GC Delegation Sessions
| 1925 | 1928
| 1931 | 1934
| 1948 | 1951
| 1955 | 1959
1967 | 1971
| 1975 | 1979
| 1983 | 1987
| 1991 | 1995
Fourth General Conference Session
Hungary, September 2528, 1934. The session was
opened with 21 delegates present. Membership in 1934:
over 7,000 members.
the happy surprise of the delegation, the membership
report in 1934 revealed a considerable increase over
the figure reported in 1931about 40 percent.
delegation, fourth session, Budapest, Hungary,
joy of our delegates was expressed in these words:
thank the Lord with all our heart for the blessings
that we have received these last three years. He has
blessed the work of reformation beyond our petitions
and expectations. In the financial field He has helped
us in all our needs. But we thank Him especially for
His aid in our spiritual work. It is the conversion
and harvest of souls that fills our hearts with thankfulness
toward Him. He aroused these souls. He prospered the
work. He guided and protected the laborers. He shielded
us everywhere from numerous dangers and helped us out
of manifold difficulties during these last three years.
And amid the troubles which are in the land, and the
still greater afflictions which are before us, our earnest
prayer to God is that He will be our defense and that
He will soon visit us with the latter rain."
certain number of questions which had to do with our
beliefs were put on the agenda for discussionquestions
dealing with health reform, occupations inconsistent
with our faith, rebaptism, the marriage institution
(questions regarding divorce and remarriage), and the
loud cry. Answers were sent to the Union Conferences,
in the form of resolutions, in harmony with the light
that our delegates had from the Bible and the Spirit
of Prophecy writings. Our previous decision to lift
up the principles was reenforced with emphasis on the
need to insist on thorough preparation of candidates
delegates were much concerned over one of the greatest
problems which is worrying us today more than ever before:
"The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers
are few," and the time of probation is running
out. Besides, there were signs that the world was preparing
for a new conflict. This brought additional uneasiness
to them. Their anxiety was well expressed in these words:
all our council meetings we were fully impressed with
the seriousness of this time, and one and all were thoroughly
convinced that only a few days remain in which we may
proclaim the gospel message. It is therefore our aim
to labor earnestly today, that we may be found faithful
officers: W. Maas, president; A. Rieck, secretary.
Fifth General Conference Session
1934 to 1948because of growing political impediments,
because of the war (19391945), and because of
the devastation caused by the war and the unsettled
situation prevalent in Europe during the first few years
after the warit had not been possible to hold
a regular General Conference session for fourteen years.
And since June 1938, when the GC Committee brethren
met in Budapest, Hungary, there was no committee meeting
until the leading brethren came together in Holland
in 1948. Circumstances beyond the control of the leadership
of the work made it impossible to give direct attention
to the Unions and Fields. Many things accumulated during
this long period of time. Each Union and Field, each
State Conference and local church had problems, needs,
and questions which demanded urgent attention. Under
these conditions, the work of the General Conference
delegation (July 515, 1948) at The Hague, Holland,
was not an easy job. Due to existing restrictions, several
countries were not able to send their delegates, but
they sent in their written proposals, questions, and
requests. Brother C. Kozel explained why the session
of 1948 was legal in spite of the fact that only a partial
delegation was able to come:
delegation (plus visitors), fifth session, The
Hague, Holland, 1948.
representatives from the Balkan statesRomania,
Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Hungarywere not able
to come due to their political circumstances. But they
were represented in writing because they sent in their
reports, their recommendations, and their proposals.
Only the brethren who live in Russia were not represented,
either directly or indirectly."C. Kozels
23-page bulletin, Allgemeiner Bericht der Generalkonferenz
(General Report of the General Conference), p. 7.
the beginning of the session, clouds of worry rested
upon the 24 representatives present. After a few days,
however, these clouds were lifted and rays of renewed
hope, assurance and courage penetrated their hearts.
reports and experiences shared at the session brought
great joy and showed that our brethren, scattered in
many parts of the world, had worked hard, fighting the
good fight of faith successfully.
the points discussed by the delegates, there were:
Doctrinal points: Some of the leaders had doubts
about our Principles of Faith (marriage institution
and health reform). The delegates decided that no change
should be introduced to weaken the principles, but that
they should be set forth in a clearer light. Nevertheless,
some of those who were opposed to one or more points
of the principles did not change their minds, but caused
a great deal of trouble.
2. Missionary needs: To promote the work, these
steps were regarded as deserving priority: to establish
missionary schools, to conduct Bible seminars, and to
send out missionary families to new fields.
