North American Division Votes Response to General Conference Annual Council


(Spectrumbot) #1

North American Division 2018 Year-end Meeting Response to the Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions

November 6, 2018

Affirmation

As the North American Division Executive Committee, we, along with our brothers and sisters around the world, wholeheartedly affirm a shared commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Based on the Bible and the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, this faith is expressed through the church’s worldwide mission and prophetic role in fulfilling the commission to proclaim the gospel “to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev 14:6, ESV; see also Matt 28:18-20; Rev 14:6-12).

We also affirm a shared commitment to oneness in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13, 27). As a global church family comprised of all generations, we belong to each other, care for each other, and are called to treat each other with respect and trust (John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17; 1 John 4:7-8, 11-12, 20-21; Eph 4:2, 32; Col 3:13). As Ellen G. White wrote, “There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore, God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified” (Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 137.1).

We also affirm that structure and organization bring value to advancing the mission and message of the church (1 Cor 14:40).

Our Church

When the body of Christ functions as God intended, as exemplified by the early church, it derives its authority from Christ, the head of the church, who led through service (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; 2:10). Servant leaders express and foster Christlike forbearance and humility (Matt 20:25-28; John 13:1-17; Phil 2:1-5). Such leadership creates healthy structure, which gives voice to all members of the body and respects the priesthood of all believers (Ex 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9).

The structure of the church is characterized by unity and diversity, as stated by Paul in 1 Cor 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (ESV). Such unity in the body of Christ reflects a reality for which He prays in John 17. Honoring diversity in implementing the Seventh-day Adventist mission allows for effective response to specific conditions while still maintaining global values and identity, as exemplified in Acts 15.

Our Position

We recognize Christ as the head of the church (Col 1:18). We are guided by the Bible as our only creed, the Holy Spirit who inspired and interprets it, the writings of Ellen G. White that shine light on it, and a resulting spirit of Christlike forbearance. As such, we are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council (hereafter indicated as “the document”), as it is not consistent with the biblical model of the church. We simply cannot, in good conscience, support or participate in the implementation of the process outlined in the document, as it is contrary to the culture of respect and collaboration taught in the Bible (Zech 4:6; Rom 14:13; 15:7; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 2:5; Eph 5:2).

Furthermore, we believe that the document moves us away from the biblical values proclaimed by the Protestant reformers and the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and, in so doing, moves us toward a centralized power and a hierarchical system of governance that overrides the policies and procedures already in place (1 Cor 12:12-27). We are alarmed that, in this document, church policies and voted actions are equated with Scripture. We are also deeply concerned by the use of shame as a punitive measure, because it is in violation of the spirit of the gospel (John 8:3- 11).

Additionally, the document moves us away from the principles behind the 1901-03 reorganization, endorsed by Ellen G. White, which decentralized denominational authority.

The voicing of our objection is in alignment with the 1877 General Conference voted action, which allows for questioning any General Conference vote “shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience” (Review and Herald, October 4, 1877, p. 106).

Ellen G. White, in response to an 1888 General Conference Session vote she had counseled against, later wrote, “It was not right for the conference to pass it. It was not in God’s order, and this resolution will fall powerless to the ground. I shall not sustain it, for I would not be found working against God. This is not God’s way of working, and I will not give it countenance for a moment” (Letter 22, 1889, pp. 10-11). We believe the church should take heed of this counsel at this moment in our history.

Requests for Action

1. We respectfully request, in light of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 and in harmony with the call for unity in the body of Christ in Fundamental Belief No. 14, that the General Conference Executive Committee at its 2019 Annual Council rescind the action approving the document.

2. We respectfully request that the 2019 Annual Council revise any policies that enable majority fields to dictate the management of non-doctrinal, non-biblical issues to minority fields (1 Cor 12:26) and create policies that protect the interests of minority fields.

3. We respectfully request that an item be placed on the 2020 General Conference Session agenda calling for a statement by the world church that: (1) affirms our shared respect for the richness and variety of the multiple cultures and practices in which we minister; and (2) empowers ministry that is sensitive to the local context (Acts 15; 1 Cor 9:19-23).

It is our sincere hope that the future will be characterized by continual prayer and open dialogue, empowered by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20, ESV).

This response was voted during the Year-end Meeting of the North American Division Executive Committee on November 6, 2018 in Columbia, Maryland.

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This statement was provided by the North American Division Communications Department for distribution.

Image: SpectrumMagazine.org

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9182

(Robert Lindbeck) #2

A clear, logical and biblical response to the actions taken at AC2018. There is nothing here, imho, that any of the Divisions could not endorse. Let us pray that all the Divisions of the church can see it in themselves to with the same mutual respect.

(And not one mention of the things that divide us)


#3

Well said, NAD. God is still blessing and shedding light. You have provided hope. Thank you so much.


(jeremy) #4

bravo, NAD…this written response represents an evident decision to focus on what is right, true and noble, rather than any number of recriminations that could very easily have been produced, and rehearsed…any seventh-day adventist guided by the bible and egw cannot but instantly identify with this particular affirmation, church definition and stated position, and cannot but accede to the requests for action contained in this document…

is the world church under our current GC guided by the bible and egw…we shall soon see…


(Darrel Lindensmith) #5

Thank you Brother, we really tried, with God’s help of course


(jeremy) #6

did you help craft this response, darrel…if so, congrats…:slightly_smiling_face:


(Darrel Lindensmith) #7

No, we empowered a team of 9 to take down our thoughts and discussion and to craft a statement that would in a respectful manner express our resolve. The next day (Today) that was brought back for impute. We restated a few (3) things (not to change any meaning), to provide clear language. Then we voted that the statement was what we wanted, and it was!


