The Dilemma in Battle Creek and Beyond

“Councils err and have erred.” —Martin Luther


On July 17, 2018, the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) published the document “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” to be presented and voted on at the Annual Council of the GC Executive Committee in Battle Creek in October 2018.

This document reacts to the fact that in some areas constituencies began ordaining female pastors — in contradiction to the San Antonio decision. This dilemma will not, and cannot, be solved administratively. We therefore must look for a spiritual, biblical way out.

The Book of Acts reports about a process in the Sanhedrin, the Jewish Supreme Court. This process may serve as a precedent case. There are significant similarities between the Sanhedrin in times of the apostles, and the GC Executive Committee, in our church of today.

Sometimes it happens that at a certain point it is no longer the original problem which causes troubles, but the way the crisis is managed. In this case it is the same.

I. The Sanhedrin and the General Conference: both are last decision-making bodies. Decisions of both were and are binding as law; they are not recommendations.

II. Loyalty toward the Sanhedrin and the General Conference: As loyal and God-fearing citizens the apostles never questioned the authority of the Sanhedrin. They never would have acted against its decisions, except in a conflict of conscience. Even when confronted with the threat of death (Acts 4:19-20, 33; 5:29) the apostles would follow their Lord — and their conscience.

After the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, a number of Seventh-day Adventist Unions in different divisions did not feel bound to the vote on women’s ordination. They, too, would normally never question the authority of the General Conference. If these individuals refuse obedience to our worldwide church, it is because of a serious conflict of conscience.

III. Serious decisions by the Sanhedrin concerning the church, and the apostles:

1. After the death of Jesus it was officially ruled by the Sanhedrin: “His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep” (Math 28:13). In opposition to this ruling Peter, Paul, and all the apostles were preaching that Jesus had been risen from the dead (Acts 4:1-2). This presented a serious challenge to the Sanhedrin.

2. On several occasions therefore the apostles were banned from publicly speaking of Jesus under threat of punishment (Acts 4:17-18; 5:40).

3. Because of their insubordination the apostles were sentenced to death (Acts 5:33). The apostles did not question the authority of the Sanhedrin, but they formulated this still valid key sentence: “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29)

IV. How did the apostles survive the death penalty?

We know the story: Gamaliel, a highly honored member of the Supreme Court (Sanhedrin), rose up with an appeal. First: “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!” (Acts 5:35). Second: “My advice is, leave these men alone.” Third: “If what they teach and do is merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.” Fourth: “But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them, and, Fifth: “you may find yourselves fighting against God” (Acts 5:39).

For any political or religious governing body it is difficult to admit: "Maybe we are wrong, maybe we have erred.”

The Jewish Supreme Court did not officially withdraw its own judgement. But, the Council accepted Gamaliel’s advice, and finally let them go (Acts 5:40). In fact, the Sanhedrin officially accepted reason of conscience in a religious issue. And, at least, the Sanhedrin considered its own capacity for error possible. Gamaliel’s words, caused by the Holy Spirit as we believe, opened the door to freedom for the apostles.

V. Parallels to the situation in our church:

This biblical case may be compared with what happened with the vote in San Antonio and thereafter. It also has to do with the next session of the GC Executive Committee.

● If Gamaliel’s voice could still be heard, most likely this would be his message: “Men and women of the GC Executive Committee — take care what you are planning to do with these unions and persons. You will not stop them in what they do.”

● Who are those who resist the vote of San Antonio? Are they rebels? For many years, most of them for their lifetime, were and still are dedicated, spiritual, and loyal leaders in this church. Their service is based on their faith in God, and on the confidence of their constituency. Are they really to be punished as the ADCOM document is indicating? Will they be pilloried publicly, as in the Middle Ages? Will this church point at them as if they were rebels?

● Yes, human motives can always play a role in matters like these. But, at the same time, it can be as well that God unexpectedly is on their side.

Some serious questions: Is it possible that God is with those unions where female pastors are ordained? Is it thinkable that the General Conference in session can err? The answer is that God only knows. The case of the Sanhedrin against the apostles shows us very clearly: truth is not always on the side of a formal parliamentary majority. And this has been experienced before with Martin Luther and the Reformation.

