I Don't Want to Live on This Planet Anymore

It looked bad the moment we finished setting up the Spectrum booth. Three General Conference Session delegates read the unity statement by our board and wanted to argue about women’s ordination. The loudest of the pastors said it was a “Roman Catholic plot” because it elevates women above God, see Mary. My counterpoint asking why there are no ordained female Catholic priests shockingly didn’t change his mind.

“I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

Only adding to the sadness, Roy Branson, founder of Spectrum passed away in the middle of the General Conference Session. One of my favorite memories of him was at the 2005 Session during Jan Paulsen’s Sabbath sermon. Barely out of college, honestly, I had tuned out. But Roy was animated, noting key phrases and good ideas. Thanks to him, ten years later I still remember the main point of that important sermon: Elder Paulsen called for Adventists to become the church of the open door. That was one of Roy’s gifts—he stayed, found hope, and shared it with others. I miss him.

“I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

For me this mix of bad and sad escalated in the angry, unfair, immoral, unbiblical outcome of last Wednesday’s vote. All I felt was: “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

In the aftermath of the vote, I noticed some Adventists threatening to leave the church.

I asked Sasha Ross, director of the Women’s Resource Center, what she thought and she said:

“Now is not the time to acquiesce on matters of conscience or to leave the Adventist Church. Change will only come from within, and walking away from the church now will dilute and weaken the message of unity in diversity where it matters most: at the local level. And, it will only prove the detractors of equality in the body of Christ right. They will not stop to ask why you left—but they will be the first to point out that you did, and use (declining) church growth in territories that advocated inclusiveness to strengthen their own position and justify the decisions taken. Rather than leaving the church, defend and protect women in ministry by helping them succeed and flourish professionally.”

I also asked Raewyn Hankins, senior pastor of the Victorville Seventh-day Adventist Church, what what she’d say to those contemplating an exit:

“We need you.  We need your passion for justice, your anger with the status quo, your tireless energy towards making the world a better place, and your openness to think in creative, new ways.  The process is painstakingly slow, but we are moving, by God's grace.  You are the church.  Please stay and continue to be part of the movement.”

Norma Osborn, former associate pastor at Sligo and Pacific Union College churches, adds:

It's tempting to want to run from The Church when we witness injustice, exclusivity, racism, sexism and so on. It's easy to justify our doing so for many reasons. Yet we must remember that we need voices of request and reason to be heard from within the church. As an Adventist pastor who is female, I need to know that the people I have ministered to and will minister to are willing to speak up and let their voices be heard, that they are willing to fight injustice, to practice inclusiveness, to model the abundant life that Jesus said he came to give each one of us."

If anyone has a reason to check out, it is Adventist women pastors. If they can remain, serving our community and continuing to fight, why can’t we?

Beyond the sadness, things are about to get very interesting in Adventism. Ted Wilson’s brand of mindless literalism and passive-aggressive autocracy appears to be wearing thin on many. Divisions and unions continue to make statements supporting women and even appear to be standing their ground on the ordinations that have already happened.

The vote represented a step forward: we gained votes. The other side lost ground. That will only continue, unless the next generations choose the sidelines.

Roy Branson would tell a story that always defined Spectrum for me. In the 1960s, while he was earning his PhD at Harvard, a group of Adventists were passing a civil rights protest. All the Adventists agreed with the protesters, but it was only those who later started Spectrum who walked across the street and joined in.

It’s hard to disbelieve what a group of believers currently believe while believing that they can believe something better. But that’s how change happens—from internal pressure. Sadly, some individuals who believe in what’s better find that internal community pressure affects them personally. Sometimes I agree with the Futurama character Professor Farnsworth after he finds that his arguments for science and evolution are rebuffed by a creationist, talking orangutan named Dr. Banjo.

"I don't want to live on this planet anymore."

Before we leave this planet, we’ve got some work to do. New generations need to educate the entire church, including North America, about postcolonialism and feminism, sustainable humanitarianism, strategic communication, and new media activism. Leaving the world of Adventism doesn’t free us of these issues. In fact, I believe that by working through the global and ideological tensions in this church of eighteen million, in a community larger than 75% of countries on earth, will ultimately contribute to bettering our whole world. 

