Thomas Lemon Removed as Chair of Unity Oversight Committee

Thomas Lemon, general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, has been removed as Chair of the Unity Oversight Committee.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thanks Alicia for this Report! Adventist Today indicates in their report that Tom and Ted agreed that Tom should step down. Perhaps Tom was the source of the leak from GCDO! In which case I would say Bravo, bravissimo!! Ryan Mike may make an excellent chairperson for that committee! I don’t believe his stance on WO is any secret!


Maybe it would be appropriate, and have SPLENDID OPTICS, if the new chair person would be a WOMAN ??

This all male group deciding “ UNITY “ ( a code word for the issues surrounding the women’s ordination issue ) is entrenched in male privilege and male authority.

Could just one woman in the group ameliorate this discordant, discriminatory discrepancy ?? This is not good optics nor optimal public relations !!

But then the current image of the GC needs massive refurbishing after the Autumn Council fiasco.


While prayer is always welcome and listening always efficacious, in committees I have experienced, there seems to be an assumption that praying and listening will resolve fundamental disagreements conscientious people have. One could wish it were so. Some administrators in my experience believe so intensely that when the “other” side yields during this process, it is “proof” that the Spirit has finally won the victory. “Unity” is not always achieved in a Spirit-led manner when those who capitulate do so because they realize it is useless to think that leadership will abandon an unwise course even if the majority tells them so.


i can’t say i’m understanding why the unity committee should have a new chairman any more than it should have new members…after-all, annual council voted to return the phase 2 document to the unity committee with the chair and membership fully known…to me, this episode feels like TW bullied lemon to step down because lemon said there was no rebellion going on with the non-compliant unions, or their divisions…

if this is true, i don’t think it bodes well for anything the committee produces under a new chair…it’s these kinds of authoritarian tactics - bringing the document to a vote through what sounds like proxy measures; keeping everyone in the dark on what was in the document until the last minute; demanding a loyalty pledge - that sunk the document’s ship in the first place…how is anything going to be different if a perception forms that authoritarianism hasn’t gone anywhere…what can allay the fears of those who voted to return the document on objections to authoritarianism if authoritarianism is still plainly there…


Given the AC2017 contentious session, between TW and TL, I do believe the wrong person was replaced. The Unity Oversight Committee does not need a new chairman as much as the SDA church needs a new leadership direction, thus a new GC president. Let’s see if the WO dilemma persist or its fires extinguished to support my assertion.


Thomas goes by Tom. Tomm is how his son–me–spells it. (Call it a textual variant.) I think the confusion arose in a Facebook group.


This move just re-enforces the idea that President Wilson is an authoritarian leader who seeks to control the process himself. It looks very bad and doesn’t bode well for the fate of the document going forward. There was a shift in those present at Autumn Council when the attendees were asked to sign the loyalty oath and a complicated 14 page document was released moments before the discussion began. It was disenfranchising every person for whom English was not their first language and appeared to affect even the most ardent supporters of the idea of the document and process. It was a huge mistake to take the process that was taken. As far as I can tell, that is the President’s problem because he sought tight control. Getting rid of the chair is a way to deflect away from what has to be a resounding defeat to the President’s agenda and his personal power.


How will a committee that basically lacks any diversity ever create something useful on the idea of unity? By default uniformity will be the outcome.


It would be naive to expect the things would settle so easy and fast. The guys there won’t accept the AC 2017 outcome (defeat) in a gentleman’s manner. So they will continue to roar and threaten just to make them feel powerful and fearsome. But I hope that the whole Adventist world has now opened its eyes and can clearly see that there in Silver Spring it is only about power. And what is very interesting (and also very good): This power game is not any more between GC and “noncompliant” entities, but between GC’s own men.


I am so proud of Tom Lemon’s honesty in his remarks introducing the 14-page document, its history, his praying over it for three days because he obviously was deeply concerned about taking it to the oversight committee.

While not surprised that Ted Wilson is unhappy with Lemon’s honest and careful approach, I’m deeply disappointed that Lemon will no longer chair this committee after his groundwork visiting the three divisions/unions and stating that he found NO rebellious souls in his conversations. The Mid-America Union was the first to vote to ordain women, under Lemon’s presidency, even though they had no women currently in the pipeline for ordination. As chair of the board of Union College, Lemon oversaw a process in which a top female president was hired, Dr Vinita Sauder.

