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Some initiatives undertaken during

R S Folkenberg's presidency:

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Spiritual:

  • Preaching and writing extensively on Righteousness by Faith.
  • Highlighting all the elements of our distinctive message.
  • Emphasizing the authority of scripture.
  • Launched "Message and Mission" theme-selection process for this quinquennium.

Administrative:

  • Reduce number of individuals reporting to the president (down from 40).
  • Delegate full authority to Vice Presidents in carrying out their institutional and departmental oversight assignments.
  • Reduce number of committees at the GC, as well as the membership in each, and make as many decisions final as possible.
  • Reduce size of the General Conference Executive Committee from about 450 to about 250 with composition more closely matching membership and improve global participation in major issues by scheduling two committees per year.
  • Modify the General Conference Session delegation size and composition by a) setting a cap of 2000 delegates, and b) radically changing the composition of the delegation from a largely administrative gathering to one where at least 50% are laity, pastors, teachers or other front-line workers.
  • Created an Office of Women’s Ministries in 1990 and securing approval at the 1995 Session for this office to become a fully-recognized Department.
  • Began the organizational consolidation process in South Africa.
  • Successfully incorporated the territories of the Middle East Union into divisions.
  • Realigned Asia-Pacific territories into two divisions and included the Peoples Republic of China.
  • Modified model union, conference and mission constitutions.

Financial:

  • Established an operating cap for GC headquarters at a level 10% below the 1989 payroll, and then operated every year since 1991 well below (most years at least US$1 million) that cap.
  • Reduced the staffing at the General Conference by more than 125 people.
  • Modified fund-transfer process with the North American Division to operate as do other divisions.
  • Rebuilt General Conference operating capital.
  • Secured access to the major portion of blocked currencies.
  • Secured world participation in global financial planning through the establishment of a strategic planning and budgeting committee.
  • Launched self-reliance emphasis (operating within locally-generated tithe) for all church organizations in order to reduce dependence on appropriations.

Other Initiatives:

  • Global Mission: Launched the Global Mission initiative, approved by the 1990 G C Session, which has led to establishing over 12,000 new congregations.
  • Inter-Division Workers: Established criteria for and implemented utilization review process leading to the reallocation of Inter-Division Missionaries in order to more effectively utilize this human resource in church mission.
  • Communications:
    • Adventist Communications Network (ACN): Suggested to the ASI leaders attending the 1991 ASI Convention in Denver, Colorado that they provide financial assistance to help the North American Division establish an "Adventist Communication Network." ASI agreed and ultimately the initiative provided the foundation for Net '95, Net '96 and Net ‘98.
    • Adventist Global Communication Network (AGCN) was approved by the GC Committee in ‘96 as the vehicle by which programming provided by one division could be channeled to others who wished to participate in selected events.
    • General Conference Television (GCTV) was formed as the body which would be responsible for program production in connection with major events such as General Conference Sessions and Annual Councils.
    • Western Hemisphere Adventist Satellite Telecommunications System (WHAST) was formed in May, 1997 as a means by which the General Conference could facilitate telecasting 24 hours per day to the Americas. WHAST broadcasting began September 1, 1997.
    • Adventist Review: Launched a program to expand to all the divisions the global distribution of the Adventist Review in multiple languages.  By the end of 1999 members in six divisions will receive the Adventist Review.
    • Internet: Launched the use of CompuServe and the internet as means of e-mail and electronic communication.
    • "From the G C President" (FTP): Published 350+ weekly editions of this news sheet which was distributed globally by e-mail and fax.
  • Auditing: Documented, proposed and secured approval for and began to implement a global, independent, auditing system which is guided by generally approved accounting standards.
  • Logo: Secured Annual Council approval for the first logo of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
  • State of the Church survey: Launched the first scientific survey of the world church which became the basis for many regional initiatives around the world.
  • Accountability to God through constituent bodies:
    • Adventist Health System: Encouraged and participated in a dialogue with Adventist Health System leaders in North America regarding what it means to be an Adventist hospital and designed appropriate methods for mission accountability to the respective constituencies.
    • Total Commitment to God: Submitted to the Annual Council ‘96 for approval a comprehensive approach for accountability to God, through each constituencies, for each collective body from the local congregation, to each church organization and institution.
    • Pastoral Education: Submitted to the ‘98 Annual Council an action that strengthens the processes whereby institutions that educate pastors and teachers are accountable to the church organizations that employ those graduates.
    • Center for Volunteerism was launched promote, train and facilitate volunteers who wish to serve for a year or more outside their home territory and to coordinate the utilization of volunteers by various agencies within the General Conference.
  • Office of General Counsel:
    • Proposed and implemented the restructuring of the wage system for attorneys employed by the General Conference.
    • Reduced dependence on special counsel at a savings of more than $1 million per year.
    • Encouraged the specialization of each attorney.
  • Inter-Church Relations: Encouraged the dialogue with the Lutherans
  • Publishing:
    • Urged and secured the approval for an elimination of policies that inhibited a streamlined, market-driven approach for the distribution of subscription literature.
    • Urged an open-market approach to SDA-published literature
    • Initiated policy changes establishing General Conference access to "printers" of all books by Ellen White in all languages.
  • Transfer management of the Adventist Media Center from the General Conference to the North American Division.

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