The air was filled with a mix of cautious optimism and nervous excitement as the Arizona Conference administration, staff, and volunteers conducted the final run-through on Saturday night, October 23. The next morning, delegates would arrive to attend the 31st Regular Arizona Conference Corporation Constituency Meeting. In a time of uncertainty over attendance, expectations regarding quorum were palpable. As with any large gathering of constituents, the element of surprise motions from the floor or public scrutiny of administrative actions brought a level of stress.
Months earlier the Arizona Conference Corporation Executive Committee had weighed the merits of conducting a virtual meeting versus an in-person meeting. The decision to hold an in-person meeting was based heavily on three elements: 1) The size of the Mesa Arizona Convention Center venue allowed for physical distancing for delegates; 2) COVID-19 protocols would be in place; and 3) Other virtual meetings around the North American Division had met with technical difficulties and mixed reviews.
As registration opened Sunday morning, October 24, delegates began filtering through the lobby and into the main convention hall. The numbers steadily increased, and a little after 9 a.m. it was announced that the constituency meeting had met quorum and could conduct business. The meeting started as the nearly 400 delegates listened to the music of Cyiza Music Ministry and President Ed Keyes’ devotional based on the session’s theme, “Love Them Like Jesus.” Throughout the day, other musical interludes were presented by the Thunderbird Adventist Academy Chorale and the Glenview Adventist Academy Select Choir. The rest of the morning was filled with reports from the president, executive secretary, treasurer, and director of education.
Pacific Union Conference President Bradford Newton served as the chair of the nominating committee and, along with vice-chair Michelle Ritzer, presented the recommended names to the delegates for the corporation officers, assistants to the president, and departmental directors. After some procedural questions, the constituency voted all recommended names for the next quinquennium, along with recommendations for the Executive and Bylaws Committees. Two departmental positions were left vacant for the newly elected Executive Committee to appoint.
After lunch and the Nominating Committee report, Executive Secretary Jorge A. Ramirez presented recommendations from the Bylaws Committee for both non-material and material changes to the Arizona Conference Corporation Bylaws. Most of the ensuing discussion centered around the changing of the formula for delegates to the constituency meeting and how the Arizona Conference Corporation committees are to be populated, including term limits and layperson representations.
Treasurer Reginald Leach gave the latest report on the property development plan for the Scottsdale property where the Arizona conference office and Thunderbird Adventist Academy reside. Elder Leach gave a history of the decisions and actions taken by the Arizona Conference over the past five years. He noted how the Lord led through the process. What had initially been viewed as a setback in January of 2020 became a blessing as the COVID-19 pandemic shortly thereafter shut down all sectors of commercial business growth. Conference personnel is currently in negotiations with a company to create a contract for a ground lease on the industrial portion on the northern section of the property. This would give additional revenue for the academy, while not disrupting the operations of the academy or conference.
The meeting concluded with a dedicatory prayer by Elder Newton on the three officers of the Arizona Conference Corporation. The delegates were dismissed, backdrops folded up, and registration materials boxed up. The administration and staff of the conference breathed a little easier, knowing they could fully focus again on the ministry of the conference and not on meeting planning. Undoubtedly, there will be some new faces standing on the platform at the next quinquennium constituency meeting, but as the setting sun cast its shadows across the Valley of the Sun there was a sense of renewed mission and energy to continue the Great Commission throughout the Arizona Conference territory.
By Jeff Rogers
President: Elder Ed Keyes
Executive Secretary: Elder Jorge A. Ramirez
Treasurer: Elder Reginald Leach
Assistants to the President
Hispanic Ministries: Elder Abimael Escalante
Multilingual Ministries: Elder Villamor Meriales
Regional Ministries: Elder Kingsley Palmer
Native American Ministries: Elder Dale Wolcott
Adventist Book Center: Sandra Bowman
Children/Youth Ministries: Elder Manuel Cruz
Communications: Jeff Rogers
Education: Nicole Mattson
Family Ministries: Elder Villamor Meriales
Human Resources: Cindy Brown
Ministerial/Evangelism: Elder Jorge A. Ramirez
Public Affairs/Religious Liberty:
Elder Kingsley Palmer