Historical Society has Annual Meeting; Votes to Merge with General Conference

Historical Society has Annual Meeting; Votes to Merge with General Conference

Rev. Nicholas J. Kersten

Director of Education and History

On May 17, at the SDB Center in Janesville, more than four years of careful consideration ended with a decision from the membership of the SDB Historical Society to merge with the General Conference by a vote of 85-6. The vote centered on the completion of the merger by the adoption of the documents which will make the merger official. Society members were given the opportunity to vote either in person or by proxy.

This vote was a final response by the members of the Society to a request from the General Conference to consider merger in 2010 in response to the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Denominational Organization and Structure. The Society has carefully sought questions and feedback from its membership and other stake holders over the past four years, moving as directed by the membership towards this final vote. The final tally reflected nearly exactly the vote at last year’s meeting encouraging the Society to seek out a merger agreement.

The final vote included the adoption of the official legal merger agreement, as well as an additional document which outlines the bylaw revisions necessary to integrate the Historical Society into the General Conference. The document recommends the creation of a new Council on History to take over the work of the Historical Society under the new arrangement. If the recommendations in the document are adopted by the Conference, the new Council will retain the same number of members as the current Board of Directors of the Historical Society, and potentially, the same leadership. In addition, the supporting documents reaffirm the conditions of the merger, including the continued dedication of current Historical Society endowments solely to historic preservation and communication work in the future.

In addition, the supporting documentation adopted by the Society provides for supporter categories analogous to the current Society membership structure, with Life Members of the Society becoming Patrons of SDB History, and Annual Members of the Society becoming Friends of SDB History. An additional category (Legacy Partners) was also adopted by the Society to honor those who make significant contributions of more than $5,000 to the Centennial Fund.

The next step in the completion of the merger process will take place at the corporate meetings of the SDB General Conference the week of July 26 – August 1, 2015, at Lancaster Bible College, Lancaster, PA, when the General Conference in session will vote with respect to the merger. If the merger vote is successful at Conference, the two organizations will legally finalize the merger, likely sometime early in 2016 — which is the 100th anniversary of the Society’s founding in 1916.

Besides the merger vote, Life Members were officially admitted to the Society by vote, in accordance with the bylaws. Also, the Society re-elected current President Janet Thorngate to another five-year term as a Director, and the Officers for the Society were also elected. The Society accepted, with regrets, the resignation of Rev. Brent Hannah from the Board of Directors (and as first Vice President), and elected Kim Merchant (Alexandria, VA; Central Maryland SDB Church) to the Board to complete the remaining 3 years of his term and fill his role as VP. In general, summaries were given of the ministries and finances of the Society. It was an encouraging time, even in the midst of organizational change.

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