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Significant Progress at the 61st General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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Delegates approve church manual amendment on ordination of elders at the 61st General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

At the 2022 General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the amendments proposed for the Church Manual on the June 6 evening business session resulted in an extended discussion from the floor and required the delegates to take several related votes during the space of 75 minutes. General Conference (GC) associate secretary Gerson Santos introduced Church Manual item 409-22, which, he said, sought “to clarify some aspects of the church’s business meeting.”

Nellie Onwuchekwa, delegate from Nigeria. ● Photo: Texas International Guardian News

Specifically, it was recommended to amend the Church Manual regarding the ordination of elders, adding the sentence underlined below. It also changed the phrase “serve as deacons” to “the deaconate,” as can be seen below.
“Ordination of Elders—Election to the office of elder does not in itself qualify one as an elder. Ordination is required before an elder has authority to function. When a church in a business meeting votes the election of new elders, it also authorizes their ordination. Between election and ordination, the elected elder may function as church leader but not administer the ordinances of the church. . . .

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

A Motion to Refer It Back

After the Church Manual motion was introduced, GC delegate Gerard Damsteegt made a motion to send the original motion regarding the amendment back to the Church Manual Committee because, he said, it does not address the confusion about ordaining women elders. “Women elders were voted at Annual Council but never at General Conference Session,” he reminded delegates.

Several delegates approached the microphones to comment in favor of or against the motion to refer the amendment back. “The original motion is clear, and I don’t see the need to refer it back,” Mario Alvarado, a delegate from the North American Division (NAD), said. “I see no problem with this wording. This is about facilitating mission.”

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

GC delegate James Howard spoke in favor of referring the motion back to the committee. “The stated purpose was to remove some confusion, and I have the feeling that there is a little bit of confusion added,” he said. Howard mentioned the fact that while deacons must be ordained, according to the Church Manual, ordination is not necessarily a requirement for deaconesses. “This statement seems to act almost like it’s required for both,” he said. “That is why I think it’s important for the committee to take another look.”

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

Jonas Arrais, from the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, spoke against the motion. “The statement is very clear: we are not discussing women’s ordination. . . . We are here just suggesting that elders should be ordained,” Arrais said.

Finally, Stefan Giuliani, a delegate from the Inter-European Division, moved to cease all debate, thus effectively ending the discussion on the issue. After the parliamentarian, Todd McFarland, explained that such a motion is nondebatable and that a two-thirds majority was needed to pass it, delegates were asked to vote on it. They voted 92.3 to 7.7 percent to cease all debate on the motion.

Delegates then voted on the motion made originally by Damsteegt to refer the motion on the original amendment to the Church Manual Committee. The motion was defeated, as only 43.9 percent voted to refer it back to the committee and 56.1 opposed.

 

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

Discussion on the Amendment Motion

The floor was then opened for discussion of the original motion.

GC delegate Clinton Wahlen said that an already existing policy in the Church Manual allows for men and women to serve as leaders in the local church, so this doesn’t inhibit mission. “But the ordination of women elders, or even the ordination of deaconesses, is not practiced in all parts of the world church. If this amendment passes, it could create more confusion, not less,” Wahlen said. “We need more discussion. I would recommend this be voted down, so we can study this worldwide.”

NAD delegate Mark Weir spoke in favor of the motion. “This is simply acknowledging what’s been standard practice in many places for many decades. If a church decides to acknowledge that this is a person who has demonstrated spiritual leadership regardless of gender, . . . this language helps us to clarify and make it more understandable.”

Once again, Giuliani presented a motion to cease all debate and proceed immediately to voting, which was seconded. The motion to stop discussion passed 88.5 to 11.5 percent.

Delegates then proceeded to vote on the main motion to amend the Church Manual. After the electronic poll closed, the screen showed that 75.7 percent of delegates voted in favor of the motion, and 24.3 percent opposed. The motion was carried.

_________

♦Culled from the Adventist Review  —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media. For more information on the Session, as well as for instructions on how to attend and access the livestream and other media, visit gcsession.org.

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Historic Firefighter pay settlement and new contract win city council approval

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Houston City Council has approved a historic pay settlement and a new five-year contract for the 4,000 dedicated men and women of the Houston Fire Department. The vote marks a long-awaited victory for Houston firefighters, ending the disrespect and legal challenges and beginning the process of returning the HFD to a world-class department with adequate staffing and equipment.

“This is a historic day! I urge Houston firefighters and their families to relish this well-deserved victory. For eight long years, you have persevered through immense challenges while continuing to protect and serve our community,” said Patrick M. ‘Marty’ Lancton, President of the HPFFA. “Today’s vote by City Council is not just a resolution of past grievances; it’s recognition of our sacrifices and a commitment to providing the resources needed to continue serving Houston with dedication and pride.”

Houston City Council stalls vote on Fire Department contract – Houston  Public Media

The settlement includes provisions for back pay owed to firefighters, addressing a contentious issue that has strained labor relations for nearly a decade. The new five-year collective bargaining agreement provides pay hikes, significant improvements in working conditions, enhanced benefits, a renewed focus on recruitment and retention, and mental health support — a crucial component given firefighting’s stressful and demanding nature. The landmark deal underscores the core tenets of what it means to be a Houston firefighter: delivering excellent service, being good stewards of city resources, and giving back to the community.

“We owe a profound debt of gratitude to Mayor Whitmire for his steadfast commitment to bringing this ordeal to a close,” said Lancton. “He made a promise, and he has fulfilled it. His support and public recognition of Houston firefighters and the job they do are bolstering morale and helping to mend years of distrust. We eagerly anticipate further collaboration as we strive to enhance firefighting and emergency services for Houstonians.”

Firefighters will receive their back pay in July. The new five-year contract is effective with the start of the city’s new fiscal year on July 1, 2024.

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Global Cyber Security Expert, Professor Ojo Emmanuel Ademola bags Most Outstanding Personality of the Year Award

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Professor Ojo Emmanuel Ademola has been recognized as the Outstanding Personality of the Year in Technology at the prestigious 4th Edition of the South West Advancement Award and Investment Summit. Professor Ademola is a Nigerian Cyber Security and Information Technology Management Professor and a Chartered Fellow of the Royal Chartered Management Institute.

This incredible achievement was celebrated at an exquisite event held on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, at 5 pm at the esteemed Oriental Hotel in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. The event brought together esteemed technocrat political leaders and prominent personalities from diverse sectors, creating an exceptional gathering of influential figures.

 

The annual award ceremony is dedicated to acknowledging individuals for their remarkable contributions, with a special focus on those making significant impacts within the South West region of Nigeria. The esteemed recognition is a testament to Professor Ademola’s dedication and expertise in advancing technology, especially in Africa and Europe, particularly notable for his influential work in the United Kingdom.

Dr Smith Raymond, the Director General of The Institute for Enterprise Management and Analytics, commended Professor Ademola for this well-deserved award, acknowledging the professor’s unwavering commitment to technological progress. He emphasized the importance of Professor Ademola’s work. He encouraged him to continue his outstanding efforts, highlighting that this honor is a motivating call to action in further driving innovation.

 

In Professor Ademola’s absence at the event, his representation by S.A. on Media, Babatunde Adekanmbi, conveyed the professor’s heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for the nomination and award. It was seen as an inspiration for Professor Ademola to continue his impactful work in technology.

 

The event was graced by an array of distinguished personalities, including Dr. Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former President Goodluck Jonathan, Chief Dele Momodu, the Chairman of Ovation Media Group, and His Imperial Majesty Oba Ogunwusi, the revered Ooni of Ife, alongside various other notable dignitaries. The gathering highlighted the significance of Professor Ademola’s contributions and celebrated the collective achievements in advancing technology and innovation within the region

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House Republicans vote to hold Garland in contempt over Biden interview audio

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House Republicans on Wednesday afternoon passed a resolution to hold Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over audio of President Joe Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur on his handling of classified documents.

The final vote was 216 to 207. Rep. David Joyce of Ohio was the only Republican who voted against the contempt resolution.

Speaker Mike Johnson called the outcome “a significant step in maintaining the integrity of our oversight processes and responsibilities.”

“It is up to Congress – not the Executive Branch – to determine what materials it needs to conduct its own investigations, and there are consequences for refusing to comply with lawful Congressional subpoenas,” Johnson said in a statement.

MORE: Biden asserts executive privilege over audio of interview with special counsel Hur

Garland, in response, said it was “deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon.”

“Today’s vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department’s need to protect its investigations, and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the Committees,” Garland said in a statement. “I will always stand up for this Department, its employees, and its vital mission to defend our democracy.”

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