North American Division President Dan Jackson Responds to GC "Unity In Mission" Statement

My dear friends, I greet you in the name of Jesus — our Lord — the Author and the Finisher of our faith!

Recently my wife and I had a group of friends over for Sabbath lunch. As 5-year-old Hailey entered our home, looking shy and a little afraid, her eyes surveyed the lay of the land. So I asked her, “Is there anything that you would like?”

Her response: “I’d like to see the basement.”

I said, “OK, let’s go there right now.” So down the stairs we went.

When we got there, the same process was repeated. “Is there anything that you would like?” “Yes, I would like to see the toys!”

You can be assured that we searched until we found toys for that precious little girl. Once she had them, she was happy for the rest of the afternoon. She knew exactly what she wanted and she went after it!

This has been a very challenging time in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the North American Division. Actions taken at the Annual Council last week have created a good deal of disappointment, confusion, disillusionment, and even anger — and for some, relief. Amidst this, we need to keep our focus — just like little Hailey.

Allow me to share briefly, from my viewpoint, some things that the document does not and does say to us — and then give some reactions.

First, the vote taken this last week does not alter the status of the unions, the North American Division, its officers, employees or its male or female pastors. Nor does not change the missional direction — the trajectory of our division. I want to quote the words of the General Conference president who, after the 2015 discussion in San Antonio, stated unequivocally: “Nothing has changed.” He stated this with specific reference to women serving as commissioned ministers. Nothing that was voted on Tuesday altered that statement.

So what does the vote say? It outlines the first steps in a process of how the GC expects all world regions to deal with non-compliance as it relates to a) doctrinal/theological matters; b) voted actions of the General Conference in session; and c) policy violations.<

Though these first steps of the process espouse a seemingly gentle and collaborative tone, many of the 50 people who rose to address the three-page document, including the dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, expressed their disagreement with the lumping together of doctrine and policy non-compliance. On this point, all of your NAD officers and all nine NAD union presidents are in strong solidarity. This same concern has been reiterated in most of the feedback that I’ve received from people in our division, including conference presidents, pastors, chaplains, educators, students, medical institution leaders, and church members.

The first steps of the voted document also identify that the next higher organization (i.e. the division) is expected to engage with non-compliant entities. The administrators of the NAD have committed to engage in open dialogue, listening, Scripture study, and prayer — and not to demonstrate a coercive spirit.

Our division continues to make this a matter of prayer, but not pre-occupation.

Friends, now let me tell you, my greatest concern today is the reaction to this document in our church. Reports are coming from many sources of the disillusionment of some young and some not-so-young members. Decisions (by some) are being made to leave this church. Our earlier foreboding and pleas about it have not cushioned the pain of hearing from each heartbroken parent and friend. I can’t speculate about the numbers, but judging by the reaction of Jesus to just one lost sheep, this tragedy must be a call to action.

So I want to address you, those who are discouraged and may have given up on our church. I wish I could look into your eyes.

I think I understand something of what makes you tick — The beat of justice resonates within you – That’s from God and your church needs it; Your passion to help the marginalized, the hungry, the endangered — That’s from God and your church needs it; Your need to be heard, understood and respected — That’s from God and your church needs you; Your need to find and fulfill your purpose for being, your destiny — Oh, that’s from God and your church so needs you to live that destiny.

Let me tell you something even more important. Jesus, our Leader, is the grandest, most noble Person to ever grace this planet. He is the Foundation, Cornerstone, and CEO of this denomination. But where we may have reduced Him to irrelevance, I ask that you please forgive us.

And may God forgive us too.

Please think this through again. Share with people near you what’s on your heart.

Whatever you do, do not leave God.

Friends, I am inspired by the White Helmets of Syria — fiercely brave, civilian Syrian volunteer rescue workers, over 3,000 in number, who, when shelling and airstrikes hit their country, run directly into harm’s way to save lives. They haven’t stopped the war, but they’ve saved about 60,000 lives [Time Magazine, “The White Helmets of Syria,” Jared Malsin/Gaziantep, Turkey, pp. 22, 23, accessed online, Oct. 17, 2016].

Friends, today the retention of our members, especially our youth and young adults, is one of our greatest challenges — even apart from this current situation. Again, consider our God’s reaction to just one lost sheep. His unending love for His children is a call to action for us today. May we see committed, brave “Adventist White Helmets” who sense the tremendous hurt some members carry around as they — disillusioned — make decisions. Listen to each other. Love each other.

Like little Hailey, let’s focus on what we want and then pursue it with intention and faith-filled energy.

God bless you each!

Dan Jackson Address NAD Church Members After GC "Unity in Mission" Vote from NAD Adventist on Vimeo.

Daniel R. Jackson is President of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists. This first appeared in the North American Division NewsPoints Bulletin for October 19, 2016.

