General Conference Proposes Year of Grace for Unions

The General Conference has backed down.Another year will not change anything. The unions will not and cannot back down because theirs in not simply a matter of policy but of principle. The problem of the General Conference needs to study is whether this action is one which we should have worldwide acceptance or even can have. Let me suggest several areas where such action would not be appropriate because of the different practices and understandings regarding these matters. We know that in many Third World unions it would not be possible to require men and women doing the same work to be paid the same. Many of the things that women do in the Western world would not be acceptable in the third world countries such as having women serve as presidents of hospitals and colleges. This would also be true with women serving as professors in the seminary. In other words, there are different understandings of the role of women in our institutions. Because of these differences in the countries where our church serves, it would not be wise or possible to establish a worldwide standard, either by accepting the practices of the Third World or of the Western world as the worldwide practice. In the case of women’s ordination, we should not require either that all qualified women even in Third World countries should be ordained or that no women should be ordained even in the Western countries.
Some, however maintain that women’s ordination is different because it is explicitly forbidden in Scripture. All the studies made so far even theTOSC results, do not point in this direction. On the contrary, studies made by
Dr. Bertil Wiklander and the Professor of Church History at the Theological Seminary indicate that ordination as practiced today came from a postbiblical time. What in fact, we should do is to have a simple service where those whom God has called to serve full-time in the ministry are set aside for that purpose. Ordination today implies also the granting of power such as qualification to be president of the conference. Instead what it should imply is a greater opportunity for service. We should think of this simple service not as giving us more power but as making us greater servants.


i think the so-called year of grace would be a good thing…after-all, women’s ordination has been brewing for decades - annual council approved ordained women elders in 1975 - and there’s no reason it needs to be resolved promptly…in any event, a year brings us closer to the next sitting GC session, in which WO has at least a statistical chance of passing if put to a vote, given the trends…

meanwhile, unions and the GC can ponder thoroughly whether they have the right to plunder the general membership’s $2.43 billion /annum in tithe (2014) in costly litigation, especially given the fact that it is a sacrifice for many to give it…


Thank you for your clear thinking.


It’s a sad day when our conference uses dialog and tactics from medieval times. Where is the biblical proof that women cannot be ordained. So far I haven’t read anything to the contrary. Why are we so worried about this when people all over the world are hurting and looking for solutions to their problems. It just saddens me when your time should be spent in praying for peace and wisdom and not to be so concerned about ordaining women. Let’s unite as a church. Let us have a day set aside for prayer. Prayer is powerful and prayer can change the heart if we let Jesus take control of us.


“When people don’t want Gods way they are left with their way.”

I think that the issue is when others (current GC Administration) decide for others (Conferences) what God’s will and then assume that they will fall into line.

This so-called “Year of Grace” will exist to see if the “others” (Conferences) can be coerced into seeing “God’s Way” (a la GC Administration). I doubt that it will change a thing for anyone.


A profound statement for our time from a (still) prophetic voice.
“Force is the last resort of every false religion."- Ellen White


There are examples in history that demonstrate the results of seeking for unity through fascism. Ultimately any ‘unity’ achieved benefits only the ‘one’ dictator – such as was Mussolini – who controls the knots that bind the bundle. But, what sane person would want to follow in his self-promoting, yet self-destructive, footsteps?

Even Godless philosophers have recognized that humans tend to ‘become’ their enemies, their obsessions. And the Godly philosopher, Solomon, recognized that :

“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily,
therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Ecc 8:11

So, I’m afraid that the only ‘polite way to impeach and dethrone this king’, and the ‘kingly’ GC, is to patiently wait for them to destroy themselves, whatever the collateral damage may be. . . or we can ‘become’ them, and destroy ourselves, too.

This inevitable self-destruction caused by fighting an enemy on their own wayward terms explains how God could stand aside and watch 4,000 years of self-inflicted human misery only to send His Son to seemingly ‘do nothing’, but to show us how God has suffered. And, 2,000 years later, we still struggle to understand :

“Few give thought to the suffering that sin has caused our Creator. All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God.” Education, 263

We puny, short-lived SDAs can’t ‘out-suffer’ God.