VI. Conclusions:

Are there valid reasons which seem to justify the claim that it is a matter of conscience as far as the question before us is concerned? Should we consider, for example: Ellen G. White and her influence as a woman; the fact that female church elders can be ordained; ordained female pastors in China; the result of the TOSC Committee, and the lack of discussion on it prior to the vote of San Antonio; Article 14 of the Fundamental Beliefs, which stands against discrimination.

● How liberating would it be if the GC Executive Committee would follow the counsel of Gamaliel in leaving this matter to God! No sanctions, no punishment. Gamaliel recognized that these people were acting from a higher conviction, and because of this their conscience forced them to do what they did. May the GC Executive Committee be aware of the spiritual, and ecclesiastical dimensions.

● This Church from its very beginning fought for and defended religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Will the GC Executive Committee punish or acknowledge reasons of conscience?

VII. What can the GC Executive Committee do in Battle Creek?

The ADCOM document mentioned above, from the point of view of many churches, is not suitable for resolving our dilemma. On the contrary, our church leadership may be able to win a vote, but it may lose a much bigger one. The Sanhedrin, when dealing with the apostles, often considered: what would happen in Jerusalem, if the apostles are treated with force? (Acts 4:17; 5:26)

We too should not lightly assume that the document in its present content would be accepted unchallenged by local congregations, with consequences which nobody can predict. What then can the GC Executive Committee do?

The Executive Committee cannot reverse the San Antonio decision. But the General Conference, and the Executive Committee, should withdraw the above-mentioned draft resolution. Nobody will lose face.

By so doing our church would consciously give up this concern and place it into the hands of God. We will be led by confidence and certainty that God will bless, if we refrain from asserting ourselves by human means.

The General Conference should, together with the Executive Committee, observe further developments in order to report to the General Conference session in 2020.

Reinhard Rupp is a retired pastor, former president of the North German Union (1991-2002), and an elder statesman of the Adventist Church in Germany.

Photo by Allen Taylor on Unsplash

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Ask Ellen White. Is the G C God’s highest authority on earth and she would say from her experience “not always… sometimes”


Did not the same highest authority censor her, because they erred, but refused to humble themselves.


The voices of reason are gaining momentum.


For me, the above perspective was very helpful.


If I recall correctly, it seems that the Highest Authority on Earth EXILED
Ellen White to the British Penal Colony for 10 years – Australia.

The driving force in Silver Springs is President Wilson and those who are
giving allegiance to him and his views. And there are many of them on board.
Greed for Power and maintaining Power is always a great driving force in humans.


Do SDA church councils and institutions err ?
Welcome to Battle Creek, MI, ADCOM.
I wouldn’t attend that Annual Council meeting for the world !:roll_eyes:

Fire Chief Weeks, who had directed the fighting of a number of big fires in Battle Creek, was later to declare that he had fought every one of the Adventist fires and his score was zero. “‘There is something strange,’” he said, “‘about your SDA fires, with the water poured on acting more like gasoline.’”—P. B. Fairchild to Arthur L. White, December 4, 1965. ~ quote from article linked above

“The building was destroyed by fire on January 3, 1922.” ~ from Wikipedia article above

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There is a lot of tension among the people who will participate at the AC18, and many others are also very concerned with what will happen.

I am gradually becoming more confident, feeling that if we consider our past, we have nothing to worry about the future couple of weeks (paraphrasing a famous text from EGW).

Why? For the simple fact that TW’s attempts to steal from the Unions their gubernatorial authority traditionally established in the Church already failed THREE times*. Therefore, I am confident that this will be the fourth time. And if he loses again, he should resign right away!

*Yes, three times:

1. SA2015: In an apparent show of illiteracy, many delegates voted NO thinking they were voting against WO. DId they even read the proposition? Apparently not. So, the GC’s attempt to transfer the Unions’ authority to the Divisions (aka GC) failed. I have the impression that God may have interfered “a la Babelian” and confused the poor delegates. The attempted “coup d’etat” failed!

2. AC16: The fake “one year of grace” was a joke, a childish and futile wish that the Unions would just submit to TW’s “kommands” and would stop ordaining women; thus continuing practicing discrimination of women. Another failed expectation since, the Unions kept ordaining.

3. AC17: A more violent assault on the integrity of the SDA system, when TW came up with the “last minute 14-page document” for the clowns to sign even having basically no time to read/digest it. The maneuver (manure???) backfired since the “clowns” were not actually stupid and sent the document back to be “re-examined.” A major blow out for TW.

