As we browse through the General Conference (GC) official session website (session.adventist.org), we read that, from June 25 to July 4, “tens of thousands of people from all over the world will be attending the 61st Session of the General Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana. While the majority of attendees will be members and friends of our world church, just over 2,600 will have delegate status.” This is one event that seems to energize the members of this worldwide, dynamic, mission-driven, and well-organized movement.
The session is held every five years at a venue with a capacity to host tens of thousands of people. The session management researches cities, usually in the United States, and requests those interested to submit a plan and proposal for hosting the large concentration of Seventh-day Adventists. The venue proposed must include adequate seating, hotels, security, local transportation, a major airport with significant daily connections, and lots of square feet in meeting rooms for all the events and gatherings held during the 10 days of activities.
As a management practice, the Adventist Church holds several meetings each year, from local church board meetings to conference, union, and division executive committee meetings to the General Conference’s Annual Council. Each of these yearly or quarterly meetings mobilizes officers, directors, and lay members around the world on a consistent basis. However, when GC Session is approaching, the excitement is evident.
The world church comes together to conduct business, to provide mission reports, to approve changes in the constitution and bylaws, and to appoint leaders for the next five years. The fellowship and friend reconnections seem to be the drivers of the gatherings. Music, preaching, different languages, familiar and not so familiar faces, varying complexions and cultures, exciting testimonies, powerful mission stories, and a huge exhibit hall featuring hundreds of supporting ministries are common factors converging during the week-and-a-half of meetings with almost every nation of the world represented.
Another important aspect of the meeting is the spiritual environment in which it is conducted. The music, speakers, and messages for each morning and evening worship service are prayerfully selected from a variety of musicians, pastors, and leaders from around the world. As you walk the hallways, you will encounter booths, singing stations, and musical performances or groups praying together.
I am looking forward to Indianapolis, to meet with friends and make new ones, and to learn what my church is doing to finish the proclamation of the everlasting gospel, as our Great Commission commands us to do in Matthew 28 and Revelation 14. With people coming from all nations, it seems as though it’s a small rehearsal of the so-much-awaited gathering with our Lord and Savior. Isaiah 43:9 (NKJV) declares, “Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled.” We should all fix our eyes on that day when theLord Himself shall come to gather all His people and take them home.
On the last Sabbath at the General Conference Session, we usually join in singing the classic Adventist song, “We Have This Hope.” It is my prayer that, similarly, on the last day of this world’s history, we will be standing together in that great multitude, along with myriads of angels, singing Alleluia to the King of kings and Lord of lords.