Delegates from across Minnesota met on Sunday, May 15, 2022, for the 109th regular session of the Minnesota Conference Association of Seventh-day Adventists for the purpose of electing leadership, receiving reports and conducting additional church business. This constituency session, originally scheduled for May 2020, has been delayed multiple times due to the pandemic.
Before the session officially opened at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, students from Maplewood Academy provided multiple musical selections under the directorship of Clinton Anderson. The choir and handbell music created a worshipful atmosphere for the devotional thoughts offered by Hubert J. Morel, Jr., vice president of administration for the Mid-America Union Conference.
Morel reminded delegates that “a new day is dawning” and believers in Christ need to “wake up” from spiritual apathy, “wash up” by exercising spiritual hygiene, and “dress up” by putting on the full armor of God in preparation for standing during the perilous times we face. Morel concluded the devotional period by leading the delegates in a season of prayer together in small groups.
More than the required percentage of delegates to establish a quorum were in attendance when the session officially opened after an explanation of usage of the digital voting devices. Electronic “clickers” were distributed to the nearly 350 registered delegates who attended. Non-voting representatives from the Mid-America Union Conference and the North American Division were on hand to assist with the proceedings.
Early in the day delegates voted to receive the conference’s administrative and departmental ministry reports, which had been sent to delegates in video format in advance of the session. The reports were also included in written form in the delegates’ packets. All video reports are currently available online.
Later the audit report was presented by Paula Aughenbaugh, representing the General Conference Auditing Services. Aughenbaugh stated that the Minnesota Conference received an “unmodified opinion” on their recent audit, which is the highest level possible to receive.
After lengthy consideration, delegates voted on the names brought forward by the 24-member nominating committee chaired by Gary Thurber, Mid-America Union Conference president. The vote was 51% in favor of extending an invitation to Elder Craig Carr to serve as president of the Minnesota Conference. Delegates also voted by 63% to invite Elder Eric Mokua to serve as vice president of administration. Gayln Bowers was re-elected by 96% to serve as vice president for finance, a position he has held since February 1, 2021.
Before the nominating committee report was presented, Thurber spoke of the importance of displaying gracious Christian love. “The way you know God is in the room is if the fruits of the Spirit are being shown—graciousness and kindness and love. We’re never all going to see things the same way. What’s important is how we treat each other, especially when we disagree,” Thurber said.
After the votes were tabulated delegates voted again unanimously to express appreciation to Elder Justin Lyons, outgoing president, and Elder Brian Mungandi, outgoing vice president for administration, for their eight years each of service to the Minnesota Conference. Delegates also gave a standing ovation for both Lyons and Mungandi.
Carr, an experienced pastor and administrator who holds a Master of Divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a Doctor of Ministry from Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, has served as ministerial director for the Mid-America Union since January 1, 2022. He is currently considering the offer of presidency. Should he decline, the Minnesota Conference bylaws call for the Board of Trustees to meet with the nominating committee to select a new president.
Mokua, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Theology, a master’s in Religion and a master’s in Leadership, currently pastors the Faith Church International in Brooklyn Park. He has accepted the vice president of administration position and will begin his work as soon as is feasible. “We want the gospel of Christ to reach Minnesota,” said Mokua. “There is work to be done here. Let us come together regardless of ethnicity…We need to be our brothers’ keepers.”
After lunch, delegates voted on proposed changes to the Minnesota Conference constitution and bylaws. Some minor changes recommended by the constitution and bylaws committee were approved; a number of other proposed changes were referred back to the committee for further consideration.
Before the meeting was adjourned delegates elected members to standing conference committees including the Board of Trustees, Board of Education, Articles and Bylaws, Plans Committee, Maplewood Academy Board, and Finance Committee.
“The processes are complicated,” said one first-time delegate. “But I support my church.” Another delegate said he was impressed with the services the conference personnel provide. “I’ve been in this church since 1981 and I’m impressed with how things ran today,” he added.
The Minnesota Conference is comprised of 10,903 members (as of Dec. 31, 2021) in 114 congregations, including 24 new church plants during the past quadrennium. They currently employ 39 pastors.
For more photos visit Minnesota Conference’s Facebook.
By Brenda Dickerson, Communication Director for the Mid-America Union Conference