During the General Conference session, 1959, an agreement was made that the General Conference Executive Committee would be responsible for appointing the missionaries to be sent to the new fields. Accordingly, Alex N. Macdonald accepted the call to go to Nigeria and Joao Devai volunteered to go to Portugal.
The call for a missionary to the Philippines became very urgent. So the General Conference Executive Committee asked I. W. Smith if he would be willing to go there for a period of time. He and his wife accepted the call. They made nearly all the preparations necessary for their journey. They sold their furniture and their car. Their passage was booked and paid for. And they were prepared to sail shortly after the conference in Sacramento, June 1960. At the conference, however, Brother Smith was asked to take charge of the American Field. He said he accepted that responsibility with great reluctance because his heart was in the Philippines.
Under those conditions, the sending of a missionary to the Philippines was delayed for one more year, until John Nicolici and his wife offered themselves to go there for two years.
To develop the work in Central America, the Executive Committee appointed a minister from Argentina, Carmelo Palazzolo. He settled down with his family in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in 1962. Before their arrival in Guatemala, colporteurs from Argentina and from Peru had already done a good deal of pioneering work in several Central American countries for three years.
Since the arrival of Brother Lavrik in the United States, in 1959, to assume his new responsibility, there was a tense atmosphere in Sacramento, California. The problem, which involved both the General Conference administration and the American Field Conference, had its origin in a decision made at the General Conference session of 1959, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, establishing the merger plan.
In 1960, the work in the United States was reorganized on an experimental basis, which at that time was called "the merger."
Soon after Brother Lavrik arrived in USA, the General Conference Executive Committee began working to formulate a plan for the merger of the American Union Conference with the General Conference. The hope of the brethren was that this plan would give greater force to the work in the United States and that our membership would be built up both to the benefit of the local interests and of the General Conference administration.
In their first efforts to carry the plan through, they saw good possibility of success, as all had given their agreement to the general idea of a merger, but it was in the implementation of this plan that differences began to take shape.
In the merger plan, one of the first decisions made for the development of the local work was to form an Education Department and to start missionary training classes, as well as an elementary school. This project was started at the beginning of 1960. Brother Smith was appointed to be one of the teachers in the missionary training course which lasted over six months.
To implement the merger plan, a combined form of organization and administration was adopted by the delegation at the conference in Sacramento (June 1960). It was agreed that this arrangement would be kept up until the next General Conference session, 1963, when a final decision would be taken on the matter. Under this temporary plan the General Conference was to take the responsibility for the state of California excepting two counties, while all the rest of the territory of the United States would form the American Field Conference. The experimental period proved that the merger plan was not viable.
In 1960, letters and reports received at the General Conference office showed that the worldwide interest in the message of reformation was growing continually, and our ministers, workers, as well as many lay members felt the burden of bringing the message to those who were hungering and thirsting for the truth.
The brethren at the General Conference office continued to keep in contact with the new fields, to maintain the work and interest that had been started; but, alas!, there were no missionaries available to locate in those places. Another handicap at that time was that of insufficient funds for the work in foreign missions. Our native pastors and evangelists, who were doing their best to carry on the work in their respective countries, were in great difficulty because they had very little means of support or transportation facilities. Some money was sent to them from the General Conference office, as well as clothing, Bibles, and other literature. Forty-five parcels were sent out in one of the shipments from Sacramento. But what the brethren had been able to do from the USA was almost like a drop in a bucket compared with what it would have taken to firmly establish the work in those countries.
Special mention should be made of the sacrifices of our brethren in Canada, Germany, and other Unions to support our new missionary fields. Considerable sums of money, as well as clothing, books, and tracts were sent to Africa, India, and the Philippines.
We came to the end of the administrative period 1959–1963 with thankful hearts, because we had new evidences that the merciful hand of God was with His people.