Alma Delia Rodriguez Banda was among the few young adults who served as delegates during the Adventist Church's 59th General Conference Session. [photo: Josef Kissinger]
The survey on delegate demographics comes after several Session delegates repeatedly expressed concern over what they saw as a stark absence of young adult representation at Session -- both among delegates and the individuals they elected to the church's top leadership positions for the next five years.
In some church regions, such as Inter-America, more than 60 percent of church members are between the ages of 16 and 35, some delegates cited as reason for a more representative decision-making body.
Session, a church business meeting which ran from June 24 to July 3, drew 2,241 delegates to Atlanta, Georgia, United States to vote on church policy items and elect church officials. However, 208 delegates declined to list their age and gender on the application form.
Of those who did, 44 said they were under age 30; 225 were between ages 30 and 39; 580 fell in the 40 to 49 category; 800, or 40 percent of the delegation, were between ages 50 and 59; 321 fell in the 60 to 69 age group; and 38 were age 70 or older.
Delegates who listed their age also indicated their gender. Eighty-four percent, or 1,701 delegates, identified themselves as men; 332, or 16 percent, listed themselves as women.
While specific delegate demographics were not officially released during Session, delegates who voiced their concerns were instrumental in a decision aimed at galvanizing the involvement of young adults in church leadership.
Session delegates voted to include "not less than 15 and not more than 20" laypeople -- among them young adults -- on the 300-member General Conference Executive Committee, the church's highest decision-making body.