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Beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

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I appreciate your sincere and kind spirit. I wish it was the prevailing spirit everywhere. Unfortunately, we have a lot of Haileys in our denomination who feel they are being told they cannot have access to the toys because they are girls. I’m sure you love little Hailey and can understand how unfair that would seem to her. Just as you knew and applied what would make Hailey’s experience in your home positive and affirming, we need to somehow create that same experience for all the Haileys throughout the denomination. I truly believe that can be accomplished without rancor or coercion, but none of us can do it alone. We all need to find a way to embrace diversity, especially if it does not compromise our Statement of Fundamental Beliefs to do so.

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I am greatly encouraged by the strong solidarity among the unions in the NAD. I remain distrustful of the GC leadership because of the tone and apparent intent of the so-called unity documents. The strong negative reactions by many to these proceedings was warranted and predictable. Was Elder Wilson and the members of the secretariat convinced the rebellion of certain unions on the matter of WO should be met with strong claims of centralized church authority and threats of union takeovers? Frankly, I think they violated the trust of many in the church and should admit that their methods were wrong and have been responsible for justifiable concern and much harm. Elder Jackson’s response is a good step forward. I am waiting to hear Elder Wilson’s reply. A lot hinges on how the GC treats the NAD unions and leadship at this time.

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Kudos, Dan Jackson, for standing up for what you believe is right!

Those who are leaving, younger or older, do so for many reasons. They may be tired of the church, its bickering on irrelevant issues, while the world is burning. They may be emotionally burned out by perceived condemnation and intolerance. Or they may follow their conviction that church is morally wrong in its treatment of women, and doctrinally wrong in its narrow reading of the Bible.

They must be respected, because they follow their conscience. Or because they follow their body’s signals telling them that they are getting worn out. Even if they leave the church, many do not leave God, because their spiritual life and Christian values are so important. But sadly, often the church was getting in the way of their relationship to God.

The retention of our members to Christianity should be our highest priority, be it inside our outside the church. Pray that we had a church with room for all.

Carsten

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The NAD leadership need to let the world church know why they bothered to engage in discussions regarding WO when they intended to do their own thing anyway. You make a mockery of the system set up to help us stay united as a church when you refuse to accept the decision of the world church. If you refuse to honour the decisions we made together at GC2015 and insist on having your own way then perhaps we need to part. This response from a division president is most disappointing and inflammatory. What is even more obvious now is that our paths are different and 1 year of reconciliatory talks will further deepen the bitterness. Can we please part in peace now so we all can move on? In case the NAD leadership are of the opinion that all their members are with them they are deluded. Even among those who have thus far supported WO are people who are taken aback by the rebellious spirit driving the leadership in NAD.

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“Whatever you do, do not leave God.” ~ Dan Jackson

How can I disagree with Dan Jackson’s word’s, or even his intent ?

Trouble is I never found God like I did after the first time I left the SDA church, officially. And, now that I’m back, I’m finding that it is far easier to follow Dan Jackson’s advice OUTSIDE of SDA church congregations.

So, we give money to independent ministries that our local SDA church condemns, and meet in our homes with other SDA ‘refugees’ of like minds and hearts. I once learned from a former Catholic turned (former) SDA Bible Worker that he and his wife knocked on the door of a member of a frightened Catholic group not far away from our home, who despise the ‘black masses’ and other atrocities going on in their church. They also said that the SDAs have the right Sabbath, and that they secretly observe the 7th day Sabbaths in their homes, but are too afraid to ‘come out’. . . nor should they until the local SDA church is ‘cleansed’.

This situation is pathetic.

When will Jesus ‘cleanse’ the ‘sanctuary’ in dying SDA churches like our graceless local one ? The ‘tired’, ‘crippled’ and ‘blind’ should not be expected to drive out the bullies and heal themselves. If God were in our local SDA church, we would not have to leave its presence to find Him in peace. Even Jesus ultimately abandoned the Temple in Jerusalem leaving it ‘desolate’ as ‘your house’, not Mine. Balaam recognized that he, a mere person, could not curse what God blesses. But can we bless what God cannot bless ?

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. No man can of himself cast out the evil throng that have taken possession of the heart. Only Christ can cleanse the soul temple. But He will not force an entrance. He comes not into the heart as to the temple of old; but He says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him.” Revelation 3:20. He will come, not for one day merely; for He says, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; . . . and they shall
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be My people.” “He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” 2 Corinthians 6:16; Micah 7:19. His presence will cleanse and sanctify the soul, so that it may be a holy temple unto the Lord, and “an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:21, 22. {DA 161.2}

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I appreciate the willingness of Elder Jackson to take a stand against “Authoritarianism” as expressed by the leader “severe consequences” . Authoritiariarism, the honoring of power over reason. It is not easy to speak for those who have no voice, to walk beside those who would be excluded. All through out history there have been a few willing to take this risk. My heart is touched, he will be in my prayers as will so many who have been willing to do the same. Thank you

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Male and female were equal prior to the appearance of sin in Eden. This arrangement is a description of the Kingdom of God.

