Policy Tops the Annual Council Agenda

“Faithfulness to His Prophets” is the title for the 2018 Annual Council Agenda of the General Conference Executive Committee. Given that the meeting is being held in Battle Creek, Michigan, I was surprised the illustration on the program cover looked like a biblical prophet, Moses with his staff raised, rather than Ellen G. White in front of her home in the Adventist Historic Village. But whatever the role of Moses in the upcoming meetings, it will be Ellen White who will be given the last word — specifically from Evangelism, chapter 20 on “The Reason for the Delay.” Pages 694-697 will be read aloud, if tradition holds, at the close of the meeting on Wednesday, October 17.

When business is called to order on Sunday, October 14, after the Secretary’s Report and the Treasurer’s Report, the major document that has generated statements in opposition from churches, conferences, and unions scattered around the globe will be considered: “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions.” This is the one item on the agenda that includes the notation, “Vote to be taken.” It is also the item on the agenda that seems to be driving much of the rest of the meeting, too, because much of the policy agenda flows out of the “Regard Document” provisions. (There are three different agendas for the meeting: general, policy, and consent.) Six of the policy agenda items are proposed wordings to alter model constitutions at all levels to require that entities “purposes, policies and procedures shall be in harmony with the working policies, voted actions, and procedures” in their given Division. “Voted actions” being the addition that is being made.

It will be interesting to see whether these policy items are brought to the floor before or after the “Regard Document” is considered. These simple word changes to model constitutions seem to create work for the newly activated compliance committees, that were set up by the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM), in August. With these changes to the constitutions, plus the terms of reference for the committees, one could ask whether the committees could function with or without the “Regard Document.”

In his 2013 book Who Runs the Church, Gerry Chudleigh identified the Model Constitutions as one of the major ways that the General Conference has used to “clawback” the power it lost in 1901 when autonomous unions were created. The development of model constitutions and bylaws gradually gave more and more authority and control to the General Conference. “Finally,” he wrote,” according to the Model Constitution for Unions in the 2006 GC/NAD Working Policy, the unions can make changes to their own constitutions and bylaws, with these limitations: ‘Article VIII — Amendments. This constitution shall not be amended except to conform to the model union conference constitution when it is amended by action of the General Conference Executive Committee at an Annual Council. This union conference shall amend its constitution from time to time at regularly called constituency meetings, any such changes to conform to the model union conference constitution.’”1 In this way the unions are made totally subject to the General Conference, which is in complete contravention of their intended function.

Additional policy agenda items include giving unions and divisions the ability to call constituency meetings, if the entity below them has failed to do so; complete rewording of L 20 on Ministerial and Theological Education; and this rewording of the section on qualifications for ordination to the ministry: “L35 23 Examination of Candidates for Commissioning — The same qualifications and standards of examination outlined in L 50 shall apply to candidates for commissioning, notwithstanding the variances of authority between a commissioned and ordained minister.”

In Battle Creek this year, there will be plenty of reports from the various departments and ministries to hear, plus proposals for a world member survey, the World Church’s Strategic Plans for 2020-2025, discussions of integrity and accountability, plus nurture and retention.

But it is the policy agenda and the vote on the “Regard Document” that will truly determine the church’s plans and relationships going forward.

What would our prophet say? Chudleigh points to her writings in 1901 to demonstrate that she made it clear that God can give wisdom to union and local committees as well as He can give wisdom to the GC committee or GC delegates in session. ”2

In the dueling quotations match that erupts when people try to use her to end an argument, my quotation of choice is: “We have many lessons to learn, and many, many to unlearn. God and heaven alone are infallible. Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed.”3

Notes & References:

2. Chudleigh, p. 30. See also his Appendix B.

3. "Search the Scriptures," Advent Review and Sabbath Her­ald, July 26, 1892, 465; repr. Counsels to Writers and Edi­tors, 36-37; and, in part, in Selected Messages from the Writings of Ellen G. White, 3 vols. (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1958-80), 1:37.

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image: Annual Council 2018 theme photo, courtesy of GCC website.

Editor’s Note: The Annual Council business sessions will be live streamed on the General Conference Executive Committee website. The official hashtag of Annual Council (for following the conversation on social media) is #GCAC18. More information about this year’s Annual Council, including the full agenda, can be found on the Executive Committee website.

