Boomerangs — Annual Council Report 6

To complete the work of Annual Council, items, such as the statement on abortion and the Church Manual materials, that had been sent back to writing committees, needed to make a second appearance and be voted.

Artur Stele came to the microphone with the changes to the abortion statement. No copies of the revised document were distributed, the changes were projected on the large screen at the front of the auditorium. To add more grace to the document, several phrases were inserted: “While not condoning abortion,” the second paragraph begins. Added the Church “and its members are called to follow the example of Jesus, being ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14)” to (1) create an atmosphere of true love and provide grace-filled, biblical pastoral care and loving support to those facing difficult decisions regarding abortion.”

The question posed to Stele from a committee member was why there was still no mention of the concept of rape, given that deficiency had been eloquently spoken to by Jiří Moskala, the dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University during the earlier discussion. Stele replied that since this was a biblical statement, the committee did not feel it was appropriate to add that concept. “Rape is an act of violence,” he said, “responding to violence with another act of violence (abortion) is not biblical.”

Voting on the statement was done by the holding up of green or red cards. Many green cards were lifted in support of the document. Only three opposed the statement. It appeared, however, that many did not vote at all.

The approved document, “Statement on the Biblical View of Unborn Life and Its Implications for Abortion” can be read here.

Changes to the Church Manual come to the Executive Committee before being placed on the agenda for the General Conference Session. Twenty-two items were proposed. Most were amendments to what the document currently says. Four were new items.

A new chapter on Making Disciples was proposed. In four pages, the section begins with Matthew 28:19, Christ’s command to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” and calls the Church to obey this Commission in the context of the Three Angels Messages in Revelation 14.

“Growing as a disciple and making disciples to prepare them for the second coming of Jesus, is not optional; it is the essence of our last-day commission as Seventh-day Adventists,” according to the proposed language. A disciple is defined as, “one whose choices, decisions, and worldview are being transformed by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God.” Five key areas are named as areas for discipleship growth: 1) Worship/Personal Devotion, 2) Ministry to Others, 3) Witnessing/Need Based Evangelism, 4) Obedience, and 5) Community Outreach. The chapter concludes with a section on Love as the defining mark of a disciple.

Adventist Possibilities Ministries, that began as a ministry to inspire, equip, and mobilize the deaf and those with special needs, has expanded to include the blind, those with physical mobility limitations, and those with mental/social development challenges. It also now includes ministry for orphans and vulnerable children, widows, widowers, and caregivers. One of the new proposals for the Church Manual includes the suggestion that churches appoint an Adventist Possibilities Ministry Leader and create a committee to encourage members with special needs and to learn how to effectively communicate with them.

Another new position suggested for the local church is a Spirit of Prophecy Writings coordinator who would be tasked with the responsibility of promoting the importance and right use of the Spirit of Prophecy Writings.

During this Executive Committee meeting, the greatest amount of time on Church Manual items was spent discussing the proposed new section on premarital education/counseling. The first version read:

Premarital Education/Counseling

Considering that marriage is the most important and challenging of all relationships, premarital education/counseling is designed to help couples planning to marry to be better prepared for this important step in their lives. The main purpose of premarital education/counseling is to prepare couples for the challenges they will encounter in married life. Premarital education/counseling is also to strengthen and improve the future happiness of married couples and reduce the potential rate of divorce. Premarital education/counseling should only be offered by a professional counselor or specifically trained individuals, including specifically trained spiritual leaders. (For more detailed information regarding premarital education/counseling see the Elder’s Handbook).

In discussion, it was suggested that such counseling be required, be done by an Adventist counselor, and be biblical, but the amended version with these additions was voted down, 56 yeses to 58 nos. One commenter wanted to add the definition of a couple as a man and a woman, but it was pointed out that the biblical definition of marriage is already specified elsewhere in the Church Manual. Commenters continued to want to make slight amendments to the section, which the chair did not allow, and the original version listed above was approved.

The other boomerang item that began in confusion and elicited long discussion was a policy recommendation to remove from the Bylaws the section specifying that Conference Presidents in the Division where Annual Council is held can attend the meeting and have voice (be able to speak) but not vote. Earlier in the week, the proposal had received a lot of pushback. GC President Wilson again gave a lengthy introduction to the item emphasizing that the new financial realities meant Annual Council would never be held in another Division again, therefore the item gave preference to one Division. Since the conference presidents were all financing their own attendance at the meeting, it was suggested that all conference presidents be given voice. But in the end, approval was voted for the item to simply be removed.

