Church Member Pens Open Letter Regarding His Non-Compliance


(Spectrumbot) #1

To: General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists North American Division North Pacific Union Conference Oregon Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists Meadow Glade SDA Church

From: Douglas M. Palmer Date: October 20, 2018 Re: My non-compliance with voted actions of the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM

It is my understanding that the October 2018 Annual Council of the General Conference votes were taken to approve five different committees whose role is to collect complaints, information, etc. regarding officers and entities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who are not in compliance with the voted actions, policies, and beliefs of the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM and other official committees of the General Conference. It is further my understanding that these new committees are to refer non-compliant officers to the local level for a three-step process of 1) warning, 2) public reprimand, and 3) placed on removal for cause.

I am an officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and I wish to report my own non-compliance with the voted actions, policies, and beliefs of the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM and the other official committees of the General Conference. First, I am a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with membership at the Meadow Glade SDA Church. As a member, I have the right and duty to vote other members into local church office, approve budgets, approve the sale or purchase of church property. As a member of the Priesthood of Believers proclaimed by Martin Luther several centuries ago, I take this office seriously. But I also hold other offices.

I am a member of the Meadow Glade Seventh-day Adventist School Board. Furthermore, I am the chair of the Policy Subcommittee of the School Board. I have also recently been a vote constituent to the last several constituency meetings of the Oregon Conference and to the last constituency meeting of the NPUC. I am a voted member of the Rules Committee of the Oregon Conference. Finally, I am a member of the official Advisory Committee for Big Lake Youth Camp of the Oregon Conference. These are all official church offices, voted by my fellow Priesthood of Believers, which makes me an Officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Now that I have documented my status as an officer of the church, let me now document how my beliefs and future actions will not be in compliance with the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM and other official committees of the General Conference. I believe that women should be ordained as ministers of the Gospel. I do not believe that our Heavenly Father intended to make any distinctions in office and that passages from Paul that purport to the contrary reflect his cultural views. As our Fundamental Belief No. 1 states, “The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This means those passages by Paul were not dictated to Paul. He still used his own culture and language to express his God-given inspirations. My beliefs are not in conformity with voted actions.

Fundamental Belief No. 14 provides,

In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. (Emphasis added.)

My beliefs are in 100% compliance with this statement of unity.

I believe that it is solely up to the Unions to decide who they will or will not ordain. I do not believe in the legitimacy of any voted action by the GCC that purports to intrude on the long-standing role of Unions over ordination. I do not believe these voted actions are in conformity with Fundamental Belief No. 14.

My future actions as an officer of the church will also not be in conformity with these voted actions by the GC. I pledge that I will only support candidates for church office who will promise to uphold the power and role of unions to decide for themselves who will or will not be ordained. I will propose and vote to support changes in my organization’s constitution that prohibits it from discriminating, in any respect, on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, or gender in conformity with Fundamental Belief No. 14.

Returning to the progressive discipline identified by the recently voted GC Annual Council, you are welcome to ask the leaders of my local church, conference, union, or division to warn me about my non-compliance with voted actions. I tell you now that I will not heed their warnings. My conscience is my own and I will not surrender my beliefs. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, the Devil doesn’t care what we believe, so long as we do not act on that belief. I will act on my belief.

That then leads to the next level of progressive discipline: public reprimand. Please instruct my local church, conference, union, and/or division to issue a public reprimand of me in one or more of their official publications or a dedicated page on its website. I suggest the following language:

We, the [insert name of organization here] hereby publicly reprimand Douglas M. Palmer of Battle Ground, Washington an officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for supporting the role of Unions to determine for themselves whom to ordain, for believing that women should be ordained by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and promising to act in any of his official capacities in opposition to the voted actions of the General Conference.

I am breaking and will break both the letter and spirit of the recently voted actions. Therefore, it is important that you apply to me the punishment that also has been voted. I believe the voted action to be unjust, but as Martin Luther King Jr. correctly explained there is a way to determine if a law is just or unjust:

A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. —Letter from Birmingham Jail.

We will discover whether or not these voted actions uplift or degrade human personality. We will discover whether the application of your punishment uplifts or degrades human personality. We will discover whether excluding women from the sacred office of ordination uplifts or degrades human personality. I am not in conformity in my belief or actions with the GC’s voted actions. Punish me. Here I am Lord, your servant.

