Burning Bonfires, Silent Pastors

Although the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide organization, its authority is expressed by the local level. According to church documents, the organization’s hierarchy is an inverted pyramid—giving more power and autonomy to the lower structures. Local communities, conferences, and unions are intended to have autonomy and independence from administrative bodies such as the General Conference or world divisions.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11613
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Hmmmm…have never heard that the SDA .Org is an inverted pyramid, maybe in other countries, but not in the USA.

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Really not interested in what people do in the bedroom. Most people do not introduce their sexual proclivities when speaking to an audience for the first time. Kind of like taking a strange dog by the ears. The church I’m a part of is primarily interested in promoting the gospel of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension. Knowing the audience is a primary responsibility of the speaker. Was the speaker aware of the beliefs/prejudices of his audience? Why in the world introduce homosexuality to the audience?

Everybody knows Tim Cook is gay. As long as he continues to make money for his investors and introduce game changing technology, few people care. I doubt he often talks about his sexuality when conducting business for Apple, when introducing new devices, when discussing expected growth. If the only thing a person has going on in their life is their sexuality, they shouldn’t be speaking in public.

We know, or think we do. Do a good job, it’s not an issue. Requiring validation might be.


Not sure if this is relevant here but it might be. During the Reformation, there was a lot of bloodshed in certain areas, predominantly Reformed/ Calvinist areas. There was also a lot of iconoclasm in those areas. Unlike Lutherans, Calvinists would not tolerate images. They destroyed them and brought on a violent backlash. Luther, on the other hand, tolerated images, figuring that they would just fall out of use when people no longer wanted/needed them. There was not much violence in Lutheran lands over images, or anything else.

Trying to force agendas on people who are not ready for them, can lead to unexpected consequences. Several years ago, a progressive SDA media representative was punched in the face by someone who wasn’t quite ready for a new agenda. So let’s be careful of other people’s sensitivities.

Officially, the local church is the base and can make decisions, some of which can filter up to “higher” levels. Theoretically, the local conference has limited authority over the local church and the union conference has limited authority over the local conference, with divisions having limited authority over the unions.

However, as most of us are aware, when it comes down to decision making about “important” things, top-down appears to be the preferred management style. Thus, our “fundamental beliefs” have to be voted at a General Conference session as do some changes in Working Policy. General Conference sessions have delegates from around the world–most of whom are administrators at one of the administrative levels. Some progress has been made to include more “lay” people, but many of them are significant contributors or otherwise viewed as leaders, not necessarily the “average” church member in the pew.

Thus, major decisions are still made primarily by the administrators. The local church can decide who is a member and in NAD might have more influence on who is chosen as their pastor, but they don’t even own the church building. The local conference owns property and working policy at various levels dictates who is acceptable to address the church in a sermon or presentation.

I know more about NAD and it is quite progressive compared to other divisions, but the tome representing the Working Policy is a complex and detailed document, intended to provide governance for the entire church.

I don’t think Maciel introduced his sexual proclivities to the audience. If people aren’t interested in what others do in their bedrooms, then why do heterosexuals keep harping on what they think is going on in the bedrooms of LGBTQ folks. Heterosexuals are pushing their sexuality in the faces of others all the time. The world revolves around hetero sexuality. Telling someone they are gay or a part of SDA Kinship is no different than a pastor telling someone about his wife, or seeing a straight couple hold hands, etc etc etc. When someone is part of SDA Kinship, that is saying nothing about their sexual proclivities. The organization has hundreds of heterosexual parents and allies. Homosexuality is one of the most misunderstood (obvious from your comments) demographics in our church. So perhaps Maciel was simply trying to explain to the attendees what it means to be gay. The church needs to learn to demonstrate love instead of hate to those they don’t understand. Ask questions instead of condemning and chasing people away from the church. We don’t have all the answers, but we can learn a bit more by listening.


Floyd, Maciel chose to publicize his leadership roll in Kinship rather than saying “I’m single” or not addressing that dimension of his being. Most people probably assume that being part of Kinship indicates that the member is either gay+ or a partisan thereof. I spent most of my life single. I suppose a number of people assumed I was gay, some whispered that I was [LOL]. Sometimes it worked to my advantage. I didn’t confront people I knew were gay with the fact that I wasn’t, nor did I seek their approval or validation.

What I can picture happening in Brazil is a very strong anti-gay reaction by conservatives resulting in the disfellowshipping of openly gay members. Is that what gay Brazilian SDA are hoping for, being disfellowshipped? Forcing the hand of conservatives who might be tolerant of gays on the down low could easily lead to that, unless you are confident that conservative elements will fold in the face of conflict. From what I’ve learned so far, gay SDA in Brazil lack the critical mass necessary to crush conservatives.

There will always be those who say, ‘can’t do anything because I can’t win’. Thankfully that is not true of everyone. Christianity started because of a voice of one. Then several ‘ones’ were sent out across the then known world. It is not about wining or losing, but rather about education and learning.

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I don’t think anyone is trying to “crush” anyone else here. It was simply a dialog to exchange ideas. Just because he is a leader in SDA Kinship doesn’t imply he is sexually active or celibate… single or in a relationship. The is no one’s concern. Being gay, being hetero, being single is absolutely no indicator on whether that person is sexually active. And according to the conservative church, it is the activity that is their hang up. Many single SDAs are sexually active regardless of whether they are hetero or homo. If the Brazilian church wants to point fingers, then they should also be rounding up all the hetero sexually active non-married (or married to someone other than the one they are sleeping with) members. Or better yet, rather than rounding up folks, realizing that a church can’t regulate morality, provide a healthy community that is educated on what it harmful and what isn’t. Brazil is stuck in machismo and the males can do most anything as long as they don’t love or have sex with another male.


Perhaps here no one is trying to crush anyone but it sounds as if conservatives in Brazil are looking to crush Kinship.

Hatred and lack of tolerance are antithetical to the gospel.

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Attraction should not be automatically equated with lust, which is indeed sin. Otherwise we would have to say heterosexuals should not be attracted to anyone before marriage. Surely not!

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