Over the course of the three longs days going over these items, exercise breaks were led by Jason, an exercise physiologist from Montemorelos University. He called for more than simply standing and stretching. He counted down as the committee members did modified squats, feet stomping, and arm circles. Enthusiastic applause always concluded the short sessions.

Meanwhile on Twitter, an enterprising viewer used the Boomerang app to create short videos of the exercise breaks, and another viewer added music, which added a healthy dose of laughter to the tweeting experience.

#GCAC19 Praise and Worship Cotton Eye Joe

— Jesus is a SJW and so am I (@jaylperry) October 15, 2019

General Conference Secretary G. T. Ng brought some election year humor to the proceedings with a segment called “Not For Sale.” In anticipation of the church elections, he said 2020 would first be a year of prophecy, because people have begun to posture. Secondly, it would be a year of theme songs. As he listed them, an organist played the music for: “I Shall Not be Moved,” “Is My Name Written There?,” “Pass Me Not My Humble Savior,” and “He Lifts Me Up.”

It will also be a year of monkey business, said Ng. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. Plus, a year of high blood pressure. He described his personal election year practice of packing up his office the day before leaving for the General Conference Session, thanking his assistant for her good work, going home, and sleeping peacefully.

Committee members were given a small box that contained a compass and a commitment card:

My Commitment

In preparation for the 2020 General Conference Session, I commit myself to Jesus Christ, the True North. By God’s grace I pledge to:

1. Vote according to my conscience and not for political expediency.

2. Work transparently and not conspire in elections.

3. Be driven by pure motives and not by promised positions.

4. Vote as an individual and not as a bloc or political alliance.

5. Be a faithful servant and not an engineer currying favors for another term.

6. Evaluate qualifications and not only representation.

7. Remain content and not covet the position of others.

8. Look to the True North and not be bought or sold.

9. Relinquish with grace my current position at the end of my term of office

10. Sing “It Is Well with My Soul” instead of “I Shall Not Be Moved.”

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image: Delegates raised green cards to vote “yes” and red cards to vote “no” on motions at the 2019 Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee. Photo courtesy of Adventist News Network on Flickr.

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1 Like

This is bizarre. Almost every vote is just this, bizarre. My life and theirs are worlds apart.

So, continue the violence against the woman by robbing her of her decision. Where is the mercy for her?

There is just one way of growth: live by the Spirit that produces his one fruit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control: Gal 5:22-23). Spirit instead of a list of 5 things.


They are adults, a-d-u-l-t-s! And should be treated as such. Just beyond bizarre.


I venture to say that the new abortion statement will have more far-reaching effect on Adventist women than the GC war on women’s ordination. The new statement is an horrific example of fundamentalism’s inroads in the SDA church. Despite all the “love” in the statement, it will be used as a club against women in the church. Not only does it not allow abortion for rape and incest–which the 1992 statement did–it takes the unbiblical stance of equating the life of the fetus with the life of the mother. It only makes limited provision for an abortion where the anomalies of the fetus threaten its life!


It may just be simple superficiality, or maybe the job attracts superficial people, but you are right in your evaluation. It seems the intelligentsia postures as having more brain power than the underlings they manage.

When I was principal of an academy (for a short time), I was told by the money managers not to bring up issues at the school board meetings which hadn’t been solved prior. I had mistakingly assumed I could discuss a problem that had cropped up at the last minute. The implication was, that the board members were there pretty much just to make the decisions, (made by phone) official with votes.

I have first hand knowledge of a meeting of pastors’ wives where they made place cards by cutting out paper dolls and decorating them appropriately. This was when their ordained husbands were discussing pressing matters elsewhere. The wives had to be kept busy with homey stuff. Never a shortage of laughs when dealing with the “officialdom”.


The irony is that most of the commitment items on the list are very good and seem to show a level of self-reflection that seems to have been lacking. I would be interested to know who generated the items. I can see them being used in one of two ways (if they are used at all). First, a non-compliant entity could point to item 1 (and also 3, 5 and 8) as explanation of their non-compliance. Or secondly, we could experience politically expedient, conspiratorial, engineered, political bloc voting, and the church can point to this and say, “that didn’t happen, since we committed ourselves not to”. Very interesting…



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Don’t worry. Nothing will change from these rearranged words. It’s only theater. Do you believe those in charge of the abortions that are performed actually get their marching orders from the church?