Sasha adds:

“If you support women in ministry, stay active and become re-engaged in your church and local conference to prove it. Vote with your money and your time, not your feet. Draw closer to the Lord, and connect with young people in your sphere of influence to encourage them do the same. Thank the women who already serve, including those in ministry as well as those on the local church and school boards and working in other administrative capacities. Direct your tithe and offerings toward projects and entities that value and build on women’s leadership and equal responsibility. Model good stewardship by advocating for speakers, educational resources and outreach priorities that support the inclusion of women and minorities.”

One of the spiritually real things that happened for me during the insanity of the General Conference Session was hearing a prayer. Someone began an otherwise unremarkable invocation by quoting from the Lord’s Prayer, but they stopped after “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Or maybe I just couldn’t hear anything else. I just held on. Perhaps I had learned from Roy’s example. I found hope. I thought, what would that actually look like if we believed and acted on those words? Jesus gave his followers an eternal truth to guide us forward, even in uncertain and sad times. It's by believing and standing together that better becomes reality.

Thy will be done in this church, on this planet, as it is in heaven—where all are ordained and equal and in community.


Alexander Carpenter is a board member of Adventist Forum, which pubishes Spectrum.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6971

Thank you, Alexander! I hope people will feel the need to stay with the church and work for change from within! I can certainly understand the feelings of those who leave - who feel that their integrity demands departure from an organization that so blatantly discriminates. But I believe they can do more good staying on and working for change. We need everyone who can let God use them to bring about a new, loving and inclusive attitude in our church. I have chosen to stay in the church and work for understanding of our many LGBTI members for some 25 years now. It is a slow process, but I see some change.


To the contrary, I love this planet - its mountains and it valleys; the ocean when it’s still as glass, and when it lashes out in what looks like fury. I even like gray, rainy days when the rain washes my face - and then there’s the snow, horrible to drive in, what fun to play with. That, my friend , is the world, and I don’t want to leave it. I’m encouraged that the Bible talks about a new earth; not an eternity drifting on clouds. Even those streets of gold aren’t very impressive.

What happened in San Antonio doesn’t matter a twit. I am a woman; and I don’t feel diminished in the least. As a former teacher, I learned that the most insecure kids become bullies. Putting other kids down was the only way they could maintain a facade of importance; but they fooled only themselves. Some use physical force; others use the pulpit. I guess the latter must be popular hence the term “bully pulpit”.

Don’t fret so much about what happened. Go for a hike, or go sail a boat. Tomorrow is another day.

PS: I miss him too.


What kind of double speak is this? There are currently women Pastors doing ministry. Success for a Pastor by default is winning souls for Christ is it not? If they are called by God how could it be measured any other way? Are there people adverse to this? Of course not.

Note to the author: When you use these words to mean “displeasing to me,” you cheapen their actual meanings and impugn your own command of the language. There are plenty of words to describe your feelings without projecting unsubstantiated accusations on something inanimate, such as a vote. Here is a short list of examples:



My hope is that we “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:2-6 Amen.

Let’s stay in church to help the church reach those inside church and others outside the church so that we together, with them, may be saved. :blush:

This might have been a better way to express what I hope was some of the sentiment of this article. God bless you.

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Courage, Alex. One of the advantages of old age is that you can look back and see patterns. I had an uncle (by marriage) named Gerald Minchin. Since Roy’s death, I’ve become aware that Gerald was one of Roy’s mentors. It all makes sense now.

Gerald was an Adventist minister, a theologian, who taught at AUC and WAU and for a short time (I think after his retirement) had an appointment at the Seminary at Andrews. He was a man apparently totally at peace with himself. When he preached he sounded very “safe”—yet he was full of progressive ideas, and he had a
wonderful, disarming wit. Despite his progressive thinking, he worked for the church. He stayed.

Somewhere, perhaps in his stay in DC, he and Roy became friends; as I see it now, Roy continued his tradition. Roy had a lot of that same peaceful quality about him that I admired in Gerald. Roy saw possibilities that the rest of us didn’t—I remember when in graduate school (at Michigan, not Harvard), I sat in on some of the conversations at Harvard when he was putting the Adventist Forum together and getting initial approval by President Neal Wilson for its formation. I remember arguing the futility of getting “official” approval for the organization. But Roy saw a possibility there, and he was probably right in pursuing it.

