On November 20, 2018, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists released a video via Adventist News Network titled “Unity #GCAC18.” The five-and-a-half minute video, created in the aftermath of Annual Council 2018 (#GCAC18), features several lay members appealing to others to “trust the decisions of the General Conference in session” and “support the decisions that we as a church family made.”
What struck me first about the GC’s unity video was not the problems with the content (though those were definitely there), but the visuals. The participants were so . . . diverse–many young, many female, different ethnicities, etc. My first thought was, “perhaps the GC are trying to respond to the oft-repeated criticism that the church is controlled by older people, almost exclusively men. Isn’t it good that they are trying to allow younger people and women’s voices to be heard, even if I don’t agree with what those speakers are saying?”
And my next thought was, “wait . . . in what sense are these peoples’ ‘voices’ being heard? These people on the video had no say in voting the policies that they are describing as ‘our decision that we made as a family,’ and probably had little say in choosing the representatives who would vote either at the GC sessions or at GCAC18. And many of these speakers would not be considered eligible to have a voice in that decision-making process (since you have to be a man to be ordained, and you have to be ordained to be a union or division president, who, for the most part are the people who vote at GCAC). And the same is true of most of the lay members who are viewing the video–we have no had no direct say either in making the decision or choosing the decision-makers. So what exactly do the speakers of the video mean when they speak of the recent GCAC vote, and the earlier vetos on WO, as ‘our decision’?”
I do not question the sincerity of the people speaking on the video, or their commitment to supporting the church in the way they believe to be right. But the fact is that the GC, in order to defend a decision made by a few people in power (mostly male, mostly older), is publishing a video that portrays that decision as the unanimously-embraced choice of people of all ages and both genders. This feels exploitative to me, and dishonest. If the GC leaders really believe (as they have repeatedly claimed) that hierarchy is the godly, biblical way to run an organization, then why do they need to use women and youth (and especially small children) to mask that hierarchy with an illusion of inclusiveness?
"Reactions to the video were swift and overwhelmingly severe. As of this writing, the video has been viewed over 72,000 times and garnered over 3,500 “reactions,” with 893 being thumbs up and over 2,700 thumbs down (approximately 75%)."
My faith has been restored in the SDA membership that can understand what a piece of propaganda this GC video is! Fantastic.
Obviously, the scriptwriter punched out a GC-approved message, approved by men to benefit men, and to reflect the male point of view. Our Church family seems to leave out women in decision making almost entirely.
I have been quiet for awhile, but while searching comments on “worship” I accidentally ran across this comment. It is long and to the point. Originally counsel to the publishing houses, just substitute the word “institution” or “Division” in place of “publishing houses”.
"The Lord does not design that the workers in His institutions shall look to or trust in man. He desires them to be centered in Him. Never should our PH (Divisions) be so related to one another that one shall have power to dictate as to the management off another. When so great power is placed in the hand of a few persons, Satan will make determined efforts to prevent the judgment, to insinuate wrong principles of action, to bring in wrong policy; in so doing he can not only pervert one institution, but through this can gain control of others and give a wrong mold to the work in distant parts. Thus the influence of evil becomes widespread. Let each institution (Division) stand in its moral independence, carrying on it work in its own field. Let the workers in each feel that they are to do their work as in full view of God, His holy angels and the unfallen worlds.
Should one institution (GC) adopt a wrong policy, let not another institution be corrupted. Let it stand true to the principles that were expressed in its establishment, carrying forward the work in harmony with these principles. Every institution should endeavor to work in harmony with every other just so far as this is consistent with truth and righteousness; but further than this none are to go toward consolidating. (The Publishing Ministry. p. 152.4; and Testimonies Vol. 7, p. 173.2)
Instead of “Division” for “publishing houses” [historically written in light of the struggle for control of the Review and Herald vs Pacific Press] might “union conference” be a more appropriate substitute?
Chapter 13—Evils Resulting from Centralization and Colonization
2,700 thumbs down + 893 thumbs up = 3,593
The rest. Silence means… yes?
12,000 + 14,000 = 28,000…
Compared to 72,000 views received by the previous video?
My suggestion: Layperson-sitting-in-the-pew test. This can easily be done online.