Regional Conference Leadership Meets with Ted Wilson Concerning His Annual Council Remarks

On Sabbath, October 13, 2018, during Annual Council, General Conference President Ted Wilson delivered a sermon titled "The Past with a Future — Looking Back to Move Forward Led by God." Wilson spoke out against several issues including anti-trinitarianism, worldliness, homosexuality, ecumenical compromises, overemphasizing social issues, and worldly music and unbiblical worship styles.

While Wilson spoke, the individual(s) running his official Twitter account tweeted out various sermon quotes.

There may be those in your local church or elsewhere who introduce worldly music and unbiblical worship styles into our churches or spiritual meetings. However, there are many in the church who are resisting these attempts as did our pioneers in times gone by. #GCAC18

— Ted Wilson (@pastortedwilson) October 13, 2018

There may be those who overemphasize social issues while downplaying or neglecting biblical truth and its relevance for today’s society. Yes, there are appropriate social issues we need to address, but always within the context of God’s last-day warning. #GCAC18

— Ted Wilson (@pastortedwilson) October 13, 2018

Screenshots of his tweets quickly began circulating on other social media platforms, and conversation ensued, especially concerning his comments about social issues and worship styles.

The backlash came to the attention of regional conference leadership, who, according to their October 17 statement, called a private meeting with Wilson on October 16 for “the sole purpose of expressing our disappointment at his statements that were made during his Sabbath presentation concerning social justice and worship. Regional presidents felt the statements were insensitive and defamatory and appeared to be directed toward Regional Conferences.”

According to the statement, Wilson responded to the concerns graciously and positively and “recognized that he could have found a better way of expressing what he was trying to say.”

At the suggestion of regional conference leadership, Wilson then made a statement later that day during Annual Council to address the misunderstanding, stating that social justice is important “in the context of the gospel.”

Indeed, early church founders including James and Ellen White and Uriah Smith were heavily involved in the social justice issues of their day. As Bill Knott, editor of Adventist Review and Adventist World, pointed out during his Annual Council lecture, the Whites often wrote about and supported the abolitionist movement in the early days of the Review. The Whites called on Adventists to engage in civil disobedience to resist the Fugitive Slave Act that required escaped slaves be returned to slavery, while Smith called for international military action against the United States to force them to end slavery.

The agreed upon follow-up meeting between Ted Wilson and regional conference leadership occurred on November 28, with eight of the nine Regional Conference presidents attending, as well as Leslie Pollard, Oakwood University president, and Dana Edmond, executive director of the Office for Regional Conference Ministry. (The ninth conference president was out of the country.)

During the almost four hour meeting, several points of concern were discussed in addition to Wilson’s remarks on worship styles and social justice, according to the November 29 article posted on the Office for Regional Conference Ministry website. Those topics included women’s ordination, lack of representation from Regional Conferences in General Conference leadership, the church’s mission to urban areas, and specific challenges that each conference president faces in his respective territory. President Pollard, in his regular “From the President’s Desk” article, described the discussion as “candid, civil, and broad reaching.”

The Regional Conference Ministry article states that “Our meeting with President Wilson was respectful. Whatever disagreements we have with him, he is the leader of God’s church. That deserves respect, period. But our respect for him in no way inhibited us from sharing our concerns and disagreements with him. And share we did — for a good long while. And he sat there and listened.”

The article continued, stating, “That may not sound like a lot — and, perhaps it isn’t. But in today’s political climate — and sadly — even in today’s church climate — being able to talk civilly and in a mutually respectful manner to people with a different opinion is rarer than it should be. Yesterday was just a first step. But without a first step, there are no other steps. I invite you to pray with us that there will be more steps.”

Alisa Williams is managing editor of

Image: Elder Ted Wilson delivers the Sabbath sermon at the Battle Creek Tabernacle on October 13, 2018, during Annual Council 2018. Photo credit: / Brent Hardinge / Adventist News Network

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This is good. A great initiative by the Regional Conference Leadership*. Someone had to stand up to this man and have a serious, deep, and meaningful talk. Before it is too late and too much damage to the Church is caused.

This was indeed a meaningful, proactive step forward. It shows that the real Church is not dead, silent, blind, deaf, or apathetically subservient to the GC.

The only question now is, How will he react to that? His actions will tell us what direction he chose to take.

*I am not familiar with the RCL. Can someone explain what exactly it is? Thanks.


What is unknown from a reading of this is how TW responded, what his response was, and most importantly, whether he see’s fit to change any of his perspectives.

