Q: Dear Pastor Wilson, how can one run for General Conference president? How does a person get their name in so that people can vote on it? — Matthew
A: Matthew, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, people don’t “run” for positions, as one would for a political office.
Instead, church leaders are elected by their constituencies. This happens at every level of the church structure — local church, conference, union, and General Conference.
Following instructions given in the General Conference Working Policy, Model Constitutions, and the Church Manual, delegates are chosen to attend constituency meetings at each level. (In the case of the local church, all members are “delegates”).
A nominating committee is chosen by the delegates, and the work of the committee is to nominate individuals whom they believe will best fulfill the various offices at that particular level. This work is hopefully done with much thought and prayer.
Once the nominating committee has a report — that is, names they are recommending to fill various positions — the report is shared with all of the delegates at the constituency meeting. The delegates are then free to share concerns about the nomination with the officers of the nominating committee and, if need be, with the Nominating Committee itself. If the nominating committee does not see any further reason to delay the process, a vote is taken by the full constituency to either accept or reject the recommendation(s) of the nominating committee.
If you would like more information about who is serving on your local conference and union executive committees, I encourage you to contact your local conference or union office.
World divisions are part of the General Conference, and as such do not have their own constituencies. So division officers, along with all other officers of the world church, including the president, are nominated and voted at the General Conference in Session every five years.
There are more than 2,000 delegates from all over the world who are voting members at the General Conference Session. At the beginning of the Session, one of the first actions is to establish a nominating committee, made up of members nominated by the delegates. The committee chooses its chair and secretary. The committee prays together, and members nominate the names of various individuals to fill positions.
When a member nominates a person, they explain why they believe that individual would be a good choice for that position. After nominations for a given position close, the committee often prays again before voting by secret ballot. The office of General Conference president is the first position to be voted.
After the nominating committee has voted a name, a nominating committee report is presented to all of the delegates at the Session. The delegates are then free to share concerns about the nomination with the officers of the nominating committee and, if need be, with the nominating committee itself. If the nominating committee does not see any further reason to delay the process, a vote is taken by all the Session delegates to either accept or reject the recommendation(s) of the nominating committee. This process is followed in filling each of the offices at the General Conference.
The most important thing, Matthew, is not the position we hold in the church, but to be fully surrendered to the Lord and to His guidance, being willing to work in His vineyard, wherever that may be in Total Member Involvement. It is a sacred privilege for all elected church leaders to serve in humility and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for those of us in church leadership that they will humbly follow God’s guidance and be loyal to His Advent movement in every way as we proclaim the three angels’ messages heralding Christ’s soon coming.