“WHEREAS, The present development of the work among the colored people in North America has resulted, under the signal blessing of God, in the establishment of some 233 churches with some 17,000 members and
WHEREAS, It appears that a different plan of organization for our colored membership would bring further great advance in soul-winning endeavors, therefore
WE RECOMMEND, that in the unions where the colored constituency is considered by the union conference committee to be sufficiently large, and where the financial income and leniency warrant, colored conferences be organized.”
That Action was taken at the Spring Council of the General Conference in 1944. It set in motion the establishment of Regional Conferences in the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church with 17,000 members in 233 congregations. Most conferences had 1 state or 2 as their assigned territory. Because membership in the proposed “Colored” conferences was too scattered to make them viable, Union Executive Committees had to enlarge the territories to encompass several states in a region of the nation, hence the term “Regional” Conferences.
The 2010 NAD Statistical Report showed the “different plan of organization” with 279,072 members in the 9 Regional Conferences. That year Regional Conferences employed 719 ministers who shepherded 1004 congregations. These conferences are now predominantly composed of members who are Black but not exclusively for members who are Black.
The Formation of Regional Conferences is consistent with Biblical principle:
I Corinthians 12:4-6 — “Now there are diversities of gifts (gifts of grace produced by the indwelling Holy Spirit), but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations (service to the Christian community such as serving tables – deacons), but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations (“working” – The Greek word indicates power in operation that produces obvious results), but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
The existence of Regional Conferences frequently calls legitimacy and relevance into question. The growth of the SDA Message among Black people in the United States speaks for itself. The application of the cited Biblical principle speaks for itself.
In 2000 the Regional Conferences created a different retirement plan for its employees. Today, they are more than 50% toward fully funding their liabilities; contribute more than $2 million annually to the NAD to assist them with their underfunded liability, all with the same percentage of tithe sent by them to the NAD for the pre 2000 retirement plan.
he fact is Regional Conferences have always been part and parcel in the official SDA Church organization. Just as in a family home there are bedrooms for sons, daughters, and parents, Regional Conferences is the “bedroom” where Black people identify initiatives that grow the Lord’s Work in their part of ourNorth American Division “home.” Not Bad Just Different; not segregated, not separate and unequal, not ostracized and excluded, not for Black people exclusively, just different and, by the Grace of God,productive and all in the household of faith.
Joseph W. McCoy, Executive Director
In the Name of the Father