4. AC18: TW appears determined to grab the power that belongs to the Unions, at any cost. So now he created the shameful 40 agents task force (SFATF). For some reason this reminds me on Ali Baba and the 40!.. The GC already violated the established Church regulation, by making this group of 40 effective without any voting at the AC. As we all know, they “went around” the policy, maybe thinking that we, the “clowns and fools” will not notice it… Well, many Unions noticed it too, and already produced crystal clear oppositional statements. There is a big chance that the vote will, again, defeat the malignant intention of stealing power and authority from the Unions.

Now we have to wait and see how this issue unfolds. But, if TW’s kingly intentions and expectations fail the fourth time, wouldn’t it be time for him to accept it and to finally resign??? Past due, in my opinion!!!

Thank you Pastor Rupp for such a great and straightforward article. Keep writing!!!

(Sorry for the unusual length of my post. Could not shorten it up more than this)


Is there any Biblical basis to support such an idea about the GC’ powers??

Battle Creek is going to be very “firy” again since a great explosion (not literally, of course) may occur when the GC finally launches another serial attack on the Unions!

I would love to throw water on them, to extinguish their attitudinal fire… :smile:

Thank you, Pastor Rupp, for a sober and heartfelt analysis.


No more so than in that human organization of (mostly white) males calling themselves ‘Freemasons’.
Even while my father was dying of cancer, one of his Mason employees ‘organized’ the shop workers into the local labor union which the Masons controlled in the Kalamazoo, MI area. The Battle Creek union was even more ‘powerful’. They actually had someone watching the routes into Battle Creek, so when I drove to service calls at Jewell Foods in Battle Creek, my father would get a phone call from the ‘Hall’, demanding to know why an outsider had entered the Battle Creek Local’s territory (whose bread and butter was the Kellogg Corporation.)

If you look on Google maps, you will notice, nestled between the Battle Creek City Hall, and the Calhoun County Offices, the historic Battle Creek Freemason Lodge #12, just off of Sojourner Truth Highway #66, at #133 East Michigan Avenue.

After my father died, I was finally told by his office manager to bid on an industrial job at Welch’s in Lawton, MI, where my father’s electrical contracting company had just got on the ‘bidder’s list’. Having left the union, myself, of all the dozens of commercial projects I had bid against the non-union shops for my father, I never was the low bidder. But for the Welch’s job I left the prying eyes of the Masonic/Union spy in the office and went to the General Contractor’s office to do the ‘take-off’ . . . and I was low bidder !

Then, the sheepish office manager came to me and told me that we had to give the job to another contractor. . . the union agreement that my ‘Godfather’ dad had refused to sign while alive as a ‘union contractor’ forced to compete with increasingly non-union forces from Freemasonic Grand Rapids, MI, was signed by that same office manager with my SDA mother’s blessing, and I got an unannounced visit from the Local Union business agent and well-known Freemason, telling me ‘they’ liked to see a son follow in their father’s footsteps, but that I didn’t want to get involved in my father’s industrial accounts like ‘Upjohn Pharmaceuticals’ . . . or Welch’s ?

Much later, when I took a temporary job as an electrical inspector for the State of Michigan in Antrim County (where the State Official and the County Building Official had had a disagreement, and the county lost its inspection powers for 90 days) one morning as I was working at my desk out in the hall of the Antrim County building, the former electrical inspector marched up to me with his lieutenant, and his chest puffed out, with a Freemasonic pocket-protector foremost, introduced himself and his sidekick. And, I knew I had, again, been put ‘on notice’. Antrim County got their inspection powers back, despite the rumors of racial slurs having been made in conversation with the highly-placed African-American State Official who had taken them away.

There is a reason that such organizations are ‘secret societies’. They would never dare to deal dirt as they do, out in the open. And, being rather familiar with it in my personal life, I smell the same filthy character in the work now being done by the SDA GC. Battle Creek, MI, is no more God’s territory, today, than the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been since the Shekinah-Glory left it Ezekiel’s time. But, Battle Creek is clearly a strong-hold of the Luciferians who believe ‘Jehovah’ to be the evil god, because He resides in darkness. Not even the SDA evangelist, Will Pergerson, was protected by God at Battle Creek’s airport near Ft. Custer, 3 years ago. But, the ‘seven worse spirits’ friendly to ADCOM’s current dark, secrecy-and-power-lust have been made securely at home in Battle Creek, MI and its government centers for at least the last century, since God pulled out of town.
Like seeks like.

