Live from Silver Spring: Watch the "Unity in Mission" Debate and Vote

Adventist News Network will be streaming the "unity in mission" debate and vote live today at 2pm ET.

Here is the link:

The outcome of today could change the control of unions (like the Pacific Union) who have ordained women. It could move the decision-making (and institutional) power from local lay members and current administrators and replace it with direct General Conference authority.

Spectrum will be covering the discussion and vote on this page and on Twitter. Check back for updates.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Those supporting the document seem to think that submitting to the GC and its voted decision will ensure global unity. They don’t seem to understand that it will just create a veneer of uniformity, while driving the actual fragmentation that exists underground. If they want real, genuine unity, they would be willing to sit down and hammer out a plurality of practice that could be acceptable to all regions…something that the SA vote ignored and that our ignored scholars have been saying for decades!




Right Frank! And have you noticed how some seemed to understand just about nothing. One of them even complained about democratic processes. We have to follow the chief…or “the GC ist God’s highest authority on earth”. This is not the only quote from EGW about the GC. May be someone should have mentioned this.
Scholars don’t count. Authority does. Well I think that is the path to division. They wouldn’t even understand that policy and fundamental beliefs are very different…I am very sad.


I wonder how many current SDA members have been baptized into the SDA church – not necessarily into Christ – through the efforts – not merely of church-operated media, but of the ‘independent’ media of ASI members like 3ABN, Amazing Facts, Remnant Publications, etc. ?

Does it scare anyone else out there that so few SDA ‘media moguls’ may have possibly made intellectual and spiritual ‘couch potatoes’ out of a major portion of the SDA church over the last 3 decades or so ?

If I’m correct in assuming that a major portion of SDAs have willingly submitted to being entertained, if not educated, by the work of so few talented men, and their personal interpretation of ‘Truth’ – Biblical, or SOP . . . then how can I assume correctly at the same time that truly free-thinking, free-studying, and free-praying adults are now ‘running’ the SDA church God’s way, and not merely the way they have been programmed to think, study and pray by leading SDA media ‘programmers’ ?

I’d like to post a ‘morning after’ edit, if I may:

Reading through the healthy variety of comments from various angles, I’ve noticed a couple of them based on true, but incomplete understandings of SDA history. Just as one cannot fully describe a breaking wave at the beach with a mere photo snapshot, it is not possible to describe the whole ‘spectrum’ of the various angles of perspective involved in viewing the history of God dealing with His people throughout ages, cultures and locations. For instance:

Ellen White may truly have stated that, at one time, the GC represented God’s highest authority on Earth. But isn’t it true that, at another time, as she saw the GC moving away from God, she also was ‘in tune’ with her present surroundings enough to state that the GC no longer spoke for God ?

And, in this same all-observant ‘Spirit’, she was not of the fixed opinion that even a majority vote by a group of SDA leaders was guaranteed to be seen as ‘God’s leading’. In fact God led her to block one vote in the 1888-era from ever coming to a vote because she saw a ‘creed’ and the ‘papacy’ in it, as no one else did, at that time.

Elijah was no majority in the days of Ahab and Jezebel. Neither was he the ‘troubler of Israel’ for seeming so alone. And, things did change for the better.


I got up at 4am this morning (Australian time) to watch the debate of this item. There were some terrific speeches eg. Lowell Cooper, Andrea Luxton, Ian Sweeney, Brad Kemp, Jiri Moskala. The appeal came through loud and clear that this document was incomplete and needed time to mature. Many delegates referred to the absolute workload it would create if every policy non-compliance were followed through. The Norwegian Union President mentioned that the GC have ignored a potential solution of the women’s ordination issue they have proposed. It is time that church administrators listen to each other, and do not expect to sweep issues under the carpet after any kind of vote that is highly contested, whether that vote is this one or the San Antonio vote.

Lowell Cooper (Chair, LLU Board) made the important point that there needed to be talk concerning policy development not just policy compliance. Andrea Luxton, (President, Andrews University) made the point that this document was incomplete, not outlining on what principles it was based, nor proposing the real consequences of policy and other non-compliance. Ian Sweeny (British Union Conference President) made a 3 fold critique of the paper, mostly in terms of its potential impact on our people. Brad Kemp (New Zealand Pacific Union President) made a great speech in which he refered to the negative reaction of his 27 year old daughter to the document and to a church that operates this way. He stated that the document sought to engender uniformity. Jiri Moskala (Dean, SDA Seminary, Andrews University) mentioned that the attempt to deal with non-compliance with Fundamental Beliefs, church actions and policies on the same level was a flaw in the document.

Jiri Mosakala also called for a careful biblical and theological study dealing with the role of church policy in regard to fundamental beliefs and the authority and unity of the church. He stated that only in this way can we have meaningful dialogue in the process of reconciliation.

Why is it that if more than 80% of delegates that spoke in the debate, spoke against the motion it still got up 169 to 122? It seems as though many delegates totally discounted the huge reservations of their colleagues concerning this vote, or just did not allow the debate to have any influence on their vote.

This is no way to make policy. I cannot believe that our leaders are so deaf to each other?


“then how can I assume correctly at the same time that truly free-thinking, free-studying, and free-praying adults are now ‘running’ the SDA church God’s way, and not merely the way they have been programmed to think, study and pray by leading SDA media ‘programmers’ ?”

Dear Dennis, you cannot as a rational Christian NOT believe that some, to most, members have not been “programmed”. Your comment about being indoctrinated as an SDA but not as a Christian is spot-on along with your observation of where intellectually and spiritually many members may be at (coach potatoes).


“This is no way to make policy. I cannot believe that our leaders are so deaf to each other?”

I think that your question is partially answered by Dennis above (sadly enough).


June 15, 1961 — The communist leader of East Germany, Walter Ulbricht:

“Nobody has the intention to erect a wall.” August 13, 1961 the Berlin Wall was a fact.

October 11, 2016 — The Adventist leader, Ted Wilson declares: “I wish you to understand that the church is not on a witch hunt.”

Excuse me … but how does TW come to such vocabulary - if there is no intention? And it does make a lot of sense, when those who follow their conscience have been systematically demonized. First by the independents, then by insinuation in the official church document on unity.

Wilson also emphasized he doesn’t want to split the church. Excuse me … but a colleague of mine pointed out what an oxymoron this is “a vote on unity 169:122”… The split is there already.


Can I do a comparison?
2015 San Antonio ratio vote: 58.44% vs 41.35% (with 0.21% abstained),
2016 Silver Spring ratio vote: 58.08% vs 41.92%.
Under the “normal condition of temperature and pressure”, with this difference of (+)0.36% per year, it will take approximately 23 years to pass 50% in favor of WO. Just math!


Why are we talking about WO again? That had nothing at all to do with what was voted on today. It was a settled issue as of last summer. Done. Over. Voted on three times in the last several decades, all the same outcome. Perhaps you mean indirectly it may impact some conferences and unions that continue to defy the world church’s vote last summer?

There is truly a desperate need for more unity, but that unity must come with some humble submission on the part of many individuals. When submission to the GC and recognizing its authority were discussed today, they were not talking about the literal GC leaders, they were talking about votes and decisions that were made by the worldwide church while in a general conference session. Perhaps that distinction was lost on some… People are still exhibiting a rebellious spirit when continuing to hold onto and press personal issues that the church has voted on as a whole, which we must see as God’s leading.

There is much reconciliation that can occur, but if we would continue to ask for more meetings, more dialog, more revisions, this would go on ad infinitum predominantly driven by those who got up and spoke today who felt threatened by this. It would continue on and on until nothing ever happened at all, which is what many wanted.

The general language of what was passed today finally gives church leaders the early steps in addressing some of the problems facing us going forward. We have Adventist universities that teach and promote evolution and theistic evolution as correct. We have university pastors and chaplains that suggest that we are NOT the remnant church, that perhaps there is other truth out there to be discovered in other religions. We have a university pastor who has compared us (corporately as a church) to a puzzle piece. Just one piece of the greater Christian puzzle, like all the rest, and no different. We have churches in some conferences that invite in Catholic monks to hold seminars on contemplative prayer and meditation. The list goes on and on. But these are not Adventist beliefs or ideas, and they’re being taught in some of our churches and institutions. Adventists believe in a literal 7 day creation. We believe we are the remnant church with God’s last day message to the world. We do believe that we have the bible truth above all others, and were gifted with the Spirit of Prophecy to help guide us. I’m sure the fact that these practices are going on are not shocking to some readers here, and I know that everyone paying attention recognized the fact that the language in the proposal was left generalized to be able to address all of these issues going forward. Again, this was not an attack on WO!

When the conferences and unions where these ideas are being propagated do nothing to stop them, and are actually often complicit, what honestly do you expect the world church to do? Honestly? They cant just sit back and let Adventism be so grossly misrepresented to the world and have each region/conference/union doing whatever they feel is right. These practices and teachings have been festering for a long time. We are not doing anyone favors by letting these practices continue, whether they be believing church members, or those who do not believe at all but still cling. Some are getting worked up saying this will fracture the church. But if these practices are going on, isn’t it already fractured? There has to be some eventual recourse for the church to address these problems. I do not believe it will be in a harsh manner like so many fear mongerers like to suggest. I think there will much prayer, discussion, and opportunities for corrections to be made to bring about unity. The church underwent a major fracturing when I was a kid with Desmond Ford. I remember many pastors and people leaving. But, his ideas were not biblical and his theology was subtly wrong. Eventually that was corrected, but at great cost. And the church survived. And we are told in SOP it will survive to the end, so not to worry. But in the end, if you’re using the institutions and resources of the church, and acting in the name of the church, and representing it to the world, then you have to be in compliance with its biblical beliefs and doctrines. Period. There is no third way where you get to do whatever you want yet still claim to be a part of the bigger picture.

There is much room for reconciliation and unity to occur going forward, and I pray that it does happen.

1 Like

I will boldly make a prediction. This document that is supposed to be a general tool for issues of non-compliance will only be used on the ordination issue.


When and if this policy is implemented, before it can be used against those targeted unions, it should be used against the current GC officers for not complying with GC Working Policy B95.

That is, granted our current church leaders are truly honest with their intent. Why you might ask? I can’t help but draw parallels between Pastor TW standing in front of the delegates at the end of the meeting and unsolicitedly claiming “nobody wants to split the church” and little Johnny who meets his father at the door unsolicitedly claiming “I did not break your glass.” You know what I mean… It was so obvious and transparent that it was difficult to ignore the gesture particularly given his somber face and blunt affect.


Strange that I was remembering Jim Coffin from Sunnydale Academy days this morning, and then Mike Ryan, also from Sunnydale Academy days, came up on the broadcast this afternoon.

Spectrum deleted Jim Coffin post, so link above is broken. Response [here.]

Such a different trajectory their lives took. It’s hard to get all this in the same frame.

I quoted Jim:

There’s a limit to human tolerance for abuse and dissmissiveness. Most people can be treated as a non-entity for only so long before something has to give.

Policy wasn’t kind to him, and his family, it seems.

So I was watching the broadcast at Einstein’s Bagels this afternoon, surrounded by people with open Bibles, as usual, and thinking that the only other time I’d felt the way I was feeling watching GCAC16 was at the Dallas GC in 1980.

In Dallas, I felt a peculiar kind of unraveling happening so strongly that I couldn’t attend to what was being said. All I could do was gaze out across the audience and feel a kind of grief I couldn’t consciously understand.

There is a price to pay for this kind of doubletalk. It can’t go on forever. It is impure, and it is socially harmful.

Who could believe Mike when he said this wasn’t about ordination? Some had the courage to call it what it was.

Did you notice Mike used the word thump when he spoke of what would happen to the non-compliant in Phase 2?

Was I hearing him wrong, or was that a careless slip of the tongue when he said that? Anyone?

Well, it’s Yom Kippur, and afflicting our souls seems appropriate.

Edit (after Rohan’s like): New SDA Holy Office of the Inquisition?

Recent canonical judgments and publications

Doctrinal Assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious - (Re-affirmed by Francis on April 15, 2013)[13][14]

LCWR Statement from Presidency on CDF Doctrinal Assessment

April 19, 2012

[Silver Spring, Maryland] The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusion of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

We had received a letter from the CDF prefect in early March informing us that we would hear the results of the doctrinal assessment at our annual meeting; however, we were taken by surprise by the gravity of the mandate.

This is a moment of great import for religious life and the wider church. We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR National Board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response.

1 Like

The Myth of ‘God’s Highest Authority on Earth’
1.Personally, my opinion, I believe it is blasphemy to call the General Conference in session as ‘God’s Highest Authority on Earth’

2.When you know how the delegates are selected then the GC in session is reminiscent of a good old Communist Party Congress. Most delegates are church workers. They are the apparatchiks whose livelihood and perks depend on being good church workers. They basically ‘rubber stamp’ proposals. We have Paul Ratsara ignoring his own Biblical research committee, a ‘good friend’ of Ted Wilson, ‘deliver the vote’ for his division. Later we find out Ratsara was a fraud and probably a liar resigning in disgrace. And what about all the delegates out shopping when they are supposed to be doing the Lord’s business.

3.We don’t really know what women in the non-Western world think about ordination as only men speak. I think we might be surprised what women really think.

4.Ted Wilson has an agenda. He is not like a living Mormon prophet. How much he tried to influence the vote I do not know. Were backroom deals done? This is how the church operates. So don’t drag God’s name into this political skulduggery.