“He will rule over you” is the order established by sin and maintained by coercive power.

Our prayer today is, "Thy Kingdom Come…"
Our mission today is, "Thy Kingdom Come…"
Like little Hailey, let’s focus on what we want and then pursue it with intention and faith-filled energy.
Amen

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You are confirming what those you oppose have been saying for quite some time: Our church is being split.

And the splitting is NOT the work of those who suggested that the question of WO should be answered in accordance with the needs of a certain field, but of those who insist on forcing a “one size fits all” as a sign of unity on everybody and those who de facto equate the Working Policies to the Bible.

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President Jackson,
I have visited churches on three continents this year and in all congregations,
women members predominate in the pews!

When the representation of women as church elders, church board members,
Conference Constituent delegates, and GC and Autumn Council delegates, is
INVERSELY PROPORTIONAL to their presence in the pews, no wonder there is a MASS EXODUS of our young educated professional women!

Our denomination is presided over by a MINORITY of male chauvinist elitists.

The latest actions at both San Antonio and the Autumn Council hasten my departure, as a life long eighty year old MALE Adventist, to the Methodist Church, where women pastors have been ordained since 1956.

There is no rancor, animosity, ill will nor hermeneutical disputes in the Methodist Church I will join, where the senior pastor, the conference president and the Bishop are ALL WOMEN. Love and harmony prevail and a simple vibrant Gospel Is preached without the “baggage” now contaminating Adventism.

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The Methodist church is struggling to stay afloat. It is only the overseas membership that is growing. They have 7 million here in the US, and I believer about 4 million in Africa. They just had their “General Conference” marred by near break up over homosexuality. They are definitely not the head. Here is a quote from their newspaper, Good News, about that issue from Nov, 2015:

"According to the most recent data, The United Methodist Church has lost 116,063 members – the stark equivalent to losing a 318-member local church every day of the year.

Total United Methodist membership in the United States stands at 7.2 million. There are an additional 5.2 million United Methodists outside the United States, primarily in Africa."

Adventists have about 1 million here and 18 or 19 million world wide. And we don’t count children like the Methodists do. They are the head?? Seriously???

Adopting WO will not solve any decline in membership problem in the SDA church. It hasn’t anywhere else, why should it do it for us?

I have had some pretty vocal and influential women in my churches that helped make plenty of decisions. Not only that, at least one of them, a jewel of a lady does not support WO.

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For a long time I have admired Pastor Jackson a lot, but honestly, lately I have been very disappointed with him. It seems to me that he plays for both sides. If it is just my impression, please correct me.

It is way too late now for running after the millennials, in a desperate effort to keep them in Church. Why would they stay in a Church that fights so much to perpetuate discrimination against women? Can anyone give me a reasonable reason for that? Discriminating against women, as the SDAC does, and expecting people (especially the youth) to stick with the Church, is pure utopia.

Just look at those nasty politics taking place at the time of the GC, and the AC. Look at the scandal like the TOSC. And so many other fiascos lake Cape Town, the “grave consequences” event, the SID scandal (aka PhDGate) just to mension a few.

The millennials and many people older than them are not willing to take such a big hit as continuing supporting discrimination of women. If the Church loses them it will be obvious that keeping discrimination of women in place is more important than keeping the youth in the Church. What a nice demonstration of Christian Unity, isn’t it?

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For quite a few months Allen has been bringing up the fact that several Main-Line churches are reducing in membership.
If I recall correctly, so did the SDA church when deceased and “lost” members were finally removed from the totals in some territories.
The SDA church has had, continues to have, members who decide to no longer be members. I know of several here in Macon, Ga.
The Question I have is this? Are these former members just staying home? OR, have they been attending some OTHER Christian group instead?
The ones I know have NOT given up God. They are just celebrating with God in another Christian group. Actually, this one family I know, went on a Baptist Mission trip to India for a couple of months.
Diana Butler Bass, a researcher and writer of Christianity activities, says that persons “leaving church” are not really leaving. They are finding MORE HEALTHY Congregations in their Christian Walk.
I believe this is what the persons I know attempted to do when they joined up with this particular Baptist Congregation. Actually, I have been a visitor there quite a number of times. The pastor of now 25 years TEACHES every Sunday. Not preaching. In the bulletin is a “sermon notes” with fill in the blanks. And do so as he goes along in “the class” [of 3000 to 4000 every sunday] for 30 minutes.
[they have 30 minutes of singing. then 30 minutes of teaching and learning. The bulletin also promotes bible reading. Each day that week is listed with a chapter to read.]
Macon, Ga is noted as the city with the MOST CHURCHES per capita. A large number of them are NOT aligned with any Denomination. But people attend. People are blessed. Many of them are quite large with solid church plants. Some with bus ministries on Wed and Sun.

