UPDATED June 8, 2022, 7:30 p.m. ET
In the morning on June 6, 2022, day one of the 61st General Conference Session (GCS) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Adventist world church president Ted N.C. Wilson delivered his president's report, which provided a comprehensive overview of the significant events and achievements of the world Church during the past seven years.
“Since our last General Conference Session in 2015, the world has experienced significant crises and has undergone unprecedented change,” he began, acknowledging the hard work and challenges that all Church departments, ministries, and institutions have faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and other troubling world events.
A clear theme expressed throughout Wilson’s report was how, despite setbacks, the Adventist Church and its bodies have adapted and innovated, resulting in many new initiatives and resources. Many of these are now focused on supporting the “I Will Go” strategic framework of the worldwide Church for 2020-2025.
“We praise God for the many creative ways He has led His Church to continue carrying His mission forward through various channels,” he said.
I Will Go and Outreach Initiatives — 2015-2022 and Beyond
Opening and ending his report with a focus on being the hands and feet of Jesus, Wilson highlighted Adventist-run ministries and projects that are making a tangible difference in the lives of individuals — physically, emotionally or spiritually — around the world.
Beginning with the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, Wilson praised Hope Channel Ukraine, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA); Adventist Center of Higher Education in Ukraine; and local Adventist churches, schools, and members, have been ministering to refugees and victims of the Russia-Ukraine humanitarian crisis both physically and spiritually.
“What an example for us all, serving others in their greatest time of need,” he said.
Shared via video, the president's report then emphasized the important work of volunteer-run Adventist Mission Life Hope Centers around the world in saving lives, and the active work of health ministries around the world, including the construction of a new medical school in the East-Central Africa Division and Rwanda Union.
Wilson also summarized the tragic but inspirational testimony of Melissa De Paiva Gibson who despite horrific circumstances of abuse and murder, survived and forgave the perpetrator. The powerful testimony is told in the documentary film “Return to Palau.” Wilson said, “Through her forgiveness and allowing the story to be told through this powerful film, Melissa is answering God’s call to go, and reach a hurting world for Jesus Christ.”
Publications — 2015-2022
Delivering an overview of the resources developed by the global Church body during the past quinquennium, the president's report celebrated a new book published by the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) in 2020 entitled Biblical Hermeneutics: An Adventist Approach. Written by 12 Adventist scholars and published jointly by BRI and Review & Herald Publishing Association, the book totals nearly 500 pages.
“Based on the Bible, our message and mission are inseparably linked, and the way we read the Bible — hermeneutics — is vital to our understanding,” explained Wilson. “Recognizing this, a request was made during the 2015 GC Session for a specific hermeneutic to be developed for the world Church.”
He then highlighted another project delivered by the Geoscience Research Institute: two books on the topic of biblical creation, which can be used by schools and educational institutions. These are By Design Biology: The Scientific Study of Life and Design and Catastrophe: 51 Scientists Explore Evidence in Nature.
“Books provide an important way of reaching others for Christ and the Publishing Ministries department plays a vital role in encouraging Total Member Involvement (TMI) through literature distribution,” continued Wilson, turning to books and resources focussed on mission.
“This year marks 15 years of the Missionary Book of the Year project, and during that time more than 700 million books have been scattered around the world through the hands of church members!” he said.
Continuing the theme of innovation, in 2021 the Missionary Book of the Year Hope for Troubled Times by Mark Finley was turned into a video in conjunction with the GC Communication Department. Other projects mentioned were the translation of evangelistic tracts into 85 languages for distribution in the 10/40 window, and the upcoming Great Controversy Project 2.0, which is aimed at distributing millions of copies of The Great Controversy as the Missionary Book of the Year in 2023-2024.
Media and Departmental Achievements — 2015-2022
Turning to media and resources produced by GC ministry departments and institutions, Wilson gave a brief overview of some project highlights, many of which were accompanied by video recaps.
Beginning with video-centric projects, Hope Channel International’s popular Hope at Home weekly worship offered a weekly worship opportunity despite international lockdowns, while Adventist World Radio’s Unlocking Bible Prophecies with Cami Oetman reached 12 million views in 35 languages.
