A Challenge to Fellow Millennials: Be the Change You Wish to See

In the wake of the women’s ordination vote on Wednesday, July 8, during General Conference Session 2015, many Millennials have expressed pain and frustration over the outcome. Some have even questioned whether there is a place for them within the Seventh-day Adventist church.

Below, young adults share their call to fellow Adventist Millennials:

Taylor Pittenger, age 20, Religion major at Pacific Union College I often wonder what Paul would say if he were alive in our world today. What letter would he write to Adventists? I’m sure he would praise us on the fine work we do with our outreach and the institutions we’ve created. Perhaps he would bring up a few critiques on how we can do better in our local churches. What would he say about our General Conference Session and women’s ordination? I don’t want to put words into Paul’s mouth about his stance because quite frankly I don’t know what he would have said. One thing I do know is that Paul would urge us to put our focus back on Christ.

I was disappointed and saddened by the vote. I was also astonished and hopeful when I logged onto social media to see that many youth have a passionate disdain for the results. As a young adult, I’ve taken time to establish and maintain my roots in Adventism. When I look beyond my Adventist schooling, I see no youth in our church. Facebook post after Facebook post, I saw people say things like “this is why there are no youth in the church” or “now young people have to look toward the world for acceptance.” Fellow millennials and Adventists: this does not have to be true.

Leaving or disowning our church because of these results is the worst thing to do at this time. In fact, now more than ever, our church needs young people. Our church needs millennials. So often we are taught to throw away something when it is broken. If we break a phone, we replace it. If we have a relationship that is suffering, we end it. If we don’t enjoy what we are majoring in, we change it. Now if we look around and see pieces of our church we dislike or disagree with, what should we do? The easy thing would be to find another denomination or maybe give up on religion all together. If something is broken in our church, do not throw it away. Help fix it.

How? Remember our gospel. Remember our mission. Remember our God. Bring the focus back to Him. The anger and disgust is just a distraction to the bigger mission we were made to do. Now is the time to change our anger into passion and turn our disgust into drive. Through this we can continue to change our church and the world around us.

The secular world still views Adventism as a cult that preaches about the end of the world. This does not have to be who we are or all we are. While we bicker amongst each other, the world keeps turning. God does not call us to be perfect, but calls us for such a time as this. So often we care about issues in our church. What kind of music should we or shouldn’t we play? Are we dressed appropriately? Should we ordain women? While these topics are important to discuss and understand, these cannot be our focus. I must remind everyone, myself included, that in the long run these things do not matter. What matters is our relationship with God, and helping others’ relationships with God.

There are people inside and outside our church who are suffering. Regardless whether or not women can be ordained, this remains true: our work is not done. Women can, and will, always be able to do God’s work through ministry. A man-made title—or lack thereof—will never change that. For this reason, we cannot give up on our church.

If I’ve learned anything through reading scripture and coming closer to God, it’s that no single person is worthy. However, God calls all. We are all called to be Christ-like and to show others who Christ is. Ordination is something that man invented. A call from God is purely divine, and no one can take that away from us.

Finally, I look back to Paul. Paul never wrote to Adventists, but he does say this to the Romans in Romans 8:31, What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”God has our backs. millennials and Adventists: my challenge for you is to remain faithful to God, because he will remain faithful to you. We are all called, so let’s go.

Karl Wallenkampf, age 22, Humanities (English concentration) and Biology major at Walla Walla University I hoped for a “Yes” vote. To me, “Yes” seemed to give the greatest breadth for God’s will to be established wherever He deems appropriate. If prayerful, Bible-based believers in one division recognize that God is leading them to begin ordaining women, or if fundamentally similar believers in another division find God is leading them to keep women from being ordained, so be it. As the vote turned out, it seems that God’s intentions may have been impeded in some areas of the world. Certainly, God’s intentions will eventually be established, but it seems that on this side of Heaven, greater breadth must be allowed for the Spirit’s movement.