5.My prediction is that Ted Wilson will be remembered in history as the man that caused the Adventist Church to implode. Best wishes, Edgar


Like George Bush when he used the word ‘crusade’ after 9/11. / Ted Wilson, 2016 - Witch hunt.

In both cases truly a tragic choice of words which I believe indicates subconscious recognition of what is actually, in some peoples minds, going on.


First of all, the issue isn’t about WO wanting acceptance by the world church. It is about the local unions having the authority to manage their situation as they see fit as was decided in 1902 to avoid the consolidation of power that the GC was doing. The exact opposite of what the GC today wants to happen. Certain unions around the world ordained women because they had cause to belief such policies could be enacted by local unions and not needing a worldwide agreement or sanction from the GC. If other unions don’t feel it fits their geographic and cultural norm to do this, then they have the right to not do it.

Second, since when did this situation apply to all your ‘sins’ by our universities and conferences? I thought this was about being able to ordain women, not theistic evolution etc, etc… Your mindset tells me that the enforcement of the GC working policy is more of a foot hold to use against all these things you rail about and not so much against unions ordaining women.

It amazes me how Catholic the SDA church is becoming in its methodology and ecclesiastical practices. Your attitude is shared by many with a serious ‘purge’ mentality. The GC Working Policy and this Unity document are nothing more than a ‘papal bull’ issued by the GC


I attended this meeting as an observer and lay member of the church. I was disturbed by the fact that virtually no African or South American delegates made any attempt to speak. They sat in almost total silence as delegate after delegate from North America and Europe gave carefully reasoned, principled, and heartfelt pleas for a re-write of the document. All for naught. The “silent majority” carried the day. One cannot help but wonder how many of those who voted in support of the document really understood its implications, not only for Adventist policy but ecclesiology as well. Evidently “unity” in the Adventist church means not consensus but sheer majoritarian rule, without any need to even engage with those urging you not to rush ahead. So long as your side has the numbers, why even bother entering into discussion with them? The “debate,” it is hard not to conclude, was nothing more than a pro forma ritual. The vote was fixed before the meeting began. The result will not be greater unity but greater tension, turmoil, rancor, and confusion as church members now struggle to figure out what the document means and how to even begin to implement it. The document itself is in fact relatively benign. The great unknown is what it might now mutate into.


We saw a real parallel strategy to SA 2015 in having a GYC plant, Natasha Dysinger, come to the mic and support the motion. Things like this speak to the attempted rigging and staging of the process that goes on behind the scenes. God bless her. I’m sure she meant well. But to use young people like that as chess pieces in your political game is just plain wrong.

When Wilson goes out of his way to assure people he does not want to conduct a witch hunt or split the church, be assured that is exactly what he is prepared to do, if necessary. He “protesteth” too much.

And what’s this obsession with being “the voice of God?” Let God speak for himself or not at all.


Don’t you mean submission to the false god, the GC? The GC does not speak for God. God speaks for God. This malarkey just brings us closer to papacy. Yammering that one must kneel before the GC and its “policy” is not less than the priest yammering that one must cast away ones conscience and simply follow the instruction of Rome. Baw, baw, baw.

Not I, I shall follow Jesus who stood silent on ordination, let alone ordination of women. I shall follow Jesus and wave as y’all climb into your basket…


Tone deaf. No desire for careful Biblical and theological study. No interest in meaningful dialog. No real interest in reconciliation with the “satanic” chaff and those who “diminish” the effectiveness of the Church. It’s decided. They are sure.

Did anyone ask the youth? What are they thinking?

It was hurried through. Incomplete. Not thought through. Lacking.

But Wilson knew he had the votes. These are the usual supporters that come through for him. The vote percentage was nearly exactly that of the San Antonio vote.

That’s why TW pushed it through. It’s the beginning of headship. Here we go. Hold on. Or as @GeorgeTichy and others say, “Stay Tuned!”

< 1m phil
If Wilson and his like-minded colleagues succeed in trampling upon personal conscience, the gates of heaven will be forever closed to them. There is nothing worse than coercing someone to act contrary to personal conscience. Out of charitable benevolence to Wilson and his like-minded colleagues, the unions that are ordaining women should not flinch or waver.
Wilson’s war against women beginning with attacks of unions that ordain them, authorizing and affirming their Holy Spirit given gifts, was launched yesterday in Silver Spring.

What happens next? Perhaps some twists and turns are in the road ahead for Wilson and his cronies whom he knew would back him yesterday as he forced a vote of conscience. What’s next? Signing creeds of belief perhaps?