Well, I have seen him fired up a time or two. In the late 60s and early 70s, when we were both young faculty at Andrews (long before you sat in my GE mathematics class) Roy and I were comrades in arms in the political battles surrounding the Seminary. We lost some of those battles, but I think it was a good fight. I am
gratified that you became acquainted with him. He blessed us all. He stayed.



Yea, but its is still imaginary. Give names!

Good description of how I view it as well. I’m not so tied up in this to not want to live here anymore, but I do see the way this was rigged, or at least passively destined to fail by design. And probably that it was just an expensive show all along.

Unfortunately I have come to see this on a regular basis from the church.


Being “passive-aggressive” just cannot be a “fruit” of the HS. To the contrary, it is commonly seen among personality disordered individuals in MH clinics who are experiencing problems with their interpersonal relationships.


It takes a psychiatrist to diagnose such personality disorders observed over time. You’re a great diagnostician, Elmer. Now, if only the patient was aware and sought treatment. But it’s been working for him all these years, why the need to change? Possibly learned at his father’s knee?



How about we vote in a new fundamental belief that emphasizes the tremendous contribution made by and support we as a Church have for our pastors of the Latino persuasion but just ask them to be patient as regards LO (Latino Ordination).

We should make it clear that we love our Latino brothers and that our stance has nothing to do with any Anglo post colonial hangovers but that we simply can’t find any Biblical evidence for LO.

Please let us know if you need any real examples.


I am not going to fall into your “give me names” trap. A policy that disqualifies a pastor from ordination on the bases of gender is categorically discriminatory.


Well, I do not live in your country, so I’m not in context of the “Latino persuasion” or LO. In fact I don’t know if you use it as an example or is something real. I’m Latino but I live in Mexico City.
So maybe I need some real examples.

Boy, oh boy! I’m glad your spell checker allowed you the word you were wishing. A change of one letter would have given a different valence to the whole meaning.


There are only two ways of equalizing oneself with others. Either better yourself to the level of others or cut the others to your level. The former is the ideal while the latter is the more common.


Maybe an option to deal with the aftermath of the “insanity of the General Conference Session”.

In Germany I observe an outpouring of love and support for female pastors as never before - both from church members (for one indicator see: http://www.stud.uni-leipzig.de/~fabricius/offenerbrief/ - an open letter to female pastors with an ever increasing number of signatures) as well as administration (a letter by the leadership of both North and South German Union Conference acknowledges the troubling tension between the GC vote and the vote of the delegates at local levels). In short - the awareness has grown tremendously - something you couldn’t have planned for or “produced”.


You list of words present a long list that makes it difficult to “feel” that this SA2015 was a Triumphal event for the SDA church.
I was reading them slowly to myself. And envision each one describing the outcomes of the Vote on the Division, the votes on the changes made with the wordings of the Fundamental Beliefs…28, the perceived changes in character among those who work in the offices at Silver Springs, MD, President Wilson. the First TIME EVER of a booing and jeering of a former President and Leader of the SDA church by a crowd of sitting delegates, the continuing need by 1300 out of 2300 delegates to continue to keep the majority of members, women, as second class persons in the Seventh day Adventist church.

The only hopeful events I saw were 3. President Wilson requested a clarification by the Division Presidents what “The Vote” meant to them. Three [3] have responded in an affirmative, hopeful way by saying that they would promote 100% of ALL members in their Unions under their jurisdiction to have full access, and FULL inclusion in promoting the Kingdom of God within those Union Territories.

Hope and Faith are two mental attitudes that go hand in hand.
Ellen said, When the Character of Christ is perfectly reproduced… We DID NOT see the Spirit of Christ exhibited at SA2015.
I was at Gen. Conf. in Indianapolis when the song We Have This Hope was inaugurated. Do we REALLY have “This Hope”, or is it just a cliche? We used to be advertising ourselves as “The Caring Church” on TV commercials. We do NOT do that any more. Is it because there will be too many problems if we demonstrate “Care”?

WHAT makes GOD Angry? Perhaps we need a 29th Fundamental Belief on THAT one. WHY was God angry at Israel in O.T. times? These same things make God angry in New Testament times.


What happened to your original post. It’s gone. As has mine.


Ever heard of Sandra Roberts.

I am no longer Adventist, so I don’t have a ready list of names. And I wouldn’t name them anyway, so as to avoid any inquisitorial action.

Now, if I could see that original post…