A Labour of Moles: Annual Council 2017

In the lead up to Annual Council, the Adventist Grapevine Information System goes into full swing. “What have you heard?” becomes the question of the day. The events of 2016 heightened the importance of these conversations, because there were “nuclear” proposals to dissolve unions over the women’s ordination issue and the proposals were being kept secret among a small group of people. The intent, it seemed, was to spring these proposals on the General Conference Executive Committee at the last moment, take a vote, and be quickly done with a very controversial action.

Except that the proposal leaked. People inside the Administration questioned the wisdom of what was being proposed and told friends. And the Adventist Grapevine went to work. As word got out, the enormity of what was being proposed took hold. Instead of the nuclear option, the administration backed down and sent a proposal to the Executive Committee that was a reconciliation process loosely based on Matthew 18. Meetings, prayers, and letters were to be used in an effort to bring disagreeing units within the church into unity over a year long period.

Except the reconciliation procedure was not followed. So in 2017, it seemed like the situation would be repeated. Actions taken to Annual Council go through a committee vetting process. That meant that everyone wanted to know what actions were being proposed to the ADCOM (Administrative Committee) and GCDO (General Conference & Division Officers Committee). But the administration was determined not to have leaks spoil their plans this year. Copies of the proposal were distributed to specific individual committee members with their names on them. Once people had read the proposed action, the papers were immediately collected, apparently even before the discussion of the item. Votes were taken on the proposal without the exact wording in front of people. Committee members were sworn to secrecy.

Except that it leaked. At first, it was just stories of the vote itself taken on Sunday when the GCDO group was on a bus tour of Adventist history sites in New England. The vote was 32-31, I was told. President Ted Wilson lost. Then someone else said, Ted won. What was the real story? When the votes were initially counted on Sunday, Wilson apparently won, but it was later learned that Wilson had included several proxy votes, a procedure not practiced in church committees, meaning that according to regular church practice, Wilson’s proposal lost by several votes.

Next, word began to leak that he plans to proceed with his proposed action of taking away voice and vote from “non-compliant” union presidents on the General Conference Executive Committee. But someone else heard that all Union officers—not just the president—would also lose voice and vote on the North American Division Executive Committee.

Except that taking away voice and vote violates the constitution. According to the constitution, the only option for “punishment” is to dissolve the union. It is the nuclear option or nothing.

Another leak suggests that the action to be voted on Monday will include a loyalty oath that Executive Committee Members would have to sign, pledging their loyalty to the church and promising not to ordain women. This would be an unprecedented move in the history of the church. While a loyalty oath has been proposed a time or two, it has never passed.

And the latest information is that the upcoming action will contain a provision for a review panel to measure the “non-compliance” of unions (which is left undefined, though in this case non compliance means continuing to ordain women) and that an automatic penalty would follow a finding of non-compliance. Some have wondered if establishing such a review panel signals a quasi-judicial system within the church, a significant change in the structure of the church and one warranting much more discussion and consideration.

The labour of the moles who have shared this information over the past year has truly been a labor of love for the church, not wanting to see “nuclear” actions blow up the organizations that have faithfully followed the voted decisions of their constituents.

It is the secrecy surrounding the proposals that exacerbates the situation. These actions have the potential to affect the lives of thousands of church members. Yet, no one at the unions, conferences, or institutions that stand to be affected have been told what the proposed action will be. The group of approximately 60 people who have reviewed the proposal are all part of the General Conference. Not one union president, conference president, pastor, or layperson has seen the proposal.

As British-American journalist Heather Brooke says, “Leaks are not the problem; they are the symptom. They reveal a disconnect between what people want and need to know and what they actually do know. The greater the secrecy, the more likely a leak.”

Trust is required in a united church. And trust dies in the dark. To build unity, there is a real need for openness and transparency in the culture of the church administration. The labour of moles will continue as long as there is darkness. The way to solve the mole problem is to bring the actions of the administration into the sunlight.

*A group of moles is known as a labour of moles.

