World Church Structure and Governance
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is organized with a representative form of church government. This means authority in the Church comes from the membership of local churches. Executive responsibility is given to representative bodies and officers to govern the Church. Four levels of Church structure lead from the individual believer to the worldwide Church organization:
- The local church made up of individual believers
- The local conference, or local field/mission, made up of a number of local churches in a state, province, or territory
- The union conference, or union field/mission, made up of conferences or fields within a larger territory (often a grouping of states or a a whole country)
- The General Conference represents the worldwide expression of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its constituent membership is defined in the Constitution of the General Conference. To facilitate its worldwide activity, the General Conference has established regional offices, known as divisions of the General Conference, which have been assigned, by action of the General Conference Executive Committee at Annual Councils, general administrative oversight responsibilities for designated groups of unions and other church units within specific geographical areas.
Each level is "representative," that is it reflects a democratic process of formation and election. Local churches elect their own officers and church boards by majority voting. Churches elect delegates to the conferences which meet "in session" every two or three years. Executive authority between sessions is exercised by the Conference Executive Committee and the executive officers (normally President, Secretary and Treasurer), all of whom are elected by the session.
A similar process operates for Union sessions usually 5 years and General Conference sessions, at which times officers and committees are elected, reports given and policies decided.
Each constituent level of the church operates a variety of institutions. Seventh-day Adventists see in the gospel commission and the example of the Lord and His apostles the responsibility of followers of Christ to serve the whole person. In their world outreach they have therefore followed the pattern of their beginnings in the development of educational, health-care, publishing, and other institutions. No church organization or entity assumes responsibility for the liabilities, debts, acts, or omissions of any other church organization simply because of its church affiliation.
When differences arise in or between organizations and institutions, appeal to the next higher organization is proper until it reaches the General Conference in session, or the Executive Committee at the Annual Council. During the interim between these sessions, the Executive Committee shall constitute the body of final authority on all questions where a difference of viewpoint may develop. When organizations review decisions of other organizations, they do not assume responsibility for the liabilities of any other organization.
Administratively, the world-wide Church has 13 Divisions, which are composed of churches grouped by a collection of missions, fields, or states into unions of churches.
Administrative regions, and headquarters:
- East-Central Africa (ECD) Nairobi, Kenya
- Euro-Asia (ESD) Moscow, Russia
- Greater Middle East (GMEUM) Beirut, Lebanon
- Inter-American (IAD) Miami, United States of America
- Inter-European (EUD) Berne, Switzerland
- Israel Field (IF) Jerusalem, Israel
- North American (NAD) Silver Spring, United States of America
- Northern Asia-Pacific (NSD) Koyang City, Korea.
- Southern Africa-Indian Ocean (SID) Harare Zimbabwe
- South American (SAD) Brasilia, Brazil.
- South Pacific (SPD) Wahroonga, Australia.
- Southern Asia (SUD) Tamil Nadu, India.
- Southern Asia-Pacific (SSD) Cavite, Philippines.
- Trans-European (TED) St. Albans, England.
- West-Central Africa (WAD) Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.