Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee Statement: To Be True to Our Calling

The Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee has issued a statement to its constituency laying out the case for following God's Spirit regarding equality in ministry. That statement, released on November 21, 2016, follows in its entirety. -Ed.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)

Brothers and Sisters in the Pacific Union—

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we have hope and life!

The Pacific Union Conference is a providential example of unity in diversity. While there are many ways to describe those things that might separate us—race, ethnicity, geography, gender, age, education, political affiliation—we take our life and joy from that which unites us! We are united in the gospel of Jesus Christ, our love for one another, and our commitment to the mission of sharing God’s love and the message of salvation with our community and the world.

One of the great strengths of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is that the community of God is recreated in each congregation through the power of the Holy Spirit and the all-embracing love of Jesus. We come together in worship and ministry each week, knowing that God will use the diversity of our history, circumstances, and gifts to bring the gospel to those around us.

The opportunity this creates is matched by an obligation to consciously and prayerfully protect our unity of purpose and mission from being threatened by factions or fissures, through faith in God and reliance on His strength and power. As a result, we can trace God’s leadership and our growth for more than a century. And while most of our pioneers came to the Pacific Union from homes and communities vastly different from each other, in the community of our Adventist faith we stand together. God has truly led us in our growth and development through these many years!

From the days of our earliest SDA pioneers and missionaries, to the days when Ellen White was actually living here in the west and our Union was organized, to today with more than 225,000 members in nearly 700 churches in seven conferences, we have experienced the abundant grace and leadership of our Heavenly Father. We have learned the truth of the words expressed by Sister White that “the secret of unity is found in the equality of believers in Christ” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, Dec. 22, 1891).

We believe this is why our Adventist church in the western United States has been a leader in innovation in ministry. Our schools and hospitals are in the vanguard of education and care. The Pacific Union has provided a fertile environment for the growth of diverse and effective ministries. Our dependence upon the Holy Spirit and our willingness to be led are the bedrock of the commitments we have made to the church we love and the communities we are called to serve.

Because we are blessed by God to be called His people, the differing viewpoints within our diverse membership are no threat to our core unity. Our hearts and minds are bound together as one people by the teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist church, the values that have guided our development, and our commitment to mission. We are blessed to be a part of the global fellowship of Seventh-day Adventists.

Our fellowship is rooted in the worldwide ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and in the work of the pioneering missionaries and believers who helped to establish the Seventh-day Adventist church in the western United States. Our witness is continually enriched by those whose customs, culture, and languages deepen our appreciation for the unifying spirit that draws us to the Father’s heart. Over the years our membership has changed, but not our mission.

Every member is both disciple and evangelist, and we know firsthand that “when a great and decisive work is to be done, God chooses men and women to do this work, and it will feel the loss if the talents of both are not combined” (Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 469). Recent events in the Seventh-day Adventist church compel us to affirm our shared faith, mission, and sacred calling, and to state our conviction that “he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, NIV).

We affirm that the Seventh-day Adventist Church exists to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as expressed in the Three Angels’ Messages. Nothing should impede this prophetic mission.

We are committed to the fulfillment of the Gospel Commission. The primary focus that we will sustain is to shepherd our people here in the Pacific Union and to reach out to the 55 million people who live within our Union territory. It is here that, by God’s grace, we will continue to model what a healthy church looks like.

The support of the global mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church is a matter of conviction, and we hold the missionaries who serve throughout the world to be our brothers and sisters. Our hearts embrace the church throughout the world as our very own. As a part of one body, we are committed to the generous support of the work of the world church.

We are committed to equality in ministry, and we reaffirm the actions of this Executive Committee and the Pacific Union Conference that stretch back more than two decades affirming the mission-critical role of women in ministry. We support the North American Division in its renewed commitment to focus resources on the development and training of a significantly increased number of women in ministry.