Dear Bonnie, I appreciate your extremely unpleasant assignment. You had to sit there in a strange surrounding and take notes of very much boring content. But there is something I’m missing: the opinions, reactions and responses of the affected. We had the opportunity to watch the procedure online, but we are foremost interested what is ahead. I’m not the only one who is concerned for the future of this church. In previous years we had people who gave their input on such matters. I can’t understand this silence now. What is going on?


I like the word “Obedience”.
In the Middle Ages “Obedience” was one of the VOWS that
persons becoming Priests pledged to.
WHAT are members to be “Obedient” to?
WHAT are the Written Rules??
The more they proceeded this week the LESS LIGHT there is in
their voting.
Was it the ABSTAINERS who allowed for a Winning Vote?
Is abstaining a Sign of FEAR?? Fear that their Vote would be
known back home and receive ANGRY mail?


Um…what Bible is being described here? The handful of Bibles in my home all contain NUMEROUS examples of violent acts being met with violent acts.

Here is one of many examples, and this being specific to rape and directly from God!!! “But if out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die.” - Deut 22:25.

SURELY someone corrected Mr. Stele. No? H-E-L-L-O-!!! There are no words to adequately express my dismay.


It’s not actually a problem unless people really pay attention to it. Which most people probably won’t anyway. All those bizarre decisions made by bizarre people are completely irrelevant to our lives unless we choose to make them be of any value…


This, and your other points are examples of more reasons the denominational positions on just about everything bear no real sway in my life. Yes, I detest some of this stuff my denomination has been doing of late and detest it passionately. The conclusion I’ve come to as a result is that Adventists have been far too eager to make the denomination and its edicts into idols in and of themselves, thus breaking the 1st commandment. Consequently I’ve embarked on a journey of asking God what HE desires me to know and do, rather than what a committee of individuals wants me to know and do.

Form a committee and the committee has to justify its existence, hence this “stuff” regurgitated on time, over budget, and predictably nonsensical.


Yes, ultimately you have to live your relationship with God and no one else. How is this journey going so far for you?


In a word, liberating.


Spirit child. Happy for you “breathing freely”! All else isn’t God’s way in this day and age.

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For all of Adventism’s self-vaunted “exclusivisim”…they edge closer and closer to the hard core Evangelicals and the RCC in theory and in practice. They should be very proud of themselves. :worried:


Ok, I have read the four page abortion statement and here are some of my quick assessments of it.

While I appreciate very much the emphasis upon the value of human life, I have trouble with the language of “sanctity,” and trouble with the fact that the unborn in this document have been given paramount importance. The document miss-interprets the Ex. 21 passage by glossing over this very difficult text to exegete, and most of the passages used to emphasize the importance of life is applied to fully formed beings without any indication of implication of preborn life.

It takes a theologically questionable stance on the verses that express God’s foreknowledge of a person, and makes no nuanced address of the difference between a earliest dividing cells that will eventually make a being, and later fetal life in the womb. It also in its definition of abortion could be construed to implicate certain contraceptives as wrong. Note the sentence: “abortion is defined as ANY action aimed at the termination of a pregnancy.” Pregnancy is not defined. Conception is not discussed.

There are huge leaps to conclusions that leave you sensing that little real thought was given to the documents development. It seems hastily done. It has more of a Catholic and Evangelical talking points kind of approach, than a carefully nuanced biblical examination. I can’t say I am not surprised at its short comings.


No, I don’t, but I fear that women themselves will be bullied and brainwashed that they have to carry fetuses just because it is a fetus no matter what damage to themselves!


It is MY understanding that they were taking a BIBLICAL ONLY VIEW
and were NOT CONCERNED with ANY Biological VIEW.
And so it is a VERY Incomplete statement which has DANGEROUS
Especially if it becomes Doctrine #29. Which would be VERY EASY
for them to do.[Them being Silver Springs and forcing 20+ million
believers to subscribe to it.]

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Well, I am not sure they even achieved a biblical view in that it was selective in almost a cherry picked way. Lots of assumption is brought into the interpretations. It’s a guideline at present. I do hope they don’t go the route of placing it on the level of a Fundamental Belief. That would be very problematic to do.


KJ –
Yes, the whole thing is “cherry picked”.
Perhaps it is like Questions on Doctrine when it came out [when I
was a kid].
This makes us at least “look like” the rest of the Evangelical side of
Christianity. So they can say “seventh day Adventists are NOT a cult.”