Our GC Delegation Sessions (Part VIII)

1983 – Fourteenth General Conference Session

This session, attended by 59 delegates, was held at Puslinch, Ontario, Canada, from August 16 to September 6, 1983. By the grace of God, 11 Unions and 9 Fields, covering 50 countries, were able to send their representatives. Complete membership reports from the restricted countries were not available, but recent information on hand showed that the work was going ahead in all of our 13 Unions and 19 Fields and Missions.

GC delegation, fourteenth session, Puslinch (near Toronto), Canada, 1983.

In his address to the delegation, the outgoing president said:

"It is my recommendation to this GC delegation in session that the right understanding of ‘Reform Movement’ be made clear to all our delegates, ministers, workers, and church officers. Only a church which is ‘moving’ forward in all the reformatory lines specified in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy may legitimately carry the name of ‘Reform Movement.’ Our ministers and workers should be the first to reveal a revival and reformation in their lives, showing a spirit of sacrifice and devotion to God. They should set the right example before the people. Earnest and humble prayers and confessions, coming from repentant hearts, should be poured out before God. Let us entreat Him to be merciful to us and bring back into our minds, in full measure, the true spirit of reformation–that primitive godliness–which should characterize our lives. We are to receive strength from above to lift up higher the standards of the threefold message in our religious life, and, down to the youngest members of the church, we are to become colaborers with Christ in the salvation of souls."

The need for improvement in our system of organization and administration was discussed during this session. Here is a summary of the recommendations that were made to the delegates:

1. In the plan for decentralization we need in the first place the upper-room experience. Ministers, workers, church officers, and people need to be encouraged to look much more to Christ than to GC or Union officers, committees or resolutions for leadership and for solution of problems. They should spend more time praying and counseling together.

"The Lord desires His workers to counsel together, not to move independently. Those who are set as ministers and guides to the people should pray much when they meet together. This will give wonderful help and courage, binding heart to heart and soul to soul, leading every man to unity and peace and strength in his endeavors."–Testimonies to Ministers, p. 485.

"It is a selfish thing for men who feel that they have some service to do for the Master, to wish to be alone in their work, and to refuse to connect with those who would be a help to them, because they fear that they will not obtain all the credit for doing the good work which they flatter themselves they will do. This has greatly hindered the work of God. Let brother lay hold of brother. Link up a Peter and a John. Let each encourage his brother to stand by his side doing zealous, interested service, as partners in the great work. Two or three can pray together, sing the praises of God together, and grow up into the full stature of workers together with God. Perfect harmony must be cherished. All must serve the Lord as little children, feeling that they are branches in the same parent stock."–Ibid., p. 329.

"The Lord has not qualified any one of us to bear the burden of the work alone. He has associated together men of different minds, that they may counsel with and assist one another. In this way the deficiency in the experience and abilities of one is supplied by the experience and abilities of another. . . .

"In our work we must consider the relation that each worker sustains to the other workers connected with the cause of God. We must remember that others as well as ourselves have a work to do in connection with this cause. We must not bar the mind against counsel. In our plans for the carrying forward of the work, our mind must blend with other minds.

"Let us cherish a spirit of confidence in the wisdom of our brethren. We must be willing to take advice and caution from our fellow laborers. Connected with the service of God, we must individually realize that we are parts of a great whole. We must seek wisdom from God, learning what it means to have a waiting, watching spirit, and to go to our Saviour when tired and depressed."–Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 499, 500.

2. The local churches, the Fields, the Unions, and the Regions are to be strengthened. Each regional secretary should work with a regional committee.

Individual members are to be subject to the church; the local churches and groups are to be subject to the Field; the Fields are to be subject to the Union; and Unions are to be subject to the General Conference.

"While it is true that the Lord guides individuals, it is also true that He is leading out a people."–Ibid., p. 488.

"As all the different members of the human system unite to form the entire body, and each performs its office in obedience to the intelligence that governs the whole, so the members of the church of Christ should be united in one symmetrical body, subject to the sanctified intelligence of the whole."– Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 16.

3. That which can be solved at a local level should never be referred to a higher body.

4. The leading authority of the work as a whole to be in the hands of a larger GC Council during the quadrennium. This leading body to include the regional secretaries and at least some of the departmental secretaries (see example in General Conference Bulletin, 1901, p. 499). The Council to meet once a year.

5. Five men of the GC Council to constitute the Executive Committee, whose duty is to carry out the decisions made by the GC Delegation and GC Council. The Executive Committee (with a president as chairman) to function as a working committee and as a coordinating body.

6. All the instructions in reorganization and administration, as contained in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy, to be carefully studied and complied with.

The improvements which were made until 1983, in our system of organization, are not in themselves sufficient to ensure success in the work. More true success will be seen only as we come closer to God, both as individuals and as a people. Therefore, the upper-room experience was greatly emphasized.

One of the recommendations referred to the Young People’s Department reads:

"We recommend that special efforts be made to bring our youth closer to Christ in accordance with John 3:3, and that articles be prepared about the dangers confronting our young people all over the world, such as spiritualism connected with certain types of modern music, the evil influence of TV, the demoralizing effect of worldly fashions, drug addiction, the evil of unconverted companions, indiscreet courtship, attitudes which compromise the moral integrity of a young man or woman."