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image Credit: SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8293
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sometimes only a little laugh will help ease the tears

ALMOST BREAKING, LITERAL EARTH SHAKING NEWS!!
It has been announced that “The Investigative Judgment” has concluded, and the guilty parties have been convened to the curiously named Silver Spring duomo, “The Tedican City”.
In a move mirroring the way that heavenly courts cloak themselves in secrecy, an electronic blackout has been issued. Further, in a similar vein, the guilty rebellious will be permitted to cursorily assent to the power and authority of the headmaster by merely placing their mark on an unseen statement pledging allegiance to said manly authority.
As in heaven, since human conscience is so flawed, conscience will be lead to the guillotine. The hordes of unwashed masses are expected to celebrate that no longer will they have to trust their faulty free will agency in the grave matter of their eternal destiny. Imagine, having your salvation assured by fiat, oh what freedom to finally live without fear of the soon coming Monday Final Judgment! Celebrate the New Clean Sanctuary! Soon the offending rebels (please pray for them) will be permitted to choose gnashing and wailing in darkness, instead of accepting such secretive grace so penuriously offered to chosen few.
It has been rumored that anyone releasing the “Oathe of Olde Loyalty” will be immediately excommunicated without further adieu.
Verde Rascallion reporting for AdventistAlllium.
The above is satire unmixed, and as such is not to be construed as true, factual, or real, and bears no intentional semblance or image of persons or Gods, living or otherwise.

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[quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:14444”]
Except that it leaked…Another leak suggests that the action to be voted on Monday will include a loyalty oath that Executive Committee Members would have to sign, pledging their loyalty to the church…[/quote]

i just LOVE all this suspense and gossip leading up to monday…have our GC and its workings ever been this interesting before…i’ve only been following things since discovering spectrum a few yrs ago - honestly, you learn virtually nothing reading the review - and it seems every week has been fraught with something major to chew on…

i do believe god is working through the seventh-day adventist church, and that we really are the remnant church of Rev 12:17…but obviously, just as in the case of jesus and his twelve disciples, one of whom betrayed his trust on an unbelievable level, and then killed himself, god is working through very flawed individuals and patterns of thinking…politics at the GC level really seems to have been perfected into a rare art form…the same people waxing eloquently in public about trust and faith seem to be working assiduously behind the scenes in a way that destroys that trust and faith…and what is a required pledge of loyalty to the church, but a sad admission that loyalty to the church and each other have waned…

but whatever is really going on, it doesn’t feel like non-compliant unions will be dissolved…instead, their leaders will be subjected to some kind of punishment in order to placate the loving conservatives in our church who’ve been clamoring ruthlessly for the nuclear option for yrs…

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To our NAD Union presidents: Just say “No.” Please.

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The enormous stress and mental strife involved in plotting failed schemes after another must be overwhelming among our GC leaders that leads me to wonder how can they sleep peacefully at night or maintain a sense of dignity without resorting to pharmacological interventions. The most common medications used to curtail anxiety is the family of benzodiazepines an example of which is Ativan, Xanax or Klonopin. The mechanism of action of these medications involves the same pathways used when drinking alcoholic beverages and I wonder how many of our church officers would fail a urine drug screen test. Should the church begin urine drug testing as part of vetting process?

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Yes, I admit it!

I do sneak a peek into the NATIONAL ENQUIRER when in a long check out line at SAFEWAY. I do enjoy the occasional spy thriller movie and I sometimes watch soap operas.

But this Annual Council takes the cake for media hype and entertainment.
Let’s do this monthly, not annually —what fun!

All this subterfuge/ intrigue/ machinations,
all this guile/ coverup/ conspiracy,
all this secrecy/ stealth / surreptitiousness,
all these “moles” leaking morsels of misinformation,
is worthy of a James Bond movie or Mission Impossible.

Is that really Ted Wilson leading out or is it Tom Cruise?

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The best solution is for the GC Executive Committee to vote the limited action that ordinations of women as ministers are not valid outside of the unions in which those ordinations were done. Trying to coerce people to sign a loyalty oath will not work, because there are too many legitimate reasons (including biblical reasons) that can be articulated for not sign a loyalty oath. Taking away voice and vote from officers in unions that ordain women as ministers is perfect for proponents of women’s ordination, because all decisions made thereafter by the GC Executive Committee will be invalid and illegitimate per se. Similarly, transference of power from the GC Executive Committee to a review panel composed of Ted Wilson’s cronies will render decisions made by such review panel invalid and illegitimate per se.

If Wilson cannot get consensus support (support that is higher than super-majority support) from GCDO, then he should realize that he has a problem. He still has yet to learn that sometimes winning is more problematic than losing. Sometimes when you think you have won, in reality you have lost.

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My name is Peter! I have a twin brother Paul!!

