Annual Council 2015—General Conference Leaders Present "Appeal and Appreciation" on Ordination

On the first day of the General Conference Executive Committee’s Business Session, just before lunch, a document was brought to the floor responding to the San Antonio General Conference Session vote on ordination. Delegates were told that the General Conference and Division Officers have reviewed the document and approved it unanimously. But delegates were not asked to either discuss or vote on the document. It was simply read to them.

With some analyses of the vote in San Antonio suggesting the vote changed nothing because the vote did not address policy, there were rumors that policy changes might be put forward for consideration at Annual Council.

However, no policy changes regarding this issue are on the agenda. This statement is the one document addressing the issue for this session. Just as President Ted Wilson noted in San Antonio that the vote there did not change policy, the statement says: “The vote taken in San Antonio does not change the church’s understanding of the role of women in the life, mission and practice of the church as supported by the Church Manual and outlined in General Conference and division working policies. Godly, Spirit-filled women are powerfully witnessing for Christ and being used by the Holy Spirit to make major contributions for the advancement of His Kingdom.”

Read the statement, "AN APPEAL AND APPRECIATION TO ALL CHURCH ENTITIES AND MEMBERS FROM THE GENERAL CONFERENCE AND DIVISION OFFICERS REGARDING THE 2015 GENERAL CONFERENCE SESSION VOTE ON ORDINATION," in full here:

AN APPEAL AND APPRECIATION TO ALL CHURCH ENTITIES AND MEMBERS FROM THE GENERAL CONFERENCE AND DIVISION OF...

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

Photo Courtesy: Adventist News Network.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7123

"We appeal to all entities to respect the decision by the world body in session since any unilateral and independent action contrary to the voted action paves the way for fracture and fragmentation. "

With all the double talk before- it is the last paragraph which reveals the purpose of this document, and it is not about WO as such, but about church structure. It informs (no discussion, no vote) that henceforce all duly elected entities of our church (e.g. Unions, Conferences) are no longer to follow their respective constituencies, cultural mores, let alone biblical convictions but simply the majority vote (by whatever small margin) of the world church and its leaders. We have come one step closer to turn into a top down hierarchical church. We are in the process of a complete rebuilding of our church. As has been suspected earlier - the issue is far bigger than imagined.
My only hope about this document is the unanimous vote of the GC (including Division officers) on this document. I surely must have misunderstood something… But then — WHO exactly designed, discussed, voted this document, if I may be so bold to ask?

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That would be the most twisted interpretation of the document possible.
It would hinge on not understanding the word appeal.
It seems no one can say anything now days without some getting absurdly reactionary to even the simplest entreaties.

It informs without discussion or vote because, if you think about it, there’s really nothing else to discuss or vote on after San Antonio’s official discussion and vote, a discussion-vote process that includes forty years of discussion and voting at the GC level which recently concluded with the TOSC meetings. It seems as though the Fall Council is simply concluding that pro-ordinationists had a fair chance - and plenty of time - in their progressive wilderness run. And that’s assuming I’m reading this latest GC notification correctly, which of course I may not be. But this Appeal sure does ring with finality with regard to GC and Division administrators moving on to the Adventist mission and message of the church.

Here is how this statement would sound to most northern Europeans: “We, the exclusive group of ordained male only leaders, call everyone to loyalty around these godgiven policies that keep women from ever entering our elevated realm of authority.”

To a Scandinavian the whole statement sounds condescending. What if a group of women were to write: “We re-affirm that …[men] play an important role in the life of the church. … Their commitment, giftedness, and talents are a blessing to the entire body of Christ. … Godly, Spirit-filled [men] are powerfully witnessing for Christ and being used by the Holy Spirit to make major contributions for the advancement of His kingdom.”

What will it take to repair this damage to the church’s reputation? I fear it is allready too late. And our top leaders keep making matters worse. Our young people are giving up on the denomination because of “reaffirmations” like these…

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Andreas –
In the Light of this “Information” in this Document, it appears that the Approach of the Norwegian and the Danish Unions is the ONLY path to follow.

  1. Just use the term “Pastor”, “Intern”.
  2. Develop a Liturgy of Blessing for “Pastor”, for “Intern”.
  3. Develop Policies that allow any “Pastor” to be eligible for any position in the Union.
  4. Develop understandings Between Unions, that “Pastor” may move between Unions when positions are available or desired.
  5. Eventually develop Policies in the Division which allow “Pastor” to have any position in the Division, including “President”.
  6. Division develop Reciprocity with other Divisions if “Pastor” is desired for moving from one Division to another because of qualifications and training.
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Discriminatory and condescending like the apostle Paul?

“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. . . For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”

“Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.”

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife. . . He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

Based on Paul’s straightforward teachings, the better question is this:

What will it take to repair this damage to the Bible’s authority?

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That is a TERRIFYING overreach by the GC…to imply authority they don’t have according to church policy in the name of coming together. I only pray that was part of the later Council discussion on why people are leaving the church.

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In essence the church says, “We, the world church, have thoughtfully listened to supports of WO and we disagree. It’s time to end dialogue. Now it is your duty come into unity so we may complete ‘God’s prophetic mission’ by acceptance of current GE policy that denies WO. Come on dear church members, it’s time to move on and focus on our ‘global mission.’”

This is a new day for Adventism. Unity is requested on the bases of church counsels, not clear and overwhelming Biblical teachings. Even more alarming is the claim that the church is “held together by the Holy Spirit,” giving it an infallible stamp. What has made our message to resonate is the belief that all our doctrines are Biblically based. Members boast, “we have the truth.” Now this is no longer true: it is now church counsel that has become doctrinal truth.

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I’m intrigued by the last paragraph of this document, specifically the phrase, “In light of the urgency of our time and rapidly fulfilling Bible prophecies…”

What, specifically, are the “rapidly fulfilling Bible prophecies”? What rapid prophecy fulfillment does the Adventist church leadership understand to have transpired since 1844? What about the last decade?

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The Annual Counsel said this:

Br. Bochmann,
Your stubbornness is troubling. The vote was taken in SA by a representative body of the whole church, WO supporters included. They, especially the NAD pushed hard for WO. Paulson, a Northern European had an opportunity for 10 years to push it through. He did not.

So why such words as “top down hierarchical”, when it was a representative body from the whole church that voted? Do we here in America who disagree with a ruling voted by the congress start speaking as you do? You and yours have had 40 yrs of opportunity. The vote was fair, and your side took part, pushing your view. It is time to let it go and quit accusing those who voted against it of bad faith. As mtskels9496 says, yours is a twisted view. And as rogellogutierrez says, no vote was necessary (at the Annual Counsel), as the vote was already taken.

to Br. H Giesebrecht,
The statement is not condescending at all. It is an appeal to those who are unwilling to accept a fair and open vote. Are you an honest member? Did you try to get your view across? Was not Paulson one of your own? Why did he not move to get WO approved? And now since the vote was against you, you speak of damage and all. And your young people are leaving for much more than this.

Br. Steve,
Your suggestions are those of a group that is rebellious at base. It is a way to try to work around a fair and open vote. WO advocates have had yrs and chances galore, and should let it go.

Br. Todd,
TERRIFYING?? The GC in session took and open fair vote, by representatives of the world church. What is so terrifying about that? The church voted in session, open to all sorts of discussion, and done in a fair way, and WO Advocates had their say. You are misconstruing this whole thing. Liberal folk are looking for any way they can get around this, or discredit it. That is the terrifying thing. You folk just won’t accept a fair process. I am astounded and have become disillusioned with your ability to submit to anything but your own will.

Br. Frank,

This is no new day. The church has voted like this for decades. Always those who lost the vote had to submit. And votes such as this are not infallible, but binding. They can be rescinded in the future, but are binding now. What are you advocating, chaos? Any vote you don’t like is suspect? Are you the arbiter of all policy? Isn’t that a bit of an arrogant position? If you and those who agree with you don’t get what you want, we won’t submit??

The world body has a right, after such a fair discussion, in which all sides had their say, to require submission. Else total break down. If the African divisions want such and such, but the world church does not, well they go their own way. If the Australians what such and such, they go theirs etc. That is no way to have a world church.

If you folk want congregationalism, you should go somewhere else. This was a fair and open process. If you had won, you would have expected all the rest to submit. I find your agitation unseemly and disingenuous.

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As noted in Revelations:


This image of the beast is no church.

Trust God.

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“But this Appeal sure does ring with finality with regard to GC and Division administrators moving on to the Adventist mission and message of the church.”

But this is a church “divided”…and there can be no “moving on” in it’s current state despite such “appeals”. It is denial of the true state of things that is keeping the church from moving forward…or perhaps they do know and, as Andreas has stated, “We are in the process of a complete rebuilding of our church.” as the solution to the “problem”.

Adventism is growing ever closer in visage to the oft maligned Catholic Church and these recent “proclamations” only cements the similarities. The SDA hierachy should take care to notice that they are growing eerily into the likeness of what they consider to be the “Beast”.

I agree with Andreas, “As has been suspected earlier - the issue is far bigger than imagined.” Yes, yes, it is, and there is even much more bumpiness in the road for Adventism in the near future. Hold on to your seats.

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To me this appears to be a case of “much ado about nothing”.

I know some people who were looking forward to the annual council because they believed the GC would mete out “grave consequences” to the “rebellious” unions who have persisted in ordaining women. However we see here just another “appeal” to avoid “any unilateral and independent action contrary to the voted action”.

I would guess the GC has voted this statement because, at the end of the day, that’s all they can actually do. The church consists of entities world-wide that work together in a cooperative manner. That cooperation can only be encouraged - it cannot be enforced.

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Our daughters will be serving right alongside their brothers who have refused ordination in favor of commissions. If any women are to suffer in any way for lack of ordination, they will not suffer alone as there are conscientious brothers who have determined to share in their suffering. Who else among us are ready to decline or turn in their ordinations in favor of commissions? Anyone? You? What would be the message if all ordained Adventist clergy, both male and female, were to turn in their ordinations and request commissions? I’m thinking that it’s the practice of ordination itself, and those who cling to it, that would be called into question. This is not the first time we have found ourselves in the position of “Conscientious Objectors”

Accept the Commission.

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“VOTED, To accept the document…”

This is classic "neutralizing guilt’ as formulated by Matza & Sykes and published in their book “Delinquency and Drift” in 1964.

We see variants of these behaviors constantly in mental health clinics particularly from parents who have committed less than appropriate acts to their children and others and therefore feel obligated to neutralize their guilt through certain obsessions and compulsions. Some religious denomination practice the “rosary beads,” some denominations “vote to accept the document” to validate their “illegitimate acts.”

Resounding endorsement for those church leaders who saw fit to tolerate this wrongful policy to turn in their resignation letters.

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Let’s hope that all the ordained men who disagree with this edict, will turn in their ordination. Surely, all the hundreds of retired men would have nothing to lose if those who believe in the equality of all, by this silent objection.

How many are willing to act on their convictions? We here at Spectrum will be the ideal place to count the numbers and report regularly. Men who have been ordained are the only ones who can silently object; members are voiceless when only action counts.

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MilesApart,

No need to give a rehash of Paul’s misogynist messages.

They are as explicit as they are emphatic: Women are to be silent in church, and NO woman is allowed “authority” over men.

This is where the two groups are “miles apart”.

The pro-WO advocates discount Paul’s dictates as being culturally based (and biased) reflecting his time. In the same way, they are consistent in denouncing slavery, when Paul clearly condoned it. Nor are they advocating the stoning of gays and lesbians.

The disciples of the Headship Dogma, display a dismaying discordant dissonance that damages their entire argument. They apply the Pauline texts with inappropriate inconsistency and appear ridiculously incongruous.

Their obsessive, obsequious obeisance to EGW’s every pronouncement shows the ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY they concede to her. Besides, she was vociferously voluble and never silent in church. How does she escape Paul’s injunctions?

The Headship Dogma devotees if consistent, would not permit female participation in their worship hour. The moment women are making announcements, telling the children’s story, leading the hymn singing, or teaching a Sabbath School class, the headship group is being heretical to Paul’s position which proscribes all such practices!

Surely to be consistent, and therefore credible, they need to apply the Pauline texts to ALL women, those in their own congregations, and also to EGW or they risk puncturing their precarious position.

I agree with Robert Sonter, when he says the issue is “much ado about nothing”. I declare the issue a “storm in a teacup” since TOSC declared WO not a “doctrinal” matter, and the word “ordination” is nowhere found in Biblical texts. Our mission of taking the gospel to all the world, is “emasculated” when half our membership is removed from participation.

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Admit that the position of Ellen White controverted the Bible’s authority?

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What I find interesting is that spousal abuse is often exacerbated by the abuser’s patronizing behavior and attitude. The GC document constitutes patronizing behavior reflective of a patronizing attitude, both of which women can easily discern. We see within the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is in many respects a family, ecclesiastical abuse inflicted upon women. Often the abuser in the family presents himself as a kind Christian gentleman. But social workers and family counselors fully understand that an abuser will often con his way into social respectability. And the abused woman who listens to the public religious and moral utterances of her abuser well understands the hell she will continue to experience in the private sanctum of her home.

The ecclesiastical mores of the Seventh-day Adventist Church family today are comparable to the backward social mores of the North American family as it existed during the early nineteenth century.

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