This presumed firing of Lemon as chair is one more notch in TW’s intense war to pressure an international, uniform ban of women from ordination as pastors and as elders. The “out-of-compliance” loyalty oath is ultimately calculated to remove vote and voice of any opposition to his authoritarian approach to decision making, and to remove women from decision-making levels in the church.

These documents, firings, and pressure to punish are extreme and ultimately defeating measures to the church’s mission to take the Gospel of Jesus to all the world. In this war against women, God has intervened and sent the document back to a committee. Now, TW is trying to manipulate the leadership of even that committee.

Those who have eyes can see. Those who have ears can hear.

It is a serious and awesome thing to be at war with Godly men and women of the Spirit.

May God bless Tom Lemon, a hero of our church in our time.

Yes. You are correct.

But that is not necessarily his idea or preference, is my understanding. The Headship Heresy proponents, which he seems to align with, want to roll back all authorizations for women in any kind of leadership, including ordination to the ministry, commissioning to the ministry, and ordained elders. In other words, they are not happy with things “remaining the same.” Their goal is to reverse ordinations and commissioning, and eliminate women elders altogether. The Calvinistic Piper theology is that women are not involved in any “teaching of a male” over the age of 12; no directing choirs, or anything that would be considered directing, teaching, or managing any male.

That is certainly not our SDA practice, thankfully. But that is where the ultimate Headship Heresy leads in its fullness.


Prayer for the Christian is a necessity and a strength. But invoking the need for prayer in a committee or decision-making body has often, in my limited experience, been done in order to manipulate the outcome. Perhaps in my old age I’ve become cynical, but I now think that if I were to be in such a setting and the chair laid a fervent call on the assembly to engage in a season of prayer, I would be suspicious of the chair’s motive. I might even be tempted to think that calling for a season of prayer was a device to enhance the perceptions of his piety, and hence the validity of his position on the question at hand. Don


Soon Ted will have a complete cabinet full of submissive compliant Stepford Wives.
Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
For the good of the collective. For you.
Celebrate perfect Unity!

(pray some key folk cerebrate-and act-now, or the institutional church will fail, maybe already has.
The church in sandals will continue.


A somewhat witty person on another thread said that TW was replacing his “Lemon”. If so…Ted Wilson is certainly putting himself (and the SDA church) into more and more of a “pickle”. Perhaps, filling up positions with the “Perfectly Preserved” will serve TW’s purposes best. I have my doubts but we shall see…


As Yogi Berra once observed, “It’s deja vu all over again.”

At least this president didn’t call him a “nut case” as an excuse.

(Er, he didn’t, did he?)

The parallel rolls on.


I feel a need to respond to the statement that Elder Wilson his trying to have a uniform ban on female elders. Remember that he made a speech shortly after the San Antonio vote in which he said nothing had changed. Female elders were not on the agenda so female elders are safe.


Tom Lemon, whom I know well, is a man of integrity and an administrator of discernment, courage, diligence, and transparent goodwill. This past Sabbath, he spoke openly to his local church about his take on the recent Annual Council and the future of the Adventist Church. It was a welcome and refreshing approach. When I asked, “What is viewed by the General Conference as a legitimate means of loyal dissent?” he smiled and replied, “I don’t know.”

His intent was to provide before the next Annual Council far more time for people to read all documents. Removing him as chair creates an enormous loss in actual unity and ethical leadership, whatever the rationale.


It should become more and more obvious that with the headship concept and “unity” construct more is at stake than how we treat women in our church. The hierarchical centralism, the back room decisions, the demotion, removal, silencing of any opposition is mind boggling - and will continue the work of self-destructing my beloved church.

It would be worth creating a list of names of people who have been “removed” from their position in a manner not representing due process or just cause.


A bunch of old majority white institutional top of the hierarchy men who have little on the ground daily connection with real life and the grassroots - even if some of them favour women’s ordination. This so much looks like a closeted committee of a bunch of cardinals. I’m shocked and astounded that regardless of who these people are and their qualities that it is so unbalanced. How on earth did such a composition get to be put together. Can’t they see that to get some balanced and wise input there needs to be a wide variety of people on a committee like this - just to get a healthy perspective? Are they that blind that they don’t see the blind spots they are inevitably building into a process? No healthy organisation would put together a committee like that to deal with such an important issue. A bunch of paid institutional men creating a policy to make everyone adhere to what that institution wants and demands. Folks, this is the 21st century!


Perhaps something good will come from this. Thomas Lemon might be a good choice for GC president (should the opportunity arise.)