I have over the last couple of years tried to dialogue with a good amount of people with sincere theological convictions, based on their reading of Scripture, that women should not be leaders and pastors and should not be ordained - in Mexico and in the US. I ask them if they think the Church in my home country of Norway should fire the female pastors they have. Almost all say ‘no, it’s fine, they can keep working’.

Now, that does not make any theological sense at all for a non-sacramental “priesthood of all believers” denomination. Ordination in Adventism originally just meant that the Church recognized that God had called someone to pastoral ministry, and prayed for them as an act of corporate spirituality and support. We supposedly did not believe in the distinction between people of the cloth and lay people as qualitatively different.

So does God call women to pastoral ministry (hence we should lay our hands on them and pray for them) or does God not (thus we should stop employing them)?

A colleague of mine in another institution told me today that he wanted the GC leadership to take some action and enforce the San Antonio decision. I wonder whether he wants us to fire the women pastors among us, or whether they can keep working just as long as they don’t have the ordinance that makes them “men of the cloth”.

Because you can’t have it both ways. Either women being ordained is the problem because ordination itself is an ordinance or sacrament that by nature is reserved for males, or women in pastoral ministry is the problem and ordination is seen just an act of corporate spirituality, support and acceptance.

All eyes are now on the GC Annual Council that is about to begin. Will the GC accept women pastors among us, as long as they don’t get the sacramental rite? Or must the ‘disobedient unions’ actually stop employing women pastors during the 12 months of grace?

My money is on the first outcome. We can accept employment of women as long as we uphold a sacramental theology of ordination and keep a clear boundary between clergy and laity, between ordained ministers and everyone else who are “qualitatively different”.

Alas, the following statement belongs to a bygone era in the corridors of the GC. We, too, have ended up in the medieval age.

"It is true that both kleros (clergy) and laos (laity) appear in the New Testament, but strange to say, they denote the same people [NT references given that clergy and laity refer to the same group]… It is to be readily admitted that in the New Testament community there was no office that corresponded to the Jewish concept of priest… By the time of the Reformation the biblical concept of the priesthood of all believers had been eroded by a hierarchical and priest-centered church."
Rex Edwards, Every Believer a Minister, Ministerial Association of the General Conference of SDAs, 1995, page 67, 69.


Does the General Conference really not see the irony here? Declaring a “Year of Grace” alongside the Pope’s “Year of Mercy?” I’ll take the Pope’s mercy, any day. In my opinion, the call for “repentance” is completely inappropriate. Who has sinned? We have ecclesiastical differences. Period. Should the majority of theologians in this church “repent” for having agreed that there is nothing in the Bible that would preclude women from being ordained? Should large groups of Adventists “repent” for following their God-given conscience on something they see as a moral issue? The General Conference can be assured of this: they will not see one cent of my tithe as long as this continues. The storehouse has become a whorehouse. It rides like Babylon, asking members to exchange their souls for conformity to its power. If there is any place for repentance, it is on the side of those who take up such power in the name of religion.


Pastor Ted Wilson et al.

Rule no. 1 in parenting. Never draw a red line and then not follow through. By doing so, you dilute your authority, diminish your stature and embolden your children to challenge you next time. Either you follow through and let the chips fall or rescind the red line and make things right with your children. But never NEVER resort to “Wait 'til your daddy comes home.” Otherwise, you only reap “Grave Consequences.” Likewise in running a secular organization or worse still in a religious organization because you only make a mockery out of God.

Free of charge.


So, you advocate schism? And papacy? If I wanted to be Catholic I would have stayed in the church I was raised in. I choose to be SDA because it is NOT hierarchical. No where in any of the seven different translations of the Bible I personally own does Jesus speak of ordination in His Church. Not of men and not of women. The argument for ordination of men alone is not Christian. It is Catholic and it is Mormon. Every follower of Jesus is “ordained” by the Great Commission to spread the Good News.