We are all moulded over time. Some people see a need for personal change faster than others.

I question how the current structure could enables regional conferences to be represented at the GC level. Given that they are a member of a Union conference, all representation is through the Union and the Division. Also given that the concept of regional conferences themselves are a bit of an oddity.


Given his views on the ordination of women, I’m wondering if I should be surprised that he repeated the “laundry list” of the historically most common topics of complaint that people raise against the church. Instead of just being negative and complaining about “worldliness” “worldly music” and “unbiblical worship styles,” why isn’t he presenting an attractive example of what is right and good in all those areas? The answer is simple: he doesn’t have an attractive alternative. Yet he wants us to follow him? That isn’t leadership that inspires people to follow.


I believe it is Regional Conference Leadership.

As in:


Saying that social justice is important in the context of the gospel still seems to reflect the official view that effectively holds social justice as secondary to the gospel. If the gospel is merely something to be ‘verbally proclaimed/preached’, then this would perhaps be true. But if I step back and look at Jesus life and ministry, everything He was, everything He did, everything He said was the gospel - the power of God unto salvation/redemption of every aspect of humanity. Social justice is as inseparably front-and-centre as every other aspect of Jesus life and ministry. The problem is that we artificially separate things out and then hierarchically arrange them. But this is not how reality operates.

Here is how one of Adventism’s pioneers saw this matter (emphasis mine):

“It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power. His character is to be made known. Into the darkness of the world is to be shed the light of His glory, the light of His goodness, mercy, and truth…The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them…Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy”(COL 415 ff).


Let’s start with worldly music shall we…what other kinds of music is there? We are after all in the world and all music (that I am aware of) is created here. So this very trite saying ‘worldly music’ means what exactly?
Does this mean that any music made in this world is inappropriate? I don’t know of any music that has been produced and provided to us from an non-terrestrial source. I don’t recall any Biblical reference providing guidelines on music, anyone else know of any?

Unbibiblical worship style…hmm what does that mean? Exactly what kinds of worship style is described in the Bible?..Paul makes mention of orderliness, Old Testament mentions Tabernacle related things. The current North American worship styles in our church is not based on the 1st century Jewish/Christian style either. So what does the term ‘Unbiblical worship style’ mean other than something that doesn’t match the cultural norm.

These kinds of statements are really absurd, arrogant and completely meaningless. How is it that people who are so learned and in such high positions that they are no longer able to say things that make sense. They don’t even understand the origins and history of worship style. Such rubbish.


David –
I would say that if ANYONE introduced the Biblical-style of worship in an SDA church
there would be REBELLION!
Stringed instruments [could also include “modern” instruments like the guitar, violin family.]
Clashing cymbols.

Would pipe organs be on this list?

Would ETHNIC music from other cultures in the world be acceptable in Europe, North


I agree wholeheartedly with what Elder Wilson said in his sermon. Better still … so does the Bible and SOP. Now let me pose this question to the author of the article or any taker… How was James and Ellen White, or Uriah Smith “heavily involved in the social justice issues of their day“? Writing about issues that are addressed to the SDA Church is not being “heavily involved”; any more than the NAD issuing statements on incidents within its territory that end up being published only in Adventist media. Where do you find references to Jame’s and Ellen White attending Abolitionist meetings, marches, giving public speeches, protests? It such info. exists… I am ready to stand corrected. Until then… I stand by my current position.

Unbiblical Worship styles?! This always brings a smile to my face. Adventists who pride themselves on the study of the Book of Revelation seem to miss the worship style of heaven itself. Apparently, in heaven there is a lot of loud noise from creatures crying holy, holy, holy over and over and over again. And then there is also apparently things being waved in the air (palms) and other things being cast down (crowns). Sounds very charismatic to me. Nothing like the worship style I think Ted Wilson has in mind. Wonder if he could be happy in such a setting given his staunch views on worship styles?


I am amazed that Ted Wilson can make a vague and unclear statement against “anti-Trinitarianism” and never be asked about what he actually believes with respect to the Trinity. We reasonably infer from his opposition to women’s ordination that he is a neo-subordinationist, i.e., an anti-Trinitarian. Until he publicly and unequivocally denounces the anti-Trinitarian heresy of neo-subordinationism, he will be fairly lumped with all of those Seventh-day Adventist heretics who believe that the immanent Trinity is hierarchically ordered and that the Son is eternally subordinate to the Father.

