Religion Scholars Discuss “The Church of Our Dreams”

In response to the General Conference document “A Study of Church Governance and Unity,” Adventist university religion professors voted a statement saying, “it is vital that we accommodate the conscience of those who may disagree over matters of church policy.” The scholars were meeting at the Adventist Society for Religious Studies in San Antonio last week.

Calling attention to the 500th year of Martin Luther’s protest, the statement said it is “imperative to remember the history of the Christian church. That history teaches us how perilous it is to move a church from a movement with a focus on mission toward one that seeks ecclesial unity through policies enforced by a hierarchical governance structure. This runs counter to Ellen White’s guidance throughout her writings.”

In a spirit of love and loyalty, the scholars voted to recommend two actions:

  1. Following Jesus’s counsel in Matthew 18 we encourage all entities and individuals to spend much time in prayer and conversation particularly with those of different convictions.

  2. Since actions and working policies are not always based on clear principles, and there are policies on which we have reached no consensus, it is vital that we accommodate the conscience of those who may disagree over matters of church policy.

“The Church of Our Dreams” was the theme for the meeting. Presentations began with Dave Gemmell of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, talking about the pastor of our dreams and the studies that the North American Division has undertaken to define the characteristics of that pastor and how those core qualities can be passed along in the pastoral formation process.

Asked if the North American Division study was part of the International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education (IBMTE), Gemmell said no, the North American Division study is completely separate.

“How can ten diverse schools and 58 diverse conferences work together to form an interchangeable, coordinated, seamless education flow with no gaps or redundancies, all the while preserving the values of diversity and autonomy?” he asked. His answer was collaboration. He said a curriculum committee was established three years ago to create a system of interchangeable parts that could work seamlessly together. He distributed a thumb drive with the results of the surveys that have been done on this topic.

To answer those with questions about what happened at the fall church meetings on the IBMTE’s revised handbook, Dr. Gordon Bietz gave a brief report. Bietz, recently was named an associate director of the NAD Education Department. First he expressed his appreciation to Lisa Bearsley-Hardy, the director of the General Conference Department of Education , for her work in taking what was at first an unacceptable document and overseeing the conversations for changing it. Rather than the General Conference overseeing an endorsement process for all university religion faculty, the revised IBMTE Handbook now says each school should design their own process for endorsement. “Within this concept there is a lot of room for flexibility,” Bietz said, but the college presidents have requested that an alternative procedure should be used. The design process for an alternative process will take time, he added.

The 14 presentations during the ASRS conference were made by faculty and graduate students from North American universities, as well as by scholars from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Hong Kong. A unity dinner on Friday evening featured the presidential addresses from both the Adventist Theological Society, Felix Cortez, and the Adventist Society for Religious Studies, Teresa Reeve. Both are on the faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University.

The attendees of the 2016 ASRS Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

On Sabbath morning, Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference preached on “The Church of My Dreams: Embracing Grace, Empowering All.” He concluded his remarks with a report from the most recent meeting of his union executive committee where there was discussion of the General Conference’s interest in disciplining unions that have voted to ordain women, such as his union. “We were in agreement,” he said, “we’re not turning back.”

Photo: Members of Sabbath morning panel discussion (L-R): Zane Yi, Marlene Ferreras, Yi Shen Ma, Jody Washburn, Erik Carter and Janice De Whyte.

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum.

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Thanks for this report. It’s the first one to report on the Columbia Union’s response to the Unity Document. Dr. Weigley’s response “We’re not turning back,” sets a courageous tone and commendable response by a union with a conscience.


i’m very encouraged to see a segment of our church recognizing that annual council’s oct 11 compliance vote was out of harmony with the reformation, and out of harmony with our prophet…and if more people can see that san antonio itself was out of harmony with the example of the apostolic church’s twin-track approach to circumcision at the council of jerusalem, and therefore out of harmony with the bible, perhaps enough church members will raise the alarm at what is happening to our church…

it is delusion to think we can be used by god in any way when we’re out of harmony with the bible, egw, the apostolic church and the reformation…but this is just the position our GC has placed us in…


Jeremy and the rest of us –
No matter what we Pew Sitters think, It is STILL the Men In The Black Suits [minus the Red Hats] who decide Church Laws.
No amount of pressure from us Pew Sitters is going to change their minds [or their enjoyment of Power].

It IS TRUE, these “Scholars” got their 15 minutes of fame [maybe a little longer depending on how it goes around FaceBook], but what they did there won’t amount to anything. UNLESS they are allowed to go back to their class rooms and discuss those things with their young, fresh, impressionable minds waiting for them there.


The perfect church would one in which both the pastor and the congregation were gathered to celebrated the Steps Jesus took to be the perfect man to die a sacrificial atonement, and now stands as our Advocate before the Father. Pastor that engages in a teaching role guide his/her congregation to do justice,love mercy, and to walk teachable with Christ through the Holy Spirit.

I have worshipped with such, I have read many more. For shame, denominationalism fails to honor such. TZ

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Amen to that! Let’s support our leaders who refuse to surrender conscience to TW’s “Working Policy.”


It’s like a pack of wolves discussing with a few sheep what’s for dinner. Every observer knows what is happening, The dinner has previously been planned, the charade fools a few sheeple.


I attend 3 churches.

SDA= 200+ weekly
Non denom - 600 weekly
Mega Non denom- 12,000 weekly

The numbers are related to the relevant sermon quality

Ken: That can be valid sometime as in the case of prosperity preachers or likes ie:Joel Osteen. Since you replied with a challenge post, I gather you think my post is invalid. My opinion is that you have not been around much or might be hesitant to visit “BABYLON” churches
I would not attend a sermon speaker like that. Actually the SDA church sermons are more itching ears type. …with the constant shallow …Jesus will never leave or forsake you,…God is in control clichés.

harrpa, I challenge you to get a GC , union, or local conference ministerial secretary to candidly share their thoughts about sermons in general. I speak with SDA pastors & ministerial secretaries. One secretary said that sermons are “happy thoughts served on a dainty dish of some obscure text” and" just spiritual palliatives for troubled minds" You want data? So do I. My local church has finally put a review insert in the bulletin. The mega church did it years ago.

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I thought it had more to do with “itching ears”, hearing what one wants to hear.

Come out of her my people, that ye be NOT partakers in her sins.

Do you have data?

You have harped about sermons for years.

So many variables. So little research.


Lucy, you write “…you have put your own wishes before God’s plans for His people.”

Women preaching and teaching is part of our church’s history. Ellen White preached to thousands over her career. She was called of God. How can you tell others who are called of God to preach that “you have put your own wishes before God’s plans” when the Holy Spirit has called them and gifted them for the calling to preach? How can mere humans tell the Holy Spirit whom He can and cannot call to the ministry? Help me understand that. He called many women:

  1. the Woman at the Well was His first evangelist. He sent her to her home town to preach about Him as the Water of Life from the city square.
  2. Mary, sitting at his feet, had chosen that best part, instead of slaving in the kitchen.
  3. At the tomb when He had risen, the angel sent Mary, to preach the “Good News” of Christ’s resurrection to 'the men."
  4. The Holly Spirit has empowered many women in China to preach the Gospel and raise churches, preaching to thousands through the Holy Spirit.
  5. If we are in the 11th hour, we need ALL the workers to “sound the trumpet” including women, children (even a child shall lead them), young men and even your young women shall dream dreams. How can we tell 60% of our congregations to “be quiet” when they are overflowing with the Holy Spirit to preach and bring this old world to an end?

Have you read how James White and Uriah Smith urged the women in the church to preach? Read “Your Daughters Shall Prophesy” Here

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It is so sad to see how lost the Seventh Day Adventist Church is today, the church is lost!! Ordaining women is not biblical, women elders is not biblical. “The Church of Our Dreams” will certainly be the church of your own dreams not God’s wishes, because you have put your own wishes before God’s plans for His people. You are all deceiving yourselves if you believe what you are doing is right. At this 11th hour, with so little time left before Christ comes, this church that was to sound the trumpet has turned it’s back on the truth. May God have mercy on us.

How unusual to find someone who knows God’s wishes that seem to coincide exactly with the writer’s beliefs.



The “church of our dreams” has become the inevitable, i.e., the nightmare that we didn’t expect or want.

Instead of making some progress in the direction of eliminating this mammoth from our midst, called “discrimination of women,” Ted Wilson’s administration (aka “himself”) has benn wasting a fortune and an immense amount of people’s time pursuing the obnoxious goal of perpetuating discrimination of women in our Church. As if the stone-age or medieval times had actually anything attractive in them…

What are the scholars discussing? Why are they wasting their time? What they say has absolutely no value for TW. It’s obvious that, like his father, he is always ready to just bulldoze the scholars and theologians, then imposing his own views and theology to the Church - and threatening with “grave consequences” those who would “dare” to disagree with him.

All done in the name of God, of course…


Religion Scholars Discussed “The Church of our dreams” How? A few minutes of jubilation thrill. We are forever string up into the bully pulpit of General Conference .

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