AdventNetwork of Southern Africa Issues Statement After Annual Council Compliance Vote


(Spectrumbot) #1

Editor’s Note: The AdventNetwork, a forum of both lay church members and pastors in the Southern Africa Union Conference, has issued a statement regarding the Annual Council compliance vote. The statement follows in its entirety: On the General Conference Annual Council decision on October 14, 2018, to establish Compliance Committees On Sunday (October 14, 2018) the General Conference Executive Committee deliberated on the proposal “113-18G: Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions." It is a process designed to enforce compliance with organizational policies as well as actions voted at General Conference Sessions and Executive Committee Meetings. Those that fail to comply face disciplinary measures as outlined in the document. The Executive Committee voted to accept this proposal and the AdventNetwork of Southern Africa would like to express our disagreement with this decision. Considering the exhaustive and prayerful study and discussion of this specific development considering the biblical understanding of Unity, it is difficult to see God’s hand in this decision, yet. In our letter on October 4, 2018, we raised seven areas of concern with this proposal, the setting up of the GC ADCOM Compliance Committees, and the terms of reference. We would like to reaffirm our concerns and belief that this decision will not achieve the intended goal, namely the Unity of Faith. Also, it will have an unintended adverse effect on the mission God has given to His church. Though there have been concerns raised for many years about the non-compliance with policies in various parts of the world (even in our own Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division), the GC ADCOM never saw a need to create Compliance Committees. These were matters that threatened the very heart of the Gospel Mission. We don’t want to share specific examples, as it is not the spirit through which we intend to convey our concerns – public naming and shaming. (Yet it seems to be the preferred method of the GC Compliance Review Committee.) It is only after GC Session 2015 that the process of Compliance Committees was initiated and came to this drastic measure, this past Sunday. We would like to reiterate that it is the mission that drives policy development and not the other way around – form follows function. Union Conferences were set up during the major church organizational restructuring of 1901 to facilitate the mission in their geographical territories while having cognizance of the locally prevailing conditions. These conditions vary from one part of the world to the other. For example, the General Conference Working Policy C70 (Polygamy) was designed to deal with a matter some parts of the world church (mainly Africa) were grappling with. This policy is meant to support the mission of the church and is more helpful in Africa than in North America or Europe. The unity we all desire is not and cannot be achieved through “naming and shaming” and other punitive measures foreseen in this voted document. As a matter of fact, this document will in effect create an “us and them” approach. It will divide the church even more. It is in light of these concerns and the decision taken that we would like to make the following statements: 1. Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division is not monolithic in its views. Although the representative system of governance that the SDA Church follows implies that delegates to business meetings do not necessarily have to consult their constituencies prior to taking a vote, we would like to indicate that our Division and Unions (like all others) are not monolithic and there is a wide range of diverse positions on this matter. Which in our understanding of what transpired at the council of Jerusalem is perfectly in order and does not constitute disobedience to God’s Church yet invites a spirit of Unity and not conformity as it allows for individual conscience. Does this mean we reject the leadership of our delegates? No, certainly not, it merely means we will not always agree with our elected leaders. Does this mean we will reject the policies of the Church? No, policies change, even our fundamental beliefs can be adapted and clarified, which means we keep ourselves open to the work of the Holy Spirit. When policies do not follow function, the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the Business Session of the General Conference and the Annual Council of the General Conference change, propose, and adapt policies to fall in line with function. As much as we don’t agree with the GC Compliance Review Committees, we will continue to evaluate it and engage it considering the Gospel Mission (Function), as we are currently doing. 2. Compliance with all policies and not a targeted few. We hope that the required policy compliance shall be applied fairly across all (policies and regions of the world church). It would be unfortunate if only specific policies and regions become primary targets of the Compliance Committees. In forming the AdventNetwork of Southern Africa we wanted to create a safe platform, an informed platform, a visionary platform for the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern Africa. Something that has its origin in our painful past as we suffered under injustices – even though they were voted policies and legal. 3. Formation of Compliance Committees. The matter of the Compliance Committees, as well as their member composition, was not debated nor voted on at the GC Annual Council. This process needs to be opened to ensure it is transparent so as not to be misconstrued as a “private police.” The majority of lay members, at least in our part of the world, have been caught unawares by this major development within their Church, and therefore transparency moving forward will be of paramount importance. 4. Church entities/institutions/members spying on each other. There is a real danger that Adventist entities (including individual members) will initiate their own investigations, against both existing policy and stated provisions of the voted compliance document, to identify policy violations in their local or Union Conferences as well as Divisions/GC and report these. There will be mistrust between brethren and church entities. As indicated, there are numerous cases of policy violations which take place all across the world church and it should be very easy to create, report, and publicize a catalogue of these. This is exactly what we have always raised as a real and present consequent of this process of compliance committees. What was intended to be a whip, will now become a guillotine. Discussions of mission have now become archeological expeditions for skeletons in closets. This is not prediction, this is happening as we speak. It is our firm view that the establishment of compliance committees was not necessary as the church has adequate processes to deal with disagreements and differing points of view. We pray and hope that our leaders will not be scared of asking for help. You have 20 million people as a collective pool of shared wisdom. We are sure in our day and age we can tap into this wisdom and come up with a policy that fosters unity. We will continue to prayerfully engage the issue at hand. We are not ashamed of the Gospel, and will continue to speak boldly, but in the full knowledge of our duty to Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly…. Yours in the Master’s service, Members of the AdventNetwork of Southern Africa *the AdventNetwork is a forum of both lay church members and pastors from across the Southern Africa Union Conference (in Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division). The forum engages on church related topical as well as general matters which pertain to the role of the church in society. ### Further Reading: AdventNetwork of Southern Africa Pens Open Letter to General Conference Responses from Church Entities and Timeline of Key Events, Annual Council 2017 to Present Image: a map of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Courtesy of Adventist.org. We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9123

