GC Quinquennial Sessions: Historical Snapshots

Program Helps Song Service Theme Song Worship in Prayer Welcome Mission Emphasis Personal Growth Time Class Time

Call to Commitment: The superintendent may invite attendees to review the four goals of Sabbath School orally. The teacher may invite class members to apply the topic of the lesson study to their lives, and invite guests to study for baptism. Ask your pastor for guidance.

Song Service Hymnals “Never Part Again” “Come We That Love the Lord” “He Hideth My Soul” “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

He Is Our Song “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” “In Moments Like These” “Got a Reason for Living Again” “His Sheep Am I” “Sabbath School Theme Song and Cheer”: www.sabbathschool.com.

Historical Snapshots educates members about some of the history of the church’s organization of worldwide members through the quinquennial sessions. Visual Options: statistical listings.

Evangelism: Educate your youth about the work of the organized church. Include the entire lower division in the program, or present the program for them in the afternoon, or as a church school assembly program.

The Cyclone in Calico leads participants through an examination of Jesus as Lord of their lives. Find an engaging storyteller and a discussion facilitator. Provide paper and pens or flipcharts and markers for the groups.

Welcome (Introduce yourself and the program.)

Lesson-based Program: The Cyclone in Calico From the lowliest private to General William T. Sheridan, everyone knew not to mess with Mrs. Bickerdyke. One day she showed up with donated supplies, took one look around at the appalling condition of the military hospital, and decided that she was needed there. She served in 19 battles of the Civil War, carrying a lantern on the battlefields at night during her search for the wounded.

Called the “Cyclone in Calico,” she was the self-appointed medical officer for Sheridan’s command. She dismissed a drunken army surgeon once for failing to provide breakfast for the wounded under his charge. When he complained to General Sheridan, the general sighed and said, “I can do nothing for you. She outranks me.”

She tore down federal barricades and burned them to heat her hospital. When officers challenged her authority to do that, she responded, “On the authority of the Lord God Almighty! Have you anything that outranks that?”

With all the links in the military chain of command that confronted Mrs. Bickerdyke, she never lost sight of Who truly was in charge.

Discussion (Class members work in small groups. They read aloud Romans 3:23 and 6:23. Then they answer the following questions, supporting their responses with biblical references):

  • Respond to the claim that Christianity does nothing more than oppress its adherents with a profound and discouraging sense of guilt.
  • It is impossible to receive Jesus as Savior and reject Him as Lord.
  • To what degree is every Christian’s experience similar to Saul’s experience on the Damascus Road? (Acts 9:1-19).
  • The word “lord” is somewhat alien to the modern mind and common vocabulary. Why?
  • How can a Christian avoid legalism when he or she is so concerned about sharing Christ’s role as Lord and Savior in our lives?

Close with a prayer in which you provide an open time for class members—individually and personally—to express their personal thanks to God for sending His Son to save us.

Historical Snapshots “General Conference sessions normally are held every five years, but sessions may be postponed up to two years by action of the Executive Committee during unusual world conditions. The voters of the General Conference are delegates at large (all members of the General Conference Executive Committee and certain others chosen by the Executive Committee) and regular delegates (representatives of the union and local conferences and missions).” 1

“The first session, at which the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was organized, was held in Battle Creek, Michigan, on May 20-23, 1863. Twenty delegates attended:

4 New York State 2 Ohio 10 Michigan 1 Wisconsin 2 Iowa 1 Minnesota

“Of the conferences then in existence, only the Vermont Conference was not represented.

“Committees on constitution, credentials, and nominations were duly appointed, and the constitution of the General Conference was adopted. It consisted of nine articles setting forth the usual features of organization and provided for representation from the constituent conferences to the yearly sessions. . . . In 1889 the constitution was amended to convene sessions biennially. From 1905 to 1970 the constitution provided for regular quadrennial sessions. Since 1970 sessions have been held every five years.” 2

At the quinquennial session, “the highest organization in the administration of a worldwide work convenes to express the collective thinking and planning of the church. The final authority of this body is accepted by all subordinate organizations and interests in the various sections of the world. In a word, the General Conference quinquennial session synthesizes and implements church organization on a world scale.

“This form of church government recognizes that authority rests in the church membership, which delegates executive responsibility to representative bodies and officers for the governing of the church and the promotion of church interests. These basic principles of authority and representation characterize the four steps in SDA organization leading from the individual believer to the world church. Within the framework of local responsibility and organization, members meet personally or through personal representation to ensure a united body and a united action. On the conference or local church field level, the united body of churches in a state, province, or local territory organizes and directs the work. Local fields affiliate within a larger territory to form unions. The union organization likewise prosecutes the work within its territory. Then, finally, these union groupings united in the General Conference as a body embracing the church in all parts of the world.” 3

Sources of information about the 2005 session:

See How the Sessions Have Grown and Traveled 4

Session: 1 Delegates: 20 Opening Date: May 20, 1863 Place: Battle Creek, Mich.

Session: 15 Delegates: 16 Opening Date: Sept. 19, 1876 Place: Lansing, Mich.

Session: 26 Delegates: 70 Opening Date: Nov. 13, 1887 Place: Oakland, Calif.

Session: 32 Delegates: 140 Opening Date: Feb. 19, 1897 Place: College View, Neb.

Session: 36 Delegates: 197 Opening Date: May 11, 1905 Place: Washington, D.C.

Session: 39 Delegates: 443 Opening Date: March 29, 1918 Place: San Francisco, Calif.

Session: 48 Delegates: 1,160 Opening Date: June 19, 1958 Place: Cleveland, Ohio

Session: 50 Delegates: 1,495 Opening Date: June 16, 1966 Place: Detroit, Mich.

Session: 52 Delegates: 1,756 Opening Date: July 10, 1975 Place: Vienna, Austria

Session: 53 Delegates: 1,696 Opening Date: April 17, 1980 Place: Dallas, Texas

Session: 56 Delegates: 2,352 Opening Date: June 29, 1995 Place: Utrecht, Netherlands

Session: 58 Delegates: 2,000 Opening Date: June 30, 2005 Place: St. Louis, Mo.

The last General Conference session held in the United States convened in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1990.

1The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, vol. 10, p. 584. 2Ibid., p. 591. 3Ibid., pp. 591, 592. 4Ibid., pp. 593, 594, pass.


Faith Crumbly © 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists