Delegates to the General Conference Session are enjoined with the task of choosing the world-church president for the next five years, a duty many of them believe is a solemn responsibility that requires much prayer and wisdom.
On July 2, the first day of the General Conference Session 2015, each division met privately to choose nominating committee members. Then division representatives selected a name for presidency to submit to the General Conference full business session, which met the next day.
At 10:45 a.m. on July 3 Chairman of the Assembly Pardon Mwansa welcomed Nominating Committee Chairman Homer Trecartin and Secretary Leslie Pollard to give their report to over 2,000 delegates.
Trecartin said they were ready to make their first report, and then introduced secretary Pollard, who reported the following:
“Delegates to the 60th convention of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the nominating committee submits for the name of president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Dr. Ted Wilson.”
Prolonged applause followed.
Commenting on the enthusiastic nature of the applause, Mwansa said, “Thank you, I take that as a second to the motion made.”
Immediately after the second, Raymond Hartwell of the North American Division (NAD) appeared at a microphone to speak. Hartwell briefly stated his respect for the church, the leaders, and the process and immediately requested that the report of Wilson’s name be referred back to the committee.
Mwansa questioned if Hartwell’s objection to the nominee warranted return of the report to the committee.
“In most cases the nominating committee looks and examines quite a lot before they bring a report,” Mwansa said, who also questioned that the objection was of a substantial nature.
Hartwell responded by citing General Conference Rules of Order, which says that usually a chair accepts a request for a referral.
“It is the usual procedure,” Mwansa said, “but I would still like to test it with the group if you can, if you are willing to, make it into a motion. I would rather get the sense of the body as to where they would be.”
“I’m respectfully requesting that we follow the written part that says it is the usual procedure to accept the referral,” Hartwell replied. “Mr. Chairman, it’s your session, and you can guide the body . . . .”
A point of order was called by another delegate who noted to the chair that, “if there is a request for a referral, you [should] honor it at all times.”
Mwansa responded to this point of order, showing that he was within the rules of order as the chairman.
“With due respect to the observations you are making,” Mwansa said, “I will go ahead and follow the rule of order by, first of all, doing something which is within our rules of order. That is asking the person . . . quoting page C5, number 7, ‘when referrers are granted, all objections must then be made to the nominating committee chair and secretary.’ So at this time I would like to say that the person that has raised this referral, if you could come to the side of the room, the chairman of the nominating committee and the secretary will listen to you to see if the objection you have raised was not raised in the nominating committee, and they will give me a signal as to whether they would like this to be taken back, or is something that has been looked after.”
Hartwell went to the side of the room to meet with the officers of the nominating committee to share his concerns while the delegation waited and the appropriate hymns, “Lead On O King Eternal,” “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” and “He Leadeth Me” were played.
Nine minutes later the nominating committee officers returned from their meeting. Again Trecartin addressed Mwansa, “Mr. Chairman, the nominating committee officers have listened to the concern, and feel that it’s one that has already been dealt with, and so our motion still stands.”
The statement was greeted by more applause.
Mwansa attempted to proceed, but was stopped by a point of order requesting a secret ballot. However, it was pointed out that the request was not a true point of order. A question on the motion was then requested by NAD delegate Neil Nedley, but was not allowed.
NAD delegate Sadrail Saint-Ulysse took the floor and requested to speak to the nominating committee.
Mwansa advised him that, “what we might end up with is people going back, and coming and back, and going back, and coming back. So I would like to see by voting, that the vote consensus is to refer back.”
Saint-Ulysse insisted, “I’d like to follow the same guidelines earlier, and in keeping with the manual, I’d like to be given the same privilege.”
Mwansa responded, “I realize that this is unusual, that this is putting the house in a hard situation, but I would like, for the sake of being able to respect your observation and ours, I would really like if this was in the form of a motion so that it would be voted up or down. The nominating committee chair and secretary informed me that they have objections that were placed, but those have been looked at, and there is a sense that most of the things fall within that.”
After Saint-Ulysse insisted again, Mwansa consented and the delegate went to share his concerns about the nominee with the nominating committee officers. Just five minutes later, Saint-Ulysse returned and the nominating committee officers reported back again.
“Mr. Chairman, we have listened to the concerns,” said Trecartin, “and appreciate those concerns being shared. The feeling of the officers is that these have already been dealt with. So, our motion still stands.”
Again, loud applause from the delegates.
“If we have any more requests for referrals, I will prove them by vote,” Mwansa said. “That way we don’t keep going to and fro.”
The delegation had shown it was anxious to continue on with the motion, further reflected in the next delegate who took the floor:
“Mr. Chairman, I recommend that if there is any other objection today, motion being on the floor, that those who are objecting may have one more opportunity to go to the committee, and anyone with an objection will voice it at that time, rather than going back and forth through this exercise.”
Mwansa thanked the delegate.
“I appreciate your comment,” Mwansa said. “Nobody has requested for further referrals, so I will take that as a comment.”
There were two more points of order brought by delegates, which failed.
Mwansa reiterated after the second, “I will not take that as a point of order again. Going back to the main motion. I just have to respect our rules of order and take a point of order when it is a point of order. I really appreciate your comments, the things you may want to say, but unless it’s a point of order, I’ll not give you the opportunity where it’s not a point of order. Ok, that brings us back to points of order. We do have people that need to speak. We have them on several microphones. May I encourage you, that if it is again a concern that you have on anything, be prepared that I will put it to a test of this house, and if it is any other comments, you can express them by the way you will vote.”
Elizabeth Talbot, an NAD delegate, eventually moved to have a secret ballot, “due to the magnitude of this decision,” whose motion was seconded.
“We will put that to test,” said Mwansa. “The motion on the floor is to use the secret ballot as we vote on this.”
Before they voted on Talbot’s motion, a point of order requested the chair to ask the delegates, “not to applaud after comments and motions made as that can affect the outcome of the vote.”
Mwansa responded to this point of order by saying, “Thank you, we will do that. May I request the house please, to avoid applauding after comments. I appreciate your observation.”
Mwansa returned to the motion.
“Motion is that we have a secret vote on this particular item. Are you ready to vote? All those in favor of voting by secret ballot please raise the green ballot.”
Very few raised their colored cards.
“Those opposed by the same,” said Mwansa.
Many cards were raised, showing the delegates were not interested in a secret ballot.
“Thank you,” said Mwansa. “The motion fails.”
Larry Boggess, NAD delegate, said delegates used to pray in situations like this and then said he would like to call a question on the previous question.
“The call to the previous question simply indicates that we cease to discuss and test if we are ready to vote,” Mwansa said. “Is the motion seconded? It’s seconded. Ok. So we will vote on that . . . what that means if it passes, is the people that are standing at the microphones to speak will not be respected to speak. We will go straight to consider voting the main motion.”
Mwansa then called for a vote on the motion to cease discussion, which passed.
The delegation was ready to move on to the main motion.
“At this point” Mwansa said, “we are now going to vote for the main motion, which is going to be read by the secretary of the nominating committee.”
Secretary Pollard again read the motion: “The recommendation of the nominating committee for the position of president of the general conference, is the name of Dr. Ted Wilson.”
Mwansa called for a vote.
“Those in favor of the motion, us on the floor, as read, from the nominating committee, please show by raising your yellow cards.”
The air filled with cards above an overwhelming majority of delegates.
“Thank you. Those opposed by the same,” said Mwansa.
A localized smattering went up with the same sign.
The motion was carried by a landslide.