Springwood Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia Voices Concern Over GC Compliance Document


(Spectrumbot) #1

Editor’s Note: The Springwood Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brisbane, Australia has issued an open letter voicing its concern over the General Conference’s proposed compliance document. The letter follows below in its entirety:

Springwood Leadership Council Response to GC Compliance Proposal

As the Leadership Committee of the Springwood Seventh-day Adventist Church of Brisbane, Australia, we desire to add our voice to others in sharing our concern regarding the proposal of the GC ADCOM with its document ‘Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions’. This document outlines a compliance procedure that concentrates authority in a hierarchical structure and thereby disempowers and suggests mistrust of Unions and the decisions made at Union Constituency Meetings.

We add our voice because not only are we, as local church, part of the decision making at such Union meetings, but also because the proposal suggests the compliance process being potentially implemented at other levels of church structure and we protest to it being the modus operandi that characterizes church practice. We believe it would be detrimental to the following:

• The call of Jesus to love one another and be united in the Spirit (all the while appreciating the important distinction between ‘unity' and ‘uniformity’)

• The current trust and empowerment of members at the local church level.

• The New Testament theological premise we hold dear of 'the priesthood of all believers.'

• The keen desire of our local church community (along with that of our Union) to ‘growing young’, and our resultant desire to positively impact our young adults, youth and children as we seek to emphasize things of eternal value in their discipleship. It is our desire to nurture belonging to a church that holds true to its biblical worldview while also contextualizing it to the needs of life today (including that of the dignity and equality of all).

None of the above will be honored should we go down a track of forced compliance.

Our God is a God whose governance is undergirded by freedom of choice. Our protestant heritage leads us to remain convicted regarding our current pattern of church operation. We see that it affirms any needed self-correction under the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We believe this new GC proposal will be detrimental to the robust health of our church-at-large, as together we pursue the Lordship and authority of Jesus in living out the Gospel Commission within our unique local context.

Yours sincerely Springwood Leadership Council (Action 18.75)

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/9091

(Peter Marks) #2

It is great to see that Australia’s largest SDA congregation is engaged and speaking in clear terms about this impasse. Kudos to the pastor and all the leadership group.

I just wonder when my local congregation about 50 kms down the motorway will speak.


(Andrew) #3

I suppose someone needs to express an opinion given the local conference and union are mute.


(Steve Mga) #4

WHAT A GREAT RESPONSE!!
It could be THE RESPONSE for churches in Sidney, Melbourne, Perth
where I have friends.
It could be the response for all in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania.
Very concise and well written.
Thank You Springwood members.


(Peter Marks) #5

Andrew,

What I really appreciated about this expression of concern is that it carefully expressed how it may potentially affect people in the pew. This is truly a first in that sense.

The Australian Union will have its opportunity for its concern to be expressed.


(Billman) #6

I haven’t heard of any Unions, Conferences or Churches expressing support for the GC position. Are there any?


(Saffert) #7

there is nothing great about the statement as indeed it is devoid of clearness right from its outset.
Here is what we have in clear simple terms:

  • There is binding church law voted into such by the church’s one and only legislature - the GC Session.
  • There are church leaders who are not only in opposition to such law, but breaking it with all sorts of excuses. Remember, being in opposition to a law is very well permitted, but breaking it is not.
  • There is church government whose sole purpose (in the separation of powers) is to enact and enforce the law made by the legislature which is now being condemned for doing exactly that.

This is madness, this is shism, this has got to end - NOW.
Enjoy the read-up and God bless.


Responses from Church Entities to GC’s Compliance Attempts and Timeline of Key Events
(Peter Marks) #8

Eugen,

Why do you speak of church policy as church law? And why speak of the GC Session as the church’s one and only legislature.

Your distinction between being in opposition to church policy, on the one hand, and breaking it, on the other hand is nonsense. As is your statement that “being in opposition is very well permitted but breaking it is not.”


(Steve Mga) #9

LOL! YES! This letter IS MADNESS!
It is Also CONTROLLED Anger at the Leaders in the GC building at Silver Springs.
It is the Leaders in the GC building at Silver Springs who ARE LEAVING the SDA Church.
Their Spirit is certainly not from the Holy Spirit. It is a Spirit from a different Source.