The history of the Inquisition informs us about what we are witnessing now.

The inquisitor upon visiting a village would always grant a grace period. The grace period facilitated confessions without the need for the inquisitor to work for them. More important, the grace period helped to break down resistance in the village as breakaways confessed in exchange for light punishment. And as people confessed, they yielded valuable information that enabled the inquisitor in his prosecution of others. The GC’s proposed grace period has the same function as the typical grace period granted by the medieval inquisitors. The GC hopes that its threat of discipline will facilitate surrender. And as the year progresses, the GC no doubt will attempt to break down resistance, mine information, and divide and conquer.

The inquisitor Bernard Gui regarded the inquisition as an ad hoc response to heresy. In contrast, the inquisitor Nicholas Eymerich regarded the inquisition as a permanent characteristic and bureaucracy of the church. Which inquisitor is the obvious political antecedent of Ted Wilson? Obviously, it is Eymerich. Wilson lead the persecution against scientists in our schools for teaching science in science class. He has instituted a certification system for religion teachers, so that he can decide who is hired and who is fired and minimize opposition from religion teachers he has economically coerced. He has always been a church purificationist and authoritarian. His attack against the unions will not be his last attack against Seventh-day Adventists who disagree with him.

The inquisition was not a thoughtful and biblically-grounded discussion about truth. The purpose of the inquisition was solely to determine if the defendant swore allegiance to church doctrines. The GC’s inquisition is an announcement that truth, as perceived by the GC, regarding the issue of women’s ordination is now completely understood and ripe for adjudication. Our attempts to persuade the GC will be as unsuccessful as the attempts of dissenters in their naivete to persuade their inquisitors. The scholarship of proponents of women’s ordination is regarded by Wilson as the Talmud was regarded by Gui–chaff that is irrelevant and suitable for burning.

A secondary purpose of the inquisition was to discourage ideas from spreading. Wilson well knows that if another vote is cast regarding women’s ordination five or ten years from now, the trajectory of vote results in favor of women’s ordination will continue. It’s only a matter of time. Therefore, he wants to crack down on dissenters in the same manner as inquisitors cracked down on defendants in order to cripple the natural growth of support for women’s ordination.

Inquisitions could not be successful but for the cooperation of secular governments. Apparently, the GC has chosen not to punish thousands of Seventh-day Adventists in China and Europe because the cooperation of secular governments there is less than ideal. Gui wrote that there are “different medicines for different diseases”, i.e., different ways of dealing with dissenters, so the GC is probably of a mind that consistency is not an imperative under these circumstances. Be that as it may, we can be thankful that God has instituted secular governments to curb religious intolerance, including religious intolerance of particular Seventh-day Adventists.

Gui stresses in his writings that inquisitions must succeed or the “faithful laity” will regard cessation of the inquisitions as a scandal and become weakened in the faith. We have yet to see Wilson look into the eyes of traditional folk Adventists and say no. He coddles these fanatics like babies. He himself is very much a traditional folk Adventist. If they want blood, no doubt he wants it, too.


Yeah, that’s going to happen!

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Pushing back the deadline buys time but does not address or recognize the main issue. WO is about responding to a calling from God and that supersedes any organizational policy issues. Equality in ministering to various fields in the world church is about meeting each entities’ needs effectively, not treating everyone the same, much the same way parents seek to meet the needs of each individual child in the family.


This crisis point at the 2016 Annual Council may yet provoke the Adventist organizational machinery to truly be the consultative, consensus building, decision making organism that it dreams of being.

Consensus will never be reaching by continuing to think in terms of the binary option of ordaining women or not ordaining them. We must revise and build a new more inclusive paradigm for the appointment of Adventist leaders and the promotion of a united global ministry and mission to the world by doing the following:

  1. the hermeneutics underlying such a new paradigm must be established.
  2. our theology of ministry, leadership and ministry must be outlined.
  3. the foundational principles reflecting this theology will be set in place.
  4. the policy concerning ‘ordination’ will be written and practical guidelines for the implementation of this policy will be written.

