Frequently Asked Questions about the General Conference Session

Why does the Adventist Church hold a business session every 5 years? What is the purpose of the GC Session?

General Conference Session is a global spiritual gathering and a constitutionally required business meeting that has been held every five years since 1970. Its purpose is to vote on global leadership, set the direction of the Church for the next five years, and vote changes to the Constitution, Fundamental Beliefs and Church Manual.

How much money does it cost the church? Couldn’t they find an alternate way to carry on the business of the church that would save money, travel, and time?

The General Conference World Budget each year sets aside $1.4 million for the direct cost of the Session venue. That’s $7 million, which is less than 8 cents a year per member. Including indirect costs, such as air travel, lodging and programs of local administrative units, the total cost for Session is approximately $20 million, which is approximately one dollar per member.

No other denomination comes together on a worldwide basis to elect leaders, to hear reports, and to receive offerings from everywhere to be distributed everywhere. In order to maintain worldwide unity of the Church, it could cost 10 times this amount to replicate the type of infrastructure needed to gather and communicate.

Here are a few ANN stories that help explain more:

Do you have to be a delegate to attend the GC? How many delegates are there? How are the delegates chosen? What is their job?

GC Session is an open meeting—anyone can attend—but only delegates and invitees have the ability to speak and only delegates may vote. This year, nearly 2,600 voting delegates are expected to attend. Each union nominates delegates to represent its field. In addition, delegates representing major church institutions are selected.

How can members benefit from attending the Session?

Attendees gain an understanding of the world church and how it operates. They will literally see people from more countries and language groups than any other meeting in the Church and possibly in the world.

Describe a typical day at GC Session from beginning to end.

For those working behind the scenes, the day starts with a Steering Committee to determine the agenda items for the day. The first public meeting is morning worship, followed by a business session that lasts until lunch. There is another business session in the afternoon. In the evenings, world regions have a chance to showcase mission, challenges and opportunities, all presented with the color and flair of national dress and music. Throughout the day, exhibits are available to view in the convention center, offering ideas and resources for a wide variety of ministries.

How does the process of electing church officers work? What offices are filled at a GC Session? At what point in the session is the GC president selected?

A nominating is formed to nominate General Conference officers, departmental directors and associate directors, and division presidents. The president is selected first and joins the Nominating Committee to offer recommendations on all the other nominations, which the committee can choose to accept or reject.

How will this GC be different than sessions of the past? In what ways will it be the same?

This year will feature electronic voting, which will allow for greater privacy in voting compared to previous Sessions when delegates held up a voting card. This is the first time Session will be held in San Antonio. Like Sessions in recent decades, it will be held in an indoor football stadium with an adjacent convention center. Also, more than 60,000 people are expected to attend the two Sabbath worships during Session.

How can church members get updates on the proceedings and voted actions at GC?

Adventist News Network will be covering the event.

What other ancillary activities will take place in conjunction with the session that people can participate in?

Members and guests will have the opportunity to serve the community with projects, including the Impact San Antonio initiative, My Whole Life Matters events, and the More Campaign. Additionally, the North American Division is hosting a ministerial convention in the nearby city of Austin before Session.

Can I volunteer to help at the meetings?

Due to the technical nature of the General Conference Session events we are not able to accept any volunteer workers.