GC Delegation Sessions
| 1925 | 1928
| 1931 | 1934
| 1948 | 1951
| 1955 | 1959
1967 | 1971
| 1975 | 1979
| 1983 | 1987
| 1991 | 1995
return of the two delegatesBrethren Otto Welp and
Heinrich Spanknoebel from their trip across the Atlantic,
in 1922, aroused untold interest and, in some cases, disappointment
and perplexity. Through correspondence and personal contacts
the news spread from country to country that there were
no prospects of reconciliation with the Adventist Church
. . . that the door was closed . . . that our two envoys
had not even been granted a hearing at the General Conference
session in San Francisco. Many of the brethren began to
ask themselves: What will be the next step? Prayerful consultations
with one another led the representatives of the different
groups of SDA Reformers to the conclusion that a general
meeting was absolutely necessary.
Second International Conference
of SDA Reformers, Eisenach, Germany, 1922.
Representatives of several Unions were present at
this second international convention.
second international meeting of Reformers took place at
Bebra, west of Eisenach, Germany, in the summer of 1922.
Four Unions that had already been organized agreed to unite
into a General Conference and work together. Sabbath School
quarterlies, Week of Prayer magazines, and other publications
had been put out locally according to the possibilities
of the brethren in each country. But now the need was felt
to centralize the preparation and dissemination of these
the General Conference office in Wuerzburg, Germany. This
office became the coordinating link among the different
Unions and the center from which attention would be given
to new interests and new groups that should be aroused by
the message of reformation in many other places in the world.
The four Unions committed themselves to support the General
Conference work with a tithe of the tithes. Brother Welp
was confirmed as president and Brother Spanknoebel as secretary.
It was decided that the General Conference would be organized
on a definite basis in 1925, and the believers in general
were informed of this plan.
Our First Official General Conference Session
first GC delegation session proper was held at Gotha, Germany,
July 1420, 1925, with the presence of 18 delegates.
It is from that time that official minutes of our GC sessions
have been kept. We still preserve the original minute book
as a precious treasure.
the brethren came together in 1925, the verse in Acts 15:4
could almost be paraphrased as follows: "And when they
were come to Gotha, Germany, they were received of the church
and of the elders who had organized the conference, and
they declared all things that God had done with them."
Their reports confirmed again the fact that the reform-minded
brethren in several countries had gone through similar experiences.
But every heart seemed to be worried over the question:
How far are we united in doctrine? All were genuine Seventh
Day Adventists. All professed to be Reformers. All upheld
the truth as revealed in the threefold message of Revelation
14. There was no doubt as far as the general tenets of Adventism
were concerned. But coming down to minutiaeto the
understanding and application of certain principlesit
could not be said that they were all "joined together
in the same mind and in the same judgment" (1 Corinthians
1:10). Far from that. And then there were different ideas
with reference to the proposed organization and everything
that goes with it. Amid the apparent confusion of concepts,
however, there seemed to shine a ray of hope for a better
delegates of SDA Reformers, first session, Gotha,
Germany, 1925. Front row, left to right: Constantin
Ursan, Wilhelm Richter, Dumitru Nicolici, Wilhelm
Korpmann, Johann G. Hanselmann, Otto Welp, P. Rasmussen,
Wilhelm Maas, Joseph Adamczak, Albert Krahe. Back
row, left to right: Mihai Streza, Karl Kozel, Heinrich
Spanknoebel, Sister A. Ottender, A. Jurgens, K. A.
Ekeroth, Sister Ekeroth (not a delegate), Max Koehler,
points of harmonywhere all could see things eye to
eyewere explored in the first place. All shared the
conviction that sincere and orderly efforts had been made
to bring about a genuine and God-approved reconciliation
with the church that they loved. All were of the opinion
that it would be useless to try again, since there was no
evidence that the serious errors which lay at the basis
of the discussion at Friedensau, 1920, had been or would
ever be removed. They had no hope that the needed reformation
would ever come "within the church." All felt
that they were going through the experience of their predecessors
in the work of reformation. History, which has a tendency
to repeat itself, and which is a textbook of pattern procedures,
held out an important lesson for them as follows:
the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought
of separating themselves from the established church; but
the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and
those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who
were longing for the truth. . . . Often those who follow
in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from
the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teachings
of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking
for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the
church of their fathers, that they may render obedience."The
Desire of Ages, p. 232.
work of God in the earth presents, from age to age, a striking
similarity in every great reformation or religious movement.