My initials are PS for obvious reasons. I’ve never been too pleased about the saying that “one must rob Peter to pay Paul.” Yet there are times when Paul must pit himself against Peter as happened when Paul withstood Peter because he had abandoned a gospel principle.

Such must happen again this coming Monday! Someone must arise to rebuke the powers in order to champion the great gospel principle of freedom of conscience.

Last October on this very blogsite I made an extended plea that 2017 be officially proclaimed the Adventist Year of Freedom of Conscience. Unfortunately, this idea was never taken up! However, it could still transpire that 2017 will indeed be the Adventist Year of Freedom of Conscience in which a noble Paul-like figure takes all the myopic Peter-like figures to task for despising the freedoms of the gospel and treating them as a thing of little consequence.

@phil
Perhaps the ordinations of women are already seen as claytons ordinations. Far better to return to a policy development phase. The SPD, the TED and Dr Lowell Cooper have already pointed the way.

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OCTOBER marks the 500th YEAR of “RELIGIOUS DISOBEDIENCE”.
One lone monk with a Doctorate in Religion [after studying ROMANS – PAUL] put up 95 debateable questions in Latin [not for the common people to read] on a church door in his tiny university town.
Later he quietly said, NO! to Emperor Charles V and Pope Leo X.
Later Princes quietly said, NO! to Emperor Charles V.

It is TIME for Union Presidents to quietly say, NO!! to UNHOLY REQUESTS.

EDIT-- LET US NOT FORGET – the moles love their church as much, or more than we do. That is WHY it is SO PAINFUL for them to see EVIL BEHAVIOR going on conducting the Work of God.

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Thank you, Bonnie. I spent the morning going over the manuscript for my commentary on Revelation. I read there of an open door, an open heaven, an open temple, and an open book. Openness and transparency emerge as watchwords of the book. Then I read your report of closed doors, closed chambers, closed deliberations, and closed books. Heaven’s policy of candor is hard to emulate even for those who claim the Book of Revelation as the go-to source.

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Merikay Silver was working for the Pacific Press Publishing Association in 1974 when she confronted Ted’s Father, Neal C. Wilson, as she was struggling against the ‘fungal’ plots of male SDA administrators.
(As the ‘country’ song says,
“. . . Them politicians treat me like a mushroom,
'Cause they feed me bull and keep me in the blind.”
~ lyrics from, Lord Have Mercy On the Working Man, performed by Travis Tritt,
Written by Kostas Lazarides • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group)
She ultimately lost her SDA membership and her husband, simply for attempting to hold the SDA church accountable for following their own stated policies against workplace discrimination.
Policy, though, is only as good as the ‘policer’ who wields it.

In 1903 that same ‘Pacific Press’ published a pamphlet written by another ‘rebel’ who simply wished that the ‘Protestant’ SDA church would live up to their high, Heavenly ideals, instead of mucking around down in the dark, dark bottomlands inhabited by this world’s ‘principalities and powers’.
The title of Alonzo Jones’ 21 page pamphlet is “One-man Power”.
Isn’t this really what Merikay Silver had to confront ?
. . . and isn’t this really what the whole SDA congregation is now confronting –
‘Like father. Like son.’ ?

We should NOT laugh at the ‘conspiracy theorists’ who throw ‘accusations’ of ‘Freemasonry’ at those who act just like Freemasons . . . Freemasons who thrive through ‘fungal’ plotting in ‘low places’ in order to pamper their ‘queen’, in the darkness behind closed doors. My own father had to deal constantly with that ‘ring-waver’ ‘brotherhood’ in his own career and business. Finally, his business partner, my mother’s brother, joined the bottom-dwellers. And, turning against my father to secure my father’s former high position for another Freemason in the company they had both left to compete with, my uncle broke my father’s heart. They split up. My father had mortgaged everything at 55 to take a big risk with my uncle, and he never recovered from my uncle’s betrayal and subsequent escape from the ‘partnership’.

When my father died of fast-acting lung cancer in 1987, the well-known Freemason ‘spy’ in his company quickly ‘organized’ the shop workers into the local labor union every member knew was controlled by the Freemasons, even while my father was home in bed, struggling against the many distracting pains of inevitable, gruesome death. . . . And after the largely-attended (by hypocrites) funeral, that labor union’s infamous and longstanding ‘ring-waving’ business agent came uninvited to my father’s business, found me
( non-union, and a ‘vice president’ of my father’s corporation)
out back in my own father’s shop, arrogantly gloated over the organizing of my father’s shop employees, and lectured me on how I did not want to get involved in my own father’s lucrative pharmaceutical-industrial electrical construction accounts . . . right after telling me how he
(a long-time Freemason, as well as business agent)
respected the principle of a son following in his father’s footsteps . . .
betrayal, betrayal, betrayal . . . .