This Letter is attempting to GENTLY let them know that Their Spirit is from a DARK SOURCE.
And, that Messages and Behavior from the DARK SOURCE are Unacceptable!! And WILL
NOT be accepted any time, any place, and under NO CONDITIONS!

Praise be to Springwood for their FAITHFULNESS to the True Seventh day Adventist
Biblical Spirit!! Again, thank you, Springwood, AU members and leaders. May your Tribe
increase as we say in the States.


#10

“The Statement in idolatrous fashion argues that “faithfulness to Christ” and obedience to the GC’s policies are one and the same.” This statement is in-line with the Papal System, Mormon, and other religious organizations.

“To argue that the Church is somehow divided because of diverse ordination practices around the world is shrill. Such an argument elevates policy up to the level of biblical teachings and the Church’s Fundamental Beliefs. This elevation of policy conflicts with Sola Scriptura. There is much diversity in policy throughout the Church. What unites Seventh-day Adventists is biblical teachings as expressed in our Fundamental Beliefs, not policies.”

“The Statement fails to understand that union officers and union executive committee members have a duty to carry out the wishes of the constituents of the union. Those wishes are reflected in policies enacted by the union. As the Statement admits, “[union constituents] are not forced to accept [GC] policies.” If that admission is credible and if the admission offered that “[c]oercion is not part of heaven’s plan” is credible, then the Statement’s ire toward certain “church leaders” is misdirected, misguided, and more important, disingenuous. Wilson should admit that he is seeking to subjugate not just a few “church leaders” but hundreds of thousands of Seventh-day Adventists who disagree with him.”

“The Statement perpetuates the unbiblical distinction between “church leader” and “individual,”
a distinction that originated in the medieval church. Scripture teaches that Christ is the sole Head of the church. Every Christian is a disciple of Christ. Accordingly, His church cannot be dichotomized into “church leaders” and “individuals.”” As the Advent movement we only obey the law of God not men, so to say otherwise is the very definition of heresy.

Credit for the text in quotation marks is to another commentator to this forum.


(DENNIS HOFER) #11

Amen, Springwood SDA church !

But actually, when I think about it, there have already been one-too-plenty of self-appointed ‘Pharisee’ ‘spies’ in local SDA churches I have been acquainted with. Spies which are not afraid to ‘report’ from the bottom, up the hierarchy, beginning with the pastor, or bypassing the pastor and contacting the conference(s), even, about the pastor. So the current attempt to enforce such spying from the top, down, is partly a reflection of the bottom, up, curse that may often be the case, already, at the local level.
A perversion – even an ignor-ance – of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, of ‘Christ’, Himself.

Maybe the SDA GC would also like to ban Ellen’s ‘missionary books’ – the ones intended for non-SDAs, too – like Thoughts From the Mount of Blessings ?
Notice the ‘step-by-step’ progression (or regression) she describes, without Christ.
This shouldn’t sound familiar, but it does.

The effort to earn salvation by one’s own works
inevitably leads men
to pile up human exactions as a barrier against sin.
For,
seeing that they fail to keep the law, they will devise rules and regulations of their own
to force themselves to obey
.
All this
turns the mind away from God to self.
His love dies out of the heart,
and
with it perishes love for his fellow men.
A system of human invention, with its multitudinous exactions,
will
lead its advocates to judge all who come short of the prescribed human standard.
The
atmosphere of selfish and narrow criticism stifles the noble and generous emotions,
and
causes men to become self-centered judges and petty spies.”
{MB 123.1}

The Pharisees were of this class.
They came forth from their religious services,
not humbled with a sense of their own weakness,
not grateful for the great privileges that God had given them.
They came forth
filled with spiritual pride,
and their theme was,
Myself,
my feelings,
my knowledge,
my ways
.”
Their own attainments became the standard by which they judged others.
Putting on the robes of self-dignity,
they mounted the judgment seat to criticize and condemn.”
{MB 123.2}

The people partook largely of the same spirit,
intruding upon the province of conscience and
judging one another in matters that lay between the soul and God.