Perhaps no issue has received greater focus in our life together as a people. We have sought the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and have acted under the conviction of God’s leadership. And God has blessed us! Our eyes have been opened to the needs of our community, to the immense task that has been given to us, and to the rich gifts of the Spirit that have been given to all of our people. We have called on God to empower His church to respond to the distinctive needs of the communities and diverse population that He has placed within our care.

We recognize Jesus Christ as the leader and authority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We are committed to being obedient to the Spirit in the issues surrounding equality in ministry. We live our lives and conduct our ministries in response to the Holy Spirit. We affirm the equality of all believers that is expressed in our Fundamental teachings.

Under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and in recognition of the diversity of practice within our community, we affirm again our unwavering support and steadfast recognition of men and women in ministry. In the Pacific Union this is a matter affirmed by our individual and collective convictions. We understand that ordination is the equity for pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In this, and in all things, we will continue to be guided by the Spirit and by conscience.

We affirm that equality in ministry is not a distraction from mission—it is a fulfillment of mission. It is deeply rooted in our faith. We are committed to consciously reaching out to connect with those who may not understand why this conversation is of critical importance to our mission effectiveness. We pray that we will better understand God’s gracious leading every day.

God is empowering us to be an open, gracious, and compassionate church. We seek transparency before those who observe us. How God has led us is a sign of hope for many in the church, particularly among our young people. Our commitment is that our churches in the Pacific Union will be sanctuaries for the growth and development of our children and young people, unfettered by fear or anxiety.

To be God’s people for such a time as this requires a spirit of inquiry and a willingness to listen with care to those around us. There are voices to which we must be attentive. There are witnesses to God’s leadership from every corner of our fellowship, from every aspect of our life together. There is testimony that we must take seriously, and there are questions that our faith demands us to address.

How can we better address the realities of seeking to live in harmony with God’s plan in this time and place? What will we learn when we confront the difficult questions raised by a faith that is relevant? What happens when we are honest and thoughtful about theology and the Christian life? How shall we approach conversations about our emotional selves, and the feelings that accompany every aspect of our life together? What can we do together to create better understanding with those whose convictions differ from our own and with whom we may simply disagree? Will we listen to each other? Will we be open to the Spirit of God to minister to us individually? Will we be open to God?

We speak these commitments and questions as a prayer—knowing that the Spirit is willing to lead us into all truth. It is within this litany of commitments, affirmations, questions, and aspirations that we will find the motivating focus for truly being God’s remnant people in the Pacific Union, and for such a time as this.

As we have been called, so we call on every member, all who read this, and all those who share in this vision, to seek their place within God’s plan to transform and save the communities we serve and that He loves. Each of us is both disciple and evangelist. The variety of gifts and the diversity of our community are key to our mission effectiveness. We take seriously the words of God’s messenger, who wrote, “We need to branch out more in our methods of labor. Not a hand should be bound, not a soul discouraged, not a voice should be hushed; let every individual labor, privately or publically, to help forward this grand work. Place the burdens upon men and women of the church, that they may grow by reason of the exercise, and thus become effective agents in the hand of the Lord for the enlightenment of those who sit in darkness” (Ellen G. White, Review and Herald, July 9, 1895).

As the child Samuel waited with faithfulness and patience to know the ministry to which God was calling him, we have prayed, “Speak Lord, for your servants are listening.” And the Lord has spoken to us—in our hearts, in our churches, and in the community of believers who comprise the Seventh-day Adventist church in the Pacific Union Conference. We have heard the Lord calling us to greater service and faithfulness. Our Great Commission is to carry the message of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ to every person within our diverse field.

Perhaps it was this moment in the future of the church that prompted the Spirit to speak through the prophetic ministry of Ellen G. White, words that take on special meaning for us at this time, that “the place, the circumstances, the interest, the moral sentiment of the people, will have to decide in many cases the course of action to be pursued,” and that “those who are right on the ground are to decide what shall be done” (Ellen G. White, “To Ministers of the Australian Conference,” Nov. 11, 1894; General Conference Bulletin, 1901, p. 70).

