White cards were raised in affirmation to accept the proposed changes to the East Jamaica Conference constitution to facilitate virtual attendance and voting by delegates, at a special constituency meeting held on May 1, 2022 at the Kencot SDA Church.
The meeting and subsequent vote by the delegates was needed to change the constitution to allow dual modality for the upcoming sixth quadrennial Conference session which will be held during the period June 19 - 20, 2022.
President of East Jamaica Conference, Pastor Eric Nathan took the time to explain to the delegates why they were called to this special meeting and the significance of the decision they needed to make.
“We did not have to call you today but we operate by representative government. Everyone here represents a church. We represent a Conference and there are representatives here from Jamaica Union. Periodically the world church adjusts the model constitution and it is passed down to the local Conference”, the EJC president said. “The local field will adopt by vote what is recommended by the higher organization and we will look at the model constitution and adopt it by vote,” he added.
Dr Eric Nathan, who was supported at the meeting by Pastor Linton Williams, Executive Secretary, EJC and Dr. Meric Walker, Executive Secretary, JAMU noted that when the constitution was initially formulated, it did not conceive of anything like the Covid-19 pandemic that could prevent people from meeting in person.
“The constitution before now only made provision for face to face (in person) meetings but this new amendment is not only because of COVID-19 but can take care of any crisis that could confront us in the future if we cannot meet face to face,” the president said.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide was impacted negatively with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic which curtailed movement and prevented the church from hosting the General Conference Session in 2020 where leaders for the church would normally be elected. The church saw wisdom in amending its constitution to facilitate virtual meetings and voting and these changes were recommended throughout the various levels of the church.
The Jamaica Union Conference adopted similar changes to their constitution which allowed them earlier this year to host their Conference Session which saw delegates participating virtually at two different sites from the Gymnatorium at Northern Caribbean University which was the main site.
While the vote was taken to accept the amendment to the constitution to facilitate virtual attendance and voting at subsequent constituency meetings, the Conference administrators highlighted that for the upcoming Sixth Quadrennial Conference Session in June, the dual modality would only be used if it is needed.