Annual Council Diary Day 2: Picture Day

The bearded ones and the unbearded — who as G.T. Ng suggested were following Ellen rather than James White — those in 19th century costumes, and those in modern garb, made their way to the front of the Battle Creek Tabernacle on Sabbath morning for a photo of the General Conference Executive Committee. This was their moment.

It was a beautiful day for pictures, cool and crisp as a fall apple, yet sunny, so many a selfie was snapped with those in costume, or outside beneath the colorful trees, in front of the historic homes and at the pulpit from which Ellen White once preached.

Jorge Molina, who was baptized during the morning sermon, got his picture taken many times. So did the family of Andy Weaver, the man who grew up within the Amish community and has, since joining the Adventist Church, helped to start the West Salem Mission to reach people from the Anabaptist tradition. The eight Weaver family children in Amish costumes were a big hit.

For his hour-long sermon, Elder Ted N.C. Wilson reiterated his usual list of things to resist: worldliness, those who would neutralize a six-day creation, homosexuality, ecumenical compromises. This time it also included anti-Trinitarian heresy. He encouraged people to stand firm for a plant-based lifestyle, the spirit of prophecy, a spirit of unity. He said, “God has promised to give us his power. Are you ready for mission and to proclaim God’s last day message? Are you ready to participate in comprehensive health ministries? Are you ready to plead with the Lord for revival and reformation? Are you ready to march forward on that narrow pathway?” Before he concluded he told the story of Jorge Molina, an event planner from Guadalajara who worked with the church in putting together a number of meetings in Mexico and over several years was impressed with the biblical foundation for what he heard presented. This year he asked to be baptized and after Bible studies with the pastor of the Guadalajara Church, he was in front of the church leaders that he had come to know.

In the afternoon, Artur Stele repeated his presentation on the Administrative Lessons of 1901 to 1903. Among the several lessons of that time was an interesting combination of a need for decentralization and centralization simultaneously. Decentralization because of the small number of people on the General Conference Executive Committee, but centralization for all the various entities that had separate boards and ownership.

Regarding the issue of kingly power, he told the story of George Butler, a close friend of both James and Ellen White, who wrote a pamphlet on leadership, based on the theory that there is no great movement without a great leader. While Christ is the head of the church, when you have a leader chosen by God, then God works through this leader, so you better support the leader. The main job of people around the leader is to support him. To not do so is to hinder what the Lord is doing. His theory was approved with a vote at a General Conference Session. However, when James White read the document, he refused to publish it in the Review.

So here was a situation where the GC Session voted and approved something that James White had refused to publish. Ellen White began to show the dangers of what Butler proposed. Stele said, “I have never seen anyone who received more harsh criticism from Mrs. White than did Butler.” In response, Butler resigned and, at the next GC Session, he moved to rescind the previous vote approving his document. Even that was not enough. He went in search of any copies of the document still available, found 960 that he burned himself so they could not circulate.

Time went on. He was again elected president of the General Conference. After five years in office, the spirit of humility left him. Once again Mrs. White was writing about him having a sick man’s mind, a controlling power over the GC Committee, and the ministers being in the shadow, an echo of Elder Butler... “Elder Butler, we think, has been in office three years too long and now all humility and lowliness of mind have departed from him. He thinks his position gives him such power that his voice is infallible,” she wrote. As soon as humility departs from a leader, it is time to move on to another option, Stele said. It can be after some time or after one day, he added.

Stele went on to show the extremes that marked the church in 1901, and how James and Ellen White worked to create a middle way. “Between the two extremes, of church force, and unsanctified independence, we find the grand secret of unity and efficiency in the ministry and in the church of God.” R&H Jan. 4, 1881 — an article that Stele recommended every church leader should read.

By the end of the Stele presentation, I was reflecting on a comment that Bill Knott had made the day before in a conversation. He admired the vigorous way that ideas were discussed by the early editors of the Review. And that was what he wished would be emulated today, that the 2018 Annual Council meeting would be based on more than just being in Battle Creek and taking pictures of ourselves in costume, he wanted the ideas of Battle Creek to serve as a foundation for moving forward.

Certainly, Ellen White quotations flavor ever presentation being made at this meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee. Whether or not the middle way, “grand secret of unity and efficiency” is found awaits the upcoming business sessions.

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Main Image: SpectrumMagazine.org. Additional photos taken by Bonnie Dwyer and Alisa Williams.

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/9104
3 Likes

Thank you for your photos and update.

As the French say ‘the more things change the more they are the same’.

2 Likes

The pulpit is not to rehearse Adventist history but the history of the Cross, the events lead to it and the promises provided by it.

6 Likes

— (TNCW) things to resist: ecumenical compromises
Again, in the blessed history of theological dialogues and successful inter-church relations of our church there was n e v e r ever a situation where Adventists had to resist compromises, as far as my knowledge (my activity was between world level and local level). Since WCC was founded in 1948 until today no other Christian church has given up their fundamental beliefs. TNCW is a hounder, where there is no cause. No performance certificate (crediential) for such a church president. I am ashamed for my 2.26 billion fellow Christians next to the over 21 million Adventist Christians. I served as Christian communicator during the period of four past GC presidents. Such things never happened. Thanks God!

3 Likes

Thank you again Bonnie, for your potent and pertinent reporting.