(WDJ Potter) #2

How refreshing and encouraging to read such a thoughtful statement from a forum of fellow believers in the SAI Division! It warms my heart at the end of a sad week for the world church. Praise God for your courage and wisdom in speaking out.


(Carlo Schroeder) #3

Let us be strong and do the mission that has be laid bare before us. And let those who throw the first stone, remember that in South Africa the closets keep lots of secrets.


(George Tichy) #4

This is a serious statement, that can have “grave consequences!” It reports what I was already afraid of, that maybe the first victims of the KGC - Kompliance Guillotine Command will be those cultures that voted for strict imposition of “compliance” procedures. They built the guillotine, now they may become its first victims. Get the “head collectors” ready, for they will be busy!!! :open_mouth:

It may be that there were already several people just waiting for the approval of this horrific policy so that they could jump on their political enemies in the Church. Can you imagine some of them being those who voted YES? Then, getting back home saying, “Now my opponents are fried! I will start executing it right now!”

Well, I bet Ted Wilson must feel proud of his accomplishment, and a very powerful man now! Is he ready yet for the "grave consequences" of his actions as related to the chaos that may explode in the Church worldwide???


(Jan Long) #5

“Though there have been concerns raised for many years about the non-compliance with policies in various parts of the world (even in our own Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division), the GC ADCOM never saw a need to create Compliance Committees.”

I am not intimately acquainted with Church government, but I suspect few policy decisions are the product of GC in session, particularly where the policy is one having a wide span of diverging cultural approaches. It seems that the original sin committed that brings us to where we are today, was the voting of a divisive policy at a GC session (we are here talking about a procedural matter with ethical implications—not a doctrinal matter per se). To a large extent it appears that TW has engineered the present reality, and now for better or worse he and we must face the destructive music. There are few face saving options left. We are operating here in the theater of the absurd.


(Carlo Schroeder) #6

George, you might have a great point. Those who supported the compliance policy might be the first one’s to face the consequences. Then we may observe how the “beast” responds against the charges, and it might get ugly and dirty. I just wonder what happens when members find out that their church is actually not theirs, but owned by an organisation which is not answerable to anyone, and how much members will give in to the pressure of being faithful or loosing their property . I hope that very soon the true character and motives of these individuals are revealed, and by then it will not be about brotherly or sisterly forgiveness, but about facing jail sentences, because pleasing their king result in them breaking the law.


(DENNIS HOFER) #7

Wow ! That was fast.

I guess the Compliance Committee idea is already a success . . . depending upon what they wish to succeed at.

I’ve worked my ‘six days’ on a few construction sites in 41 years. Have seen a lot of Porta-Johns, tobacco drool, and loogies. It got so bad at one power plant shutdown I worked on that the women workers complained of being dripped on while working beneath a crew of droolers high above who were spitting into pools on steel beams that would overflow and slither down through the grating to the lower levels . . . and a policy was made by our employers. So, instead, the droolers speckled a sheet of plywood with brown rain which could not be avoided by those of us dragging our cables through it. . . .

On the ‘seventh-day’ I tend to want to escape from such stomach-churning, worldly realities to a better place. . . .
But, instead, ‘What hath the GC wrought ?’


(jeremy) #8

this is a great statement put out by southern africa…it captures in direct, almost blunt terms a perfect understanding of many aspects of the travesty that unfolded in battle creek, which was falsely named “Faithfulness to His Prophets”…it goes without saying that those of us who have spent many yrs studying closely the output of our prophet are confident that she would never have approved what unfolded at AC2018…

i still have citizenship in s. africa, even though my parents left when i was a child…of the seven known races in my background, i’m most proud of my zulu and xhosa heritage, which includes greats like desmond tutu and especially nelson mandela (“rolihlahla”, or troublemaker)…i’m confident that people from both these groups had something to do with this courageous and insightful statement…


(Andreas Bochmann) #9

With statements like these … the compliance committees will be busy, busy, busy. It is obvious that the leadership of Southern Africa is out of compliance with the compliance document. The cynic in me suggests: more such documents and all the compliance committees will be so busy they don’t have time to do further harm.
On a more serious note … the harm has already been done.