I prayed for God’s will to be done at the GC Session on all topics (i.e., Presidency, Fundamental Beliefs, Women’s Ordination), but I cannot and will not say whether it was or wasn’t. I believe the fourth commandment implores us to never use God’s name as a byline for our activities with arguable Biblical basis. Indeed, arguing has occurred. I’m left reeling from the dissonance of many intelligent spiritual voices saying surprisingly contrary things and using the same books, verses, articles, and people as evidence. I cannot understand thinking that fails to grasp the significance of having a woman as our fundamental pioneer and who is the voice for a central tenet of our religion (i.e., the Great Controversy) and who reaffirmed our other tenets (i.e., The Desire of Ages).

The margin of the vote keeps me hopeful, as well as the trend of more and more votes being cast in favor as the years march on. I’m sure that by 2020 or 2025, with the number of millennial delegates increasing from the paltry 6% in 2015, the results will differ substantially. I don’t speak for every millennial. I know a number of people support my position and I know others do not. Whatever the inclinations of those who approach this issue or read this post, I am one who will stay in the Adventist church as long as I can prayerfully discern that I should. I do not foresee that I will leave. There is a tragic and understandable outflow of young, thoughtful, compassionate Adventist blood. I’d rather be a platelet. We have an opportunity to work together prayerfully for solutions. Being a member of a community of believers that centers itself on Christ is one of the greatest blessings in my life. It provides opportunities for growth, nurturing care, leadership, and humility (I can “humble [myself] before the Lord” nowhere as easily as in a religious denomination). With the current vote at the GC Session and the climate in Adventism today, my wish is to continue to find a way to bridge gaps, whether in gender, generation, or interpretations of Genesis. God’s will be done, and I pray I’m in line with it.

Garrison Heyes, Seminary student at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…”

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on these words from Charles Dickens’ most celebrated novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.” They come to me after a nearly two-week long series of high-speed Adventist-social-media explosions. The intersection of Adventism, millennialism, and social media was a busy one. I loved every second of it.

As a Seventh-day Adventist, a millennial, and a minister-in-training I, along with many others who share similar descriptions as me, was glued to the live-stream of General Conference Session 2015, the business meeting where Adventist delegates discussed, and ultimately voted against, allowing divisions to determine the appropriateness and necessity of ordaining women in their various parts of the world. My head accurately predicted the outcome. It was evident, however, from its brokenness, that my heart wanted different results.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how my fellow millennials may respond to a “No” vote. I feared that disappointment, pessimism, and discouragement would result in an overwhelmingly negative response from my peers. I feared that some Adventist millennials would feel further-marginalized, voiceless, and ultimately resolve that there was no place for them in this church.

For a few moments after the official results were announced, I perceived that my fears were becoming reality. The social-media-wide grunt of disappointment was nearly audible.

But then something crazy happened.

I witnessed some Adventist millennials go from absolutely disgusted to absolutely resolute. They clinched their fists, gritted their teeth, and declared that, “THIS IS MY CHURCH. I WILL NOT LEAVE HER. I WILL RIGHT THIS WRONG.”

The very thing that I feared would serve as an alienator became a unifier. What Satan intended to use for destruction, God used for reconstruction. Do not misunderstand me: the decision hurt. Badly. I saw, however, the imaginary wheels turning in the collective hearts and minds of my peers. There was a conglomerate moment of reasoning, processing, and counting the cost. I observed my fellow young adults realizing that choosing to be apathetic or simply leaving the church would remedy nothing. There was no fulfillment in disconnecting. I witnessed the “aha!” moment of realization — “we MUST lead.”

The truth is, our world church is not ready for this monumental change right now. The truth is, there are parts of the world where to recognize that God’s calling is not gender-limited, would be so hard to digest that some would leave the church. They would abandon this truth — it could be faith-breaking. Culture, traditions, and societal norms do not always allow for that understanding to come easily.

I believe that the same Jesus who told His disciples to, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations,” in the New Testament is the same Jesus with the same message today. He is urging us to unselfishly model, teach, and preach, the ever-relevant gospel to our world.