Further Reading:

Responses from Church Entities and Timeline of Key Events, Annual Council 2017 to Present

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9093



“All the compelling power is found only under Satan’s government. The Lord’s principles are not of this order. He would not work on this line. He would not give the slightest encouragement for any human being to set himself up as God over another human being, feeling at liberty to cause him physical or mental suffering. This principle is wholly of Satan’s creation. {par. 7} The principles of the character of God were the foundation of the education constantly kept before the heavenly angels. These principles were goodness, mercy, and love. Self-evidencing light was to be recognized and freely accepted by all who occupied positions of trust and power. They must accept God’s principles, and, through the presentation of truth and righteousness, convince all who were in his service. This was the only power to be used. Force must never come in. All who thought that their position gave them power to command their fellow beings, and control conscience, must be deprived of their position; for this is not God’s plan.{par. 8} These principles are to be the foundation of education in God’s church today. The rules given by him are to be observed and respected. God has enjoined this. His government is moral. Nothing is to be done by compulsion. Truth is to be the prevailing power. . All service is to be done willingly, and for the love of God. All who are honored with positions of influence are to represent God; for when officiating, they are in the place of God. In everything their actions must correspond to the importance of their position. The higher the position the more distinctly will self-sacrifice be revealed if they are fit for the office. Every heart that is controlled by these principles will be loyal. But when those who profess to be in God’s service resort to accusation, they are adopting Satan’s principles to cast out Satan; and this never will work.” {par. 9}

RH, September 7, 1897 The Great Controversy


POLICY! POLICY! POLICY! Sis W felt pretty strongly about policy people:

… will prepare men for the times. They will be humble, God-fearing men, not conservative, not policy men; but men who have moral independence and will move forward in the fear of the …( Christian Leadership, p. 73.3 Ellen Gould White)

… them and they had no strength to resist. Some of these have become dishonest, scheming policy men and are guilty of grave sins. Counsels on Health, p. 328.2 Ellen Gould White

There are many who would scorn the appellation of policy men, yet who will stoop to concealment, evasion, and even misrepresentation, to accomplish their purposes. He … The Signs of the Times August 4, 1881, paragraph 5.)

… other individual or some branch of the Lord’s work. They are not to be policy men or schemers, but are to consecrate themselves to God’s service, uniting their labors with … (Lt 65, 1900, par. 20)


Yes, " we have many lessons to learn and unlearn …" just like Jesus’ disciples
who wanted fire from heaven to destroy those who were ‘out of compliance’.


When Jesus said he would “build the church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it,” it is unlikely that he had in mind what the church has become and the tactics it uses for self-preservation. Spending millions of dollars for people from across the globe to gather to edit or enlarge the already hefty policy book is both irresponsible and immoral. What we need is not to go back to Ellen White’s day or Moses’ time, but to go forward to rediscover what it means to be a community of faith that is sold out on Jesus “who is the head of his body, the church (and) makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Eph. 4:15,16


Seems like a weird topic
Considering that requests by Ellen way back before 1900 are STILL IGNORED.


Thank you Bonnie,for you great reporting.

I am sure that Battle Creek, Michigan is not your favored holiday venue, nor your most desired escape from home!

EGW is liberally quoted pro and con on every issue.
Clearly , the title FAITHFULNESS TO PROPHETS implies a total veneration for every utterance of Adventism’s Virgin Mary.

What is not lost on me is the absurdity / irrationality / incongruity that the whole raison d’être for the compliance committees and the preoccupation with policy changes, derives from the WO issue.

While the female prophet is venerated, every nuance of policy change is calculated to ensure that no woman other then EGW ever attains any level of,prominence in Adventism.

Denying our women ordination, under the canopy of “compliance”, ensures a permanent “glass ceiling “ denying them advancement / attainment / achievement / accomplishment. A truly STUPID stifling of talent, an ablation of ability and aptitude, a monstrous misogynistic MISTAKE !!


Yes! Ellen has become the Patron Saint of the Church in name only on issues
persons do not agree on.
Since the 1880’s Ellen called for recognition of Equality of Men AND Women in
the Ministry, and in paying them ALL for their ministry work.
In her materials she has even announced that WOMEN in the ministry work during
that time were STARTING MORE CONGREGATIONS than their Male Counterparts
Through Ellen, for the past at least 130 years the Holy Spirit has been calling for the
MEN of the church to listen to the Spirit’s Voice through Ellen.
The SDA Church has put an Image of Ellen on a Pedistal. We Worship Ellen. But in
this area the Men of the Church have consistently refused to honor both her’s and the
the Spirits directions.