The New Testament proclaims, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8, NIV). It is the constancy of His love and calling that enthuses our commitment to our calling and the proclamation of the Gospel. It is the constancy of His love that draws us closer to Him, insisting that we be open and responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. “Let us then pursue the things that make for peace and build up the common life” (Romans 14:19, NEB). It is the constancy of His love that compels the community of believers to confront the inequities of the past and embrace a life together of greater faithfulness to His teachings and ministry.

Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7771
5 Likes

An extremely well-written statement that affirms the fundamental core of our mission and the fruition of Jesus’ prayer that we may all be “one” - in the same manner as He and the Father are “one”.

8 Likes

I’m pleased to see the CUC, PUC, and NAD remain steadfast in placing conviction ahead of Ted Wilson and his kingly “working policy.” I fear that a showdown looms ahead, for which there will be only losers and no winners. However, headship theology will cause the more serious and irreparable harm if it becomes institutionalized, so there is less to lose by fighting the good fight.

18 Likes

I understand that the famous truism about corrupting power was uttered by a Catholic priest about a Catholic pope, but whenever the shoe fits…

7 Likes

The statement is creatively crafted, and elegantly egalitarian, but that such a statement is even necessary in our modern westernized world is SURREAL.

The Methodist church has been ordaining women since 1956.
The United Methodist Church I attended this weekend has a senior woman pastor, and their worship bulletin lists their Bishop ( equivalent to Union Conference president ) as being female, and their equivalent of the conference president is also a woman, in that district.

We look ridiculous when we are forced to pathetically proclaim what should be self evident: male and female church members are equal in God’s sight, equally endowed with talents, and equally called as Christians, to proclaim the Gospel!

10 Likes

5 MYTHS OF MALE HEADSHIP


I prefer a church that values people more than procedures; principles more than policy; acceptance more than disapproval; forgiveness more than censure; servant leadership more than hierarchical dominance, and gender equality more than male headship.

Patriarchy, hierarchy and male headship are oppressive structures that have no biblical foundation. We are called to live counter-culturally by loving our enemies, by serving one another and by laying down our authority as Christ did.

12 Likes

The Pacific Union is also quietly supportive of the ordination of members of the LGBTQ community as elders and ministers although they would deny it if asked directly. But they should know how much we appreciate them.

The PUC is willing to tell the GC to pound sand when it comes to ordination, creationism, end time teachings and other anachronisms that the Adventist Church tries to promote around the rest of the world.

2 Likes

want to make myself clear
Im not here to judge or acuse pastor townsend
Also as a member I dont agree with these actions nor do I want to see townsend thrown under the bus .

Moses vs townsend
Moses went to the mount in faith no preconceptions or chisels in his backpack to ammend the ten commandments before returning

Rejecting a global GC vote
Please pastor townsend find it in your heart to step back and renounce these out of vote principles

2 Likes

When will more Adventists recognize that this church is not truly Protestant and Christian but partially Jewish in doctrine and papal in ecclesiastical organization? Were it truly Protestant, there would not be the Old Covenant Jewish system of laws but protest against all papal forms of authority; Has the SdA church adopted the policy of leaders preempting individual conscience?

8 Likes

this is such an uplifting, inspiring statement by PUC…in fact i read it and thought about it for most of this morning, and continue to feel blessed…it is such an intuitive extension of what the true church in all ages has been all about…it is a definite remnant church statement for a modern world…i think i detect a contribution by sandra roberts here…this statement is reminiscent of a particular style i’ve come to associate with her…

i think it goes without saying that PUC expects annual council to read and study this statement…to me, indications are that PUC is feeling confident that they are in the right on the subject of WO, which they are, and that the GC is in the wrong, which they definitely are, and that PUC will therefore not allow themselves to be threatened or in any way undone by either the san antonio july 8 vote, or the oct 11 annual council vote…it is clear that PUC wants to remain part of the world church, but that it is aware of its unique demographic, as well as the prerogatives the holy spirit through egw has given them…this is exactly the tone and balance that should characterize all unions that face the challenges and opportunities PUC faces…