I believe in a Jesus who promised to never place more on us than we could bear, and that same Jesus knew the outcome of the vote well before any of the delegates placed their pieces of paper into plastic bins Wednesday evening. Perhaps Jesus understood that the faith of those represented by the “Yes” voters could bear the weight of an unfavorable outcome that those represented by the “No” voters could not.

Today, He calls us to trust Him. To trust His process. He calls us to teach. He calls us to lead. While, yes, we are cast down, we are not destroyed.

The excitement, the fervor, the resolve that I have seen in you, my fellow Adventist millennials, is being attacked by the enemy of souls at every moment! The enemy understands your importance in this church. He understands that the fastest way to end this church is to steal your passion, to kill your mission, and to destroy your hope. He lives for your apathy. I urge you, however, to stay the course. Stay engaged.

Satan would have you believe the lie that position and leadership are synonyms. Remember, however, that while you may never hold a position, you are always a leader.

So lead. Lead in your local church, lead in your academic environment, lead in the workplace, lead in your relationships.

I urge you, my non-millennial elders, to mentor us. Teach us. Trust us. Empower us. What good is an experience if it is not shared to help those following you? Young people are told that they are the future of the church, and they are. This notion, however, tends to ascribe less importance to those who are paving the way. The truth is, the pioneers of our faith are just as relevant today as they have ever been. Their faith, their experience, their bravery, their mentorship, and their guidance all add to who we are today. So I beg you to pour into us. Please.

It has been the best of times, it has been the worst of times. Even still, I encourage you to press on.

Jonathan Doram, age 21, Music Education major at Andrews University I am struggling. Struggling to find my place in a church that has hurt and bruised so many. Struggling to keep my voice and sanity amidst the turmoil and divisiveness we all are acutely feeling. I am struggling with whether or not the church that has been such an integral part of my identity for the past 21 years will continue to be in the future. These struggles are ones that I’m sure many of us are feeling as this 2015 GC Session comes to a close. The coming of the Sabbath, however, reminded me of a reassuring realization: the church is not about the GC. The church (as described in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 and John 10:14-16) is not even about the SDA denomination.

The church is, has been, and will always be, about people. Jesus did not come to save a certain denomination, institution, or committee. He came to save people. Therefore, it is people who deserve our investment. 1,381 and 977 are simply numbers. Let us not forget the very real and complex human names, faces, and lives that make up those numbers. Ultimately, the future of the church will not be decided by what happens in a two-week session every five years. It will be decided by the hundreds of weeks that happen in between these sessions in which we interact with, influence, and talk to people. So I am choosing to start with my personal pleas to the following people:

To those on both sides of the women’s ordination debate: we must remember those to whom Wednesday’s discussion actually affected the most: our young daughters and sisters who are growing up watching a church being torn asunder over them. We cannot let our heated disagreements ever cause them to feel doubt over God’s desire and ability to use them in whatever way He deems best. We need to step out of the way and humbly realize that God’s plan and mission is so much bigger and inclusive than any one of us could ever hope to imagine.

To the women in ministry: Thank you. Please do not give up or lose courage. Share your stories. Share how God has called you and how He has worked wonders in your life. Be the face, mouth, ears, hands, feet, and love of God to a world that desperately needs it. By nature of you simply being, you are a testament to the awesome power of God and the radical commitment of Jesus to use whomever is willing to spread the gospel.

To those who decided to leave the SDA church after Wednesday’s decision, are struggling with that very question, or just feel confused: I have no wise words or statements that would adequately express the pain I feel with you. All I can promise is to search with you as you try to find a place to call home. I promise to stand beside you and listen to your stories. Above all, I promise to walk with you on your journey, wherever that may take you.

To the millennials: This GC Session affirmed that we no longer have the luxury of being considered “the future of the church.” We must grab this church by the throat and refuse to let go until that phrase has been rendered obsolete because we are the church NOW. We can no longer wait for other peoples’ permission before we start speaking up and leading out. We need to continue to raise our voices, get intimately involved in leadership, and actively steer the course of our collective future.