It was in reference to this spirit and practice that Jesus said,
Judge not, that ye be not judged.” That is,
do not set yourself up as a standard.
Do not make your opinions, your views of duty, your interpretations of Scripture, a criterion for others and in your heart condemn them if they do not come up to your ideal.
Do not criticize others, conjecturing as to their motives and passing judgment upon them.”
{MB 123.3}

So, it is rather obvious to this simple mind that Christ has been left out of the latest SDA GC plans to oversee His own church, in His own way, beginning with the individual mind and heart. ( Just as Paul described in his letter to the Laodicean church, and as repeated and enhanced in the ‘1888 Message’ – a.k.a. ‘Laodicean Message’ – the SDA GC still apparently ignores, while claiming to have ‘accepted’ it, long ago ?) But this Christ-emptiness apparently begins at the level of the individual, wherever in whatever hierarchy they may choose to exist, instead of ‘in Christ’.


(Saffert) #12

Dear @petersomerset,
I speak of law because the SDA church has both: policy and law.
The main church law is the SDA Church Manual. Despite its name the SDA Working Policy is a bylaw.
I recommend looking up this legal terminology in Wikipedia. You might want to start with following the link, read my post there and download the little three-page document I have provided.
There are established procedures on how to abolish laws that one does not like. One certainly does not start with breaking it as long as it exists.
But one can civilly oppose it, petition against it, even go to the supreme court against it. These are legal measures of dissent.
The next GC Session will be in 2020. Prepare a motion for it and it may be voted into law. But until then we’ve got to live by the laws that we’ve already made.
I hope that was of any help.
Take care and God bless.


(Pagophilus) #13

There are too many people in the pews. Too many unconsecrated ones anyway. Remember the story of Gideon? The Adventist church needs a bit of a cull - but it is best done as an auto-cull.


(Robert Lindbeck) #14

Unlike the Catholic church, the Adventist church does not have laws. As you rightfully point out we have a Church Manual but these are not laws, they are policies. Policies are very different from laws. They are by nature guidelines.

The only law the Adventist church has id the Law of God, often described as the One, the Two and the Ten. Any other law is man-made.


(Website Editor) #15

@bill1, we haven’t come across any yet, but we will publish those as well if we find any.

-WebEd


(Thomas J Zwemer) #16

Glad to read these voices in opposition to Ted’s obsession. I doubt they will have any impact on the vote. The ruling Given is “Go along to get a long” The level of the players is full salary sustaination. It does give one pause to meddle. To me it issue is mute, there is so much doctrinal error in the mix that institutionally it is unacceptable with Christ centered alternatives available. LGTH origin is enough. Amazing Grace. Is the sum and total of the Christain faith.Life style is a consequence of that reality…


(Joselito Coo) #17

Thank you, Eugen, for clearly articulating a perspective regarding Church Authority and Insubordination that I hear from first generation immigrant members of our ethnic churches in the SECC and SCC. It explains, I believe, why there has been no Asian/Pacific congregation that has publicly spoken for or against the issue of compliance. As a group, Asian/Pacific Ministries [sub-conference!] coordinators are silent. Why? They are compliant insofar as their relationship with immediate local conference, union and NAD employers is concerned.


(Steve Mga) #18

Eugen –
The FIRST LAW BOOK of the Seventh day Adventist Denomination SHOULD be
the Holy Scriptures.
“To the Law and the Testimony” of the Scriptures. If they speak not according to
THIS word, there is no light in them.
THIS is where we have to begin.
AND, we have to interpret correctly.

If Policies and Procedures go against the Testimonies of the Scriptures, then THEY
ARE WRONG and have no real value.


(jeremy) #19

i don’t know if you saw finn eckhoff’s interesting “alternative” (An Alternative Solution to the General Conference Unity Oversight Committee Document), but according to our history, the GC doesn’t have jurisdiction over ordination…it’s the unions who do…the GC is not are final authority in everything…it’s only jurisdiction is defining doctrine, and ordination isn’t a doctrine…we have a separation of powers concept built into our church that our prophet endorsed…we can’t veer from that now…


(jeremy) #20

but the compliance review committee’s, should they materialize, will be OPTIONAL…here it is:

“4. With sound judgment and prayerful discernment, administrators may use existing General Conference working policies and guidelines as tools for resolving matters of non-compliance.” p.2, Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions.