Let’s Think Strategically

Human affairs and physics ain’t the same. But with respect to the recent compliance proposal vote at Annual Council, there is a good chance that Newton’s Third Law will apply. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

I don’t know about your reading of the tea leaves (Is Postum made from leaves?), but mine says it is unlikely that the NAD and certain European divisions/unions will merely say, “Okay, we will abandon our principles,” thereby resolving all differences. The implications of the new compliance measures are so damaging to our understanding of Protestant Christian fellowship and our historical roots as a church that there will quite likely be some reactions that are more or less “equal and opposite.”

Now is the time for the formulation of strategy as to what responses will be employed. This piece is meant as a discussion generator of a variety of possible actions that could be taken by dissenting divisions/union conferences. It can also function as a totally non-scientific polling mechanism that will have no statistical validity, but may point in directions.

Here’s how it will work. Below there will be a list of possible actions by dissenting divisions/unions/conferences. After reviewing and contemplating the list, if you then click on Continue Discussion, you will find that the first set of comments will be by me. Each of my comments will simply be a repeat of one of the potential actions listed below here. I invite you to review them, and then click “Like” for any of the potential actions you think dissenting divisions/unions/conferences should pursue.

Here are the options. Please feel free to suggest others.

1. Simply comply with the new compliance process and whatever results it yields and be done with the whole thing. Stop being dissenters. Fall into line.

2. Those unions that are ordaining women stop doing so.

3. Dissenting divisions/unions/churches withdraw from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and form a new denomination.

4. Reduce the percentage of tithe the North American Division sends to the GC from the current 6% to 2% to adjust the NAD’s tithe contribution to the same level as other divisions.

5. Dissenting unions/conferences immediately take action to begin ordaining women in their territory if they are not already doing so.

6. Dissenting divisions/unions refuse to engage in any way with the GC compliance committees and processes. Just say no.

7. Dissenting divisions/unions/conferences/institutions set an example to the world of greater transparency and accountability based on enhanced constituency functionality. Create constituency processes to create greater accountability for compliance with Church Core Policies. Each constituency will have a lay-led audit committee (expert audit committees are considered governance best practice) that will interact with General Conference Auditing Services to understand financial and policy issues, and then report to and make recommendations to all constituents. This places accountability and compliance where the authority for electing officers resides, not in the bureaucracy.

8. Utilize external experts (such as Miroslav Volf, Yale Center for Faith & Culture, Yale University) to guide an objective, structured, world-wide reconciliation process (similar to processes used in Rwanda after the massacres) to bring about greater global understanding of differences and how to acknowledge those differences while working together in mission.

9. Dissenting divisions/unions engage in an aggressive communications initiative to tell the story of why they have taken the positions they have, and why they propose moving in the directions they take.

10. Comply with the new compliance process under protest and work for change.

I invite you to discuss the upsides and downsides of the options. I invite you to propose additional options for the dissenting divisions/unions/conferences. I invite you to think and speak strategically, and not engage in venting. I invite you to be thoughtful and wise about your voting choices.

This is an opportunity for those of us who don’t have seats at the organizational table to have a voice to express our views about next steps.

Edward Reifsnyder is a healthcare consultant. He and his wife Janelle live in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Image credit: Pexels.com

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9155
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Option #1: Simply comply with the new compliance process and whatever results it yields and be done with the whole thing. Stop being dissenters. Fall into line.

Option #2: Those unions that are ordaining women stop doing so.

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Option #3: Dissenting divisions/unions/churches withdraw from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and form a new denomination.

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Option #4: Reduce the percentage of tithe the North American Division sends to the GC from the current 6% to 2% to adjust the NAD’s tithe contribution to the same level as other divisions.

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Option #5: Dissenting unions/conferences immediately take action to begin ordaining women in their territory if they are not already doing so.

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Option# 6: Dissenting divisions/unions refuse to engage in any way with the GC compliance committees and processes. “Just say no.”

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Option #7: Dissenting divisions/unions/conferences/institutions set an example to the world of greater transparency and accountability based on enhanced constituency functionality. Create constituency processes to create greater accountability for compliance with Church Core Policies. Each constituency will have a lay-led audit committee (expert audit committees are considered governance best practice) that will interact with General Conference Auditing Services to understand financial and policy issues, and then report to and make recommendations to all constituents. This places accountability and compliance where the authority for electing officers resides, not in the bureaucracy.

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Option #8: Utilize external experts (such as Miroslav Volf, Yale Center for Faith & Culture, Yale University)to guide an objective, structured, world-wide reconciliation process (similar to processes used in Rwanda after the massacres) to bring about greater global understanding of differences and how to acknowledge those differences while working together in mission.

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Option #9: Dissenting divisions/unions engage in an aggressive communications initiative to tell the story of why they have taken the positions they have, and why they propose moving in the directions they take.

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Option #10: Comply with the new compliance process under protest and work for change.

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How do you propose for this to happen? I am having a slight issue with the word “aggressive”, but you are right, an intentional and urgent discussion with the constituency needs to have a high priority at this time.

Maybe my personal angst against the word “aggressive” is because it sounds too overbearing and forceful. I do understand that is not your intention in this context.

Good comment. “Proactive” would have been a better word.

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i think a smarter strategy would be to reduce what NAD sends to the GC from 6% to 4%…this will be using our strength to make a point, while maintaining it…if we reduce what we give to the world church to what others are giving, we’ll be just another player, and we’ll be taken for granted even more than we are now…

NAD is the originator of adventism…we should always maintain our inherited leadership position through giving at least twice what others give, among other measures…

i think we should do what we would have done without san antonio and battle creek…any escalation of ordained women pastors wouldn’t be constructive…it would come across as unnecessarily provocative, and as if we’re using women, instead of recognizing them…

I like this option, so long as there is a super-majority vote in favor of ordaining women. Unions should not make the same mistake the GC has made by relying on a close vote in the making of church policy. Such a foolish governance practice only fosters division. What is impressive about the unions that are ordaining women is that there is a strong consensus of the constituents in those unions to do so.

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i think this is something that should be explored more…perhaps we could interact directly with the global south more than we are by extending paid invitations to their leadership to speak in our prominent churches, and offering more direct help to their basic and not so basic needs…we could host summits on shared interests, to which they can receive all-expense paid invitations to attend and participate…i just think we need to do more together, and outside of annual council, or anything that ends up being about an us vs. them vote…

I am not sure what you are saying @vandieman. I didn’t read Option #5 as meaning for that the Unions run out to the “highways and hedges” compelling any woman to come quick and get ordained.

I read it Option #5 as… any Union that 1. Has been considering women’s ordination to be an appropriate decision, as indicated by their constituency, and 2. Has an appropriate candidate, as indicated by their current protocols for ordination candidacy should proceed as they would with any ordination candidate, male or female.

I direct this comment to Dr. Ron Smith, as well. My current conference is part of the Southern Union. I know that the Southern Union has many ordination candidates that are female. I recommend that there is no delay in following ordination procedures regardless of gender. If the Southern Union follows through with this, @vandieman, there would be a significant rise of ordained women ministers in the territory. Some would call it an escalation.

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Should this include the “Extraordinary Tithe” that the GC wrote a variance on so it bypass the Oregon Conference? If so, I think the NAD has “paid up” for years to come.

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There is another possibility, Ordain women of competence. Invite the compliance committee in with grace. Accept the label with charm and demonstrate a badge of courage under Fire. Walking in harms way will kill any further aggression from ego centric, eccentric self aggrandizing popish designer. ‘Don’t be pushed round. Just take bow with the back side to the Chair. the cheers will drown out any objection from the chair, if he is still there.

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