So what can be said about the Regional Conference Leadership that it would neglect discussion about the Trinity, which is a significant eschatological issue, and instead focus on important but lesser matters? I suppose the most charitable assessment we can make is that nobody in the Leadership has subject matter expertise in the doctrine of God.


The second greatest command is to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the foundation of social justice in the gospel.


i can see why our black leaders would take offense at this kind of comment…most black churches i’ve attended are into very loud, rocked up music, sometimes to the breaking point (which is what TW means by “worldly music”), not to mention sermons during which practically the entire congregation is shouting non-stop amens, especially if the minister is really riled up…the average black service isn’t for the timid, or faint of heart…it definitely isn’t for those who prefer a cerebral religion, and who eschew a full emotional experience…

in addition, given the reality of racism against blacks that continues to this day, it’s a fact that black churches of all denominations, including ours, have historically been havens of refuge and centres of hope and strength for the community…black churches are typically very involved in urban social work, including charity, but also extending well into politics…the average black adventist is probably much more attuned to the importance of social gospel ministry than non-blacks…

of course, registration of this offense is likely another way of saying that black leaders don’t appreciate san antonio or battle creek or the compliance committees, or especially the level of control and power the GC has just voted for itself…with oakwood dumping the GC for NAD not so long ago, i think we can well imagine that n. american black approval of the GC is probably at an all-time low…there may be the suspicion that the relative autonomy that regional conferences have always enjoyed, and insisted on, is next on the GC’s hit list…


Let me give an answer to this rhetorical question of yours: There are only two possibilities: They are either really unlearned people and ordinary dilettantes or on the other hand they are very learned and skilled politicians who speak things their followers like to hear. If you ask me what do I think is true in the case of the present GC president, I think it’s the second possibility.


Anyone who thinks that social justice is something the church should support is delusional. Guilt or innocence based on someone’s characteristics like race, sex, age or how much money they possess has been tried a number of times in the 20th century and got about 100 million people killed. Salvation is based on the behaviour and belief of the individual. God himself looks at us as individuals. The church thinking it should support corporate guilt is just evil wrapped in good intentions.

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Exactly! The dialogue with TW and this blog conversation is still a “turn around in a circle”. I am aware that since the 14.11. decision a great number of private and official meetings (also on Division level) with TW had happen… It was always the same result: (Citation): “Wilson responded to the concerns graciously and positively…” But until this Advent season no sorry, no correction has reached the world-wide church members!

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I am encouraged by the iniative of the regional conferences - especially as WO appears to be a side issue only. The current developments in GC leadership are far more than the issue of what kind of credentials women can bear. It is a paradigm shift of unheard of magnitude.

Let’s take “Social justice” What did Jesus teach? What did Jesus do? (Okay - how about the old testament prophets, if you need further support). If the gospel is not about our everyday life - with all its needs … what is it about? Corporate identity? Why is it that the Adventist church developped the largest medical and educational network among all protestant churches? How about our involvement in religious liberty? And looking into Adventist history … what exactly has the position of EGW been on say slave trade?

To downplay social justice is neither biblical, nor is it Adventist.


Social Justice goes way back into history. Study the American Revolution an american slavery or view Toussaint Louverture’s on social justice at … After studying or viewing, – We ought to praise God for all our freedoms -. All in our church including our women pastors should be set free.


I don’t believe in a “corporate guilt”. Every nation, ethnic group, people and social class is made of individuals. If there is a bad behavior contributed to them it is always because some influential individuals among them prevailed. Social justice themes are about recognizing those individuals and warning the church and the others not to join them. And most of all social justice is about helping the afflicted ones.
If the SDA Church wants to be a prophetic movement then it has to behave like the prophets of the old testament. Just read them. They just didn’t happen to be good friends of kings and priests. Their favorites were the oppressed, widows and orphans, peasants and shepherds - ordinary people of their time. Adventists seem to be prophetic movement only when it goes for prophesying and interpretation of the beasts. OT prophets were social sensitive men of God (Micah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea…), but we prefer Daniel.


I completely agree with your objective. However, the term “social justice” has been co-opted completely by the promoters of liberal-socialism, which is vigorously opposed to all religious faith that is not supremely loyal to the secular state, that we need to distinguish that from what we do in the name of God. We dare not allow ourselves to be confused with the sophistries of Satan and must be clearly seen as servants of God, as people who love Him, as those who are motivated by His great love and guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Doing things God’s way, not man’s way, is how people will be moved to glorify our Heavenly Father.

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