Douglas M. Palmer

cc:

Administration Committee, Meadow Glade SDA Church: 11001 NE 189th St, Battle Ground, WA 98604

Administration Committee, Oregon Conference of SDA: 19800 Oatfield Rd, Gladstone, OR 97027

Administration Committee, North Pacific Union Conference: 5709 N 20th St, Ridgefield, WA 98642

Administration Committee, North American Division: 9705 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD 21046-1565

Administration Committee, General Conference: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring Maryland 20904

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Editor’s Note: This letter has been shared with Spectrum readers with permission from the author.

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash / SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9240

(C.B.S.) #2

CItation Palmer: … I believe that women should be ordained as ministers of the Gospel. I do not believe that our Heavenly Father intended to make any distinctions in office and that passages from Paul that purport to the contrary reflect his cultural views. As our Fundamental Belief No. 1 states, “The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This means those passages by Paul were not dictated to Paul. He still used his own culture and language to express his God-given inspirations. …

When I read this bold writing of Douglas M. Palmer, my thoughts go back to the Adventist-Mennonite DIalogue, May 28, 2012, in Basel, Switzerland. The Mennonite World Conference has asked the Adventist Church "About the role of Women": "According to the Scriptures men and women were created in the image and likeness of God, it means that the two reflect the image of God and therefore men and women are equal before God. According also to the Scripture the gifts are handed out by the Holy Spirit without distinction of gender. However, there are some biblical texts where women are asked to be silent, which reflect the patriarchal context in which these biblical texts were written.

We also have considerable evidence in the Gospels and the Pauline letters of the important role of women in the movement of Jesus in the early Church. Jesus broke cultural mores of his era and included women in his Ministry. In the Pauline letters the Apostle Paul recognizes some of his sisters as collaborators and apostles jointly with him. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church Ellen White, as a woman and as a prophet, surpassed the female role in her patriarchal culture and was, and is, a genuine and prominent religious figure. How do we understand that women are not ordained as shepherdesses, although in practice they Minister as shepherdesses in Adventist Churches? How do we understand gender relations in the Church in the context of the teachings of the Scriptures that men and women were created equal before God, that Jesus included women in his Ministry on Earth, and was very important the role of women in the early Church?"

How long we have to wait until our Church will adhere to the biblical word. Where is the long overdue correction of the wrong teaching? Are our reformers already dead?


(Billman) #3

A very worthy candidate for punishment. And also for all those “official” positions that he holds. A thinker, independent, courageous, probably stoic, leader, etc. May your tribe increase.


(Matt) #4

The trouble is, as always, the difference between reformer and heretic is entirely subjective.


#5

We stand in solidarity with you!

It is, I think, appropriate to stand and call out the leadership and demand they abjure their false beliefs.

This method of speaking out your position is the best way to demonstrate your faith in God against those who abuse their authority.


#6

The author said that Paul spoke according to his cultural views but where is the evidence?

Even if inspired authors speak and write as they are move by the Holy Spirit, and even if they use their own words, what they express comes from God. We cannot use the fact that a particular author is necessarily a member of a particular culture to arbitrarily negate what God is saying through this author because of his culture.


(Steve Mga) #7

I believe, if it were possible, that there are many members in the SDA church, at least
in the North American Division, who would also sign such a statement.
And do so right beneath Doug’s name.


(Ian m fraser) #8

In his blog on the compliance committees Jon Paulien states " But individuals and interest groups are excluded from lodging complaints with the compliance committees and their terms of reference clearly specify that individuals and groups are not in the cross-hairs of these committees as such.". So this letter may be ignored. Also the local church is charged with disciplining members in the church manual?


(Warren Ruf) #9

An admirable noncompliance statement. But Douglas, but you are completely safe because the GC document is primarily targeted at organizational structures. Now, if you were a union president, you would be in the crosshairs because this is all about the unity of unions. The rest of us are rather like gnats, more annoying than a threat. However, if it pleases, you may self flagellate 100 times and get it over with.


(Jeffrey Kent) #10

Paul stated his requirement, Nymous, that women must be silent in Church. Policy or principle? Well, which prophet led the Israelite congregation in song during the Exodus? Which prophet spoke repeatedly at early Seventh-day Adventist churches?