As the old adage so eloquently says:

ONE PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Your first photograph of the assembled delegates is a thundering, trumpeting testament to the testosterone fueled church hierarchy

The almost complete absence of female delegates in this photograph is a poignant reminder of the pitiful, pathetic status of women in our church.

The beards are ridiculously redundant in their proclamation of the rampant heinous, heretical headship dogma infiltrating and infesting our church hierarchy.

9 Likes

The Gospel always takes a distant second place in SDA preaching. Sometimes it is reduced to a footnote at the end of the sermon.
.

4 Likes

Bonnie,
Having commented on your splendid visual reportage, may I make one remark on your verbal text??

The one phrase that screams out:

For his HOUR LONG sermon, Elder Wilson reiterated his list of things to resist.

Why are semons.In Adventism so tediously, interminably verbose??

In my eighty two years I have sat through too many repetitive, rambling ranting and entirely forgettable harangues and homilies from SDA pulpits.

As our NAD congregations get increasingly geriatric, may the preachers have pity on aching backs and painful joints. Not to mention the few toddlers who have to be “ seen and not heard “ for protracted periods.

On reading Spectrum’s several excellent summaries of Wilson’s jeremiad,
I am reminded of Trump’s hour plus, vociferous and vehement admonishments to his fawning followers.

The comment that Wilson is more a politician than a preacher is an apt analysis.

2 Likes

Ellen White said that we have no fear for the future except we forget how God has led us in the past. I feel that this includes her council to the GC regarding ‘popism’.

1 Like

I sounds like James and Ellen’s actions of 1881 and 1901 to 1903 need to be repeated
by Committee Members present at this Annual Council
Otherwise we will go down the G.I.Butler trail again. And not only his, but some others
of that time period who felt the same way when they had POWER.

Tom – YES! We do need to remember our past history. And IT IS important to rehearse
it because the SDA Church Leadership is going down the SAME PATH October 2018.

Thanks for the “&” picture. Were there many more visible on persons clothes??

A picture perfect vote tonight that is a win for a sectarian church.

3 Likes

@tjzwemer

Jesus commissioned his followers to “Go ye into all the world…” as witnesses to what they had seen and experienced as they walked with him. He has given us the same job - to spread the “good news” to a suffering, mixed-up world that the kingdom of God is coming to put an end to the suffering - physical and spiritual.

The Adventist church is circling the world, but its message is about itself - how it came into being - what it requires of its members - how its followers must live - what they need to wear, to eat, to read, see; and what they cannot wear, eat, read, or see. This pep rally had nothing about the gospel of Christ; and it’s all about the
Adventist church as defined by a group of guys who seem to think, they’re in charge of how God needs to work, as they give each other permission to do it.

7 Likes

I don’t understand why more people don’t see this. In Adventism, the Good News (in reality) is the Sabbath. Jesus is mentioned mainly as keeping the Sabbath (and the Law) so we can too. Um, no. That’s not the message. The message is, Jesus fulfilled the law, we have been redeemed by His life, death and resurrection, and Christians live in the new way of the Spirit.

7 Likes

Although Adventist history is being rehearsed, it appears to be a selective rehearsal, or perhaps a rehearsal with a selective impact. Adventist history seems to contain a considerable proportion of things that would be wise not to do again. Yet Adventism keeps repeating the very patterns that proved to be detrimental to the Kingdom of God and were therefore counselled against. Being in Battle Creek should be a very sobering reminder of that.

2 Likes

A nice wrap, but inside it’s rotten! No wonder we lose so many people. They jump in, but when they learn more about the system and see how many leaders are hypocrites, they just go away. And our youth? Poor kids, victims of this insane mentality, they will not fall for it. They simply don’t care about Ted’s church. Not anymore, and gradually less and less.

1 Like

Edited for clarity.
Perhaps if the coming schism results in the emergence of an authentic and faithful church, those who have long since left the SDA institution over issues of hypocrisy and polluted politics will have reason to consider returning…when a church emerges that is founded on the gospel, on His amazing grace. Enough of compliance policies, KGC committees, and ridiculous beards! As the song says, Give me Jesus.

4 Likes

Yes, David Trim neglected to enumerate the total number of former Adventists in the NAD and the whole world field.

We are a neglected people group, to be sure.

We have to number way over a million in the NAD alone.

There are a lot of fences to mend, if anyone ever has a heart for the job.

Screenshot from David Trim “Members Who Leave” graphic today:

I agree with your sentiments JCTA. If I might add a little further to what you are saying by proposing that next time, instead of another ‘church’ rising up, that this time there is instead a much broader re-emergence of what originally was started by Jesus back in the 1st century - His body on earth that universally comprises all members of humanity who have God’s ‘Law’ of love written on their heart. That body transcends denominations and even reaches into ‘non-religious’ realms. This is and will be the true ‘remnant’ - though it won’t be considering or promoting itself as such.

4 Likes

I wonder how many Former Members
A. Leave church altogether.
B. Find another church group to worship at.

Several years ago I, and three others, left our small local church due to its laser-like focus on “fruit inspection” of members and visitors alike. Three of us had been lifelong active and involved members of the SDA church, so this was not a decision taken lightly. For months we visited other SDA churches within a 50-65 mile radius, searching for a new church home. Ultimately, we chose to join a warm and welcoming Christ-centered non-denominational congregation.

2 Likes