire it seems from the majority of NAD members, to continue to advocate for "parity" in terms of the amount of money the NAD sends to the GC. The NAD has for many years, sent 8% of it's received tithe on to the GC, whereas all of the other World Divisions return only 2%. Starting several years ago, and continuing for several more years, the GC has agreed to continue to implement a decrease in the NAD percentage with the present NAD contribution being in the mid - 6% range. Each "percentage" point equals millions of dollars and so the desire of NAD Year End Meeting attendees to continue to have money remain in the NAD has enormous financial consequences, both for the NAD . . .and for the GC, AND, the world field at large!
So, in realizing that the NAD is retaining more money, it has been agreed that the NAD would RETURN "SOME" of that money to local conferences. Here is the proposal as a slide . . . the portion of the recommendation that includes the conferences sending on the .30% increase on retirement is actually NOT a true increase to the conferences. It is instead the NAD sending that amount "down" to the conferences, who will then return it back to the NAD retirement. Why? Sounds strange right? It is viewed as an easier cleaner way of accounting for the retirement contributions that we must make to NAD retirement from the present practice.
There was a lot of discussion this year on better transparency on how tithe moneys are used, particularly in the "tithe exchange" process which confuses many not familiar with this practice.
This discussion continued on into the Monday session with proposals to return a portion of the money that is presently being saved as a result of the reduced percentages to the GC, TO, local conferences, for use at their discretion (areas they identify which need the financial help).
By the time the afternoon arrived, we were focusing on a recommendation from Dr. Randy Roberts, Sr. Pastor of Loma Linda University Church, to return the monies we had voted an hour before to the Conference, to, instead, be routed to local churches for mission and evangelism. The discussion following that proposal went on for another couple of hours with Dr. Roberts recommendation passing, but importantly, with the word "may" be passed on to local churches from the conference. A number of individuals both lay members and administrators argued at the mic that the conferences should not be excluded from decision making and flexibility on the return of funds from the NAD.
Knowing that the report both Sunday and Monday was live-streamed, and a number of you did tune in, I'll conclude my comments adding only that the various reports on Monday including the work of Public Campus Ministries, and Adventist Christian Fellowship reminded me that we, here in KTC, are on target, with our new emphasis on impacting what we were told, are the 70% of SDA students who are attending public universities.
One of the reports Sunday was from the Church Ministries dept., focusing on church planting and I found this slide quite interesting . . .
My friend Elder Ron Pickell is the pastor of the Berkeley - San Francisco, CA Church and is also the NAD Director for Public Campus Ministries. I've known Ron for probably 30 years since he was the Director of the Advent House Public Campus Ministries program on the campus of University of Tennessee/Knoxville. Ron gave a sobering but inspiring presentation on what needs to happen, and what is possible, to meet the tremendous need of SDA students attending public universities . . . In the picture below he is presenting the impact that focusing on our SDA students on public campuses reminds them . . . "they are NOT forgotten."
One of the blessings of being here for almost one week, is the fellowship with friends from around the Division. The picture below is of me and Elder Mike Hewitt, newly elected Executive Secretary of the Mountain View Conference. I've known Mike for around 20 years as his grandparents and aunt were members of mine in Cleveland, TN. Mike and I have much in common as he was a police officer around Roanoke, Va when I first met him, and of course like me, was called into ministry. All for now!