A recent article by Bonne Dwyer, “Money Matters 2019,” highlighted the decision by the North America Division to lower its percentage of tithe sent to the General Conference (GC) and the financial implications to the GC of that decision. In response to that article, some comments were made to eliminate the GC altogether. That is probably a solution too radical to ever get any traction, as appealing as it may sound.
Thank you for sharing these ideas. Church councils were periodically convened in the early church as well (Nicea, Laodicea, etc) although not as frequently as the Nazarenes or SDAs convene their assemblies. Later as the papacy accumulated more and more power, councils were seen as a check on that power and even elected competing popes. Ultimately, however, the example of ancient Rome proved too great a temptation and just as Rome overthrew the Republic to become an Imperium, the Pope eventually managed to hang on to and consolidate power in one person despite attempts at intervention by various councils. This was perhaps due to backing by various, powerful individuals who had a vested interest in keeping the pope in power. The success of your idea may also hinge on whether or not we have such powerful individuals or entities within Adventism who have a similar vested interest in continuing the General Conference presidency.
A great idea, but it will not happen. What is key is that salvation is between God and each individual with no go between. The church serves as a place of group worship. As with any group there must be some rules of order and consent. The point of the church is to share and to encourage and strengthen. Leadership should be based upon competence and fidelity to the Gospel. Credentialing is only the ground floor of appointment. Authority is of God not man.
I like the proposal. It seems our local Conference president is on the road a lot going to meetings all over the place and likely not contibuting much to anything given that many administrators are there also competing for each other’s time. Our church manual is full of bloat also and probably can be reduced a great deal. Who actually owns one, reads it, knows what is in it and follows it? I can go into almost any mainstream Christian church and take communion without any difficulty. Communion in an SDA church has a lot of ritual and rules which takes away from the solemnity that Jesus intended.
The pros and cons regarding the proposal to attach the Chinese Union Mission directly to the GC, the conversation having been postponed for the next Annual Council, should be of interest whether or not we believe in keeping our traditional divisional structures. What might be gained or lost as a result of doing away with Divisions?
I appreciate the willingness to think outside of the box. I have a couple of comments.
We may not be 25 million (they may not be 2.5 million), but size does lead to increased personnel.
I took a good look at the N. A. Div. financials. If you delve into them, I’m not sure that you can say that they are top-heavy for an organization responsible for a million plus people and a billion dollars in donations. Meaning, when people say the overhead is too costly, I generally find that comes from people who haven’t managed large entities.
The author suggests that this model easily allows women into the leadership. This is a fundamental misunderstanding as to why the SDA Gen. Conference doesn’t allow women into leadership. My point is, that WO is an entirely different subject that the structure won’t solve.
I’m not opposed to a conversation about an organization without a President, but I don’t think it’s automatically true that a “band of equals” at the top is necessarily better. The reality is that we are pretty bitterly divided between progressives and conservatives in the church and the progressives currently feel like it’s a bad deal because the head is a conservative. If you have lots of heads do you just end up with 6 feuding church heads? I’m not saying it’s wrong, just think the issues are more complex than stated here.
Finally, the General Conference in Session would never adopt it. First, the conservatives in the worldwide church want to be under an authoritarian figure. Second, they really like the fact that the current authoritarian figure hews to their worldview. Third, even the progressives wouldn’t be sure about such a massive change - they want to fix what they consider the real problems in the church (conservative worldview) instead of changing the structure.
I think this would be tilting at windmills, personally, but if it ever came to a vote, I’d give it complete consideration.
The author thinking seems to have been stimulated by the recent vote to disallow WO, and this would be a means of getting around it. Like Democrats suggestion to do away with the Electoral College because they do not like the results.
A few comments:
Here in Indiana, the conference has really on five executive positions, President, Ministerial Sec., and Treasurer, Education (a lady) and Trust Services The other positions are held by pastors who fill in part time and also take churches. This seems a bare bone top side to me. They have secretaries. The giving is several million each year.
The General Conference and the Divisions are really one entity, that is the divisions make up the GC. Only in GC session is the church representative of the whole.
If one were to eliminate one part, the Union Conferences would seem to be the most dispensable. This would mean the Conferences would be directly under the Divisions. It might mean more control by the GC rather than less.
The total abolition of the GC, so as the make the church a congregational one would lead to its destruction. I find it troubling that there are some even thinking this would be a good idea.
I think eyehtink2’s insight regarding the progressive and conservative conflict is on target. And the third world has the votes to make their willl the will of the GC. I think the next GC president will even be more in their camp.
As Spectrum readers certainly remember, in 2015 I was running for President of the GC… My platform was: Within 6 months eliminating the GC. The GC is completely irrelevant, nothing but a funel that receives tons of money.
Your model is very interesting and very attractive. Unfortunately, nothing is ever going to change. At least not while those black-suited guys are upstairs manipulating things. They will hold on to power with all their strength for as long as they can. Power & control (with no women around) is their main business. And they call it… “Church”…
I agree that reduction in number of administrators is essential. It can achieved in several models. The one proposed could be successful. While working towards a simple new model relocation of the GC to a low cost area eg Arica would reduce costs and interested personnel. Reduction to just four or five divisions would also be a good start with just several unions in each. Authorization to prepare such a proposal can be done annual council in October and voted.at GC in 2020. The 4-5 division leaders could constitute the new GC,! Let’s go!
More on the four division model based on geographic and cultural affinities. African, Asian, South-midamerican, North American European ANZ. Less than 10 unions per division. Local conferences as location of most traditional and support administration with numbers related to membership primarily and some to geography.Tithe remains at local conference who will support unions and divisions activities as needed. Let’s go!
You are going nowhere buddy! … lol
But thanks for bringing up again the “Africa idea.” Sure…, I can see all those black suited guys upstairs living somewhere there in Bundanoo, or other places in the middle of nowhere in Africa. They will be the first ones to support the elimination of the GC and ask to be “mere” church pastors again - here in the US, of course…
That is our problem. As members we are very disconnected. Even the elections are tightly controlled. Average members have no voice whatsoever in upper leadership. If leadership would publish committee minutes along with all financial reports. Give online options for any member to make a suggestion or a comment.
Commendable ideas, in a long list of other such ideas, that come and go with the seasons. Bottom line: the more it “changes” the more it stays the same. Why? Because Turkeys don’t vote for Thanksgiving (USA), or Christmas (UK)? The vast majority of policy makers have been, and still are, employed males with personal vested interests to keep the system in place; also known as “conflict of interest”.