To those who are part of the SDA church: We come from different cultures, have different beliefs, and at times see different pictures of God. In this uncertain time of apparent incongruity, let us at least be united in our love for God and be known by our love for people.

So…what now? The answer is the same as it has always been and will always be: live to love.

Alisa Williams is Spirituality Editor for SpectrumMagazine.org, a member of the General Conference reporting team in San Antonio, Texas, and a Millennial.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6964
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Youth of the church: the future is definitely in your hands. Stick with it, learn from the recent great disappointments and mistakes.

When you’re serving God as He’s called you, the events of the past week will fade and seem like a distant dream.

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i just want to squeeze every one of these wonderful young people :sunglasses: …this is definitely a future i can believe in for my church…i especially love karl’s slogan:

“i’d rather be a platelet”…

whether this is something all millennials are saying now, or whether it’s something he’s inventing, it’s terrific
t-shirt material…it’s been years since i’ve studied blood biology, but of course, we should all want to stop the bleeding, and be a platelet :blush:

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Jason that is exactly the problem. This decision was not well prayed, discussed and voted upon. The very expensive TOSC study group has studied and voted well…2/3 for the divisions to decide each for their own Division.
But the wording of the question did not mention this fact, instead it was worded to bring division among the members.
Many of the delegates are obviously the victims of propaganda, as we saw when they jeered and boed at Jan Paulsen, when he tried to explain that only a No vote will divide the church.
God has clearly shown us that he has called and blessed female pastors in China and elsewhere. He has also given us a female and ordained Prophet. What more do we need?

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Jason
Being concerned about ALL Humanity IS LIBERAL THINKING.
It is thinking that is able to look at any man and woman, any boy and girl and accept them as God made them – a Child of God, and tell them YOU are Welcome in the Kingdom. YOU, Come!!, Sit next to me while WE worship God together, here in the Seventh day Adventist Church.

It appears from what you wrote they you DO NOT like Liberal Thinking. You are selective of WHO you will invite to sit next to you in a Seventh day Adventist church and worship God together.

It is SAD that you cannot understand the “pain and frustration” of persons 18 to 30 or so who saw the Acting Up, the Acting Out of Seventh day Adventist delegates from around the world. The people who are supposed to be the “Cream of the Seventh day Adventist Crop” performing as they did.
The Vote on Women’s Ordination was NOT JUST ABOUT Women’s Ordination. It was a signal from the Church At Large that the Church At Large would AND could put restrictions on the age group between 18 and 30 or so as to WHAT they would be ALLOWED to do for the Church At Large. RESTRICTIONS on HOW they would be ALLOWED to use their God Given Gifts.

You DO NOT seem to understand that Horizontal Authority, when not used correctly, as we have seen during SA2015, can be VERY RESTRICTIVE on those who have Gifts, and wish to use their God Given Gifts for the enhancement, the encouragement, for the stretching of the tent of the church in it representing Christ to the world, to proclaim the Supper is Ready, COME! Join us!
Any one Thirsty? Anyone Hungry? Be refreshed. Be fed.

We have said – The Youth of The Church ARE the Future Of The Church.
But Old Men, Old Women do NOT believe it. Otherwise there would be NO RESTRICTIONS on HOW the Youth of the church are allowed and can minister in the church, HOW the Youth of the church are allowed to minister outside of the church. RESTRICTIONS on WHO the “Liberal Youth”, as you call them, can invite into the Church to sit down and worship God.

Yes! The Vote on Women has had a chilling effect on many 18-30s age group. And the SAD part of it is, that so many Old Men, Old Women are unaware, oblivious as to what JUST HAPPENED.

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Of course the input of the young writers should not just be summarily dismissed.

It might be that 99.9% of the SDA millennials are for WO, however, who knows without a survey with a credible or large sample size in all unions in the world?
Who can say that 4 anecdotal inputs from a few attendees from SDA American colleges are representative of the whole generation?
With the variety of positions in all generations, one can stack the deck to support almost any position out there.

