Editorial: A Dream Fulfilled Is a Tree of Life

(Spectrumbot) #1

For those of us entwined in Advent hope, this summer offers a realization.

This summer thousands of Adventists will gather in San Antonio, Texas, for the 60th General Conference Session. I sense tension.

In his first welcome to the body politic who approved his presidential election five years ago, Elder Ted Wilson writes to the delegates: “As the world continues to reel from uncertainty, tragedy, and catastrophe, what a message of hope we have to proclaim, as illustrated in our session’s theme: “Arise! Shine! Jesus is Coming!” and in our timeless theme song, “We Have This Hope.” Truly, the only hope for this world is Christ’s soon coming, and the witness of His people to help others prepare for that great event. This special work must involve everyone—women, men, children, youth, adults—all are needed to reach individuals for Christ through the Holy Spirit’s power.”

A sensitive grammarian’s eyebrows might arch at a theme in which verbal banality fights a trinitarian thrill of exclamation points.

And a cynic might note the tension in a church proclaiming the end is nigh, again, while welcoming folks to its sixtieth, mostly quinquennial, meeting to set bureaucratic policy for the future.

But I’m feeling neither cynical nor grammatical. I need hope. I cling to the poetic.

….So I am sometimes like a tree rustling over a grave and making real the dream of the one its living roots embrace

a dream once lost among sorrows and songs.

Rainer Maria Rilke’s "The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, I," 5(trans. Anita Barrows, Joanna Macy)

In that spirit, I join Elder Wilson by raising our voices in hope.

In fact, I hope that those delegates will take Elder Wilson at his words here: “This special work must involve everyone—women, men, children, youth, adults—all are needed to reach individuals for Christ through the Holy Spirit’s power.”

I agree. And it seems that a good way to turn that hope into action is by voting “yes” on this question presented to the delegates.

“Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No.”

The GC Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research includes an informative page of many individuals and groups who were commissioned by the General Conference to research and write on the topic of women’s ordination. It’s like a genealogical tree of thoughtful, active Adventism. As has been noted many times, but bears repeating: for multiple generations our General Conference has been trying to not make a decision about ordaining women.

Since 1973 they have compiled major studies or held GC votes at least once every decade. As Josephine Benton’s book, "Called by God," shows, the fairness question goes all the way back to the 1870s when the first Adventist women were licensed. For this issue at a GC Session, it will be more like a third coming! But this is the first time a motion has been put forward that supports global diversity of practice while maintaining the unity of Adventist mission.

Elder Wilson and I both share eternal hope. But not just us. At our last meeting, the board of the Adventist Forum, the publisher of Spectrum, voted a statement as a public witness in support of a “yes” vote for unity.

And now we’ve launched a petition campaign to gather together those who want to have their voices heard at the General Conference Session this summer. In support of a “yes” vote, we welcome you to sign your name with ours. Our initial goal is 2600 names, roughly the number of delegates who will officially vote on this in July.

In addition to living online, we will take these to the General Conference Session and publicly display all the names as a growing witness.

Join us here.

From now until the vote, I will be clinging to Proverbs 13:12 (NLT): “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” I don’t know when Jesus will come again, but I do know that when enough of us join together, our old hopes, our persisting dreams become reality. Join us for the next few months as we take a leap of faith to become a living witness in which hope and action, sorrow and song entwine together for good.

Alexander Carpenter is a member of the Spectrum / Adventist Forums Board.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6683

(jeremy) #2

hopefully this fine effort will have an impact…

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #3

WebEd, the link to the petition doesn’t work from Join us here.

(Seems to work at the moment (35 min after your comment). Not sure what happened. Try again. And yes, you have to link from the original article, not the copy on Discourse. - website editor)

(jeremy) #4

you have to access it through the original entry of the story…

(Thomas J Zwemer) #5

I also believe that Christ return is almost upon us. Yet Unless one has faith the God in Christ came among us and paid in full for our redemption, His return is not Good News. The message to a world in turmoil is that the Everlasting Covenant has become the Everlasting Good News. Faith must precede Hope which must be reveal in Love.The Adventist message comes across as a warning based upon an indictment. A theological–I told You So!