The principles of Gods dealing with men are ever the
same."The Great Controversy, p. 343.
when our first delegation session proper was convened, our
pioneers in the work of reformation were already convinced
that God demands unity "upon a true, scriptural basis,"
not unconditional affiliation. This principle, exemplified
by our forefathers in the faith, was clear to them:
secure peace and unity [our forefathers] were ready to make
any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they
felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the
sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by
the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there
be difference, and even war."Ibid., p. 45.
calls for unity. But He does not call for us to unify on
wrong practices. . . . He does not gloss over wrongdoing
with a coat of untempered mortar."Selected
Messages, bk. 1, p. 175.
delegates in 1925 did not have the Fundamental Principles
of SDAs published in 1872, but they had the book Bible Studies
for the Home Circle, which was based on that publication
of 1872. They did not believe in establishing a creed but,
for the sake of ensuring uniformity in teaching and practice,
they deemed it necessary to adopt a set of principles based
on the material available to them, from the Seventh-day
Adventist Church. They did their best, according to their
knowledge and understanding. This is how our humble booklet
Principles of Faith came into existence. Resolution
No. 10 reads:
principles of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
submitted to the General Conference were adopted after examination
and detailed deliberation. Seventeen delegates voted for
their adoption in their original form. One delegate had
objections because of the formulation with reference to
the 144,000. The principles were accepted by the majority."
us as a Movement the Principles of 1925 have ever been a
symbol of unity in the faith.
this step of prime importance was settled, there was a secondary
step which also involved some discussion, namely, the organization
of the Reform Movement. Most of those 18 delegates (representing
4,000 members) felt that the fundamental truths of the threefold
message could not be successfully promoted without a concrete
form of organization. Some were opposed to this idea, but
their objections did not prevail.
was the first reason presented in favor of organization:
From the very beginning, every true reformation has had
to face opposition. The apostles had a struggle with disorderly
elements. Luther and Melanchthon contended with them. The
early Adventists fought them. And, certainly, this Reform
Movement would be no exception. For the purpose of keeping
out impostors and for several other purposes (Testimonies
to Ministers, p. 26), a definite form of organization
was considered necessary. And it was understood that this
organization should be built on the same platform which
had been established by the Advent pioneers and strengthened
by the distinctive doctrines of the Advent Movement, but
separate from the organization of the Adventist mother church;
for, "How can two walk together lest they be agreed?"
: Minutes of the first GC session of SDA Reformers,
1925, first page. Right : GC minutes, 1925. Decision
11 refers to the Principles of Faith. See next page.
official name to be adopted by the Reform Movement was another
matter of discussion among the delegates. The representatives
of the work in Germany proposed that their name, International
Missionary Society, registered in 1919, should be accepted
for the Reform church as a whole. The majority had a different
idea. The main objection was that many other societies,
such as the so-called Jehovahs Witnesses, were using
the name "International." The delegates wanted
a name that would not cause unnecessary confusion with other
societies. And, after a lengthy discussion, they finally
agreed to adopt the name (Resolution No. 11) that we have
carried until today.
meeting of 1925 paved the way for a worldwide movement.
At this session the Principles of Faith were adopted, four
Union Conferences joined to form a General Conference, and
the name of our organization was agreed upon, as shown in
the General Conference minutes of 1925 and on the front
cover of the booklet Principles of Faith published immediately
afterwards in Germany:
Principles of Faith of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform
Movement and their Rules of Church OrderConcise Presentation
published by the General Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist
Reform Movement during the General Conference session held
in Gotha (Germany), July 1420, 1925: