General Conference Leadership Considers Takeover of Unions That Ordain Women

Unity at what price?

With Annual Council a week away, preliminary meetings are taking place at the General Conference this week to finalize agenda items. The Division Presidents met on Tuesday and voted overwhelmingly to recomend the disciplining of unions they see as being in rebellion. Today it will be the all the Division officers and General Conference officers and vice presidents (GCDO).

What is being proposed is that the General Conference take over such unions—unions where women are ordained—and operate them as missions attached to the General Conference. That would mean that the GC would then be able to remove union leaders and replace the leadership with their own appointees. Then a new constituency meeting could be called to attempt to reverse the ordination vote.

Given that the constituency votes for women’s ordination in both the Columbia Union and the Pacific Union were approximately 80 percent in favor of ordination, it is a move that is not without risk.

To support the proposed actions, earlier this week, the General Conference Secretariat released a lengthy study document on church governance and unity stressing the authority of the General Conference. Zeroing in on “invalid ordinations,” it stated, “It is incorrect to assert that there is nothing in denominational policy to stop unions from ordaining females to gospel ministry. Such ordinations have been explicitly disallowed by a GC Session action, a decision reinforced by two other GC Session votes.”

The document goes on to say, “If everyone were to defy decisions they disagreed with, there would be no point in having a decision-making process. To take part in a process, and then to disregard it if it does not go our way, is contrary to the biblical principles of unity and mutual submission. Equality and unity in Christ oblige church members and church leaders to make decisions together and then to respect fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus by following those decisions. Communities can only function if all members agree they will accept communal decisions; otherwise there is not community, but disunity.”

So, in an unprecedented move “to preserve unity,” the General Conference is proposing to exert its own power over that of the constituencies in the unions, an action that will fracture the North American Division and other portions of the world church that are not in agreement on this church policy.

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Is such a takeover actually possible according to policy? Certainly such an action would scream in the face of Ellen White’s plea to not practice kingly power in the church.


The document goes on to say, “If everyone were to defy decisions they disagreed with, there would be no point in having a decision-making process. To take part in a process, and then to disregard it if it does not go our way, is contrary to the biblical principles of unity and mutual submission. Equality and unity in Christ oblige church members and church leaders to make decisions together and then to respect fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus by following those decisions. Communities can only function if all members agree they will accept communal decisions; otherwise there is not community, but disunity.”

Begs the question, how does this admonition apply to the TOSC (and other previous) prayerful, careful, exhaustive studies? Seems consensus from all of them has been that there is neither proscription regarding ordination of women nor prescription for men only. The last line says it all-and describes why we have the present disunity within-because they did exactly what they warned against, to wit, disregarding communal consensus. Should we demand a refund from the GC for promulgating the TOSC study and then acting in direct opposition to it?

Seems these (especially TOSC, most recently) were summarily “disregarded”, and worse, substituted by the poor “scholarship” supporting male headship heresy.

I suggest the church, corporately, needs circumcision…


As if it is any surprise at all!
Let’s see what kind of war TW wants to start with the Unions around the world - those who have the power that he is delusionally thinking that he has.
This will, in most cases, be decided in the Courts. But apparently TW is not concerned with the fortune that will be earned by the lawyers. What should he be anyways? Isn’t the money just pouring easily into his coffers at the GC?

Brace for impact!!!

This is a very disturbing information. New “documents” on WO written now by the GC’s Sekretariat? Wait a minute, didn’t the Church spent over $1 mi not long ago to produce a long document on the issue (TOSC)? What happened to it, just in the trash now? And what are the names of those people who now wrote the new documents specially ordered by the GC?

“These documents suggest that the GC leadership will now attempt to get the Annual Council to take a position…” - This says it all, the GC can’t rest until they show to the world the dictatorial leadership enforced by this administration. They tried TOSC, failed. They tried the 2015 vote, failed. They tried to threaten with “grave consequences,” and failed again. They will work on it until THEIR positions will be finally attributed to the Holy Spirit, then they can stop the praying and the ‘preying’ as well…

Good people reading here, watch out, and 'brace for another instance of abuse of power by the GC!

Ellen white suggested and supported the creation of Unions to protect the Church against this kind of abuse. Let’s see if this administration will prevail in destructing what she considered an essential mechanism of defense against abuse from the top!


Unity or dictatorship? Does the G.C. really believe that they are fostering unity by exerting POWER? They are fostering a sense of fear and divisiveness. And will the G.C. now deem the female pastors in China to also be stripped of their ordination credentials? The G.C. has quietly permitted the Chinese female pastors to be ordained for many years due to Chinese laws. As a result, the word of God is spreading in that part of the world in a way that was not happening prior to the women being ordained. Be careful how you treat those who God has called to ministry. This is not going to end well, not at all. I am so thankful that God saves us by His grace, not according to the denomination that has our name on the books.


For those who are not aware, the General Conference Working Policy (2015-2016 edition), pp. 100-101, specifically outlines the disciplinary measures to be taken by the world church in the event Unions or local Conferences experience “rebellion or apostasy” (these are the words used).

No outside legal recourse would be available to those in these territories who are presently defying General Conference policies, as the Working Policy (agreed to by the world body in both GC and Annual Council sessions) is the governing document which binds all.

Some in this group have repeatedly, like the scoffers in Noah’s day, mocked the idea of “grave consequences” of which church leaders have at times spoken. It appears as if the clouds are gathering, and the rain will soon fall.


Um, it seems a little strange that you would invoke a story of God drowning all the living things on the earth to describe the General Conference’s response to an issue where the church is clearly not univocal, and which is clearly not a doctrinal matter. Then again, I suppose that “scorched earth” response kind of fits here. (p.s. sorry for the mixed metaphor. I know the Bible says God flooded the earth, not scorched it, and that Adventists don’t believe in a literal scorched earth, but you get my meaning)


The TOSC was a consultative/advisory body which had no mandate to legislate on WO or anything else. The final decision-making body is the GC in session followed up by the GCEXECOM in between sessions. They make and implement the policies by which the Adventist church is governed, world-wide. San Antonio spoke, let the world-wide church listen and submit and let the GCEXCOM carry out the will of SA. That’s what they are paid for, amongst other things. If they cannot lead they ought to move aside. Bottom line: it’s NOT about the wrongness or rightness of WO but everything to do with due governance of the World-Wide church of 7th day Adventists.


How about a LIST of those DIVISION PRESIDENTS who voted to do this???
NOT just say OVERWHELMING Numbers want to do this!!!
THIS is NOT GOOD Journalism for Spectrum.

“Mutual Submission” — The GC should SUBMIT to the Constituency of the UNIONS. It is they who Voted.
Mutual Submission would have the GC saying YES!!! to their wishes as to who THEY want leading them.

“Respect fellow brothers and sisters [in the pews] in Jesus by follow them in THEIR decision.” —
This is a 2-WAY Street of RESPECT. The GC should RESPECT what the Union Constituency has Voted.

“Preserve unity” – This Storming of the Unions will FORCE members to say YES, NO to this action. Militant move WILL REQUIRE Militant Response and FORCE against the GC.
Set up a parallel Union by the Constituency. The demise of the North American Division, the demise of the European Division involved.
HINT…HINT… Look at what is happening in China without ANY control of the GC. CHINA IS a Great Pattern to follow. :innocent: :smile:

Does AT have a more informative article?

Jeremy – The Very Fact that this has been proposed AND Voted upon shows the mind-set. So it would take very little for these “Heads of State” to Vote this in and become Church Law.
This is EMPIRE thinking. This is EMPIRE behavior. This is the same EMPIRE demonstration as the beast described by John in Rev 13 with 7 Heads, 10 Horns and Crowns. With the mouth of a lion which Roared. And waged war against the Saints.
This is NOT the behavior of the Lamb as slain standing before the Throne.


A Vaticanesque move driven by headship myopia. Very disappointing. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the ultimate outcome will be the exact opposite to what had been the original intention.


“It has been a necessity to organize union conferences, that the General Conference shall not exercise dictation over all the separate conferences. The power vested in the Conference is not to be centered in one man, or two men, or six men; there is to be a council of men over the separate divisions. The showing by the past leadership of the conference is not after God’s order. There has been a work done of a character that has not been approved of God. The result we have before us in the ruins where once stood that large printing plant, [The Review and Herald] with its expensive facilities…In the work of God no kingly authority is to be exercised by any human being, or by two or three. The representatives of the Conference, as it has been carried with authority for the last twenty years, shall be no longer justified in saying, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we.’ The men in positions of trust have not been carrying the work wisely.” - E.G. White


A breakup of the church could expand the influence of its message, not diminish it. Each area that breaks away would then be released to focus on its calling, and not on the machinations of the GC. I for one think that there is great potential in a breakup.

No doubt, there will be those that would see the breakup of the church as a catalyst to create a movie about Ted Wilson, with a working title of “Honey, I shrunk the Church”. But that would have to be seen as a narrow view, pushed by those who only see salvation within the boundaries of the Adventist church. Those with a bigger view will realise what has really happened. That God has used TW as a catalyst to expand the spread of the message in a Jonah like way. Jonah was a follower of God, and lamented the salvation of the people from Nineveh.


When the GC says they are the highest authority on earth and wish to smother women being ordained as pastors (except in China where they can’t control) and humble serving men pastors choosing to lower themselves to the same level as women (with the mind of Jesus in Phil. 2), I have to question what these GC men are smoking to imagine their authority is above the Holy Spirit.

Do they actually think they can use force and coercion to bring on the Holy Spirit? Not only does such kingly power oppose the Spirit of Jesus, it’s a delusion because it goes against God’s law of love and liberty.


If the unions were expelled, no further funds would be sent to the G.C. and each union would be in charge for decisions about the tithes and offerings it receives.

But what is the situation of the many members who are no longer in an officially recognized union? Will they be members of the G.C. and not with their local conferences and unions? They may decide to remain Adventists but do not wish to be cut off from their union and division, so will there be a large G.C. conference established which will take in these members?

There may be many G.C. administrators no longer employed if the size of their territories are decreased.

Watch for the many unintended consequences. The animosity against TW and the actions he imposes will be equally felt by those who disagree and agree with this plan.


I feel sorry for the millions of Seventh-day Adventists embroiled in local church turmoil, division, malicious gossip about the pastor and efforts to get rid of him or her, nominating committee battles, school board fights, and power struggles among members that are ongoing for generations, because GC administrators are modeling political behaviors that will exacerbate such agitation in our local churches for many years to come.

I feel sorry for the young and innocent who have not yet developed a thick skin, who have not yet become battle-tested, and who have yet to experience what it’s like to be caught up in ecclesiastical war, because many of them will most assuredly choose to leave the battlefield.

I feel sorry for those who will quietly withdraw in resignation from church life, cease giving tithes and offerings, and stop going to church, because they should be afforded an opportunity to attend a church where they are welcomed.

I feel sorry for the North American Division, because the Division’s feeble rate of growth in terms of membership and gross revenues will only get worse as the most important union in the Division suffers a vicious assault from the GC.

I feel sorry for our women, because Seventh-day Adventist misogyny is much worse than we could have ever imagined. And I feel sorry for their counterparts, indoctrinated in misogyny as they are, because they will never grow up and become real men.

I feel sorry for our GC administrators who in their blindness have refused to understand that Scripture does not authorize the making of church policy by a close vote.

I feel sorry for our biblical scholars who want to share the fruit of their spiritual giftedness, because they can look forward to continued marginalization in the future.

I feel sorry for our ordained men, because they bear a patina of shame, a patina of shame the GC declares they must bear forever.

I feel sorry for the alt right of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because they know not what they do.

I especially feel sorry for Ted Wilson. I have tried my best to defend him since he became president of the GC. Many Seventh-day Adventists will continue to perceive him, correctly or incorrectly, as one who has allowed himself to be transmogrified into an antichrist, as one with the pleasant demeanor of a lamb who speaks like a dragon. I wish there was something I could do for him.


i think these pre-annual council meetings are just posturing…the 58% majority achieved in san antonio through massive amounts of politicking isn’t important enough to structurally change a world church…i think cooler, calmer heads have already decided that collaborative diversity, achieved through talks between unions and annual council, is the way forward…

otherwise, why aren’t european unions being targeted…the reality is that NAD is forking over to the GC at least $1 million/annum less due to their moving out of GC headquarters…is anyone in the columbia or pacific union going to continue to funnel tithe and offerings through their conferences and unions if they’re taken over…the GC is on a belt tightening mission, stemming from devalued world currencies relative to the american dollar, as it is…how is all the GC’s numerous financial obligations going to be met if NAD, the goose that’s forever laying the golden egg, is slaughtered and consumed…

to me, all of this takeover talk sounds like the nightmare scenerio that’s in store for everyone if trump wins in november…everything is massively under-calculated and hopelessly overreached…the whole perspective is warped, and wholly off-kilter…it’s a beavis butt-head world - it doesn’t even sound believable…


This is a time for prayer and reflection on the Church and how best to complete our mission to take our message to the whole world. Hard to believe we could contemplate such a mean-spirited step. In my Conference we have several terrific ordained women Pastors, and our Conference President is acknowledged to be outstanding. Here’ s hoping our Church Leaders move carefully before imposing their will on the diverse world church.


The Adventist beast rises from the earth.
The bridge builders have gotten their vote, but are about to reap the results of their manipulation of this system. Never fear, Jesus Lives!


It does seem to be a great “quenching of the Spirit” kind of move being considered. The Spirit may simply move on to a more welcoming group. This has been known to happen, when its quenched by human hardness of heart.


“…ORDAINING FEMALES” - that is such a de-humanizing designation - based on biology. Who comes up with such wording… Yes, it’s only the “males” of the species that are qualified “to spread the gospel”. How much more incongruous can this idea be, especially when comes to “spreading the gospel”. It would have been bad enough if they said “preach the gospel”, but to think that FEMALES shouldn’t be allowed to SPREAD THE GOSPEL takes this institution back into the stone age with images of brutes brandishing clubs, dragging females by their hair. No man is qualified to dictate who can or can not “spread the gospel”.

Personally, this doesn’t touch my life in the least, but I grieve for those who are looking for their spiritual guidance from such an unspiritual group of people.