Thursday, August 7, 2008

Reviewing the Pacific Union Recorder

August, 2008
Vol. 108, No. 8

This month, readers, you get an editorial rather than my usual review. Consider yourselves warned!

A cursory reading of this edition paints a glowing picture of a perfect church. Sixteen articles document community service activities. Adventists are out there being neighborly and doing good. Two editorials call for “disciplined discipleship” and living “together in peace” with other Christians. All this is commendable. However, I’m left with the nagging suspicion that the Recorder is becoming just a public relations exercise and an Adventist advertising kiosk with sunset tables.

There is no substantive coverage of the challenges facing our Union and Conference leaders and members. “Why are we having difficulty maintaining our membership?” “Why are parents, in increasing numbers, deciding not to send their children to Adventist schools?” “Why are Adventist churches in small towns closing their doors?” “Why is the church membership ‘aging’?” “Why are expensive evangelistic campaigns, particularly TV and radio efforts, so popular with administrators and so ineffective?”

I offer the NCC Constituency Session reporting as an example of a PR exercise designed to keep the Recorder readership entertained (lulled to sleep, reassured) rather than informed. This article earned a well-deserved Black Eye,

Members attending the NCC CONSTITUENCY SESSION AND HISTORIC EDUCATION SUMMIT listened to music and inspirational devotional talks before getting down to business. Marc Woodson presented the Executive Secretary’s report in which he reported that membership numbers were good but “could be even better”. SPECIFICS NOT REPORTED

John Rasmussen, NCC Treasurer “gave the treasurer’s report, in which he explained the various percentages of how each tithe dollar is spent. SPECIFIC INFORMATION NOT INCLUDED While highlighting the fact that tithe has been going up, the report showed that the slight increase over the past two years was significantly below the inflation factor. Thus, in 2007, the conference’s expenses required the use of some reserve funds”. HOW MUCH IS “SOME”? NOT REPORTED

“Once the three reports had been given, two agenda items were presented to the delegates for voting. The first, a proposal to merge the Northern California Conference and the Northern California Conference Association, passed by an overwhelming majority. THE NCC ASSOCIATION WAS NOT DEFINED THE REASONS FOR THE MERGER UNDISCLOSED. The second item, a proposal to look into changing communication methods for delegates between constituency meetings, failed 103 to 202.” WHY? AGAIN NOT EXPLAINED

“A third agenda item, regarding the Adventist education benefits of constituent churches, was deferred to the afternoon’s education summit, and the session adjourned at 11:53 a.m. for lunch.” THIS AGENDA ITEM WAS NEVER CLEARLY ARTICULATED

“A large majority of those in attendance stayed after lunch for a very important event — the NCC Education Summit. The summit began with Pedersen explaining that the afternoon would be a momentous occasion, because the summit would result in recommendations that could permanently benefit Adventist education in the NCC.” WHY “MOMENTOUS”? WHAT RECOMMENDATIONS?

In the afternoon session, after von Pohle, NCC Education Superintendent finished her presentation, “the attendees separated into three discussion groups, each led by one conference administrator and one education administrator. After about two hours of discussing the assigned topic and its various problems and their possible solutions, the three groups reunited. The groups’ leaders then presented several of the discussion groups' top ideas to the general assembly.” THE ASSIGNED TOPICS WERE NOT IDENTIFIED “TOP IDEAS” WERE NOT MENTIONED

The Pacific Union Conference contains fifty percent of all the SDA members in North America! The Recorder is sent to virtually every Adventist household in the Union.

Readers, we have to let our administrators and editors know that we want to be educated church members; that we are ready, willing, and able to make responsible decisions at both the local level and as constituent representatives.

Administrators, “momentous” decisions must be made very soon. The Pacific Union Recorder can help us help you. Allow us to earn your trust.

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