The story the world needs Is what God has accomplished in our behalf. Just maybe it needs a woman’s voice! Certainly men haven’t done that great since the first General Conference Session. Tom Z

(Thomas J Zwemer) #6

Alex What you are asking is a departure from the norm. You want Intellectual courage, empathy, and fair-mindedness. but what the issue has faced here to fore is arrogance, narrow-mind ness, and hypocrisy. The 28 arguments are a prime example of the mind set your petition will face. I see that Fritz Guy has signed on. He led the team in choosing. The conference President. I am sure it will be noticed. Tom Z

(Cherry) #7

I voted!!! I am very happy someone took the initiative! We send petitions to the government so why not the church governing body!

(Carolyn Parsons) #8

I would be great if aggregate data would be available on the site. Number of signatures, country of signer and states for the US signers.

(jeremy) #9

i agree…i imagine if signatures represent a broad demographic and geographical cross-section of adventism, they will have greater weight…

(Peter Marks) #10

I’ve noticed some Australian names and at least one UK name thus far! Recently, I was reliably informed that many delegates will feel it almost a matter of faith to follow the indications of their Division and Union Presidents as they vote on such a matter.

Thus, the question becomes - How can we best reach out to these men in a spirit of unity and mission?

(Alexander Carpenter) #11

Thanks for your feedback thus far. I have now posted the live “signature” count. I can see the state and country, but we’re working on ways to display that…more down the road. Right now I’m just happy it is working.

If you need an easy link to share with your friends, use unity2015.org

We all hope that you share this widely as we’d like to display a lot of names in support of this cause during the GC Session.

(Bille) #12

Perhaps you have shown us “the way” right here. If everyone here watched for names they recognize as being from different regions… especially those areas of the world in which there is a lot of pressure to “follow the leader”… it might strengthen the courage of many to stand on their own convictions.

As a start, I noticed at least one name from So. Africa. I’m sure there are many here who know a lot more people than what I do!

(George Tichy) #13

Done: Signed & spread widely! :slight_smile:

Thanks. Great opportunity for Spectrumites (and the world) to participate actively!

(Peter Marks) #14


I don’t know that there is a “lot of pressure” to follow the leader in the way they vote. My intel is that this is just the standard modis operandi in many countries, electronic voting notwithstanding. I would anticipate that South Africa is NOT among such countries.

I’m thankful that the online petition make the point clearly that it has been impossible to arrive at a united biblical stance on WO.

But I believe that it is also important to emphasis the united global nature of the proposed policy to allow the various regions to decide the issue for themselves. In other words, no part of our global communion is seeking to make any decision on the matter of WO without first having engaged with the world field.

Though I could wish that it were not so, it is probable that if such a policy is not embraced by our global communion, in the mistaken belief that a united biblical stance can be achieved, then every region will do what seems right in their own eyes. This is NOT a threat but a reality!

(Joselito Coo) #15

Coming from North America, this petition sounds, sorry, so North American. :unamused: In effect, they/you, our North American brothers and sisters are petitioning the rest of the world divisions for a covering action with respect to WO that certain unions in the NAD have already taken advance steps ahead of a global consensus in SA. Honestly, might this petition not be better titled: A Vote for Diversity?

(George Tichy) #16

I think it’s “Unity about Diversity”…

(Elmer Cupino) #17

Would you consider additional information, such as country and US state?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #18

Hans Kung is one of the finally chapters of his book–“This I Believe” writes: “From beginning to end I put my trust in God’s Grace. but isn’t that quintessentially Protestant? I think it is quintessentially evangelical” page 164. Without that trust the soon return of Christ is anything but good news. Except for an isolated few, Adventism has never made that union clear or fundamental to Hope. Tom Z

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #19

There was no “global consensus” in prohibiting WO. It’s been simply enforced over the unions in several parts of the world that feel called to ordain women.

(Joselito Coo) #20

Yes or No means nothing as far as some unions in the NAD are concerned. Or, does it?