German Unions Respond to Procedures for Reconciliation Document

This week, the North German Union Conference and the South German Union Conference released a joint statement regarding the Procedures for Reconciliation Document that was discussed at Annual Council.

An English translation of the document, courtesy of Adventist Today and Alvin Masarira follows:

Position on Agenda Item 120 of General Conference Annual Council 2017:

Procedures for Reconciliation and Adherence in Church Governance Phase II

The Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee took place from October 4 to 11, 2017. This is the highest decision making body of the world church between the General Conference Sessions which take place every 5 years.

The Executive Committee is made up of General Conference leaders, Division officers, all Union Conference Presidents and representatives of church pastors and lay people, based on a specific formula. In total there are about 340 members who have voice and vote.

The General Conference leadership placed the following document to the Executive Committee for a vote: 116-17G PROCEDURES FOR RECONCILIATION AND ADHERENCE IN CHURCH GOVERNANCE: PHASE II

The essence of the document was an administrative process for the world church leadership to ensure that Union Conferences operate in conformity with the world church leadership. That required that Union Conference presidents sign a document to commit themselves to work against any activities or initiatives in their territory that could negatively affect the unity of the church.

The “offences” or actions which could be considered as non-compliance were put into three categories. These would be non-compliance with respect to:

1. The 28 Fundamental Beliefs.

2. Voted actions of the General Conference in session. Voted policies and actions of the General Conference Executive Committee that are designed for global implementation through divisions, unions, conferences, and missions, which, if not implemented, would adversely impact Church unity.

3. Policies, initiatives, and practices that are local in nature, and not in violation of actions voted in General Conference Session or voted by the General Conference Executive Committee and would not impact Church unity.

Presidents who refuse (either not willing or not in a position) to sign this document would lose their right to speak and vote in the General Conference Executive Committee as well as the possibility of participating in the Executive Committee subcommittees.

The Executive Committee voted with a large majority that this document be sent back to the “Unity in Mission Oversight Committee” so that the critical issues and concerns be further dealt with and the document be brought back to the General Conference Executive Committee in 2018.

Comments from NGU and SGU

Our position to this document was already expressed in the open discussions of the General Conference Executive Committee. The following presents the essence of this position.

Questions on Process

1. The document is controversial because it seeks to legitimise a significant restriction of the duties and rights of Union Conference Presidents (Ex Officio members of the Executive Committee). It is unacceptable that such an important document of 14 pages in the English language is simply placed in front of the Executive Committee during the meeting and read out loud from the podium. There was therefore no opportunity for an adequate and proper preparation, engagement, and discussion.

2. Although the members of the “Unity in Mission Oversight Committee” are known, it has not been clarified who the real authors of this document are. This question was raised during the Executive Committee meeting, but the General Conference President Ted Wilson could not give a definite answer. We consider this to be a non-transparent process which does not contribute to an atmosphere of trust.

Questions on Content

1. Every organisation requires rules and policies to operate and the compliance with these rules ensures organisational unity. Our church has Working Policy (WP B95) that defines how we engage with critical actions and initiatives. The initiatives for such actions should come from the next higher organisation and in the case of Union Conferences, this would be the Division Executive Committee. It would be appropriate that this be done first before the matter is brought to the General Conference Executive Committee

2. Of greater importance is the fact that the church thrives on the spirit of mutual trust and partnership. Where there are differences in opinions, punitive administrative procedures should be applied as last resort. We however are observing a tendency at the General Conference to resolve conflicts using punitive demands and procedures.

3. In order to create a narrow and ill-defined understanding of unity, there is a restriction on diversity as well as on the freedom of conscience. We are opposed to such a process.

4. The document does not provide clear criteria to prove how church unity is threatened. We see the danger of arbitrariness since the criteria for assessing the dangers to unity are subjective and unclear.

5. As Presidents of Union Conferences, we are Ex officio members of the General Conference Executive Committee. We have serious concerns about any possible removal of our right to speak and vote and we will request our legal advisors to look into this matter.

In general, we view this document as an attempt to centralize the role of leadership in the world church and it makes no meaningful contribution towards a relationship of cooperation with the General Conference that is defined through mutual trust.

We believe there is need for a more open atmosphere in order to have free dialogue on these issues.

