Northern California Conference Holds Constituency Session
On May 16, 558 delegates met at the Pacific Union College church for the quadrennial constituency session of the Northern California Conference.
While some in attendance had attended many such meetings, others were participating for the first time. “It’s a new thing [for me] to see how the church is working and see the order that we have,” said first-time delegate Ingrid Moreno from the Oakland Spanish church.
Delegates re-elected the three NCC administrators: Jim Pedersen, president; Marc Woodson, executive secretary; and John Rasmussen, treasurer. Also re-elected to a four-year term were all incumbent ministry directors and ethnic coordinators: VicLouis Arreola, Asian/Pacific ministries; Gordon Botting, community services/health services/stewardship; Virgil Childs, inner city and African-American ministries; Richard Dena, Hispanic ministries; Del Dunavant, church growth and evangelism; Eddie Heinrich, youth; Stephanie Leal, communication; Berit von Pohle, education; Ivan Williams Sr., ministerial; and Dennis Yoshioka, trust and property management.
The new executive committee was approved for the 2010-14 term, with one change, adding a K-12 educator. The bylaws committee was also approved for the same term.
It’s important for church members “to have a say in how things are done and who is going to serve,” said Michael Cohen, a delegate from the Oakland-Market Street church.
In his president’s report, Pedersen described positive changes to the NCC since the last constituency meeting, including membership growth: 4,664 people joined NCC churches through baptism or profession of faith. Membership now stands at about 41,000.
Pedersen shared his vision for the future of the NCC if the Lord delays His coming. “When we realized that 10 years from now would bring us to the year 2020, a concept quickly emerged: a 2020 — 20/20 — vision for the Northern California Conference.” He spoke of many ways in which the conference and its members could exhibit 20/20 vision to hasten the Second Coming.
“I envision the Northern California Conference truly becoming, over the next 10 years, a shining example of what God wants for His people to be,” he said.
During the executive secretary’s report, Woodson spoke about changes to NCC churches and membership. Since the last constituency meeting, four new churches have been organized in the NCC. Woodson also reported on church name changes, mission projects and the use of eAdventist, the online church membership system.
Rasmussen’s financial report dealt with conference income from tithe, subsidies, investments and bequests, and the distribution of the funds for ministry and education. While it is true that the Conference has experienced some financial difficulties because of the economy, Rasmussen expressed his gratitude for the faithfulness of the members and his belief that God continues to bless the NCC.
During the education report, von Pohle presented ways in which the conference has followed up major action plans developed at the 2008 Education Summit. Delegates then discussed and voted on several education items. They passed a motion on constituent school rates, but didn’t pass a proposal that would require most churches to be constituents of local schools.
Delegates spent most of the afternoon discussing and voting on various agenda items proposed by local churches. They approved a motion that requests the General Conference Church Manual Committee to rewrite Fundamental Belief #6 to reflect more specific language about creation. They also approved a motion requesting a study of ways in which the union and its conferences could be reorganized in order to reduce administrative costs.
They tabled a motion supporting women’s ordination to ministry because the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee had addressed the issue only days before.
They did not approve a proposal that required the three NCC ethnic coordinators to be permanent voting members on the Conference Executive Committee (instead of sharing membership on a rotating basis with departmental directors, as they do now). And they voted down a motion asking the conference to take “specific actions” to ensure that its employees follow the biblical principles in the Church Manual. Several people speaking against the motion stated their belief that sufficient safeguards were already in place. For more detailed information on all these motions, visit the “What’s New” section of the NCC’s website at www.ncc.adventist.org.
Several delegates who participated in the constituency session said it was good to be part of the church process. “I think it’s important that delegates participate in the process of conference governance,” commented Vallejo-Central Pastor Jon Cicle. “We want to collectively seek the will of God for the church family in our region.”