At the General Conference building in Silver Spring this week, various “pre-meeting” committee sessions are taking place before the official Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee begins on October 11, 2018 in Battle Creek, Michigan. More than 60 members of the General Conference and Division Officers (GCDO) Committee met on Thursday and split down the middle on a vote concerning the latest compliance document that has been drafted by the General Conference Administration. The vote to approve the document and place it on the Annual Council Agenda was 32 yes, 30 no, with 2 abstaining.
The near even split of the committee was similar to the vote last year when a heated discussion took place about proposed disciplinary actions for non-compliant entities. That document was being discussed while the committee members were traveling together to New England. It came to Annual Council on the split vote and elicited heated debate because of its 14 page length and last minute release. The debate ended with it being referred back to the Unity Committee. In July 2018, a new much shorter document was widely released that includes some of the previous elements, such as shaming the presidents whose entities are deemed to be out of compliance. But, according to several of the participants, the conversation in GCDO was less animated this year. People just seemed tired of the topic.
“Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” is the title of this year’s document. It outlines a procedure for reporting conferences or unions as being out of compliance to the next highest level in the church organization with the General Conference Executive Committee being the final stop. The document’s one remaining punishment for being out of compliance remains the reprimanding/shaming of a union conference president before his vote is allowed to be cast at the meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee. It also references compliance committees to handle the punishment of the entities.
Before introducing the document on Thursday, President Ted Wilson implored committee members to support the proposal. Several people then presented and explained the document using PowerPoint. Mike Ryan, assistant to the president, gave a general introduction, Legal Counsel Karnik Doukmetzian explained relevant Bylaws and Legal issues, Archivist David Trim reviewed the survey taken earlier in the year, and Undersecretary Hensley Moorooven made comments on the purpose of working policy and then read the document. After more than an hour of discussion, the vote was to proceed with this latest version, although it still did not get any more traction than last year’s version. In informal discussion as people were breaking for lunch some suggested that the close vote meant that the whole matter should just be dropped.
The compliance review committees that are mentioned in the voted document were not discussed separately, since they have already been created by a different committee — the Administrative Committee (ADCOM) that is charged with the daily operations of the General Conference. It has been suggested that if this compliance document is not approved at Annual Council then the compliance committees will not be convened. However, they have already been activated by ADCOM before this policy document has been approved. ADCOM is also the committee that released this document in July, approving it to be sent to GCDO.
In other conversations earlier in the week about the possible consequences of approving this document, the suggestion has been circulated that the North American Division — whose two unions are targeted as being out of compliance regarding the ordination of women — might alter the amount of tithe that it passes along to the General Conference. Currently, North America gives about three times as much of its tithe to the General Conference as other Divisions who only pass along 2% of tithe. It was estimated that should this happen, it would “cost” the General Conference approximately $50 million annually. Some seemed to think in the big scheme of things, the General Conference could “afford” this loss.
What the General Conference Executive Committee thinks of the document, the compliance committees, and the consequences of voting this whole process awaits the meeting in Battle Creek. It is scheduled on the agenda to be discussed on Sunday, October 14.
About fifteen years ago, I chaired the Nominating Committee of a Seventh-day Adventist church. A vote was taken and there was an even split regarding who would be chosen to serve in a particular office. As Chairman, I held the tie-breaking vote. I announced that I had the power to either cast the tie-breaking vote or call for more deliberation. I then called for more deliberation and within five minutes the Committee formed a consensus on who would serve in the particular office. And everyone was pleased that I had chosen to be a servant leader rather than a dictator in that moment.
Scripture does not authorize the making of church policy by a close vote. There is no precedent in Scripture for such a political practice. Instead, we see governance by consensus.
Ordinarily, lessons on church governance are learned early in life. It would be shocking if Ted Wilson does not understand what our church pastors and administrators quickly learn within a few years on the job.
I am more inclined every day to believe that God has hardened Wilson’s heart in order to deliver a strong message to traditional folk Adventists who are stubbornly resistant to the teachings of Scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps only a catastrophe of divine proportions can serve as the appropriate tutorial.
However for a GC president to have already 50% of people opposing his malignant plan even before the AC/18 started is already a big defeat. I am sure that there are enough decent people around the world that can make a difference in increasing that percentage within a few days.
I don’t understand how can Ted Wilson still be encouraged by his Machiavellian plan having so much opposition at this very moment. Could this already be a sign of God’s intervention in people’s minds so that they are gradually increasing in numbers coming up with a big defeat to Wilson’s plan? It could certainly be!!!
Let’s consider the case of Wilson taking his plan throughout the AC and being actually defeated by people’s voting. This would be the fourth time his intentions are defeated. I wonder if this would be enough to convince him that he is trying to do something wrong, something very detrimental to the church. Also, will he resign? Or, will there be enough opposition to actually “repeal & replace” him? We’ll see, but this is actually past due now!!!
Of course, the vote could have a wider spread if the full Executive Committee were to vote on the proposal, but it seems folly to me to press ahead with a vote when key leaders of the Church are so evenly divided. Taking an action on a very narrow margin would guarantee a worse division in the Church. This is a moment of truth for Ted Wilson. Is he willing to create further division in his obsessive quest to deliver “consequences?” Or is it time for him to act the statesman and try to bring about healing and resolution based on recognition of genuine differences, differences held in good conscience? Or is it time for him to resign?
The Hardening of the Heart of Pharaoh. Look at what had to happen to Egypt BEFORE
Pharaoh said, “YES!”
Is the World Church READY??
QUESTION – If ALL the Presidents and Officers of EACH Union NETWORK with each
other, IS THERE ANY NEED FOR THE OFFICERS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION???
We have Pacific Press Publishing. What else do we need??
The Collective NAD Unions have the ability to operate Loma Linda, Andrews, Huntsville,
and all the other Universities of U.S., Canada, Mexico [if necessary].
Consolidate the TV–Radio ministries [It is Written, Voice of Prophecy, etc.]
Independent Ministries to remain Independent.
This should be a signal to the Gc Executive Committee that they need to think extra carefully about the issues.
Personally, I have no problem with 4 of the 5 issues chosen for their own special compliance committee.
However, there is much room for education on how we talk about people of the LGBTQI community and how we choose to talk of evolution. It is very possible to come across to other people as being intensely ignorant of the issues we are discussing.
I do wonder just how the GC compliance committee on distinctive doctrines will proceed. While it is true that our 28 Fundamentals canvass the ‘Remnant’ and also the ‘Heavenly Sanctuary there is so much of our distinctive prophetic message not encompassed within the Fundamentals. And for good reason I Believe. This it will be tricky to find an adequate basis on which to enforce a particular interpretation of our distinctive.
It would be far better to redouble our efforts at education of Adventist people globally on all 5 of the chosen points of compliance.
Perhaps more than one Division and more than one Union will spell out to the Gc Executive Committee the financial consequences of voting in favour of this compliance system.
What Jan Paulsen said at the 2917 AC remains true of the present agenda item - I do not see the hand of God in this! How could one. Coercion is never the way to unity. Freedom of conscience when educated by the Word is our only safety.
May God give all courage and conviction to remain true Protestants.
“Occam’s razor is the problem-solving principle that the simplest solution tends to be the right one. When presented with competing hypotheses to solve a problem, one should select the solution with the fewest assumptions.” Wikipedia
One more note, Phil. Not only does scripture not authorize the setting of policy by a close vote, scripture does not authorize setting policy by a vote of any kind. There was no vote recorded in Acts 15. Or anywhere else. The word ‘vote’ does not appear in the KJV. Even the modern NIV translation only uses the word ‘vote’ once, in Acts 26:10, where Paul is retranslated to have said: “On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.” In the KJV, the translation reads: “Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.”
James in Acts 15 gave everyone their voice, but did not count votes. Nor were votes counted in Acts 26.
Voting is the antithesis of consensus. Voting, Ellen White clearly understood, is an act of power rather than an act of conciliation and unification. Or as she noted, voting never changes minds.
How about we just say no to voting for awhile. Jan Paulsen wisely refused to bring women’s ordination to a vote in any General Conference session he organized because he realized it was divisive and he wanted no vote that would be divisive.
Meanwhile the current G. C. President uses votes exclusively to divide the church on matters he is attempting to advance, it seems. And I do not mean to be harsh. I have no doubt that Elder “Ted” Wilson would much prefer to not be fighting, but during the Annual Council just before the just previous one, Elder Wilson specifically and openly bemoaned not having access to the Urim and Thummim to use in guiding the church. In his puzzlement, apparently he believes that a vote will have to do. Elder Wilson may not recall that there are only five mentions of the Urim and Thummim and not one mention of it actually being used.
And here we are again all excited about another vote in a couple of week… Rather than vote this next proposal up or down, perhaps someone can figure out how to, in support of consensus built in to our current denominational structure world wide, move to permanently table this and any further consideration of adding to a General Conference officer or committee any authority to overturn the results of functions already delegated to the Union Conferences and the Local Conferences and their associated mission organizations.
“Shaming presidents out of compliance”? Humiliation is a tool of bullies.
“People seem tired of the topic”? Then drop it !
“reporting on conferences out of compliance” ? Spying
Wilson has taken his dictatorial cue from Trump.
"If all the presidents and officers of each union network with each other is there any need for the officers of the North American Division? “Independent ministries remain independent” ? I don’t know, you might be surprised.
While I am not a professional, I’ve read there are two forms of narcissism–overt and covert. Both have grandiose fantasies and both desire to control others–they used different techniques.What we have looks like two leader–one of each. I’m sure you can guess which is which.
Perhaps it is the piety that comes with trying to be a good Adventist, or perhaps blatant narcissistic tactics would not appeal to his followers, but Wilson takes the covert approach. If he ever stepped down, I would have to eat my words and I would gladly do that, but I don’t think it will happen unless a flash of lightning and an angel wakes him up.
The one thing these narcissistic leaders have in common is their disrespect toward women. And yes, I am aware that Wilson’s wife sometimes preaches and he seems to respect her, but the abhorrent refusal to acknowledge her in session and the exclusion of SCC President Sandra Roberts from the SDA yearbook is a case in point. Since childhood, we have been taught the way we treat the person we love the least, is equivalent to how we would treat Jesus.
I say good for the Oregon Conference! They’ve found a way to call the GC out on its own non-compliant practices. I think people are waking up and saying #churchtoo. Let the games begin!