Church Government

I really like my church.

With a global membership of over 18 million members, things can go haywire without decency and order. So in my church, we are divided into regional structures, and the members vote for leaders of each level by way of delegates. Just for reference, the structures from the bottom up are as follows: local congregation (or church), conference, union conference, division, General Conference.

Two Sundays ago, my dad attended one of the many constituency meetings for our conference . Our local congregation delegated him to the organizing committee, which votes for the nominating committee, which selects the conference administration for the next four years.

I decided to tag along, needing pictures for this assignment. Because I was not selected to be a delegate, I was concerned about being intrusive. But the union official chairing the meeting, Rob Vandeman, gave me permission; and when he asked all of the delegates, they too said it was alright for me to include them in my photographs.

The delegates were divided into groups by region. This was so they could select people who they were familiar with already — righteous judgment if you would. After the groups discussed their choices, someone from the group wrote the nominees on the white board.

Rob Vandeman, Executive Conference of the Columbia Union Conference, and a delegate writing names on the white board.

Then the groups reconvened to choose out of the names on the board. Our bylaws require x percentage of pastors and x percentage of lay persons; a certain ratio of male and female; etc. So they vote on names based on those criteria.

The meeting only took 90 minutes! Our conference is pretty small compared to others in our union; but I also believe that the Christlike atmosphere played a role in speeding things along. Not a bit of arguing was heard.

It was a pretty fun project. I was extremely shy, but the delegates were really nice to me, encouraging me. My dad’s group was the most jovial. 🙂

The biggest struggle I had was the lighting. The church building in which the meeting was held has beautiful stained glass windows. But with my white balance set to incandescent light, the sunlight streaming through windows was captured too brightly, with the rest of the picture being dark. Eventually, I just set it to automatic, and the results were far better.


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