Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) delegates met Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, on the campus of Upper Columbia Academy for the 78th Constituency Session for the conference.
The 523 registered and voting delegates present reelected the four conference officers for the 2019–2023 term: Minner Labrador, president; Rodney Mills, vice president for administration; Allee Currier, vice president for finance; and Brian Harris, vice president for education. All current departmental directors were also returned to their respective roles. While each officer was elected individually, the directors' names were voted on as a block. In relation to these votes, no discussion on individual names was entertained on the session floor. This customary practice at conference constituency sessions avoids uncomfortable oversharing of personnel matters in a public forum. The nominating committee process before the session allows concerns about every candidate to be vetted in a more confidential manner. On Sunday, during the lunch hour, the nominating and constitution and bylaws committees met in separate rooms to allow any delegate to address specific concerns with them before the agenda items were brought to the floor for a vote.
John Freedman, North Pacific Union Conference president, anchored the morning agenda with a devotional. Drawing from Jesus' exhortation to the disciples in Acts 1, he reminded delegates that the Holy Spirit was heaven's promise of power within each believer and through each believer. "No Spirit," he said, "equals no power, no witness, no unity, no strength and no ability to love one another." We have a choice today and everyday, he said, to grasp control in our own hands or relinquish control to the power of the Holy Spirit.
Labrador formally introduced the session theme of "One More" — a clear allusion to the iconic prayer of Desmond Doss as he saved lives on the battlefield, "Lord, help me get just one more." Labrador tied that theme to Jesus' parables in Luke 15 that affirmed the value of the one lost sheep, the one lost coin, the younger son who squandered his inheritance but was welcomed back by his father. The reality, said Labrador, is that out of every 10 members on the membership books within the conference, six are missing in action on Sabbath. Recognizing that some are unable to come due to illness or disability, the numbers still point out the challenge. "If our Savior is all about reaching one more," Labrador exclaimed, "so should we. I encourage each of our church boards, as they kneel in prayer together, to ask what must be done in their community to get just one more for Jesus. It won't be easy, but it is His will for us."
The overall spirit of Sunday's session was one of passionate but respectful dialogue. Foregoing Sunday football games or other activities, these delegates took their responsibilities seriously. Beyond the conference officers and directors, they elected a new slate of executive committee members and a fresh board of education. They also updated the nominating, constitution and bylaws and the financial and statistical review committees. The positive work that conference leaders have done in recent months to listen to members and cast a vision has helped to foster a forward-moving spirit.
In fact, much good news was shared.
Perhaps the most vigorous discussion of the day's session happened toward the end of the day over an agenda item with a myriad of suggested changes to the constitution and bylaws. Many voiced concerns that the information had not been sent out in time for them to be adequately informed. With underlying concerns about how the proposed alterations might or might not define how the conference would conduct its mission in reference to the denominational structure, delegates voted to defer the discussion to the next regular session. Other options, such as holding a special midterm session to address the issue, were entertained and voted down. A majority accepted that the current UCC constitution and bylaws are working just fine and are not in need of crisis intervention.
With the agenda wrapped up, a dedicatory prayer for the newly elected leaders and for the entire conference body of believers concluded a day of productive business focused on moving the mission forward. It's a mission to equip and empower "ministries that reach our communities with the Christ-centered, Seventh-day Adventist message of hope and wholeness."
The officers, directors and committees approved for the 2019–2023 term are listed below.
Officers and Departmental Personnel
Board of Education
Constitution and Bylaws Committee
Financial and Statistical Review Committee