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” ~ Jesus, in Luke 11:24-26

It is time for thee , LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.” ~ Psalm 119:126

"He said to him,
“What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?
So he answered and said,
‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ [fn] and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’ ”[fn]
And He said to him,
“You have answered rightly; do this and you will live.” ~ Luke 10:26-28

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Christsinity is far too important to leave to an institution. It is up close and personal. We gather together to to share our blessings and to encourage one another in trusting in His gifts. We are pilgrams but why should an organization created to encourage fellowship in Christ behave as Indians on the war path agsinst the wagon train.

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By so doing our church would consciously give up this concern and place it into the hands of God. We will be led by confidence and certainty that God will bless, if we refrain from asserting ourselves by human means.” IF that were to be followed then what other issue might come up where the GC would have to relinquish its authority?..and what would be the cut-off? where would it end? Just curious…when exceptions are made there is no end…

A thought for the GC leadership and it’s current and proposed commitees - From Ellen White: “Satan attends every committee meeting, trying to impress minds to make objections that will delay the work—The very thing that the Lord had impressed upon the minds of His servants that ought to be done has not been done at the right time, because these men advanced their own ideas under the suggestions the devil had put in their minds to hinder the work of God and to disgust those who would see the work of God move. There have been suggestions made by themselves which have carried, which God never put into their minds. Satan attends every board meeting, every business meeting, every committee meeting, and if he can impress anyone’s mind to make objections or to throw in suggestions that will delay the work hours and weary out those who are called upon to attend these meetings, he is wonderfully pleased. He has had his way in the matter. And the business which should be pushed through with dispatch, yet in an intelligent manner, is made tedious and to drag along because of the human, unsanctified elements in the character of some who are placed in responsible positions, who do not have knowledge when to speak and when to keep silent.” —Manuscript Releases 12:23. – {PaM 252.4}

It is disturbing that a General Conference decision has seemingly been ignored.

I wonder whether Delegates had the right to vote or if the General Conference was correct in making a global issue around individuals’ free will choices and/or obedience to Holy Spirit promptings?

Unity can be celebrated within diversity; conformity is not necessarily a good indicator of cohesiveness.

The question around ordaining women will not disappear until either God ceases calling females to full time ministry, or humans agree with Divine decree.

In Jesus there is no slave or free, Greek or Jew, male or female … ALL are part of the one body.

My job is to work with Jesus, not against Him - whether to offer a cup of water, a listening ear, accomplish some behind the scenes task, or be responsible for a more visible role - I am to serve as though serving the Master Himself (as is each Christian).

My understanding is that God’s Holy Spirit confers gifts, not any person or organisational overseer.

Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.

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Discutino says “ask Ellen White”. I did. Her reply is, “If the Lord has located His sanctuary at Battle Creek, and in no other place, it is right and sensible to refer all questions to that place.” (from her 1888 Materials letter, Chapter 186, to W.W. Prescott.) Also, “Young men should search the scriptures for themselves…The Jews perished as a nation because they were drawn from the truth of the Bible by their rulers, priests, and elders…We must study the truth for ourselves. No man should be relied upon to think for us. No matter who he is, or iin what position he may be placed, we are not to look upon any man as a criterion for us.” Testimony to Miniisters p. 110. (A book those at GC seem to have forgotten.)

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This is WHY it is OK to become proficient in Greek and Hebrew.
OK to pursue questioning of the mind-set and cultures of OT and NT writers.
Asking – HOW would working class Jews of AD 27 to 31 respond to the Stories
of Jesus?

OK to QUESTION the Validity of Commentaries of later Centuries, Millenia on
OT, NT writings.
OK to question Dr. Luke’s answers to the Stories of Jesus.


You seem to neglect that one important fact that in this instance, the GC is grasping for authority that has never been theirs in the first place, i. e., Authority regarding ordination which for well over 100 years has been solely within the purview of the Unions.

So where does it end?


That is a behavior that should never be tolerated by anyone. The GC appears to be completely out of this world. I am gradually more confident (intuition) that their malignant actions and desires will be, again, defeated by the process - as it already happened three times in the past three years.

If Ted Wilson’s plans to steal the Unions’ authority fails again this time, he has to be ousted from that chair that he believes is a throne. The best would be to dissolve the GC for good. It’s a completely irrelevant agency that does nothing for the local churches, and now is trying to split the Church. Those people are spiritually ill!