Central States Conference delegates met in person at conference headquarters in Kansas City on April 18, 2021, for the purpose of electing leadership, receiving reports and conducting other church business.

A quorum was established as 265 registered delegates wearing appropriate face coverings gathered in a large tent erected on the conference’s spacious grounds where social distancing could be practiced. Voting was conducted by voice and also through electronic handheld devices. Despite rain showers and chilly weather, delegates fulfilled their roles as local church members directing the conference’s work.

Following an early morning prayer session, Elder Dana Edmonds, executive director for the Office of Regional Conference Ministry, presented a passionate devotional message as the official meetings began.

After the vote to receive previously shared written and video reports from CSC administration and departments, delegates to this Fifth Quadrennial and 26th Constituency Session voted with a strong show of support to accept the recommendation of the 19-member Nominating Committee and elected Elders Roger A. Bernard, Cryston Josiah, and Tonya L. Anderson to continue serving as president, vice president for administration, and vice president for finance, respectively, for the coming quadrennial.

In his remarks, Elder Bernard thanked the delegates, conference staff, pastors and teachers for their dedicated service. “I am deeply grateful for the honor extended me and am appreciative of the support,” Bernard said.

Additional leaders selected

Departmental directors were also elected with strong support, over 90 percent for all positions. New directors are Joann Herrington (Education), Donna Brown (Women’s Ministry), Karsten Rogers (Youth/Young Adult), and Joseph Ikner II (Ministerial).

Re-elected directors are Marlon and Denise Johnson (Family Life),  Tomas DeGyves (Multicultural Ministry), Rachel Banks (Pathfinders), Bryan Mann (Men’s Ministry), Gary Collins (Personal Ministry, Prison Ministry, Publishing/Message Magazine), Keith Hackle (Community Ministries/Disaster Relief), Cryston Josiah (Public Affairs and Religious Liberty), and Roger A. Bernard (Sabbath School).

Thanks was expressed to outgoing directors Byron and Alfredia Conner (Health Ministry) Mark Paris (Ministerial), and Tonya L. Anderson (Stewardship, Trust Services, Children’s Ministry) for their faithful leadership.

Departmental positions being referred to the CSC Executive Committee include: Communication, Evangelism, Stewardship, Trust Services, Health Ministry, Van Ministry, Inner City Ministry, and Children’s Ministry.

In addition, 23 individuals were voted to serve on the Central States Conference Executive Committee for the coming quadrennial, with representation from each area region, and including 11 lay persons.

Re-elected members of the Conference Corporation Board of Trustees are Roger A. Bernard, Cryston Josiah, Tonya L. Anderson, Stephen Williams, Ralph Reid, Dawn Bookhardt, and Charles Osborne III.

Representatives from the Mid-America Union Conference were on hand throughout the day to assist, including Elder Gary Thurber, president, Elder Hubert J. Morel Jr., vice president for administration, and Troy Peoples, vice president for finance.

During his remarks, Thurber thanked the Nominating Committee for their “thoughtful, prayerful, careful work” during their earlier committee meetings, which had 100 percent attendance. Amber Patterson, who was elected secretary for the committee, presented the names to the delegates.

More agenda items

The administrative and departmental reports focused on the conference’s ministry initiatives during the past quadrennial and summarized membership numbers and financials, including the most recent audit report from 2016-2019 presented by JoJean Birth on behalf of the General Conference Auditing Services.

The Constitution and Bylaws Committee brought presented six recommendations to delegates. Most were minor word changes, but an important addition to the bylaws was voted in allowing virtual attendance and participation for CSC’s Constituency Sessions. The Bylaw addressing the 10 percent of guest delegates allowed to vote at CSC Sessions was also discussed and narrowly approved by the required two-thirds majority vote.

The Conference Association also presented a report, mainly addressing the use of the conference’s grounds and its current property holdings.

Other business included establishing 10 new congregations and disbanding five congregations due to lack of members.

After a presentation by Elder Josiah based on the North American Division’s 2013 study of ordination report, 83 percent of delegates voted in favor of the following question: Should the Central States Conference be able to recommend to the Mid-America Union Conference for ordination men and women to full-time gospel ministry?

As with any large gathering of members, there were differences of opinion among delegates on a variety of topics, with the Bylaws generating the most questions. An orderly process allowed delegates to voice their comments at microphones and the discussions proceeded respectfully.

One delegate, in calling for member commitment to support the conference’s debt elimination initiative, stated, “I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.”

As the 26th Constituency Session closed, special recognition was given in memory of Elder Arvin Topps (who passed on Feb. 10, 2021) for over 30 years of faithful service to the Central States Conference as associate treasurer and auditor. A memoriam video also honored members who have passed to their rest since the last session.

Beyond the votes

There was more than business reports and votes at the Central States Conference Constituency Session. The session also highlighted the blessings of the Lord in the past few years in the accomplishments and activities of the departments. In addition, it was an opportunity to consider how best to advance the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the conference’s nine-state territory. “It was kind of like camp meeting,” observed one delegate.

“This is God’s church and God’s holy business. We are praying for His will to be done,” said Elder Josiah.

The Central States Conference is comprised of 9,198 members (as of Jan. 2020) and 35 churches, plus 19 companies. The conference is organized into five geographical areas: Eastern, Central, Rocky Mountain, Great Plains and Great Lakes.

The Central States Conference supports two elementary schools: the V. Lindsay School in Kansas City, Kansas, and Saint Louis Unified School in Missouri.

*reports are available on the CSC YouTube page

PC: Hugh Davis