And now, the few who attempt to bring Ellen’s and the Spirit’s plea a REALITY, are told
they will receive “grave consequences”, that in every meeting, they will be SHAMED
PUBLICALLY with DEROGATORY WORDS. Will be placed on a "Black List’ and could
lose their positions voted by their constituency members, as well as brought before
Committees for sentencing.


“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” ~ Mark Twain

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones,
and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men,
but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,. . . .” ~ Jesus, Matthew 23

I used to work shutdowns at a massive 5-unit coal-fired power plant owned by an energy giant. As a massive, giant target for injury lawsuits they shielded that target with the word ‘SAFETY’, instead of doing anything substantial – and therefore costly – about it . One Spring during the ramp-up before shutting down a unit for rework, all of the 50-100 electricians were called to a safety stand-down meeting where every chief, engineer, supervisor, liaison, foreman . . . stood up unitedly before us potential lawsuits and told us that, “There is no need to work anything hot.” We were to make sure that all electrical circuits were de-energized before working with them. But it was the Energy company’s job to do the de-energizing ‘Lock Out, Tag Out’. We were not allowed to.

5 minutes after the meeting ended, I was back across the road in the Air Quality Control building, where our small crew was assigned the task of tracing out wires and cables in a very long control cabinet to confirm that the cable tags matched what the engineers hoped was true since they had lost the original drawings. Fresh from the safety meeting, himself, our energy giant’s liaison told us, “We can’t shut these cabinets down. When you’re in them tracing out wires, and hear anything go quiet outside, head for the gate.” (Meaning,‘You will have cost us a lot of money and trouble, but only this once.’)

Being a journeyman, and not having pork-fed wrists and fore-arms, I was the only qualified man skinny enough and stupid enough to reach between live terminal strips and jiggle the wires behind, tracing them back to where the cable tags were to be seen. While doing this for over 70 cables and 2 days, I was ‘shocked’, 5 times.
( Another man tried to help, but refused to continue after his first sting.)

Its a ‘call-it-what-it-ain’t’ world. . . church, too.
But, then it makes no sense to hide behind yourself, does it ?
No one masquerades as what they are.
The ‘lying serpent’ has stung us all.
No room for argument there.

Is there a way I can ‘like’ what you’ve said more than once ? !

If, as EGW says, the grab for power is satanic then why are not the grabbers of power hurriedly ushered out the back door to make way for someone who is Spirit led to lead the church?

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It appears to me that the GC & Union leadership has not spent any time together in prayer and honest heart searching. They should take the time needed in a mountain resort to find harmony, insteading of airing their disagreements publicly. There is an obvious disconnect between themselves–a loss of love, respect, trust and faith in each other.

When a church has to resort to legislation with threats to control agendas–it has lost its spiritual foundation. They have become “blind guides.” Jesus taught that leadership leads from the ranks not the heights in saying “The greatest among you must be a servant.” A servant is attune to the wishes of others, setting aside their own agenda in pursuance of service. But it is more than that, it is the acts of service out of genuine love (keeping the best interest of each other in mind).

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous," We should be very leery of high sounding religious language and Biblical catch phrases of ordained clergy. When the intent is to keep the status-quo and sustain financial control. This is how Popery began by the accumulation of wealth, centralization of power, standardizing theology, giving spiritual/political power to the head of the church and lastly punishing nonconformity. What comes next?


What would Jan Paulsen, GC president from March 1, 1999 to June 25, 2010, say about this 2006 Working Polich Amendment? Is it now time for him to speak out?

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Will the top leadership grant ultimate authority to Christ? He is the greatest light, and thus the greatest prophet, so in Battle Creek honest conversation about authority and power will, presumably, take him seriously.

Jesus said (meaning no compliment) that Gentiles “lord it over” others. He said that true disciples, on the other hand, serve.

Does anyone know whether Elder Wilson or any devotional speaker at Annual Council will reflect on these words?



One has to seriously wonder about making Christ supreme with the pushback on The One Project which focused on Christ. One has to wonder. Looking for evidence that Christ has not been subjugated and made a second-class member of the Trinity.

Looking for evidence of Jesus’ methods of dealing with differences.


I have the impression that most of us already know the answer to that…
Very unfortunate.

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I listened live-streaming to Dr. Trimm’s opening sermon. The focus (though good) was on many Adventist early missionaries who experienced early deaths and are unknown for their sacrifices.

I’m looking forward to a tie-in to Christ and moving forward with His leading and an inclusive and diverse group of those who serve in the vineyard to reap souls for Christ now.

Harrpa, what is the link again?
It was posted here before, but I can’t find it.

Here it is, George:


Thanks, I want to watch some of those events. Some…

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