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Significant Progress at the 61st General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

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Delegates approve church manual amendment on ordination of elders at the 61st General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

At the 2022 General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri, one of the amendments proposed for the Church Manual on the June 6 evening business session resulted in an extended discussion from the floor and required the delegates to take several related votes during the space of 75 minutes. General Conference (GC) associate secretary Gerson Santos introduced Church Manual item 409-22, which, he said, sought “to clarify some aspects of the church’s business meeting.”

Nellie Onwuchekwa, delegate from Nigeria. ● Photo: Texas International Guardian News

Specifically, it was recommended to amend the Church Manual regarding the ordination of elders, adding the sentence underlined below. It also changed the phrase “serve as deacons” to “the deaconate,” as can be seen below.
“Ordination of Elders—Election to the office of elder does not in itself qualify one as an elder. Ordination is required before an elder has authority to function. When a church in a business meeting votes the election of new elders, it also authorizes their ordination. Between election and ordination, the elected elder may function as church leader but not administer the ordinances of the church. . . .

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

A Motion to Refer It Back

After the Church Manual motion was introduced, GC delegate Gerard Damsteegt made a motion to send the original motion regarding the amendment back to the Church Manual Committee because, he said, it does not address the confusion about ordaining women elders. “Women elders were voted at Annual Council but never at General Conference Session,” he reminded delegates.

Several delegates approached the microphones to comment in favor of or against the motion to refer the amendment back. “The original motion is clear, and I don’t see the need to refer it back,” Mario Alvarado, a delegate from the North American Division (NAD), said. “I see no problem with this wording. This is about facilitating mission.”

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

GC delegate James Howard spoke in favor of referring the motion back to the committee. “The stated purpose was to remove some confusion, and I have the feeling that there is a little bit of confusion added,” he said. Howard mentioned the fact that while deacons must be ordained, according to the Church Manual, ordination is not necessarily a requirement for deaconesses. “This statement seems to act almost like it’s required for both,” he said. “That is why I think it’s important for the committee to take another look.”

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

Jonas Arrais, from the Northern Asia-Pacific Division, spoke against the motion. “The statement is very clear: we are not discussing women’s ordination. . . . We are here just suggesting that elders should be ordained,” Arrais said.

Finally, Stefan Giuliani, a delegate from the Inter-European Division, moved to cease all debate, thus effectively ending the discussion on the issue. After the parliamentarian, Todd McFarland, explained that such a motion is nondebatable and that a two-thirds majority was needed to pass it, delegates were asked to vote on it. They voted 92.3 to 7.7 percent to cease all debate on the motion.

Delegates then voted on the motion made originally by Damsteegt to refer the motion on the original amendment to the Church Manual Committee. The motion was defeated, as only 43.9 percent voted to refer it back to the committee and 56.1 opposed.

 

Images from the convention ● Photos by Josef Kissinger; Mark Froelich; James Bokovoy; David B. Sherwin. Culled from the Adventist Review —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media.

Discussion on the Amendment Motion

The floor was then opened for discussion of the original motion.

GC delegate Clinton Wahlen said that an already existing policy in the Church Manual allows for men and women to serve as leaders in the local church, so this doesn’t inhibit mission. “But the ordination of women elders, or even the ordination of deaconesses, is not practiced in all parts of the world church. If this amendment passes, it could create more confusion, not less,” Wahlen said. “We need more discussion. I would recommend this be voted down, so we can study this worldwide.”

NAD delegate Mark Weir spoke in favor of the motion. “This is simply acknowledging what’s been standard practice in many places for many decades. If a church decides to acknowledge that this is a person who has demonstrated spiritual leadership regardless of gender, . . . this language helps us to clarify and make it more understandable.”

Once again, Giuliani presented a motion to cease all debate and proceed immediately to voting, which was seconded. The motion to stop discussion passed 88.5 to 11.5 percent.

Delegates then proceeded to vote on the main motion to amend the Church Manual. After the electronic poll closed, the screen showed that 75.7 percent of delegates voted in favor of the motion, and 24.3 percent opposed. The motion was carried.

_________

♦Culled from the Adventist Review  —the flagship journal of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is a part of Adventist Review Media. For more information on the Session, as well as for instructions on how to attend and access the livestream and other media, visit gcsession.org.

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July 4 parade slaughter again shows nowhere is safe from America’s mass killing contagion—CNN

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(CNN) America’s latest mass shooting turned a cherished July Fourth parade from a scene of patriotic joy into one of fear and death.

