Union Convenes Fall Meetings
Story by Celeste Ryan Blyden
“Washington Adventist Hospital will continue to grow where we are while we again seek to obtain approval for a new hospital campus. Though this is a challenge, we choose to embrace possibility,” said William G "Bill" Robertson, Adventist HealthCare (AHC) president, speaking to attendees at the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee who gathered today for their regular fall meeting. In Robertson's report, he explained that he recently learned that the recommendation of the state healthcare commission was to deny the hospital's application to relocate six miles north of its present location near the Adventist World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. AHC, he says, intends to re-file the application shortly.
Weymouth Spence, president of Washington Adventist University (WAU), announced that the Middle States Commission on Higher Education Accreditation Association recently reaffirmed the university for another 10 years and reported that enrollment is the fastest growing among Adventist schools in North America.
“That's a good report,” said union president Dave Weigley afterward. “We’ve been and we're going to keep bringing you a lot of good reports from our university.” He also noted that he’s attended two ribbon-cuttings at WAU this year—the music building and the newly renovated dining hall.”
Rob Vandeman, union executive secretary, reported that as of June 30, union membership topped 136,000. Celeste Ryan Blyden, Visitor editor, shared the results of a reader survey completed in July by Barna Group. Some 77 percent of those surveyed say they prefer to get their Visitor printed and mailed rather than sent electronically.
Union officers also recognized Charles Cheatham, outgoing Allegheny East Conference president. In recognition of his 54 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the officers also presented Cheatham with an obelisk. Due to term limits, Cheatham, who served 12 years as conference president, is ineligible to serve in that capacity when delegates select officers at next month’s constituency session.
The committee approved the ordinations of 15 female pastors, including Josephine Benton, who as the first female pastor in the union, led the Rockville (Md.) church from 1979 to 1982. They also voted to send a statement to General Conference leaders in response to several statements they released following the union’s July 29 vote to ordain pastors without regard to gender. The statement will be printed in the October Visitor.
The committee also met in breakout groups (pictured) to discuss the union’s priorities and what’s currently working in their local churches and conferences. The conversation will continue at the committee’s next meeting, scheduled for November 15.
Photo 1: Committee members meet in breakout groups to discuss the union’s priorities.
Photo 2: Left to right: Rob Vandeman, union executive secretary; Charles Cheatham, outgoing Allegheny East Conference president; Dave Weigley, union president; and Seth Bardu, union treasurer