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The original statement in German is included below:

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8342
3 Likes

This whole “reconciliation document “ was really a cheap shabby attempt to prevent women’s ordination by our church hierarchy who are mired in miserable, malignant misogyny.

Why does TW find authoritative women so threatening ?
Was his mother too firm with him?

The splendid Germans with their ultimate female power player, iconic leader Angela Merkel, clearly do not find authoritative women threatening. So admirably, they do not find Adventist women pastors threatening!

What is most baffling, befuddling and bewildering, is that TW prolifically promotes the ultimate ADVENTIST AUTHORITATIVE FEMALE POWER PLAYER, our church prophet, while he consistently curbs the aspirations and abilities of all other Adventist women !

GO FIGURE !!

18 Likes

leave it to the germans to launch what is no doubt the opening salvo in the battle for authority in our church…some people believe the main objection of the catholic church to lutheranism was its clear challenge to its political power…

also, billionaire tom steyer has just lauched a 10M attempt to impeach trump, and antifa is planning major protests against the trump-pence administration, beginning november…and this is in addition to open rebukes by republican senators and a former republican president…

clearly, the world just isn’t into top-down, arbitrary authority anymore…i think this indicates that effective leadership in the future is going to have to be transparent and collaborative…

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I like the first part of your comment Jeremy, but please don’t compare us to antifa. These are criminals,.

9 Likes

A chairman must have full command of information in an important meeting such as the AC2017 and this raises medical concerns. A number of differential diagnoses should be considered including dementia, delirium, substance abuse, medical conditions, none of which would hold sway given TW’s remarkable adept behavior during the meeting. However there is one viable alternative commonly known as “Selective Amnesia” which is believed to have emotional rather than temporal causes and is generally convenient or offers some benefit for the sufferer. But I don’t see what benefit TW would gain from having selective amnesia during the AC2017 meeting, particularly in the discussion of the “all-important 14-page secret document.” Does anyone?

12 Likes

Perhaps there is a place for this type of forensic analysis! Competant authorities, and particularly Union Conferences must decide on this issue!!

Yet I cannot help but feel that more effort should be put into moving Adventist thought and policy forward as we embrace a new collegiality of all believers.

It takes brave individuals to make the forensic analysis here. But still braver wisdom to energise a united front of Adventist leadership to work on policy development and its foundational principles.

Let’s look above and beyond!!

2 Likes

The tendency of compulsive and punitive unity is to destroy the true and genuine unity based on Christian understanding, respect, cooperation and love.

Women’s ordination, the veiled objective of this move, is based on policy instead of biblical doctrine, and should correspond to the local need of each Division.

The church has invested too much time and millions of sacred funds with the purpose of achieving a fictional unity on an issue that is not prohibited in Scripture.

All this desperate effort at imposing the particular will of some on the entire world should have been directed at something of more doctrinal foundational value like doing away with abortion at our own medical institutions.

We seem to be majoring on minors and minoring on majors.

8 Likes

I have no problem figuring out why TW is as dogmatic as he is. He has inherited his father’s genes [Neal Wilson]. Neal was the same way – e.g., Glacier View; the merikay trial, in which he declared under oath that his position in the Adventist church was like that of the pope’s in the Catholic church; his attempt to destroy the West Virginia Conference; etc. on and on, ad infinitum.

12 Likes

The Emperor (Ted Wilson) is wearing no clothes and the Germans are seeing this clearly. I can only hope and pray that the Emperor’s pride (or pious dogmatism/heretical bent towards “Perfectionism”) isn’t too great that he cannot admit this. Adventism deserves much better.

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I have also just realized that it was unfair for conferences which have English as a second language to be given a document and be expected to vote on it immediately.

Another question that needs clarity is what is unity in diversity?

9 Likes

Happily, the document containing this arrogant demand/punishment was not signed !
The leading people who were confronted with it were rightly suspicious.
It echoes power struggles among individuals all throughout history that should be remembered for what they may teach us still.

I vaguely remember a historian commenting on the crowning of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III. It was suggested that Pope Leo was eager to be involved in the coronation in order to place himself in a higher position of authority – over Charles – than if Charles the Great had simply taken the crown for himself. The idea being that they who crown a king are effectively ‘above’ that king.

So, it is wisest not to let the General Conference ‘fall’ (as Lucifer and the papacy have), through raising itself to a position above those ‘divisions’ who constitute it – without whom it would not exist – and by honoring its demand for ‘allegiance’ from its representative leaders in order for those leaders to be ‘crowned’ with any position, respect, or voice at all. Such ‘crowns’ do not belong to the GC, therefore they have none, either to give, or to take away.

