This summer, the staff of Adventist Review, Adventist World, and yes, KidsView, will be in Atlanta for GC session. Have you ever heard of it? Have you or someone you know ever been to one? We’ve got some information to help you understand the structure of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church a little better so you can better understand why GC session is important for leaders and members of this church.
What Is the General Conference?
The General Conference (GC) helps the 13 divisions (territories) of the world. The General Conference has been described as “the highest earthly authority for the church.” That means if there is a very difficult question for the Adventist Church, it is often discussed and answered at the General Conference level. It also means that GC leaders understand that Jesus is the only true leader.
The GC is both a building and a group of people. Confused? First, the General Conference is a real building located in Silver Spring, Maryland. Inside are church workers known as GC employees (KidsView staff members are all GC employees). They come from all around the world to work for their church and help others learn about Jesus.
Second, some of these workers are members of a committee called the General Conference Committee. This group makes decisions for the church.
What Is GC Session?
Every five years there is a General Conference session. This is a very large meeting where church members from all over the world come together in one place to worship and work together. The last big meeting was in 2005 in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2000 it was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This summer, GC session will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 23 to July 3. More than 80,000 Seventh-day Adventists are expected on Sabbaths for Sabbath school and church and more than 2,000 of them will be delegates. A delegate is someone who attends meetings about the work of the church. (See below for information on what some of our favorite delegates are packing in their suitcases for the meetings. They discuss their ideas, opinions, and vote whether they agree or disagree.
Church president Jan Paulsen has said GC session is more than just business. “A gathering such as this is usually described as a business session of the world church. But don’t be misled by the world ‘business.’ At the heart of all that we will do, and all our decision-making, there is really only one objective: to better prepare and equip our church for the mission God has given us.”
Everything the church does must be for Jesus. He is our leader, and He wants us to tell others about His love. When people go to a GC session, it reminds them a little bit of heaven because there are so many people there who love Jesus. They also wonder if this will be the last session because they want Jesus to come soon. We hope so, don’t you?