What crowded days these have been as the Autumn Council has moved on to its climax! These annual convocations are always important occasions, but the 1956 council has marked a new high, not only in the financial provision for the prosecution of the work in all the world (the budget being $22,823,758), but also because of the far-reaching actions taken—actions that will affect the Advent cause everywhere.
One feature of particular interest concerns the training of our future ministry. All theology students from our colleges in North America will proceed directly to the Seminary for a fifth year of study and preparation, which will lead to the M.A. degree, before being eligible for service in the field. Details of this plan, as well as the overall extension of our educational work, will appear in our March issue. The whole delegation was aware that as a denomination we are moving into a new day.
Near the close of the council a solemn appeal to the church in all the world was read by the General Conference secretary. This solemn appeal for faithfulness and courage was a fitting introduction, if we may say so, to the following resolution on evangelism. The General Conference president urged that the leadership of the church take very seriously this call and begin to lay plans immediately for the carrying out of its high purpose. Evangelism must be more than a slogan; it must be an experience. "No more important resolution has come before this council," he said. And his words found a hearty response of "Amen." Here is the resolution:
"WHEREAS, The hour is rapidly approaching when the third angel's message will swell into the loud cry; and
WHEREAS, Movements are already at work in the world which indicate that God is providentially bringing our message to the attention of millions; and
WHEREAS, Frequent articles in the secular and religious press give evidence of a more favorable attitude on the part of many non-Adventist leaders,
We recommend, 1. That our ministerial workers, pastors, evangelists, and departmental secretaries throughout the world be urged to prepare the members of our churches to act their part in a program of total evangelism by the whole church.
1. That our conference leaders with their committees study carefully their respective territories and make plans to enter every urnyorked area as rapidly as possible.
2. That our members be instructed in the art of conversational evangelism as an effective method of witnessing to their friends, neighbors, labor and business associates, thus following the example of our Lord and the apostolic church.
3. That ministerial institutes be held wherever possible to deepen the spiritual life of our workers and prepare them for the part they must act in this great hour of advance; that at such institutes special study be given to the great fundamentals of the gospel of Christ, and thus help our ministers present in a stronger and more effective way the fullness of Christ and His saving grace, in the setting of present truth.
4. That a call be made to the entire church through our administrative leaders, pastors, evangelists, and elders, summoning our whole membership to full consecration of life and urging that we enter into a fellowship of prayer, knowing that the high objectives of our God for His people can be brought about only by the outpouring of His mighty Spirit of power."
R. A. A.