There are several regulars on this site who could write a short article that would counter the basic position of the denomination that the Sabbath is valid. They could also write that almost all 18 million SDA members did not ever really pray and study on the topic.
Note to self-7th reply on this thread.

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Many? Do you know how many jeered and booed?

You and others can say/write that. Jason can say differently.
If one Googles it, there are a variety of defintions/concepts.

To begin with, have you ever taken the time to read the scholarship on both sides of the issues you mention? Have you ever really studied the nature of biblical interpretation, the history behind it (including the Reformation) and the history of the development of the biblical canon? Do you know that EllenWhite “borrowed” a great deal of material, that her writings were edited, that she used many sources, and so on? Does your view of how God “inspires” writings authoritative for the church take all these factors into account? And why would you think that something “well-discussed, well-prayed, and voted upon” guarantees a divinely sanctioned decision?

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[quote=“jjlondis, post:10, topic:8922, full:true”]
To begin with, have you ever taken the time to read the scholarship on both sides of the issues you mention? [/quote]

And what would one have to read to satisfy the minimum requirements of the input on both sides.

I was the nominating committee chairman of a medium-large sized SDA church and we were discussing the validity of women elders around 35 years ago since there were 2 women elders already in positions.

At that same time the acting Dean of Andrews University was visiting the church and I engaged him about the issue. I mentioned Sam Bacchiocchi’s input and he sort of responded with a smile and I gathered that he was not on the same page.
I mentioned Paul’s heavy verse 1 Tim 2;12 and he responded…“That is a problem”

So…when this individual has a problem with a bible verse …in that capacity at Andrews university…how can so many be so fixated on this position like it is a slam dunk issue?

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I agree, but at the same time this is a huge problem, because in certain regions of the world the youth are being indoctrinated by retrograde people and therefore they will just keep promoting a legalistic view of religion more massively since the church is growing a lot

This is what is discouraging and frustrating about this lack of consideration of cultural differences, since now the will of other cultures has been imposed on cultures that are different from them. Of course the youth who do not discriminate against women will refuse to bow down to the discrimination mentality just because 1,300 people voted for it. Many of us do too!!!

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I am encouraged by the comments of these 4 college students. They expressed support for the actual mission of the church that many of their elders are not expressing on this topic. Taylor expressed it eloquently by saying “There are people inside and outside our church who are suffering. Regardless whether or not women can be ordained, this remains true: our work is not done. Women can, and will, always be able to do God’s work through ministry. A man-made title—or lack thereof—will never change that. For this reason, we cannot give up on our church.”

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How many? Certainly every one who refuses to adhere to the ideology of discrimination against women.
I hope the discriminators’ next attempt is not to make the non-discriminators feel bad or guilty for their convictions. This would be the worts of the worst malignant intents.

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I wonder what Isaiah was referring to here…

Isaiah 3:12 As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.

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About these “millenials” “And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD (Inappropriate. - webEd), nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.” Judges 2:10

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Are you complaining about the spiritual & theological leadership of Ellen White?

Does Isaiah 3:5 prohibit the ordination of men?
People will oppress each other-- man against man, neighbor against neighbor.

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And dont forget “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child” Ecclesiastes 10:16

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Welcome to Spectrum, Paul.

It seems that you are inferring that these “millennials” have been brought up by a generation or so of men who, as well, knew not the LORD. Please kindly clarify for us who are within Christ’s Church how this observational verse applies to our children and grandchildren. For, if your observation is correct, that implies that we and our forebears also knew not the LORD and have no basis for determining such a thing.

Trust God.

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Look at the history of judges and compare that generation with this generation. They approve the same things.

Thanks Paul for the response.

However it is not within me to prove your false hypothesis. You claim by that verse that “this generation” knows not the LORD because their parents, you and I, know not the LORD. Since both of us know not the LORD, then how can we tell. I am interested in specifics, not broad generalisations.

Trust The Process.

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