(jeremy) #8

excellently done…it’s perfect the way it is now…

(and i did notice that convincing 176 to 48 vote, or 78.6% winning amount)…


(JIm Walters) #9

The NAD response to the GC’s voted compliance document is a model of principled Christian grace. Further, it’s three specific requests are eminently reasonable as we grapple with how to protect minority rights. (A democracy is not just the right to vote, but establishing norms and traditions that promote informed decision-making.)


#10

Fairness in input, representation and process increases the likelihood
of a good outcome.
The NAD has given a very good example to the Church of how to deal
with a contentious issue.


(Phillip Brantley) #11

This is one of the best Statements in tone and substance voted by a Seventh-day Adventist Church entity I have ever read. It is nice to see that the Statement passed by a supermajority vote. The GC’s butchering of Seventh-day Adventism has been nicely checked by the NAD. But there is much more that needs to be done. Someone should write a short essay that clearly shows how the GC under the leadership of Ted Wilson has marginalized, twisted, and even negated many of the Church’s Fundamental Beliefs and teachings during the last eight years. This Statement is a nice start.


(Carlo Schroeder) #12

That is an excellent crafted respons that only begs to question, why could the GC not do the same. When words are spoken with Jesus Christ as the central theme, and our mission as focal point, then I can only say, " Amen".


(Andrew Skeggs) #13

Incredibly bold, honest, yet respectful leadership by Dan Jackson. Great work, North American Division!


#14

Christ’s reply was no evasion, but a candid answer to the question. Holding in His hand the Roman coin, upon which were stamped the name and image of Caesar, He declared that since they were living under the protection of the Roman power, they should render to that power the support it claimed, so long as this did not conflict with a higher duty. {CCh 315.2}

When the Pharisees heard Christ’s answer, “they marveled, and left Him, and went their way.” He had rebuked their hypocrisy and presumption, and in doing this He had stated a great principle, a principle that clearly defines the limits of man’s duty to the civil government and his duty to God

how long do unions want to hold onto this YIN AND YANG policy
separate CIVIL AND CHURCH


(Elmer Cupino) #15

Reading and understanding the reasons behind both the GC “Document” and the NAD response, you begin to wonder what was Elder TW thinking when he allowed himself to be led astray. Even a six year-old child would have labeled the GC document “unfair.” And for him to become more entrenched as more and more entities began to push back is astounding. What kept him from reflecting and reconsidering his position? Everyone makes a mistake. It’s how a mistake is resolved and undone that defines a person.

What an exercise in futility.


(Peter Marks) #16

The North American Division is to be congratulated for stating their opposition to the Compliance Policy Document. They were right to state their absolute opposition to the document. I trust that many other Divisions will follow shortly.

However, the NAD document attempts too much in its Requests For Action. These requests for official voting and policy action by the G.C. EC and by the G.C. session will not be understood or appreciated by much of the world field. Far better if this statement had taken the call that came from several Committee members that time be allowed for talking through the issues with the world field. This held promise of much more than will be achieved by these requests for swift action that just will not fly and will be strongly opposed.

We need to alert the world field that although we support women in ministry, the primary reason we support this is not that we are enamoured with social justice or some feminist rights agenda. Rather our support for women in ministry is because God has the right to choose who serve as pastoral leaders. And it is our role to discern what God is doing with individuals in our midst.

The world field is genuinely concerned about the feminist rights agenda which to so many is the first step toward the obliterization of all role distinctions between genders and support for the gay rights agenda.

It may be observed that not all of the many ecclesial movements since the time of the Protestant Reformation that have ordained women have supported the gay rights agenda. There are some outstanding exceptions to this trend. For example, the Salvation Army which until recent times always asserted that their officers were not clergy. Salvo officers both male and female have been commissioned equally. It is helpful to remember that 3 of perhaps 15 generals who have served the Salvationists have been women, the first serving in the 1930’s.

We must state again in a little more detail the real biblical nature of ordination is. We cannot afford to have chiefly Adventist holy men from Africa. We cannot afford to have priestly Adventist holy men from Latin America. But nor can we afford to train potential ordinands and promote ordination as little more than professional certification as I feel is often the case in America and Europe - professional holy men and women.

I still believe reconciliation and a meeting of the minds is possible. This NAD document makes such reconciliation of the two sides all but impossible.

Adventists must return to their championing of religious liberty and conscience. The 2015 San Antonio vote must be understood as wrong headed because it attempted to interfere with an issue that was a conscience issue. Whether the vote in 2015 had been yea or nay there would always have been this ground swell of opposition to any outcome. Hence it was the wrong question to bring to the floor of the General Conference Session in 2015.

This reality must be acknowledged by the world field.

Conscience has always been respected by Adventist religious liberty principles. We even have defended the right of conscience to be misinformed but it is still upheld as sacrosanct.


(jeremy) #17

peter, i think it’s doing just the opposite…NAD’s response document carries an evident adventist pedigree, deriving from strong appeals and references to our GC history, our prophet and our mission…it’s insistence on local jurisdiction in the management of local concerns is reasonable…it’s a point egw made over and over again…

this letter is going to be read by the entire adventist world…many are going to sense the call of god in its requests for action because they’ll see them as a simple, effective remedy for the divisiveness and distraction caused by the combination of san antonio and battle creek…i expect many church entities to align with this document…i expect a majority in our GC to align with it, as well…


#18

What kind of “unity” & “diversity”?

“creed?”

Bible only?

Including those cultures that promote discord in family , fleshly/carnality & worldliness like in the USA where the culture has become decadent, perverted & depraved due to news & entertainment media?


(Joyce Rapp) #19

Led astray or leading astray? Isn’t this what he campaigned for before being elected the president the first time?