May 8, 2022 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Maryellen Hacko, for Adventist News Network
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is hosting its 61st General Conference Session in St. Louis, Missouri, June 6-11, 2022.
Postponed since 2020 due to the global COVID-19 crisis, this year’s event will look different from previous Sessions. Instead of hosting ancillary meetings and featuring an in-person exhibit hall, the event will be hosted for one week on a virtual platform to make attendance possible for Adventists across all divisions and time zones, organizers said.
Although largely online, the event will still be held in the 66,000-seat Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, where thousands of Adventists are expected to attend the Saturday (Sabbath) meetings. Roughly 2,700 voting delegates will represent more than 21 million church members from 200 countries. The theme for this year’s Session is “Jesus Is Coming! Get Involved!” reflecting the hope that Adventists profess in the soon coming of Jesus and the urgency for Total Member Involvement (TMI).
As well as being livestreamed to church members, the Session will have a virtual exhibition featuring Adventist ministries and initiatives from divisions around the world. This will resemble the Adventist Virtual Global Camp Meeting held May 19-23, 2021, which was an interactive and immersive digital experience.With a virtual environment specially designed to look like an exhibit hall, the platform will showcase Adventist institutions, customized booths for ministries, a prayer room, a networking lounge, live presentations, games, a marketplace, and animated elements and digital avatars, to be explored and enjoyed by virtual attendees around the world.
Sessions and Exhibits
“We’ve never had a virtual exhibition hall at GC Session before,” GC Virtual Events and Adventist Collective Consultant Sharon Aka explained. “In the VE hall, you’ll be able to walk into the virtual auditorium where GC business sessions will be streamed live.”
GC business sessions will run in the morning, afternoon, and evening on U.S. Central Daylight Time, during which time there will be no scheduled events in the exhibition hall.
“The exhibition hall will be open 24/7, of course, but there will only be presentations and webinars in the booths in between sessions, during meals, and throughout the night,” Aka explained. “During Sabbath hours, the virtual exhibition experience will be available for attendees. Sales of goods will not be available during Sabbath hours.”
Currently, more than 150 booths are scheduled for the virtual exhibition experience. Each one may have anywhere from two to ten presentations, most lasting about 15-20 minutes. “We’re looking at potentially 500 to 750 presentations during the event over the course of six days,” Aka said. “So there’ll be no shortage of content for people to enjoy!”
In addition to booths from various Adventist ministries, a poster hall will present academic research and innovation. “No Adventist event has ever done anything like this at a global gathering,” Aka said. “We’ll have health-care entities, education entities, and other great ministries who are doing significant research and innovation hosting posters on different topics. This will be a great opportunity to share the important aspects of research with Adventists around the world.”
This year, the Virtual Exhibition team has a strong focus on making the virtual event as accessible as possible to those with special needs or disabilities. Specifically, the event-hosting platform will feature tools to help attendees maximize their online experience and cater to their individual needs.
40 Days of Prayer
Leading up to Session, the church is holding a worldwide 40 Days of Prayer event that all church members are invited to attend. Starting May 3, the initiative has a purpose to bring revival and encourage members to seek God’s will for the future of the church and in their personal lives. Notable leaders including Ted Wilson, Mark Finley, Rod Clouzet, Jerry Page, and many others will present the weekly materials covering the topics of revival and reformation, the Word of God, Christ’s righteousness, the Holy Spirit, the three angels’ messages, and mission.
In tandem with 40 Days of Prayer, another intergenerational revival event entitled Jesus’ Last Love Letter will be held May 14-21 for children, teenagers, and adults alike. Adventists from all around the world are invited to join via Zoom to hear powerful testimonies, be called to repentance, and gather with the Word of God in hand.
Stay up to Date
For those interested in attending the Virtual Exhibition at GC Session this year, it’s possible to register online before the beginning of the Session. Those who do so will be signed up to the GC’s weekly email newsletter with event promotions, more detailed information, and highlights of some of the ministries and presentations happening during Session.