The GC’s Family Ministries and Adventist Possibility Ministries departments created digital broadcasts Real Family Talk and Finding Joy in Suffering, respectively, which helped individuals and families cope with the unique stress of lockdowns. Meanwhile, the Women’s Ministries department held their first-ever global conference and was attended in more than 50 countries, while Children’s Ministries also launched a global conference entitled Reaching Gen Z and Gen A for Christ, featuring advice from child experts.
The GC Communication Department was prolific over the past seven years, launching their new digital platform “Adventist Teams,” which Wilson explained is “allowing members around the world to source and distribute quality biblical content for friends and family, and encouraging Total Member Involvement in the digital space.” The department’s Digital Evangelism Initiative also saw the launch of their new Bible trivia app Heroes 2, aimed at millennials and Gen Z.
“Technology has also paved the way for millions of people to access the writings of Ellen G. White through their websites and apps,” continued Wilson, highlighting their tremendous growth since 2015. In 2022, these websites and apps now average 7.5 million visitors every month from nearly every country on earth, and 2021 saw 2.48 billion search requests and 273 million download requests for books, e-books and audiobooks.
“We praise God for the tremendous way He is blessing these inspired writings!” Wilson encouraged.
The past quinquennium also saw the GC’s Office of Archives, Statistics and Research launch the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, a constantly growing platform featuring more than 3,000 articles and 7,000 photographs of Adventist missionaries, institutions, events and beliefs.
The GC’s Sabbath School and Personal Ministries department developed their “Sabbath School Alive” initiative, which the video described as bringing together “a complete package of Bible study and prayer, a focus on mission, and a format of fellowship that encourages spiritual growth and evangelistic outreach for everyone.” Stewardship Ministries also developed an engaging video series centered on their theme “Putting God First”, which was developed in 2016 to enlarge the concept of TMI.
Turning to less media-centric milestones, Wilson highlighted the important work of Youth Ministries and Education and applauded the work of more than 85,000 teachers and 1.5 million students alike during the trying circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. He also highlighted the new worldwide standards of professional chaplaincy certification developed by Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries over the past seven years.
Wilson praised the work of Adventist Risk Management, Planned Giving and Trust Services, and General Conference Auditing Services, for their crucial role in the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He also highlighted the important work of the Public Affairs and Religious liberty department and their focus on “mediation on behalf of imprisoned brothers and sisters around the world”.
“We invite the global church to pray for our imprisoned members and their families,” he said.
Finishing his departmental overview with a focus on prayer, Wilson emphasized the work of the GC Ministerial Association and Revival and Reformation Committee, who have continued to organize Ten Days of Prayer, quarterly Days of Prayer, 40 Days of Prayer, 100 Days of Prayer and 24/7 United Prayer events, which have been attended virtually by thousands of Adventists across the globe. In a video summarizing these prayer events, hundreds of individuals representing the many cultures that make up our world church expressed their appreciation and the inspiration they received through their participation in united prayer.
“Under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the Revival and Reformation Committee has ignited the hearts of the world as thousands have been participating in reading God’s Word, one chapter at a time, through Revived by His Word and Believe His Prophets, praying together as a worldwide church family and pleading for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
During the highlight of the report, Wilson shared the powerful mission work done in the Philippines between 2017 and 2022 as part of the I Will Go framework for 2020-2025, where more than 124,000 people were baptized, including many rebels from the Philippine Communist Party’s “New People’s Army”. Former rebel leaders — Raymundo, who was baptized by Wilson, and his wife Rose, who was baptized by Duane McKey from Adventist World Radio — as well as Philippine Army Colonel Eric Guevarra and his wife Leah, were interviewed via video connection live during Wilson’s presentation, made possible by a translator. Rose said, “When we heard God’s message through the ministry of the Adventist World Radio in the island of Mandoro and through the ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I found peace.”
Finishing his report with a powerful call to church members to embrace Total Member Involvement and reach others with the gospel message.
“For each of us, let us recommit ourselves to the Lord and His Advent movement and continue moving forward in confidence in Total Member Involvement, saying to the Lord, ‘I will go proclaim the three angels' messages,’ looking not ‘at the things which are seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal’ (2 Corinthians 4:18). Jesus is Coming! Get Involved!”
UPDATE: During the final minutes of the business session on Monday, June 6, the General Conference in session voted to re-elect Ted N.C. Wilson as president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Church. This will be Wilson’s third term.
— Angelica Sanchez contributed to this report.