Election to leadership in the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church is a democratic process where members prayerfully nominate and vote for men and women who fit godly criteria. This happens at every level from the local church up to the General Conference.
Accordingly, scores of delegates convened at Camp Verley from June 16 to 17 to choose the leaders of the Central Jamaica Conference (CJC) for the 2022-2026 quadrennium.
Many delegates are returnees who have been to session at least once before. Young Brendon Coleman from Asia SDA in Manchester was one of the more visible delegates this session. It was his second time attending. He was selected to be secretary of the nominating committee.
“I did not come to session with the nominating committee in mind much less to be the secretary but the chair, Pastor Everett Brown, announced that one was needed and someone suggested me. I was shocked because typically a female is chosen and also I have never been a secretary before. I nominated someone else but the majority voted for me so I took on the challenge,” said a smiling Coleman.
President of the Jamaica Union, Pastor Everett Brown publicly commended him for carrying the role with diligence and confidence.
“We have a very efficient secretary of the nominating committee. I’m proud and I’m sure the Asia Church is also proud of Bro.Coleman,” Brown said.
Coleman, who sits on his church’s board, attributes his leadership ability to the nurturing and public speaking opportunities he received at church from an early age.
For Elder Michael Montaque from the Spanish Town SDA Church, this is the fifth consecutive session that he has been a delegate. He appreciates that session attendance gives members a voice. One issue for which he has felt a burden is the way pastors are rotated.
“A pastor with a young family would be transferred to a difficult area far from where they live and they would have to dismantle the living arrangement they have already established. I think there needed to be a bit more compassion in the strategy for assigning ministers,” he said.
At previous sessions he recommended that the strategy be revised and he says he has seen some improvement which he hopes will continue. He believes the conference operations are satisfactorily transparent and that the leaders exercise good stewardship.
Denton Williams, who is first elder for the Rosewell SDA Church in Clarendon, was attending for the first time.
“I try to make myself available. I had to take two days off to be here so it is actually a sacrifice,” he said, noting that he would do it again.
He didn’t expect the nominating process to be much different from what he has experienced at the local level. Having observed it, he believes the process at the conference level went well by God’s grace.
Another first elder attending for the first time, Nickaine Mason from the Hayes SDA Church in Clarendon, found the reports informative.
“The literature is well packaged. The video presentations are succinct and really helped people to appreciate reports,” he said.
First-time delegate Donna Coley Josephs from the Mile Gully SDA in Manchester had hoped to experience the nominating committee first hand. She was a bit disappointed that that didn’t happen but hopes for more inclusion at future sessions.
Duran Vassell from the May Pen SDA Church in Clarendon nominated himself when his church’s board was searching for a fourth delegate. It was his first time attending. He desires to see the constitution that governs the conference discussed in depth so that every local member can understand it and make informed decisions.
Overall, delegates felt blessed to be able to represent their local churches or sector of the conference so that the business of the church could be conducted under God’s guidance.