LGBT issues are undoubtedly a major reason why the world church rejected WO in san antonio…this is an example of a slippery slope fear that many conservatives have pointed out has been borne out in other denominations in addition to PUC’s own experience…i actually know someone from glendale city church, whose views on this subject, and evolution, are exactly what the world church is resisting…but i think we have to understand, on the subject of homosexuality, in particular, that homosexuality does exist…it is a prominent feature of our world that we cannot ignore, and not provide meaningful answers for…our corporate response to homosexuality, to date, has been tepid, and in fact deplorable, although there is evidence that leadership understands that more needs to be done…PUC is at least trying to do something, in part because it cannot get away with doing nothing…it doesn’t have the luxury of time, in which to sit and wait until the world church comes up with a meaningful approach…if PUC has, or even is, making mistakes in its efforts, what of it…the point is, it is doing something…it is trying to address intelligently the reality that exists in its part of the world, which is a major message egw has left us…

i feel confident that, in time, LGBT issues will be clearly understood, and that everyone, even non-LGBT individuals, will gain valuable insights that can put into perspective what it means to overcome ourselves and the world…i actually believe that providence has ordered the development of LGBT issues in our end-time world for the express purpose of teaching us what we’ve overlooked in inspiration, and especially in egw, which is that we’re genetic sinners and condemned before we sin, and that overcoming sin is much more than using the holy spirit as a steroid to strengthen our own efforts to save ourselves…i have a lot of hope, actually, that as we see and feel our true condition, what jesus is really doing in the heavenly sanctuary will be increasingly understood…this is the vital understanding and knowledge that the 144,000 - which could be some of us - will take with them through the time of trouble, on their way to translation…

the GC really needs to back down and allow what is happening in PUC and elsewhere to develop more fully…we need much more understanding than we now have, but that understanding isn’t going to happen when we instantly rouse ourselves to squelch what god is intending for our corporate benefit…why is it that our progressive centers are the places that have brought us the truth of WO…is it not the case that jesus was born in a stable because there was no room for him in the inn…is it not the case that conservatives have been so confident that they are right, and everyone else is wrong, that god has bypassed them and used progressives, whom conservatives despise…

what a lesson this recent history in our church provides…

1 Like

I agree with Elaine’s point about papal governance.

But I shudder to see “Jewish” appear in a negative context like this. There are unassailable reasons to say world Christianity should be MORE Jewish: more prophetic, more activist, more eager to read the Bible for its call to moral urgency, more thankful for Torah, more suspicious of the West’s obsession with productivity and of its hostility to the Sabbath. More willing, in other words, to underscore Christian-Jewish agreements and to learn from Jewish writers.

Jesus was and is crucial, and he is also a misunderstood JEW. If we worked toward greater understanding of the religious tradition he lived by, we’d be better Christians, better Adventists.

Chuck

9 Likes

“Tho church voted based on bible truth and facts”

If only this were true…the churches own theologians cannot agree on what is “bible truth and facts” then there is little hope that the rest of the church is going to.

5 Likes

Thank you, Jeremy! However, let us not let LGBTQ issues become a smokescreen to hide the wrong in attempting to thwart the legitimate (per Bylaws) right of unions to decide that they will ordain women to the ministry lest that become an excuse. I’m thankful to be a member in the Pacific Union!

Sign me a 68 yr old grandfather, 6th generation SDA , ordained and active church elder who supports both women in ministry and the inclusion of LGBTQ children of God.

5 Likes

From October 6 Ncc constituency meeting report (http://www.nccsda.com/article/58/about-us/more/constituency-session).