(Carlo Schroeder) #10

Brother, I actually asked someone at the session about the the, faithfulness of the prophets, because the image which was displayed, indicated a male prophet, not female. The person who attended the session concured with me, male, and hence implying male leading of God’s people. There was no female prophet portrayed in that banner, which might imply in the lack of EG White quota used in justifying this document. For my part, it was never about the faithfulness of any person, but always about the Faithfulness of God. That should have been the focus, “great is the Faithfulness o God our Father”, and not on human characters. Because was that not the argument before, the mainstream Adventist are humanistic in their approach, while the conservative was God centred, but here God is replaced with a male, so the focus should be on the human logic.
Brother, also most people have never met Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, they made a impression on me, not because I was South African, because I and many of my ex colleagues were assigned to work protecting them.


(DENNIS HOFER) #11

Of course the details of the French Revolution and the ‘Reign of Terror’ are not un-taught in the United States, and SDAs who have read and who publish The Great Controversy cannot help but know about the un-Godly ‘Karma’ that took the head of the Reign of Terror’s own leading suspicious spy, Robespierre. . . unless they read the 94-page version called The Great Hope ?


(George Tichy) #12

As it says, Carlo, "First come first serve!.. LOL


(jeremy) #13

what wonderful memories you must have…these were very brave and principled men…mandela, in particular, reads like a bible story…totally inspiring…


(Eric Webster) #14

I have lived all my 91 years in South Africa along with my wife, Ruth, of 92. We are both South Africans and have just emigrated to the USA as all our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren are overseas. We are proud of the statement made by our South African colleagues! Thank you for your courage and wisdom. The adoption of this document will only bring disunity and not unity. The appointment of these Compliance committees without careful discussion and adoption by the entire Annual Council was a high-handed action that can only support a hierarchical system. A truly Protestant church does not need a spying system. Church boards, Conference Committees and Union Committees are quite able to do the work of the church without pressure from the top. God’s Kingdom is founded on Freedom of choice and action and not on Force and coercion.The head of the church is no human being - it is Jesus Christ. He will shepherd His sheep through every storm and bring us safely to the Heavenly fold.


(Carrol Grady`) #15

I admire the courage and honesty of those making this statement. It is especially blessed to be made in a continent assumed to be in support of the compliance document. It reminds me of the 2010 GC. As a mother of a gay son, who has had a ministry for other parents dealing with this difficult subject, I have had a booth for my ministry at some 9-10 large church conventions, including the 2000 and 2005 GC meetings. By 2010, however, certain church leaders had decided that my ministry was suspect and denied my application for a booth. Spectrum, whose theme that year was “The Large Tent of Adventism,” invited me to join their booth. But when this was discovered at the very last minute, they were forbidden to let me do so. Since my partners and I had already bought plane tickets and reserved rooms, we decided to go anyway and conduct a survey among those passing through the exhibit hall on various “hot topics” such as WO, homosexuality, creationism/theistic evolution, and others. We conducted over 1000 surveys, including sex and country of the interviewee. Since America is such a multi-cultural nation, sometimes those we thought were from other countries proved to be American citizens. But we were quite interested to discover that most often women from African and Latin American countries were in favor of WO. Some of the women, especially, as I recall, from Africa, told us that it was the men in their countries who opposed it because they were afraid women would make better pastors and they might lose their jobs! Wouldn’t it be interesting if every Adventist could respond to an anonymous survey about their beliefs concerning equality in ordained ministers!


(Denny) #16

But the Advent Network so called, does not reflect the views of the laity and clergy on the ground. All our leaders spoke in favour of the complaince document…And a rhetorical question is, why are we against this document who’s thrust is to resolve issues and bring compliance to an erring entity? Previously the erring entity would immediately be discuplined, not it goes through a process which is “less” judgemental as it were…Is it because there was no real enforcement of the former and so we assume lethargy means non existence of being in harmony and compliance anyhow? Even members at local church know there is discipline for public sins. Why not unions and conferences as well?


(Red Livingstone) #17

Really? That is not what has been documented.


#18

Hmm…let me think…oh yeah because this was the very type of thing that EGW counseled in context against.

At the very least it should give one pause, right?


(Denny) #19

Check out the videos when the SID leaders down to the unions were giving their presentations. Ps Maphosa, Dr Kenaope etc. All is documented. This Advent Network is made up of private indiviiduals and has no affiliation with the establishment.


(Denny) #20

Sr White is against a few men at the helm of the GC taking control and directing the work ignoring the broader church. This is what gave rise to how we have our General Conference in session where the world church votes on issues. Between sessions the GC EXCOM administers affairs. Whether its your home, church or community, there are rules which must be complied to…How can we expect less of a world church?? That does not make sense to me. There must be order. Even God disciplines us when we rebel… We will not make it heaven if we dont "comply"with heavens will…