The delegation made a pledge which our church officers were and still are requested to present to our people everywhere, as follows:

"We as delegates of the 14th Session of the General Conference, after a prayerful and serious consideration of our condition as a people, have come to the conclusion that we must now seek an answer to our urgent spiritual needs. The coming of our Saviour is at the door, and we realize our inability to finish, without His help, the work that He has put into our hands. Therefore, we humbly confess our sins and ask the Lord to forgive us our slowness to grasp His almighty hand in the work for the salvation of erring souls.

"As we can see our need for a new motivation by His Spirit, we hereby pledge ourselves to turn to our God in deep humility. Let us all seek a new and complete reconciliation with the Almighty, and renew and strengthen our relationship with our brethren. May our gracious and merciful God help us that the work of thorough reformation, with fasting and prayer, will become more evident in our Christian experience. We believe that the time has come for the spirit of prayer to actuate every believer. Special attention should be given to the following statement:

"‘Those who have not been living in Christian fellowship will draw close to one another. One member working in right lines will lead other members to unite with him in making intercession for the revelation of the Holy Spirit. There will be no confusion, because all will be in harmony with the mind of the Spirit. The barriers separating believer from believer will be broken down, and God’s servants will speak the same things. The Lord will cooperate with His servants. All will pray understandingly the prayer that Christ taught His servants: "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven." Matthew 6:10.’–Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 251.

"We also extend our Christian love beyond our organizational borders to all those who honestly desire to experience a reformation in mind and heart and life and who are willing to work together with us, ‘looking for and hastening unto the coming’ of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

New GC officers: J. Moreno, president; F. Devai, vice president; A. N. Macdonald, secretary.

1987 – Fifteenth General Conference Session

August 26, 1987, the camp called "Sitio dos Cataventos," near the city of Braganca Paulista, which is situated 88 km from Sao Paulo, Brazil, was filled with echoes of joy and happiness, when 74 delegates representing 59 countries (12 Unions, 8 Fields, and 13 Missions in 6 Regions) convened for the 15th session of the General Conference. Those Unions, Fields, and Missions which were unable to send their representatives to this session were not forgotten by those present.

GC delegation, fifteenth session,
Braganca Paulista (near Sao Paulo), Brazil, 1987.

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It was certainly an impressive sight to see brethren coming from many places in the world and meeting under one single roof, united in the same precious truth and hope, irrespective of nationalities or languages.

Opening of Delegation Session

Having welcomed the delegates to the session, J. Moreno, the president, read from Zechariah 10:1 and Acts 3:19 and emphasized the need of preparation for the latter rain.

After the welcoming address, the delegates presented their credentials. North India, French Polynesia, and Japan were able to send their representatives for the first time.

Figures previously received by the secretary showed that, up to December 31, 1986, our total membership had increased to 18,000.

Special mention was made of five of our ministers who, since the last session, were laid to rest in the blessed hope of the resurrection.

Bible Studies

During the session we had many important Bible studies, followed by questions and answers, in which the delegates took part with much interest. Among the different topics that were brought up, two were given special interest, namely, justification by faith and the nature of Christ.

Elevating the Moral Standard

As a result of the studies presented, the delegates understood that what we actually need is more consecration and sanctification. We must elevate the moral standard in all our churches before we can see greater results.

The Lord explained to His disciples that they would always "see true and false believers mingled in the church" (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 71). Read Matthew 13:24—30, 37—43. "There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working for the purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God" (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 46). It was understood that erring souls, who are honest and actually want to be saved, cannot be converted by rules of discipline. They will change only if a special work is done in their behalf under the influence of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13; Revelation 3:18—20; James 5:19, 20). Read Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 45, 46.

On the other hand, however, it was also understood that we are not to tolerate those who persist in open sin. False-hearted believers, as tares among the wheat, will not be easily converted by the love of Christ or by the message of Christ’s righteousness. To keep spurious Christians from multiplying in the church, we must apply the rules of discipline. Read John 17:15—17; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15—17; 2 Corinthians 6:14—18; Deuteronomy 7:25, 26; Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 117; Testimonies to Ministers, p. 128; Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 647, 648; Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 71.

Testimony of Two Pioneers

During the session, two of our pioneers (Andrei Cecan and Pavel Tuleu) shared their experiences with the delegation. They praised the Lord for His evident guidance in the Reform Movement and for the many victories that He has granted us. Telling us some of their early experiences in connection with the message of reformation, they encouraged the delegates to press forward in singleness of mind and purpose.

New GC Officers

After several days of deliberation, the Nominating Committee brought the following list of recommended names, which were accepted by the delegation: president, J. Moreno; vice president, D. Dumitru; secretary, A. C. Sas.

The Great Need of the Hour

Brother Moreno thanked God for His mercies and the delegation for the confidence bestowed upon him. He read from 2 Corinthians 12:15 (first part) and 2 Chronicles 29:10, 11 and invited the delegates to make a covenant with God. Further, he requested the cooperation of all his fellow workers and of the churches.

The delegation gave serious consideration to our great spiritual needs and to this vital question: How are we to act so that, by the help of God, we will be prepared for the outpouring of the latter rain, the finishing of the work, and the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ? The delegates were convinced that, if we seek the Lord in prayer, examining our hearts and confessing our faults, and if we work wholeheartedly for the salvation of souls, we will achieve perfect unity in the spirit and in the truth, and our Saviour will work powerfully in our behalf. Therefore, the following appeal was directed to our people:

"We appeal to all for close cooperation and a more active role in carrying out the gospel commission that was given to all of us. As workers together with God, brothers and sisters, let us lean heavily upon the arm of the Mighty One. Let us labor for more love and unity, and we will become a power in the world."