Delegates then considered a motion added to the agenda by the Anderson and Sacramento Central churches: “We now vote to retract the Executive Committee votes of August 22, 2012, and December 3, 2014, in order to be in harmony with the World Church as represented by the General Conference session of July 8, 2015. We will continue to support women in ministry with the exception of issuing a ministerial credential and thus abide by the outcome of the vote of the World Church.” After about 30 minutes of comments from the delegates, there was a time of prayer in small groups, ending with Pedersen praying. The motion was not approved by a vote of 297 “no” and 211 “yes”.

2 Likes

I had a conversation this week on a conservative site. The comment was made, I don’t see your Jesus in my Bible. As we explored, it because apparent to me that he was right. Neither did I see his Jesus in mine. For him Jesus primary mission was about Truth, to correct error and build correct orthodoxy, and re-establish God’s authority. For me Jesus primary mission was about relationships, to breakdown orthodoxy and authoritarian views of God in favor of a personal relationship.

While I know it takes a long time for a world wide organization time to change, and I have been patient for 20+ years, there comes a time when patience turns into support. For me that time has come. And while we should not, and I will not compromise, I think we need to have compassion for the other side. We must remember they are also following the Jesus in their Bible’s.

3 Likes

I remain appalled seeing how much time and money needed to be spent so far around a simple issue that should be common sense. Especially among people that say to believe in the Christian religion.
TOSC’s cost was over $1Mi, plus the time of 100 people. Then all the preparations for the GC (let alone the prior GCs). Then the meetings at the Unions and other offices around the world. Airline tickets. Paper and printing. Meals. Hotel rooms. You name it!

Such a ridiculous maneuvering everywhere just because a bunch of males who are nothing but discriminators of women keep pushing their ill and evil agenda.

Is this nonsense ever going to stop? Or will the Church continue to support discrimination of females for ever? When are the discriminators going to be expelled from those positions of leadership that have been hijacked? Isn’t it yet enough???

11 Likes

There is no other audience this statement was made for other than our beloved GC president TW and his executive committee tucked away in Silver Springs, MD. Otherwise, PUC is just to preaching to the choir.

So why tiptoe around the main issue with GC “speak words” and confuse us all? Why not reply the biblical way and follow the example of Paul the apostle when he confronted Peter as recorded in Galatians 2:11, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned.” Just tell Pastor T. Wilson and his executive committee, “Go fly a kite” or something to this effect. Issues such as Male Headship and WO call for black and white words, not any one “50 shades of grey.”

Even psychologists the likes of @GeorgeTichy will agree this is the only way to confront bad behavior as used in mental health clinics.

8 Likes

George, you said it all!
I registered (or tried to register) a comment on Adventist Review about the cost/time of the 343 delegates at the Autumn Council, and the fact that this is no doubt tithe money.
As I expected the comment was rejected and not posted.

Ray

5 Likes

The time is now to be more direct and perhaps less wordy and urge that by the next GC session the current administration must be replaced. I am not criticizing people because the leadership is entitled to their own conscientious convictions. However, it’s divisive work upon the church must be identified and be dealt with as is customary to do at duely called conference sessions. It is not a strange idea to prepare in advance of the next session. I love the church and at the same time I ask the delegates to the next GC session to be responsible in ensuring that the principles of the Gospel are maintained in the church.

6 Likes

"We affirm that equality in ministry is not a distraction from mission—it is a fulfillment of mission. It is deeply rooted in our faith."

Yes, this practice is definitely rooted in our Adventist tradition. If God chose a woman–Ellen White–to be the most influential preacher and teacher in our denomination, I do not see why our leaders have invested millions of dollars and three General Conference session in a desperate effort to prohibit what Scripture has not prohibited. Let us not discourage our sisters from their dreams to emulate what Ellen White did with such great success in bringing sinners to Jesus Christ.

If we are so interested in true reform, let us focus our efforts on an issue that really harms our witness for the Gospel: I am referring to our participation in the demise of a large number of unborn babies who lost their lives inside Adventist medical institutions. This would be a demonstration of true spiritual reform instead of majoring on minor issues like women’s ordination that does not harm our Gospel ministry.

2 Likes