‘Betrayal’ was the title of Merikay Silver’s book published in 1985. And, neither that one word, nor ‘Papal’ is a large enough description of the slimy mass that has been growing for too many decades in the darkness of the GC ‘closet’, at least, since the times of Elder Jones’ personal experience with its roots.
Here is some of his 1903 reaction to that personal experience that is as Heavenly, and open, and fresh, and applicable as when he sent it to the ‘Pacific Press’, 38 years before George R. Knight knew what a pen was.

("I think this crusade is basically one man and his theological advisers.

Sometimes we seem to think the problem with “kingly power” ended in 1901 — but if we look at the principles undergirding Ellen G White’s use of the phrase we can see that kingly power is still being used in the present day."
~ George Knight, from Spectrum interview published online October 4, 2017,
George Knight Talks About Trying to Slow Ted Wilson’s Crusade)

BY ALONZO T. JONES.

The Spirit of Combine.

“TO-DAY many remarkable things are occurring, and so openly before the eyes of all that every thoughtful person is compelled to query, What do these things mean? One, among the most remarkable of these remarkable things of to-day, may be best defined as the universal spirit of combine. Everywhere, among all classes, and in all lines of effort, there prevails this spirit of combine.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 1.1}
This spirit of combine is not merely an extension of the sound principle of cooperation or unity of action of individuals acting collectively toward a common purpose. It is not, in any sense, the principle of cooperation of unity of action of individuals acting as such, collectively toward a common purpose. It is instead the principle of one mind, of one individual, dominating all others possible, and using all these to the one purpose of that one mind or individual.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 1.2}
This truth and this distinction are demonstrated in the universally-known fact that the first effect of this spirit is to deny, to override, and to crush out, all right and all freedom of the individual; as instanced in the trust, whether it be the Standard Oil Trust, the Steel Trust, or a fruit trust. Whatever business is may be that is comprehended in the trust, no individual is allowed to do anything in that line of trade except as the servant of the trust, and absolutely subject to the dictation of the trust. If the “combine” takes the form, not of the trust as such, but of the labor union, then no individual is allowed to work, except as the servant of the union and under the absolute dictation of the union.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 2.1}
The second effect of this spirit, wherever entertained, is to destroy all individuality of the individual himself; so that he can not do the simplest and easiest thing, a thing the virtue of which consists entirely in its being individually done, unless a combine, a club, or a society, is first created, and he do that simple and easy individual thing in the name and by the power of the combine. If, for instance, a person wants to rest one day in the week, he insists that he can not rest unless everybody else rests at the same time; and so a combine must be formed, requiring everybody to rest when he wants to, so that he can rest because they do. A member of the church knows that it is only plain, simple Christianity to visit and help the afflicted, the poor, and the needy; and he knows that this is what the church is for; yet he can not do this simple Christian thing as an individual Christian; but must first form within the church a combine, called a “band” or a “society,” for the purpose, and then do it in the name of this combine, and because the combine requires it.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 2.2}
Another effect, and the direct logic of the combine, is a one-man power. This is to-day manifest on every hand; the head of the trust can dictate daily what the whole people shall pay for their sugar, their kerosene, their nails, etc; the head of the union can dictate just what the employer shall do, and how he shall conduct is business, or whether he shall conduct it at all. . . .
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 3.1}
The logic of a one-man power is always a despotism. This is certain, because of the nature of man himself. And it has proved so universally true that it is universally understood. Indeed, it was the character of the rule of the man who held the innocent office of despot that gave to that word its terrible meaning.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 3.2}
The logic of a one-man power is a despotism, and it is a despotism in all relations, religious as well as other. This, too, is inevitable, because, as we have already seen, the spirit of the combine is the spirit that leads one mind to usurp the place and power of God over the minds, the rights, the persons, and the property of others, and by force compel them to his one purpose. And as it is certain that a man in the place of God will always act unlike God, it is also certain that his power will always be exerted in compelling that his power will always be exerted in compelling them to do things contrary to the righteousness of God. This has been the unvarying history of it from the mighty despotism of Nimrod, the first that arose since the Flood, to be partly but growing ones of to-day. For Nimrod was not only a mighty hunter of beasts, but of men, also. He pursued and compelled men to recognize his authority in all things; they must worship as he dictated, and his example has been invariably followed. It was followed by Pharaoh, by Nebuchadnezzar, by Darius, by the Cesars, and by the popes.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 4.1}
It never has failed, and it never will fail, that a one-man power develops a despotism, and a despotism in religion as well as other affairs of life. And those who disregarded the spirit of the combine and maintained their individual integrity, have always been in the right, and are the true heroes of the ages.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 4.2}
Abraham disregarded the spirit and power of the combine established by Nimrod, and maintained his individual integrity with God; and God vindicated him, called him out of it unto an eternal reward, and made him an example unto all men, “the father of all them that be of faith,” and “the friend of God.”
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 5.1}
Moses did it in Egypt. God maintained his cause, delivered him and his whole people from it, made him the greatest legislator of all times, and took him to an eternal reward.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 5.2}
In the face of a blazing furnace of sevenfold heat the three Hebrews did it in the presence of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. God vindicated their course, preserved them in the midst of the fire, brought them forth unscathed, changed the king’s word, and made the circumstance a lesson to all kings and all combines forever.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 5.3}
Daniel did it individually alone in the presence of the Medo-Persian combine and the den of hungry lions. God vindicated him, because of his “innocency” in the matter, and again made the individual an example to all men, and the circumstance a lesson to all one-man powers and combines, forever.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 5.4}
John the Baptist did it, Jesus Christ did it, Stephen did it, all the apostles and early Christians did it, not in a “combine,” but wholly as individuals, each for himself alone, in disregard of the greatest one-man power, and so the greatest despotism, of all ancient times.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 5.5}
John Wycliffe, John Huss, and Martin Luther did it against the greatest one-man power, and so the greatest despotism, of all time, ancient or modern.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 5.6}
These are the ones who have kept alive liberty and the rights of mankind through the ages, and have saved the world from being engulfed long ago in the vortex of unmitigated despotisms.
{July, 1903 ATJ, OMP 6.1}

