I would like to respond to questions that have been asked regarding delegates to the local Conference Constituency Meeting.
Question 1. What are the things a delegate can and cannot do prior to the constituency meeting? Can they communicate with other delegates?
Answer: When your Church elects you as a Delegate to the Conference Constituency Meeting, it is your responsibility to vote as your personal experience, knowledge, convictions, and the Spirit lead you. It is anindividual responsibility, so you should refuse to join any cabal, at any level, which would bind you to vote with any group on any matter. If you cannot do so, you should recuse yourself.
However, the best sources of accurate knowledge about issues in your Conference and beyond are the other delegates, usually leaders in their respective churches. Think about it: As a local Church leader, you are day-to-day consumed by the issues that affect your Church, not necessarily those affecting other Churches in your Conference. This is especially true for churches that are demographically distinct from yours. A metropolitan churchand a small country church face very different challenges and have unique needs. So, not only can you communicate with other delegates, you should deliberately seek to do so.
If you are chosen as a delegate, you should earnestly be seeking information about Church issues on all levels. Quoting from the Church Manual:
“Delegates to a conference session are not chosen to represent merely the church or conference. They should view the work as a whole, remembering their responsibility for the welfare of the worldwide work of the Church. It is not permissible for church or conference delegations to organize or attempt to direct their votes as a unit. Nor is it permissible for the delegates from a large church or the conference to claim preeminence in directing affairs in a conference session. Each delegate should be susceptible to the direction of the Holy Spirit and vote according to personal convictions. Any church or conference officer or leader attempting to control the votes of a group of delegates would be considered disqualified for holding office.” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 19th Edition, Revised 2015, pp. 114- 115.).
Question 2. Can delegates communicate with their church membersregarding the issues coming up?
Answer: This is similar to Question 1, but, perhaps even more important. Every member ideally becomes committed to the mission and unity of the Church, at every level. So, when any Church entity other than your local Church displeases a member by actions or inaction on issues important to them, you are this member's only voice in our representative form of government. Yes, invite your members to let you know what their concerns are. You don’t have to agree with them, you don’t have to argue with them, but you should know what their point of view is. Then compare your members' views to your personal convictions informed by your personal, Spirit-led Bible study. I would especially suggest you visit with your local Church leaders and represent those who speak from principles informed by the Word.
To be continued ….