General Conference Working Policy: The Challenge of Enforcement and the Opportunity for Development

“…policy never matters until it matters, and then it matters a lot.”1


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

A thoughtful article characterized by both depth and breadth, in terms of analysis and synthesis. The author’s practical and theoretical knowledge of church administration is clearly evident and cannot rightly be dismissed.
It would be time well spent for ALL members of the up-coming 2017 GC Annual Council to read and understand (prior to their meetings) the information provided, and ideas canvassed in this instructive article. Hopefully, through the Holy Spirit, it will result in a lot of soul searching and lead to some positive outcomes.


Yes! “Will Annual Council Refine Its Credentialing Policies?” It is do-able to make amendments, deletions and new provisions in policy so as to create a more inclusive set of Credentialing Policies. It is really a matter of will.

May I assure you that the GC operatives do take good note of this website. About 4 years ago one GC operative encouraged me to keep contributing here. He was very anxious to say this to me.

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~ “The question has been under consideration for more than a century.2 In recent decades, several commissions have studied the matter of ministerial ordination. Reports and recommendations have been made to General Conference Sessions. Those Sessions have not embraced the idea of ministerial ordination being available to females, even if they have qualifications like those required of males. These decisions have not settled the matter. Instead they may have amplified it. A rather strong polarity of views persists.” ~

policy (n.1) “way of management,” late 14c. . . . ~ ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY

My wife is a fan of Charles Dickens’ work, Little Dorrit.
While I have been ‘on the road’, working, she has found an audio book of that work to keep her company. She recently emailed me chapter 10, The Circumlocution Office. I will let ‘pastor’ Dickens speak 3 paragraphs from the past, from just a few years before the SDA church was ‘organized to beat the devil’ :

“The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office."

“This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving — HOW NOT TO DO IT.”

"Through this delicate perception, through the tact with which it invariably seized it, and through the genius with which it always acted on it, the Circumlocution Office had risen to overtop all the public departments; and the public condition had risen to be — what it was.”

Now I get to the point:

The very name of the Seventh-day Adventist juggernaut which the GC claims to ‘manage’ recognizes the (second) ‘advent’ of Jesus, here at Earth. Roughly 2,000 years ago Jesus said – 3 times – regarding that 2nd Advent:

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Revelation 3:11 KJV

“Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
Revelation 22:7 KJV

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be.”
Revelation 22:12 KJV

The Greek word translated ‘quickly’ in Revelation – tachy – is also the root of ‘_tach_ometer’ – a revolutions-per-minute gauge. No 1970s-era ‘muscle car’ would have been caught at the drag races without one.

Jesus wants to act. His church wants to dawdle. Shame on His church.

Jesus is the ‘head’ of His church, NOT the ‘dawdlers’ who have usurped His place in the hearts of the people. Paul says the same to the church at Laodicea and Colossae (Col 4:16) :

“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Laodiceans 1:18

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Laodiceans 2:8-10

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Laodiceans 2:16-17

When Christ’s ‘Judas’ church stops trying to out-manage the ‘Head’ – Christ – just as Judas did, then He (Christ) can act at least as quickly as He told the first Judas to act, just after He fed Judas a piece of bread :

“Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly.” John 13:27 NKJV . . . again, ‘quickly’ from a form of ‘tachy’.

So, would-be ‘managers’ of ‘Christ’s church’, get on with it . . . betray Jesus, openly and quickly. Stop thinking that you are fooling us fools in the pews who are already over-managed for the other 6 days of the week by other Judas-tyrants in the economic realm. We workers know our jobs, and how to do them, but ‘managers’ can’t resist ‘managing’, since they’ve nothing else to do within their ‘job description’.

But, in Christ’s church the position of ‘Head’, or ‘Manager’ has already been filled, by ‘one of us’ – Immanuel – so who do all of the other church ‘leaders’ think they are, and what do they think they can do, more than Jesus has already done?
Will they be crucified, too ?
Or, will they go out and hang themselves ?

SDA ‘hierarchy’ :
If you can’t lead, and won’t follow, then at least get out of Christ’s way so He can get to work and come again, ‘quickly’ . . . PLEASE !

Enough circumlocution ! If you don’t stop trying to out-manage Christ in His own church, then increasingly you will be burdened with the responsibility – and the blame – for all of the rest of the suffering world’s woes.


I’ve always assumed the GC leadership would view Spectrum similar to the way “true” conservatives view anything other than Fox News: fake news unworthy of watching. It’s certainly refreshing to see Lowell Cooper, a former GC vice-president, contribute this thoughtful tome. Can someone please share: do Ted Wilson and others ever tune in to this blog?


The success of a church enterprise is strongly linked to how the management perceives the goals to be achieved and the ways devised to achieve those goals. There are two different but interrelated concepts of strategy and policy that are very confusing for outsiders of our Adventist church organization. There are many who feel that there are enough similarities and overlapping to use these words interchangeably
This practice can lead to more divisiveness and block progress to church unity.