An hermeneutic based on the “plain reading” of Scripture is what motivate pre-US Civil War Christians to fight for the upright nature of the slave trade. Afterall, Scripture did not condemn slavery. Never once! It even established principles for its compassionate regulation. On the other hand, a principle-based hermeneutic motivated many Christians to fight for the abolition of the slave trade.

In a similar way, our hermeneutics as Adventists will lead us as we seek resolution and consensus of the ‘ordination’ issues facing us. One’s hermeneutics in a matter such as this sets the trojectory of our theology, just as surely as it did for America in pre-civil war days. The 2015 GC Session has already pledged to study the issue. Such study is urgent!!

Much great work has already been done through the TOSC process, among other places toward the development of an Adventist theology of leadership, ministry and mission. This should be dusted off and used. Perhaps a comprehensive theology of Adventist leadership, ministry and mission could be created.

Elsewhere on this website I have critiqued the foundational principles the current documents on Church Governance and Unity have outlined. These are conceived as being foundational for our current policies regarding ordination and credentialing. They are shown to be theological inadequate and biblically inaccurate. The nature of both Adventist ordination and credentialing is thereby misunderstood. This is a very shaky foundation for policy formation.

The policies concerning ordination and credentialing must be rewritten once these essential helpful prreliminary steps have been worked through. It is urgent that we commit ourselves to this task!

The TOSC process and the subsequent vote at the 2015 GC Session, for all of its considerable merits in engendering global discussion of ‘ordination’ stopped short of arriving at a satisfying determination of the matter. We were wrong to anticipate such satisfaction given that the following conditions existed and still continue:

  1. TOSC adopted the previously voted GC Annual Council certified hermeneutical principles and assumed that all would follow them without inquirying as to whether or not these were sufficiently adequate to help us move toward theological consensus. The call by the 2015 GC Session to revisit Adventist hermeneutical principles, made in the wake of the divisive vote on ordination, indicates that indeed they were not!

  2. While we have achieved much in terms of outlining the theology and nature of Adventist leadership/ gospel ministry much more clarity is needed on the vexed issue of what ‘ordination’ and credentialing really mean in the Adventist context.

  3. Thus the foundational principles on which we seek to build policies concerning ‘ordination’ and credentialing, reflecting such theology must also remain in doubt.

  4. Policy formulation cannot really be progressed without the above more fundamental processes having been worked through.

Consensus should be reached on each one of these processes before consensus is sought on the subsequent processes 1-4.


In mainland China the growth of the church is explosive without the bureaucratic drain on the treasury. They are allowed to use the name “Seventh-day Adventist” without paying royalties to the trademark owner. That someone could own the intellectual property encompassing the truth expressed by a trademark is a major coup by the General Conference. This combination of Church and State has been a detriment to church growth in western countries that protect the SDA trademark, The Chinese are not interested in allowing its citizens to be part of what is effectively a multi-level ponzi scheme. This prevents the money from Chinese Adventists from flowing to a business based in Washington. In the United States, the local church is the “downline” loser in this massive MLM scam.

The Baptist Church is most vibrant and strong at the local level, with a very small governing body that requires very little overhead. Each local church is basically a franchise. A Southern Baptist Church can be disciplined by the governing authority and denied the right to use the name Southern Baptist. This local congregation is then free to choose to associate with another group, or choose another name all together. The ownership of the property of the local church is held by the local church.

Imagine what the Baptist Church in its many forms would be like if there was one entity that owned the name “Baptist.” Baptist is the generic root name which is further defined by various groups like Southern Baptists, Independent Baptists, Freewill Baptists and so on. The SDA Church is many churches under the umbrellas of one name. The trademark issue in the SDA Church has the effect of trying to force oil and water to mix.