The rapid bursts of a high-powered rifle brought the chilling reality that no one can be sure they are safe, anywhere, to one of the nation’s most unifying gatherings.
In that instant, Highland Park joined Uvalde, Columbine, Newtown and Parkland and a long list of cities and towns known across the country for the massacre of innocents in a gun violence contagion that makes the United States an outlier in developed societies.
Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet captured this from video on the morning of July 4, 2022, at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. People begin running after they hear gunshots.

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet captured this from video on the morning of July 4, 2022, at the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park. People begin running after they hear gunshots.Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Detritus strewn at the scene, a lone shoe, discarded backpacks, upturned camping chairs and empty strollers did not just tell the story of the hurried panic of those who fled for their lives. It reflected yet another scene of normality shattered by a mass shooting. In this case, six people who simply went out to celebrate America on its birthday are dead. More than two dozen — aged 8 to 85, according to doctors — are injured.
Only Monday’s venue — on a day dedicated to national celebration — was variable. Similar horror unfolded in May in an elementary school in Texas and a Buffalo, New York, supermarket. Mass shootings targeted graduation parties last month in Texas and South Carolina. In Philadelphia, shooters sprayed a nightlife crowd. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, there was carnage in a medical center. In Brooklyn, the shooter was on the subway.
Terrified parade-goers fled Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade after shots were fired, leaving behind their belongings as they sought safety.

Terrified parade-goers fled Highland Park’s Fourth of July parade after shots were fired, leaving behind their belongings as they sought safety.Lynn Sweet/ Sun-Times

 

Television pictures Monday of police vehicles in Highland Park rushing to help beneath a billowing American flag added an ironic, new dimension to this latest horror. It took place as Americans gathered to celebrate the 246th anniversary of the freedoms inherent in American independence. Yet what unfolded encapsulated the quintessentially American cycle of death by firearms. When a gunman killed three people in a mall shooting in Copenhagen, Denmark, over the weekend, it was shocking because it was unusual. But while Monday’s shooting outside Chicago was unexpected, another mass shooting in the US was hardly a surprise.
“It is devastating that a celebration of America was ripped apart by our uniquely American plague,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “A day dedicated to freedom has put into stark relief the one freedom we, as a nation, refuse to uphold: The freedom of our fellow citizens to live without the daily fear of gun violence.”
Police escort people away from the parade scene after the shooting in Highland Park Monday.

Police escort people away from the parade scene after the shooting in Highland Park Monday.Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Shocked residents relate a day of terror

Still, residents of the affluent, largely White suburb with a thriving Jewish community expressed shock that such horror visited their town.
Some related scenes of wounded victims on the sidewalk, of families fleeing with their kids in terror and of one man who put his children inside a dumpster for safety.
This was “just inconceivable in a community like Highland Park,” Jeff Leon, an eye witness who at first thought the pops of the rifle were July Fourth fireworks, told CNN.
Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider, who represents Illinois’ 10th Congressional District, expressed similar disbelief. “No one thinks that this could happen in our community, but that is true across the country,” he told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins. And Dr. Brigham Temple, medical director of emergency preparedness for NorthShore University HealthSystem, told reporters: “It is a little surreal to have to take care of an event such as this.”
Police from several local municipalities including the Illinois State Police search downtown Highland Park after the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade Monday.

Police from several local municipalities including the Illinois State Police search downtown Highland Park after the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade Monday. Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A common sentiment of people caught up in such mass shootings is disbelief that their community, which they had considered safe, has been hit. But in a nation awash in guns, nowhere is immune. Even at July Fourth celebrations across the country that were perfectly safe, how many of the attendees didn’t have a flash of concern about their security? Having to think about the possibility of mass shooting — at a school or a movie theater or a place of worship — has now become part of life since it’s happened so often. It’s another weight of anxiety and stress on a national psyche strained by the Covid-19 pandemic, soaring inflation and vicious political divides that contributed to a pessimistic mood this July Fourth.
Gun violence is hardly new in American society. But the proliferation of deadly weapons is now forcing people everywhere in the United States to face worries long endured by those familiar with the horrific toll of firearms in cities.
It’s gotten nowhere near as much coverage. But the high-profile shootings in Uvalde and Highland Park, for instance, are taking place against a backdrop of incessant killings elsewhere.
There have been at least the 311 mass shooting in the United States so far this year, including 14 in just the first four days of this month, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
And it’s only July.