This is the heart of the issue: what exactly are we trying to achieve to reach our goal of gender equality and equal respect for the men and women of our church? Strategy and policy are two different concepts and we have to identify and understand the difference between strategy and policy.
The strategy of a church is reflective of the thinking of those at the top of its management and the actions that the management plans to take. A policy lies at the core of all decisions taken by the management of a church. It serves as a guide while taking decisions though the policy is not a statement that is written in concrete. Policy statements are like a guidebook that helps management to take important decisions and clears all doubts as to the direction a church should take. If a church has a strategy which includes gender equality then it should establish policies in concert with that strategy. If a church has made it a policy to ordain women as ministers, then it sticks to its decision and becomes known and identified for its policy. It is not just a church where policies are required; even governments have well defined policies such as foreign policy, investment policy, defense policy, and so on.

Thank you for pointing the way forward. May it be heeded!

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After SA2015 and the Big Threat of “DIE-R CONSEQUENCES” by President Wilson and his Cabinet Vote, it is going TO BE VERY DIFFICULT for ANYONE connected with the Silver Springs VOTE to Apologize, to say, WE MADE A MISTAKE.
And be willing to backtrack, to make Changes in present policies so that they are GENDER INCLUSIVE in Application – Men AND Women, Boys AND Girls allowed to have ALL the Jobs in the SDA Church, with NO RESERVATION.
I DO NOT envision ANY GROUP, as a GROUP, apologize to the World Church for the type of behavior exhibited since SA2015.
TOO MUCH SHAME for past Committee Actions is involved if they would do that.
Their EGO’s, SUPER-SIZE EGO’s are TOO BIG to allow it.

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this is simply an outstanding article, one that i would think would be of great relevance to the attendees at fall council…but given that it was known that it would be presented at the Unity Conference in london earlier this year, why weren’t members of GC EXCOM, and all attendees of fall council, encouraged to attend…my understanding is they were discouraged from doing so ( )…was it because the london conference was organized by so-called non-compliant unions without input from the GC, and therefore viewed as insubordinate…if so, it doesn’t bode well for responsive policy development at fall council, which is part of what this article stresses and develops so well…

it may be worth pointing out that millions upon millions of church members around the world, both pro and anti-WO, are paying a systematic tithe into the coffers of the church that in some cases represents a sacrifice…all deserve a responsive, representative leadership and the development of responsive, representative policies…the last thing we need is a trump-style leadership where the needs and concerns of only a certain segment are considered…

it is true that in terms of our own personal christian experience, it is vital to resolutely shut out what we know threatens and antagonizes our weak points, which we generally know all too well, and exercise rigorous discipline to keep our eyes focused on what we can feel god is calling us towards…but when we are assembled together in church capacity, where many varied minds and experiences are represented, we cannot use this exclusionary yardstick…what is needed is a broad input, and the freedom for all to exercise their discernment, honed through the peculiarities of their own experience, if meaningful collective value from that input is to be distilled…only then can it be said that the full spectrum of spiritual gifts in the church are being utilized for the advancement of the church…none of us have a full set of spiritual gifts…none of us are complete on our own…all of us lack something that someone else is likely to have…of great significance in this connection is the fact that god doesn’t use for a particular task someone who lacks the set of genetic gifts needed for that particular task…if we therefore muzzle someone else’s gift because we sense its expression conflicts with what we ourselves think and believe, we may very well be limiting what god can do for our collective good…we are virtually saying to god that he is allowed to work only in a way that conforms to our own expectations, which is manifestly not how divinity has worked at any time in the past…

i do think the mistake many of us made, heading into san antonio, was assuming that a strong case, intelligently made, would eventually cause the other side to accede to our view…even leading up to the vote on the floor of san antonio, it is evident that many delegates had designed to take to the microphone and articulate that one argument, that one consideration, that would force the other side to yield…but of course nothing of the kind happened…endless remonstrations and intense, heated exchanges only solidified pre-existing convictions in the case of the vast majority…there were two irreducible views on WO from the beginning to the end, with one or two straggling variations, produced mainly by those wishing to appear original, or possibly diplomatic…

in retrospect, what i think should have been focused on more is what inspiration says of two opposing policies existing side by side in a unified church…the question posed to the delegates should have involved an assessment of the council of jerusalem and the question of circumcision, outlined in Acts 15 and Galatians 2 and discussed in depth in AA:188-200, which they should have been instructed to study before the vote…this would have lifted the vote from a consideration of whether WO is right or wrong to whether we were ready to follow in the apostolic church’s footsteps…the idea of consolidating our remnant status through a vote that echoed the two-policy achievement of the apostolic church would no doubt have appealed to many of our delegates…everyone would have been thinking of the church, rather than his or her own feelings…no-one would have had to give up any convictions on WO, or even think about them…

but tragically, this is not what unfolded, at all…the fact of this very sad matter, as has been said many times, is that the fateful vote of july 8, 2015 in san antonio ended up being exactly what the bible and egw don’t call for, which is a one-policy solution where there exist two strongly held convictions…this massive mistake in our recent history must be analyzed at some point…answers to how our church could be so wrong at such a fraught moment must be forthcoming if any value is to be gained from san antonio…i can only hope and pray that someone in fall council can bring it to the attention of the floor that accepting and enforcing a vote that is out of harmony with inspiration cannot be in our interests…surely there must be one perceptive soul who can see that the only way forward is to declare the san antonio vote a mistake, and adopt a mechanism to expunge it from our policy platform on the basis of incompatibility with scripture…no-one is saying that annual council should overturn or change a GC vote…but surely there must be a way to postpone its influence until 2020, when fresh delegates can vote to follow the example of the apostles, and usher in a more hopeful era for our church…