In a document circulated to church leaders, North American Division President Dan Jackson explains the recent action taken by the NAD to allow for a "conference/mission president” to be an “ordained/commissioned minister.” This move broke through one of the glass ceilings within Seventh-day Adventist hierarchy, allowing women into higher levels of denominational leadership. The five-page paper provides significant history on the policy shift and states that:
- The North American Division has undertaken no action to alter the wording of the Model Constitution of the General Conference and will not do so at any point in the future unless permitted to do so by the General Conference.
- The discussions of the 2011 NAD Year End Meeting did not include the rejection of the authority of the General Conference, the undermining of the jurisdiction of the world body, nor an open rebellion of the North American Division against General Conference policy.
The document then explains: "However, it must be clearly understood that the vote of the 2011 Annual Council did not direct the North American Division to remove the unique wording of the NAD E-60 Policy – though the Annual Council could have done that. The vote of the Annual Council denied the request of the NAD to modify the wording of the GC Model Constitution.
After some significant history on church policy regarding this issue, Elder Jackson makes some concluding remarks:
As Chair I do not know what other way I could have lead the group. When we invite people to engage in the processes of the Church what are their ultimate rights? Do we then have the right to tell them that they can only vote if they agree with the commonly held positions? When a ‘duly constituted body’ such as the North American Division Administrative Committee takes an action on a given matter – who owns the action? In other words who is entitled to re-open the discussion, change the action or rescind the action?
The members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North American Division by-in-large are watching to see how these questions are answered. The Church in this Division is truly in need of full engagement with the mission that God has entrusted to us. If we suggest that they have no right to give direction in policy matters it is doubtful that we will engage them otherwise. Like any other Division within the world church the North American Division must be handled with care and kindness.
Lest anyone consider that the NAD is a ‘rogue’ Division or some other such designation it must be remembered that the members of the church within this Division have given of their time, talent, resources and lives to ensure the work of the church around the world. The faithfulness of the North American Division is felt every day in every division around the world.
The issue that now confronts Church Leadership and the Church both in the North American Division and around the world is ‘how do we deal with these issues’ in a Christ-like manner? Our people are observing. May God bless us with His abiding presence. May His Spirit guide all of our conversations and actions as we walk through this current circumstance.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/3646