The politics of gun control

The suspect, Robert E. Crimo III, has been taken into custody near Lake Forest, Illinois, authorities said during a brief news conference Monday night after an hours-long manhunt.
Sgt. Chris Covelli, of the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, said earlier in the day that the firearm used in shooting was a “high powered rifle” but declined to give further details. If that is borne out, it would just be the latest occasion when a weapon with the capacity to quickly fire multiple rounds with deadly effect has been used in a mass shooting.
Police name person of interest in July 4 parade shooting

President Joe Biden and firearms safety advocates have called for a reinstatement of a nationwide assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. There is no chance, however, that such a measure could get through Republican opposition in the US Senate because of filibuster rules that require a 60-vote majority for major legislation. It’s unlikely Democrats with their wafer-thin majority could pass it on their own, and they lack the votes needed to change the filibuster rules.
The Highland Park mass shooting is the first to come to national attention since the passage of the first major gun safety legislation in Congress in a generation. It is far too early to know whether that measure — which poured new money into mental health resources and potentially slowed the pace at which people under 21 can get guns — could have prevented this tragedy or whether the incident will expose its limited scope. Biden and families of the victims of recent gun massacres had pleaded with Congress to do far more, but Republican opposition makes it all but impossible to pass meaningful overhauls of firearm laws, including expanded background checks.
The July Fourth holiday meant that there was little immediate political reaction to Monday’s mass killing from Republicans, even as Democrats such as Vice President Kamala Harris and Pritzker demanded more gun restrictions.

President Joe Biden and firearms safety advocates have called for a reinstatement of a nationwide assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

The rituals of America’s incessant mass shootings will likely now see Republicans try to point to other factors besides the availability of guns. It’s true that most gun owners in America are law-abiding. But logic suggests that America’s massive proliferation of guns compared with other nations and the high incidence of mass killings are linked. And it’s clear that more people having guns — what the National Rifle Association would call “good guys with guns” — isn’t stopping all of these killings.
Second Amendment activists insist that the right to own high-powered weapons is within every American’s rights to bear arms. And the conservative US Supreme Court majority is setting about loosening existing gun restrictions. All of which suggests that Monday’s shooting will result in no action that makes America safer. The heavy lift in passing even the limited gun safety legislation last month suggests that a gridlocked political system has already done as much as it can bear.
Yet each recent mass shooting poses the same questions, which are especially acute on a day that America celebrates its freedoms.
Why do the rights of those who insist they have the constitutional blessing to own such deadly weapons outweigh the right of others to life — especially since a majority of Americans support more comprehensive gun control? And why, for instance, should moms, dads, kids or grandparents have to so often run for their lives?
“It can happen any place,” Miles Zaremski, who witnessed the shooting in Highland Park, told CNN on Monday afternoon. “I’ve been around many years on this planet and what I observed shook me to the core.”
“If it can happen on July 4, in a peaceful law-abiding community that we have in Highland Park … it can happen any place.

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Robert Crimo III captured after six killed in shooting at Highland Park July 4 parade

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HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) — The suspected shooter is in custody after six people were killed dozens of others were wounded when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop during the July 4th parade in north suburban Highland Park on Monday.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said 22-year-old Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III was arrested around 6:30 p.m., more than eight hours after the shooting, following a chase in the north suburbs.

Jogmen said police in North Chicago spotted Crimo’s vehicle near Buckley Road and U.S. Route 41, and tried to conduct a traffic stop, but Crimo fled the scene. North Chicago police called for reinforcements, and Crimo’s vehicle was stopped about six miles away near Westleigh Road and U.S. 41. He was taken into custody without incident, and charges were pending Monday evening as police continue to investigate.

Six people were killed and 24 were seriously wounded when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop during the July 4th parade in north suburban Highland Park on Monday. Police are looking for a person of interest, Robert E. Crimo III.

Earlier, heavily armed investigators were swarming around Crimo’s home in Highwood, Ill. Authorities were also at Crimo’s father’s home in Highland Park.

Highland Park Police Cmdr. Chris O’Neil said the shooting happened around 10:15 a.m. during the parade.

A rifle was recovered at the scene.

Lake County Major Crimes Task Force spokesman Chris Covelli confirmed witness reports that the shooter opened fire from the roof of a nearby business.

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OMG: Chinese firm to hand over new US$140m parliament building as a gift to Zimbabwe

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China is preparing to hand over a new US$140 million parliament building as a gift to Zimbabwe – the latest in a series of grand projects across Africa designed to deepen its influence in the continent, where it is the largest trading partner and lender.

The site at Mount Hampden, about 18km (11 miles) northwest of the capital Harare, heralds the start of a new city.

The 650-seat building will replace the current 100-seat, colonial-era building which Zimbabwean officials consider too small for the country’s 350 legislators.