There are many good reasons to continue under our current form of governance but leadership at all levels is vested in preserving the current system in its inefficient form. At the very least, overhead needs to be reduced with the elimination of conferences and reorganizing to have more unions. Local churches should be permitted to hire and fire the local pastors, determine how many they employ, and have the ability to compensate them how they choose. Churches should be free to disassociate and continue to use the name Seventh-day Adventist with a modifier such as "The Misogynist SDA Church, The Free Thinking SDA Church. I am sure better names would be used but everyone would know which name meant what and people could then vote with their feet and wallet without having to disassociate from their SDA heritage. Self-Supporting ministries have circumvented the trademark issue but are effectively a church within the church. The number of people who have left the SDA Church is staggering and if this could be stemmed by eliminating the my way or the highway mentality, the Church in the end would be stronger and more dynamic.

Even Jesus did not forbid others from preaching in his name, even though they were “not of us” But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. Mark 9:39. Seems like he is not the first leader to have his words be disregarded. Ellen White too has been disregarded and twisted to the benefit of the current regime.


As a former member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I have read with interest the various news releases regarding the upcoming Autumn Council and the various actions which center around Women’s Ordination.
I must have missed something relating to prior actions taken by the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio. It is my understanding that a secret ballot vote was taken that would have allowed for each division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to decide for themselves regarding the issue of ordaining women within their geographic territories. I understand the vote was 1381 opposed versus 977 in favor. Is this correct?
Apparently, certain organized Unions within the Seventh-day Adventist Church have elected to violate the voted action taken by the delegates at the General Conference Session in San Antonio.
Apparently there is a belief by many Seventh-day Adventists that a secret ballot vote is not binding. If an administrative official attempts to carry out the voted measure are they considered less than whole and subject to wholesale ridicule, scorn, mockery and outright contempt.
Any organization I have been affiliated with in my career has not allowed me to pick and choose those rules and regulations I would or would not enforce. It is fair to assume this is a general policy within the majority of work places?
As a former member, I continue to respect the Seventh-day Adventist Church, it’s leaders and members. It is with embarrassment when I read many of the comments describing the President of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as “this king”, “kiss the finger where the ring would be if he were not Adventist”, “how long until he starts selling indulgences”.
Regardless of whether one is or is not in agreement with Elder Wilson, is it appropriate to refer to him as TW and or Ted. Elder Wilson is an ordained minister as are many other administrative officers who are employed by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Is an ordained minister worthy of respect? Does the act of ordination set one apart from another member or person? Does the ridicule of this great church and its leadership set the stage for reconciliation in the future?


Is the language of " repent or ask forgiveness " etc actually in the GC documents? Or is that an assumption by Bonnie and readers?


It is my belief that General Conference President Elder Ted N. C. Wilson is so persuaded of the righteousness of his cause that he would rather lose millions of dollars and thousands of members each year than capitulate.

He “cannot and will not recant. Here I stand. So help me God!”

Our only hope is that those who are closest to him will help him and the church get through this in a way that ethically humiliates no one.


If BA 60 10 states:

"The world Church supports nondiscrimination in employment practices and policies and upholds the principle that both men and women, without regard to race and color, shall be given full and equal opportunity within the Church to develop the knowledge and skills needed for the building up of the Church.”

And Policy B 05 6 seems to make clear:

“Different elements of organizational authority and responsibility are distributed among the various levels of denominational organization. For example, the decision as to who may/may not be a member of a local Seventh-day Adventist Church is entrusted to the members of the local church concerned; decision as to employment of local church pastors is entrusted to the local conference/mission; decisions regarding the ordination of ministers are entrusted to the union conference/mission; and the definition of denominational beliefs is entrusted to the General Conference in session. Thus each level of organization exercises a realm of final authority and responsibility that may have implications for other levels of organization.”

How then can a Union be forced to “repent” for following official Church policy?

Also, doesn’t Fundamental Belief #14 explicitly say We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation so does that mean the GC also needs to repent or have B 05 30 applied to themselves (since they have clearly stood against a Fundamental Belief voted in a General Conference session)?

I guess I don’t understand why a “year of grace” is needed for the sin of following Policy?