Allen may try to make an issue of declining memberships. But Christianity itself is very alive and well.
It is just that Seventh day Adventist Local Churches Have Nothing To Offer Christians. They see NO NEED to change Congregations.

The NEED for President Jackson’s Leadership, is to promote a CHANGE in SDA Local Churches in North America. To facilitate Local Churches to become Vibrant with God’s Spirit. To become a place that offers Christians a reason to Leave their congregations and worship with SDAs.
Seventh day Adventist Local Churches NEED to Become Healing Churches.
Healing Body, Mind, Spirit.
Until we do, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Agnostics, Atheists will have to go elsewhere for Healing. For Healing of Body, Mind, Spirit.

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This makes no sense to me. In my opinion if Jesus were our CEO his wisdom, intelligence, and experience would not allow himself to be “reduced to irrelevance.”

How does a strong CEO chart a course that leads us into “confusion and even anger?” Either Jesus is the good CEO of the church or he isn’t. A superior CEO attempts to bring consensus and harmony though charismatic leadership. Perhaps we would like an infallible CEO because it makes us feel special. However, as I read church history God is often veiled in darkness. Believers are often left to do the best they can. We function as Job who could not figure out what God was doing.

The Christian church does not have a straightforward march to sanity or uniform values since Pentecost. The failure to have many good kings in the OT is like the 2,000 years of checked, flawed, and confusing account of Christian history.

Let’s be honest. God may be the “foundation and Cornerstone” of our church, but he is not our CEO. He has delegated this position to deeply flawed often moving in the wrong direction or motivated by pride and love of power—humanity. So it is as much as I wish it is not.

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Thank you. What Spirituality, Humility and Humanity! We are all in the gutter, Dan jackson , is telling us the miserables, we have no other medicine. But triumph of Hope: Disappointment deferred.

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I would suggest you read Acts the Apostles pages 94-98.

True, Steve. The SDA church, if the books were really cleaned up in all churches, the membership numbers would be reduced by a very large number. I know quite a few SDA’s who have moved on to other churches, or stopped attending church many years ago, and still receive mailings, and never did anything to remove their names. I think church rolls are still inflated here in NAD anyway. And we know that the churches in Western Europe aren’t growing by any appreciable amount. [quote=“niteguy2, post:20, topic:12193”]
The SDA church has had, continues to have, members who decide to no longer be members. I know of several here in Macon, Ga.The Question I have is this? Are these former members just staying home? OR, have they been attending some OTHER Christian group instead?
[/quote]

I personally know a lot of SDA’s who left and now attend other denominational or non-denominational churches. Lot’s of former Adventist, who have posted their stories on line, have done the same. I’m sure some stay home, for whatever reason…but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t Christians. They may meet with small groups, or worship by listening on line, to one or two of the many wonderful pastors/teachers out there. And I’m sure some aren’t Christians at all.[quote=“niteguy2, post:20, topic:12193”]
Allen may try to make an issue of declining memberships. But Christianity itself is very alive and well.It is just that Seventh day Adventist Local Churches Have Nothing To Offer Christians. They see NO NEED to change Congregations.
[/quote]

I agree that Christianity is alive an well. [quote=“niteguy2, post:20, topic:12193”]
To become a place that offers Christians a reason to Leave their congregations and worship with SDAs.
[/quote]

Why would Christians want, or need, to leave their churches and come to an SDA church, or join the SDA church? Why would a person leave a church that reads and studies the bible, book by book, chapter by chapter and verse by verse, understands that Christ is what the OT pointed forward to, and lives as a Christian under the New Covenant? What would the SDA church and their doctrines offer this Christian?

I know you can’t respond here, but feel free to respond in the Lounge if you would like to do so.

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Those now leaving the church–the young people especially–are casualties of GC leaders who see them as a basket of deplorables. They are viewed as chaff that need to blown away in order to purify the church. Good riddance.

May our prayers and our personal witness overcome the dereliction of duty by these leaders.

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A failure of leadership on the part of the GC President is the reason his actions are having to be explained (and puzzled over) by division presidents, union presidents, conference presidents, pastors, etc… Some of you think you understand them clearly - but then you don’t see them the same way. Ted should never, never have left this as ambiguous as it is, and left it to stew for a year. I fear this is passive aggressive manipulation on his part. And I consider that to be inappropriate for a Christian leader! Thus I have lost all confidence in Him (if I ever had any). In the mean time some people will cheer Ted on. Others will leave the church. Others will reduce, redirect, or discontinue their giving. Sad infighting and accusations using terms such as rebellion and sifting will be thrown about. This is no way for a leader to leave His organization!

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