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Sitting on the top of a hill, the imposing circular complex, which has been built by China’s Shanghai Construction Group, is fully paid for by Beijing.

The contractors said the facility was now ready to be handed over, 3½ years after construction started on a project that employed more than 500 Chinese technicians and 1,200 local workers.

“There is no doubt that the new parliament will become a landmark building in Zimbabwe and even in the whole of Southern Africa,” Shanghai Construction Group manager Libo Cai said on Wednesday.

Work on the new parliament has been completed. Photo: Xinhua alt=Work on the new parliament has been completed. Photo: Xinhua>

“It will be yet another milestone for the China-Zimbabwe friendship which keeps getting stronger year after year.”

The building covers a total area of 33,000 square metres (355,200 sq ft) and has two main buildings – a six-storey office building and a four-storey parliament building.

Cai said the building was fully funded by the Chinese government.

To ease congestion in the crowded capital, Zimbabwe plans to relocate the judiciary and executive branches, and some of its administrative units, to the site. A statehouse and official residences for the House speaker and Senate president will also be built there.

The new city will eventually become home to the country’s reserve bank, upmarket suburbs, hotels and shopping malls.

The Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe said in a tweet that “thanks to the hardworking of the Chinese and Zimbabwean technicians, it [the parliament] is expected to trigger more mega projects in the Mount Hampden area and boost the development of a new satellite city”.

It is the latest in a series of similar Chinese-funded projects across the continent, where Beijing has also paid for the construction of palaces, sports stadiums and conference centres as part of a decades-old diplomatic strategy.

When Beijing first started establishing diplomatic relations with Africa between the 1950s and 1970s, it offered financial help and interest-free loans and sent over medical teams.

In return, those nations helped Beijing secure the Chinese seat on the United Nations Security Council in 1971, which had been occupied by the Republic of China government that fled to Taiwan in 1949.

Other recent projects include the Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Centre, which China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group handed over to the Zambian authorities in late May.

The centre, named after the country’s first president, is expected to host the upcoming African Union midyear summit and was described by President Hakainde Hichilema as “a symbol of the unshakeable friendship between Zambia and the People’s Republic of China”.

China has also opened a new conference centre in Zambia. Photo: Xinhua alt=China has also opened a new conference centre in Zambia. Photo: Xinhua>

 

In Ethiopia, work on the US$80 million Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters is also nearing completion. The country also plays host to the ultra-modern US$200 million African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, funded and built by China as a “gift to the African people”.

Research by Paul Nantulya, from the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies at Washington’s National Defence University, has calculated that China constructed or renovated 186 government buildings in at least 40 African countries between 2000 and 2018.

Nantulya has previously described China as playing the long game, saying in February: “Its presence is felt each time an African walks into any of those buildings. China is creating a portrait of itself as an enduring partner that remains present and stands in solidarity with African governments.”

David Shinn, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a former US ambassador to Ethiopia, said building diplomacy had long been an important part of China’s foreign policy, but it had increased in significance in recent years.

He said most of the construction projects were funded by loans but others had been gifts. Aside from the new Zimbabwe parliament and the AU headquarters, the latter also includes Kenya’s foreign ministry and Burundi’s presidential palace.

“This allows China to have considerable influence with the officials who benefit from the facilities,” Shinn said.

But, he said: “Chinese companies usually install all of the communications equipment. This raises potential security issues for the African recipients.”

In one major controversy in 2018, Beijing was accused of bugging the AU headquarters.

The French newspaper Le Monde, citing anonymous AU sources, said that for five years, data had been transferred nightly from computers in the building to Chinese servers and hidden microphones had also been found.

Beijing rejected the accusations as “preposterous” and baseless.

Stephen Chan, professor of politics and international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said all the parliament buildings were of similar design and reflected the Chinese model of a circular central chamber.

The circular chamber in Zimbabwe’s new parliament is a design replicated across the continent without input from local architects. Photo: Xinhua alt=The circular chamber in Zimbabwe’s new parliament is a design replicated across the continent without input from local architects. Photo: Xinhua>

 

“In other words, the symbolism of government and opposition directly facing each other is sidestepped,” Chan said.

Likewise, he said airports were of the same design but those were tied to loans and were not gifts.

“So the two practices, of building diplomacy as gifts and the lending of money, have been in use side by side for some time and will continue to be separate practices,” he said.

“What building diplomacy neglects, however, is the use of African architects and African architectural imagination. It cancels self-reliance not only in building for oneself but self-expression in the imagination of Africa’s best architects.”

.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Culled from the South China Morning Post  

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