3. Administrative issues: The need to give more
attention to church order and discipline as important
factors in the development of the work (Early Writings,
pp. 97104) became evident to all.
of the important administrative decisions had to do
with the transfer of the General Conference headquarters
to the United States.
were also some sensitive issues that had to be tackled.
One of these was resultant from the strained relations
that existed between the leaders of the American Union
and the outgoing GC president, A. Mueller. It was for
this reason, apparently, that the American Union did
not send their delegates to the 1948 session. And many
brethren said that the partial delegation, in 1948,
without listening to both sides, was biased to pronounce
an unfair sentence against the American leaders.
sensitive issue was an administrative problem that had
been smoldering between C. Kozel and the Brazilian Union
because the Unions and Fields were required to send
substantial financial contributions to the South American
Division, of which Brother Kozel had become the president,
while the Division had no legal existence. This matter
was now brought up for discussion before the delegation.
The delegates did not approve the existence of Divisions,
as J. Adamczak, chairman of the 1948 GC session, explained
in his report, and, for a while, the problem seemed
to be settled. Nevertheless, as Brother Kozel, after
the session, insisted on maintaining the South American
Division, which had not been confirmed by the delegates,
this created tension between him and Brother Lavrik,
the president of the Brazilian Union.
1948, the work was organized in sixteen Union Conferences
and Mission Fields, with over 10,000 members.
Committee elected in 1948: these six plus one
brother from Romania.
General Conference officers: C. Kozel, president; A.
Mueller, vice president; D. Nicolici, secretary.
certain number of questions which were not dealt with
by the delegation were placed into the hands of the
incoming GC Committee. There were two delicate questions
from the Romanian Union. One of these had to do with
the articles of incorporation of the Union, which had
already been published in an official paper with some
unauthorized changes introduced by government officers
who accepted these articles for publication. Because
of this publication, the SDA Reform Movement was accused
by some leaders of the SDA mother church. Brother Kozel
reported on this issue:
the [SDA] publication against us, where they refer to
a wrong publication that was made, contrary to our principles,
by our Romanian leadership, in the Romanian official
paper Monitor Oficial of March 5, 1947, we admit
that this was true. But we must testify that, until
the General Conference session in Holland, July 1948,
the General Conference Committee [the leading body]
knew absolutely nothing about that document handed in
to the Romanian government in opposition to our principles
and to our leading body. I am the first competent witness
[to what I am saying here]. . . . On that occasion I
was elected GC president. And the General Conference
was to be transferred from Europe to USA; so Brother
D. Nicolici was placed by my side as secretary. . .
. Shortly before the [GC] Committee dispersed, Brother
Nicolici. . . informed us about that wrong document,
which shocked all of us who were on the Committee (most
of the delegates had already left). It was annulled,
and the necessary correction was made right away by
a Committee resolution signed by myself as the new president."Sabbat-Waechter,
September 1, 1971.
other question from the Romanian Union was concerning
a minister who had been disfellowshiped because of adultery
and had later been restored to membership through rebaptism.
The question: Could he also be reinstated in the ministry?
Normally, there was no need for such a question, because
our position, based on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy,
had been very clear from the beginning. But an answer
had to be sent. And the answer was a positive "No."
The GC Committee members signed that answer. It happened,
however, that one of the cosigners was a morally disqualified
minister who should have been disfellowshiped, but who
had just been put on the GC Committee while our two
most responsible leaders knew about his situation, because
he himself had informed them.
on, other leading brethren, members of the GC Committee,
heard about this problem and also found out that this
was not the only case of official tolerance toward immoral
ministers. Worse than that. They were surprised at the
arguments used by some of the highest leaders who tried
to justify the toleration of guilty pastors, allowing
them to remain in their offices. This proved that there
was a strong tendency to introduce a new standard, lowering
the discipline of the ministry and thereby encouraging
more corruption. The new controversial issue testified
that the leadership was divided over a fundamental principle.
aggravate the situation, a unique setup in the organizational
structure of the Reform Movement was unwisely accepted
by the GC delegation at the end of the 1948 session.
The GC presidency and treasury were entrusted to the
same person. This arrangement led to the creation of
new problems. Irregularities in the financial administration
(such as GC funds kept in personal bank accounts) became
a sore spot in their experience and increased tension
among the leaders.
was also a great deal of authoritarianism and arbitrariness
in the GC administration, about which the leaders of
the American Union had to protest most vehemently, as
can be seen from their letters and circular letters.
And they were not the only ones to resent this unfortunate
proved once more that even good men, thinking that they
are doing the right thing, can be honestly mistaken.
Serious mistakes committed by main leaders, if not admitted
and corrected without delay, generally cause a reaction,
and may involve the whole church in a controversy. It
was the interaction of these factors that prepared the
way for the crisis which reached its climax in May 1951.