Thursday at Session
by Richard Daly
Delegates ready for the business of the day
The second day of the North England Conference (NEC) Session brought much activity.
Starting with devotion, once again led by Trans-European Division Director Dr Daniel Duda, delegates were reminded of God’s call to each one of us to be followers of Christ. Highlighting the importance of the mission of the Church, using the example of Peter’s conversion and the commission given to him by Christ to feed His sheep, Dr Duda laid the foundations of where the Church ought to be focusing. ‘The best days of the NEC are still to come, as long as we do not neglect the mission of the Church,’ said Duda to the 350 delegates in attendance.
Following a time of ‘breakout’ prayer by the delegates, the business session commenced with departmental reports:
Ministerial Association – Pastor George Kumi
Pastor Kumi highlighted the role his department played especially during the pandemic in support for the many pastors who were furloughed. Several ministers expressed their appreciation of the regular Zoom prayer and online contact meetings.
Youth – Pastor Adam Ramdin
Pastor Ramdin briefly highlighted the many activities that took place within his department over the past four years. The engagement with youth was paramount to fostering growth and spiritual development. Questions from delegates revolved around the engagement of youth during lockdown, youth leaving university and looking for work, to how the department can also play a role in supporting the youth in local communities.
Pastor Ramdin and his team of volunteers were commended for the development of the Aberdaron campsite and the prospects that now lie in the future, especially with the vast amount of land associated with it.
Draft Constitution proposal
British Union Conference (BUC) Executive Secretary Pastor John Surridge led out in this area of discussion. Pastor Surridge highlighted that the Constitution Committee’s job is to maintain the constitution and keep it up to date and specifically with the model constitution coming from the General Conference.
- To set the upper limit for the total number of delegates at a Session to 350. VOTED
- To include all three BUC Executive officers as full members of the NEC Executive Committee.
At present all three officers sit on the NEC Executive Committee with no voting rights. Questions of autonomy of the NEC governing its own policies, concerns of conflict on voting and conflict of interest were expressed by several delegates who took to the floor with questions. After a long period of discussion and debate the proposal was VOTED DOWN.
The third area for discussion was to record that a vote to approve the new NEC constitution will be subject to:
- Approval by the Charity Commission of the changes to the clauses relating to the charitable objects, benefits to charity trustees (NEC Executive Committee) and what happens on the dissolution of the NEC and/or
- A ruling by the Charity Commission that their approval is not required for any of those changed listed above.
Several concerns were raised around the wording, statements and phrases which clarification was called for. Some delegates felt there was a significant change of the language between the current and new constitution. Others felt there was not afforded sufficient time to go through all the ramifications of the new constitution.
For these reasons there was a call for a subsidiary motion to postpone discussion for further deliberation and presentation at a special sessional meeting for final decision in the future. This was seconded and voted in favour by the delegates.
Subsequent to the lengthy discussion on constitutional reform, the following departmental reports continued.
Family Ministries and Stewardship – Pastor Paul Liburd
Pastor Liburd summarised the main areas of focus for the Family Ministries department. Questions were asked on the importance of safeguarding, with a call for greater emphasis in the local churches. Liburd highlighted the various resources for training and plans for better collaboration so safeguarding can be dealt with more effectively in the local church.
Report from the Nominating Committee
With the Nominating Committee working in the background, their first report was presented to the main delegation. It was for the role of President, and the name put forward was Pastor George Kumi, NEC Ministerial Director. After a secret ballot, the name of Pastor Kumi was declared as the new President of the NEC.
After being introduced by BUC President Pastor Ian Sweeney, Pastor Kumi responded by thanking his friend and colleague Pastor Richard Jackson and his wife Angela for their faithful and dedicated service to the Church as President during the past four years. Pastor Kumi went on to say, ‘I’m not a politician, I’m a pastor; I call for a contrite spirit to help bring healing. Let’s not forget who we are, we are Adventists . . . looking forward to the Master’s return.’
Expression of thanks for the work carried forth in both departments was expressed by the delegates. The need for prayer as a Conference that had become the mainstay factor over the past 18 months was one comment.
Children’s Ministries – Pastor Patricia Douglas
Pastor Douglas highlighted the mission of the Children’s Ministries department which is to nurture children (0-14) into a loving, serving relationship with Jesus. Creating an environment where they may experience joy and discover God’s love and grace through the spiritual leadership of parents, leaders and teachers, equipped to serve. Gratitude for the passion towards the work was expressed by the delegates.
Questions were raised by the delegates surrounding the areas of support for grandparents looking after their grandchildren in taking them to church, and children whose parents are not Adventists. There’s a lot happening in our homes that’s affecting the needs of our children, and that needs to be addressed.
Pathfinders – Pastor Ikwisa Mwasumbi
Pastor Mwasumbi, in highlighting the activities of the Pathfinder department, focused on the tremendous impact the Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) has had on the young people in bringing them into a deeper study of the Word of God. Questions by delegates included whether Pathfindering can be part of the extra curriculum activity of our SDA schools and the many commendations of the need to keep young people engaged in Pathfindering due to the high correlation of those who remain in church as a result of being involved in Pathfinders.
Health Ministries – Grace Walsh and Dr Beatrice Kastrati
Retired former director Grace Walsh reminded the delegates that the number one tool for outreach and evangelism was the health message. She outlined the various activities that took place prior to lockdown and expressed appreciation to all those in the health profession and frontline workers during the pandemic. The delegates all applauded in appreciation for all frontline workers.
Dr Kastrati, current Health Ministries Director, ably answered questions surrounding mental health awareness, questions on the vaccine and healthy lifestyle living, and the training of medical missionaries. The delegation showed appreciation for the collective work of both directors during the past four years.
Nominating Committee report
The Nominating Committee then returned to the main delegation for another partial report. It was for the role of Executive Secretary. The name presented, voted and accepted was Pastor Emanuel Bran (Welsh Mission President and former minister within the NEC). He was welcomed and introduced by Pastor Sweeney, who also gave a vote of thanks for outgoing Executive Secretary, Pastor Alan Hush.