~ ~ ~ * * * ~ ~ ~

“Moles”, then, are not of the blind, slimy darkness, but are open-eyed, budding, healthy individuals.
Let us thank God for giving them ‘eyes that see’.

ADDED in reply to David Benton’s suggestion:
“We ought to begin with a humble apology to Merikay Silver McCleod and Lorna Tobler.”

YES !
And, there are even more, innocent, ‘ripples’ which must have been hurt by this ‘splash’ in Merikay’s (AND Lorna Tobler’s) life.

Don’t forget. Merikay came from a highly sociable, public and visible family in the SDA congregation and school I grew up in. They all had a great sense of gentle humor and kindness that often put them in the public spotlight.

I owe her mother for my loathing of the Christmas season.(Much too frequently she got me involved in her school Christmas program !) I was on the school ‘tumbling team’ with her brother Pat (‘Pete’), and younger sister, Beth. ‘Pete’, at least, performed with the ‘Youth For Eternity’ singers. I believe he was later an Andrews U ‘Gymnic’ and later, performed with the Heritage Singers . . . and their father was a grinning, very good-humored, more ‘shy’, construction-worker-type.

The abusive, negative treatment of their older sister and daughter HAD to be painful to the whole McCleod family – as well as to the Silvers – given their greater than average public involvement in SDA church programs. And, I’m sure all of the negative publicity would have strained the ties between Merikay and her birth-family, and church-family, just as it did her marriage ties.

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“Trust died in the dark.” Yes!
“Nuclear option or nothing.” No.

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“Organizations, institutions, unless kept by the power of God, will work under Satan’s dictation to bring men under the control of men (…) Whatever in our practice is not as open as day belongs to the methods of the prince of evil.” EGW, TM 366.

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These moles are more like naked mole rats, which form a eusocial society. Regardless of which “caste” the individuals belong to, their unselfish labor unfailingly serves the community, for which they are willing to sacrifice all. Moreover, their hides are remarkably and fortuitously insensitive to pain. We should all appreciate the loyalty of the GC mole rats to the cause.

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I’ll make my post short: I saw Merikay Silver mentioned by Dennis Hofer. I seriously think some brave soul should propose during tomorrow’s discussion at the GC, “We ought to begin with a humble apology to Merikay Silver McCleod and Lorna Tobler.”

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