General Counsel Report 2016–2020

The NPUC Office of General Counsel provides guidance with the overall goal of minimizing legal exposure and liability. It supplies a unique and valuable perspective because of its close association and understanding of the structure and operation of the church.

To provide effective and ongoing access to legal counsel to church leadership at the NPUC, conference and local church/school levels and to minimize legal risks and distractions in order to permit the church to actively focus on fulfilling its mission.

Mission

Fast Facts:

The NPUC Office of General Counsel provides guidance and support to the NPUC as well as the six conferences in the territory for compliance with federal, state and local laws and denominational policies.

Topic areas include: COVID-related regulations, private education, contracts, disability accommodation, employment matters and premises liability.

Who is André Wang?

  • Wang has served as NPUC General Counsel since 2015.
  • He is an alumnus of Portland Adventist Elementary School, Auburn Academy and Pacific Union College.
  • He is principal second violinist of the Sunnyside Symphony Orchestra at Sunnyside Church in Portland Oregon.
  • He is an adjunct instructor at Walla Walla University and Mt. Hood Community College teaching education law and business law, respectively.

Accomplishments:

  • COVID Response — Daily COVID briefings with leaders and administrators at the height of the pandemic to advise on latest restrictions, regulations and mandates relating to churches and schools.
  • Human Resources Support — Assembled an advisory team comprised of the HR directors of the local conferences to navigate complicated employment rules and workplace regulations. 
  • Government Relations — Established connections with government officials and staff and brought voice to the interests of the Adventist Church in the northwest.
  • Communication Updates — Regular communiqués to conference leaders and Gleaner articles to church membership on issues of legal importance.
  • Risk and Liability Assessment — Assisted local administrators, pastors and principals in finding the proper balance between legal compliance and advancing ministry in their churches and schools.

Opportunities:

  • Monitoring COVID Regulations and Mandates — The rules are constantly changing and are unique to every county and from state to state.
  • Monitoring Court Decisions — Courts in each state, as well as federal courts, issue rulings that impact churches and private schools.
  • Engaging Government Agencies — Maintaining connections with elected officials and agency directors.
  • Emerging Legal Issues — Staying current of legal developments in the areas of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title VII religious exemptions, and growing liability exposure for churches and schools.

Featured in: Constituency Report 2022

Author

André Wang

North Pacific Union Conference general counsel and director of public affairs and religious liberty
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