(Jeffrey Kent) #11

Outstanding prose! Well-articulated opposition. I wonder what would happen if hundreds of higher-positioned leaders took a similar approach. Civil disobedience and self-flagellation can be effective expressions of righteous indignation.


#12

If your goal is to say that a woman can be a prophetess, well, we all know that and nobody denies that.

And Paul knew that too. So, obviously, he was not talking about this when he made his statement.

Now, do you believe that Paul, apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God (1 Cor 1:1), is a biblical authority?


(William Vercio) #13

There are two problems with what you are saying: the first is that you don’t recognize the changeable nature of most things in the Bible. The SDA church is inconsistent in their recognition of that fact but they do recognize it partially. When is the last time you participated in the morning and evening sacrifices? We don’t because Jesus put an end to that particular practice. But what about the more basic law of “an eye for an eye . . .”? We don’t do that either. What about the new moon celebrations that Isaiah says will be celebrated in heaven? We don’t do those either. We allow the Old Testament to be contextual or culturally applicable but nothing in the New Testament. There is no reason for that distinction.
The second and more basic problem is a time-honored SDA approach to issues: “God tell us the right thing to do and we’ll do it. Tell us what to do about women’s ordination and we’ll push it through.” This is the same thing as the children of Israel saying “All that the Lord has said we will do.” We know how well that worked out because almost immediately they were building a golden calf. If that approach worked there wouldn’t have been a need for a Savior. God had already told us what to do in His Law. That should have covered it. But Paul says that the Law is powerless to control human behavior because humans are incapable of obeying it. That includes any perceived Law about women’s ordination or how we should deal with homosexuals or abortion or anything else. Paul talks about not trying to observe the letter of the law but having the Holy Spirit act out the Law within us. So what we should say is not “God tell me what to do” but “God cause me to do the right thing through Your Spirit” and then BELIEVING that He did it even if it doesn’t agree with our preconceptions or intellectual beliefs. God knows better than we do.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #14

A well written statement. I believe that church membership has absolutely nothing to do with one’s justification. However under the right environment, proper association can and should help in spiritual growth. That is why the present stance of the GC is a killer…


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #15

Douglas M Palmer

I applaud your letter of dissent to the GC and NAD…

You state:

I BELIEVE THAT WOMEN SHOULD BE ORDAINED AS MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL.

However is your letter not misdirected ?.

Your own Oregon Conference and North Pacific Union Conference have been derelict, delinquent, disregardful and dawdling in ordaining their clergywomen.

Certainly, when compared to the SOUTHEASTERN CALIFORNIA CONFERENCE and the PACIFIC UNION CONFERENCE…

What have you done hitherto to alleviate this abysmal antiquated treatment of women in your own local area ??

Do you have an ordained woman pastor at the MEADOWGLADE CHURCH?
With1600 members, it surely is one of the largest SDA congregations in the NAD.

More particularly, do you have ANY women pastor , ordained or otherwise, to minister to the women and teenage / college girls in your huge assemblage??

There is an old English proverb which might apply:
People in glass houses should not throw stones!


(William Noel) #16

So true! Many times I have had the Holy Spirit lead me to do certain things that touch others with God’s great love and when I share about it others join me in praising God for what He has done. Then there are the many in the church whose concept of the Holy Spirit is limited to theory-filled theology that is bereft of any experience with Him so their reactions vary from polite silence to questioning, accusation and even derision, I think because of the discomfort they feel when my experience contrasts with and exposes the emptiness of their theories.


(Pierre-Paul Legault) #17

Yes, but the Union President only answers to his board of directors and to the Union constituency. He does not answer to the GC or any of its committees.


(efcee) #18

It will be interesting to see if this letter inspires those actually on the local, union, and division conference payrolls (those whose positions are actually in jeopardy under the non-compliance committees) to sign their names to such a document.


#19

Are there any ancient biblical manuscripts where Paul is chewed out by Peter, James, John, Luke… for being discriminating against women?


(Robert Lindbeck) #20

@gideonjrn in Galatians 2, Paul reprimanded Peter about being “two-faced” over eating with Gentiles. When the “GC” (Jerusalem) bretheren were absent, Peter was happy to eat with Gentiles. However, when the “GC” bretheren were in town Peter would not associate with the Gentiles. With regards to status of women, not sure.