Should such an ‘oath of loyalty’ be demanded of the General Conference ‘World Church’ leader(s) by the ‘division’ or ‘union’ or ‘conference’ leaders – or little old me – instead, would the GC president consent to deriving his ‘authority’, his ‘position’, his ‘voice’, from such ‘members’ of the ‘body’ ?

If so, then the ‘body’ would be competing with – and possibly replacing – Christ as ‘Head’ of Christ’s ‘Christian’ church on Earth . . . if the ‘president’ were to obey such mere men.

How much greater, then, is the danger of replacing Christ with another competing ‘head’ ?

No, the GC is no more the ‘head’ of Christ’s church than the smallest, ‘little toe’ conference is.
What ‘loyalty’, what ‘fidelity’, what ‘faith’ has it earned more than God – ‘in Christ’ – has ?

Human fallibility deserves no loyalty.
Human fallibility multiplied – in ‘General Conference’ – deserves even less.
Christ is the only human who has not fallen,
and He demands no hypocritical oath, but, instead, He draws the affections and empathy of ‘all’ to Himself.

Now, a ‘General Conference’ of ‘all’ who are ‘drawn’ to such a ‘Lamb’, and as a result of that attraction, reflect His character . . . that is the ‘church’ that can truly ‘bind’ and ‘loose’ on Earth, just who and what Christ – now, in Heaven – does.

4 Likes

and someone paying for dirt dug up isn’t? just saying

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I am not surprised that in church affairs and in the world political realm (Ms. Merkel) my German friends are demonstrating maturity, poise and wisdom. For a number of years around the area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania I was blessed to have a number of good friends who came from Germany. Looking back over several years of teaching and administration I remember that my German colleagues played by the rules. They were efficient and hardworking. The solutions they offered to problems were practical and simple. They always seemed to want to find the best way to solve the smallest problems and not give up without a solution. One trait that I have observed and remember in interactions with my German friends is their sense of responsibility and desire to follow procedures and policies carefully. The reaction to this 14 page General Conference proposal by the German delegates is not surprising as anyone in a position of responsibility I believe would react the same way. The fact that the German leaders wrote it up and explained their problems with the document in detail is impressive to me. It is very much in keeping with their “style”. Perhaps we need to borrow a German phrase, when there is so much hesitation, trepidation and spineless rhetoric about gender equality in our church:
In German: Klappe zu, Affe tot. What it means: Let’s put an end to this.

3 Likes

That there would exist any “secret documents” is very papal-like behavior. We should be honest to ourselves of how Catholic of protestants we’re becoming.

1 Like

Very interesting to read, can you help us for any documentation or source for this? Thanks

Actually, in the Merikay Silver trial, Wilson lied under oath. He did not, however, testify under oath that his position in the church was like that of the pope. His testimony, such as it was, would have left any reasonable person with that impression but he did not come right out and say it. Merikay, herself, certainly noticed the implications.

You can read the Story of the egregious sex discrimination once practiced within the denomination and of the court case, Silver vs. Pacific Press Publishing Association, here: Betrayal

It can also be purchased online if you do a search. Bear in mind that the book was written from Merikay Silver’s personal point of view, but that should not lessen the truth of the egregious actions of the denomination and the various entities within the church in regard to gender discrimination in the workplace.

Let’s look again at those 28 basics.
#14 …in Christ we are a new creation; distinction of race, culture, learning and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ…we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation…and reach out in one witness to all.
#17 God bestows upon ALL MEMBERS…spiritual gifts that each member is to employ in loving ministry for the common good. Given by the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions.
The paragraph then goes on to list gifts the church recognizes.
Then it boldly declares "SOME MEMBERS are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church…"
Now if that’s not two-timing and self-interpreting to suit what man wants, I don’t know how else you could explain it. To say that God bestows on all members…then insert a definition later as ‘some members’.
God bless our German-speaking church family and their leadership team who have boldly declared for all members, gifted by the Holy Spirit.

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It is disturbing to me that some of our leaders are now prepared to seek “legal” advice to address matters that pertain strictly to the kingdom of God on earth. I am so glad that regardless of our actions, God’s church will be triumphant.