Why Vienna?

MINNEAPOLIS, San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlantic City, Vienna. Vienna? A strange name in the roster of General Conference sessions! And yet for hundreds of thousands of Seventh-day Adventists an exciting new departure in denominational planning. . .

-secretary of the General Conference Department of Communication at the time this article was written

MINNEAPOLIS, San Francisco, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlantic City, Vienna. Vienna? A strange name in the roster of General Conference sessions! And yet for hundreds of thousands of Seventh-day Adventists an exciting new departure in denominational planning.

One hundred and thirty-one years after 1844, and 112 after 1863, we shall meet in business session for the world church out side of North America for the very first time. In Europe Adventists plan in eager anticipation. Now they can drive to the General Conference session, just like generations of their brothers and sisters in America have done. In Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, and a score of Asian and African countries, Adventist laymen are counting their savings and saying that this time they may be able to afford the General Conference session.

This will be the session of the Europeans, the Africans, the Asians, and the Australasians. True, there will be delegates from North America and Latin America, but for the rest of the world Vienna will make the session cheaper and easier to travel to.

Recognizing this, Annual Council 1973 saw plans presented to division and North American union presidents that stipulate the number of seats available for non-delegates each weekend in Vienna's Stadthalle. About half the seats go to Europe. The balance is to be divided among the rest of those eager to attend.

Though no restrictions will limit observers to the weekday business sessions and the weekday evening reports, attendance at the Sabbath meetings will require possession of a ticket. These tickets will come through division, union, and local conference offices.

Knowing this, those who anticipate joining the camp of the saints in Vienna in early July next year will need to be sure of two things---that they have hotel reservations, and that they can attend the meetings during their planned stay in Vienna. Make no plans without consulting your conference office. This is very important if misunderstandings and disappointments are to be avoided!

The logistics of Vienna explain why you need to do this. Stadthalle seating totals 16,000. At least 100,000 Adventists can drive easily to Vienna. Vienna hosts hundreds of thousands of tourists each summer. Accommodations will be scarce.

Yet for all these restrictions Vienna will provide a wonderful opportunity for the church to sense its unity and diversity. Delegations will display the vast variety of Adventist outreach. Representation from all the divisions will reflect the racial and national mix of Adventism. What a glorious opportunity to show the world and one another that we love the Lord and that we are determined that nothing will hinder us from accomplishing our goals.

Just a hundred years ago John Nevins Andrews left America as the first overseas worker. He sailed for Europe. Today the church in the United States represents only one fifth of the worldwide member ship. As Adventists move toward Vienna many of them will cross or join the trail that J. N. Andrews took in his pioneer venture.

And yet we might ask again, Why Vienna? Why Atlantic City, Why Detroit? If we read inspiration correctly, they need not have been, and the choices of the future need not be made. This might be the last trek of the people of God to seek His guidance in planning the future. For Vienna puts us between the porch and the altar, weeping for our inadequacies.

After Vienna, need it be Seattle or Rio or Tokyo or some other convention city? The answer lies between us and God. At Vienna, if we pray and prepare, we may find the secret to a finished work. Pray for Vienna and what it can and must mean for the finishing of God's plans.

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-secretary of the General Conference Department of Communication at the time this article was written

August 1974

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