Unity Oversight Committee Releases Statement Regarding Way Forward

The Unity Oversight Committee met at the world headquarters on December 14, 2017, with newly appointed chair, Mike Ryan (voted by the General Conference Administrative Committee), and Hensley Moorooven, secretary. At this meeting, the committee adopted a process to help it in its work of reviewing the “Procedures for Reconciliation and Adherence in Church Governance: Phase II” document referred to it by the 2017 Annual Council and developing a new or revised proposal.

“The committee unanimously agreed that this process would be an open and transparent one, in which the views of the Seventh-day Adventist world Church are taken into account,” explains Ryan. “The General Conference officers support this approach wholeheartedly.”

The process that has been adopted includes gathering qualitative and quantitative data from the world field. This will allow the committee to more accurately judge where the world Church leaders and members stand on issues relating to compliance with voted actions of General Conference Sessions and of the General Conference Executive Committee. The qualitative data will be gathered through personal visits and dialogues with leaders of the 13 world regions (divisions), and the attached Middle East and North Africa Union. Qualitative data will also be gathered from General Conference institutions and the General Conference Leadership Council composed of General Conference officers and departmental leaders.

Quantitative data are currently being gathered through a survey of union and division presidents. Union conferences play a pivotal role as building blocks in the global organization of the Church. They are one of the four types of constituency-based organizational units and have a unique set of characteristics, including answering to a grass-root constituency. Additionally, union presidents are members of the General Conference Executive Committee with an overview of global church events. Union conferences comprise the constituency of the General Conference.

As part of the process, the Unity Oversight Committee asked all division and union presidents to answer a six-question survey about the various actions proposed in the Phase II document discussed at last year’s Annual Council and referred back to the Committee. This will help inform the Committee about details to be included in a proposed document to be presented to the 2018 Annual Council.

“Both union and division presidents have been requested to answer the six questions according to what they believe is the view of the majority of members in their territory, as opposed to their personal opinion,” says David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR).

The survey was designed by ASTR, and is being administered by its leadership. Both division and union presidents are returning the completed survey directly to ASTR.

Due to the characteristics of unions stated above, research standards qualify union presidents as experts to assess the opinion of the majority of their constituency. The research process has also been designed so the validity of responses can be tested in the interest of maximizing the accuracy of the results.

In case of discrepancies within a region, ASTR will conduct a random sample of the membership within that region to clarify the accuracy of the reported survey results.

“The individual survey responses will only be accessible to four individuals—ASTR and Unity Oversight Committee leadership—in order to protect the integrity of the process and to ensure the data is handled appropriately,” explains Moorooven. It is the intention of the committee to share results with senior General Conference administrators and the broader Unity Oversight Committee. Aggregated results will be available to wider Adventist audiences.

“To ensure clarity, the survey has been made available in eight languages,” says Moorooven. “The wording and placement of questions in the survey contribute to its reliability.”

The Unity Oversight Committee will release additional materials between now and the 2018 Annual Council meeting in Battle Creek, Michigan.

This statement was released by the General Conference Unity Oversight Committee and originally appeared on Adventist News Network (ANN).

Image courtesy of ANN.

Further Reading: General Conference Re-asks the Questions of 2017 Thomas Lemon Removed as Chair of Unity Oversight Committee General Conference Responds to Tom Lemon’s Departure from Unity Oversight Committee The Longest Day: Annual Council Diary, October 9 After the Year of Grace… The Lack of Conversation in a Family of Unions

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8531
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Qualitative:

Quantitative:

Good grief:

  1. Can someone please locate for me the place where the members are asked what they think?
  2. I’ve read the survey and how it is being conducted. The survey is anything but quantitative. Any first year statistics student could tell you what. It’s a complete sham.

Are these people serious?

Do you think your union president has any idea what your opinion is? About anything? The church has no process to gather the opinion of the majority of their constituency. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell that this is a valid assertion.

Yes, completely incompetent.

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“Both union and division presidents have been requested to answer the six questions according to what they believe is the view of the majority of members in their territory, as opposed to their personal opinion,” says David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR)."

Really??? So they are going to be basing this on self-reporting…WITHOUT bias? Words escape me…unbelievable.

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I welcome this new start to the work of the “Unity Oversight Committee” and especially to a reworking of the document referred back to it - “Procedures for Reconciliation and Adherence in Church Governance Phase II.”

As Adventist leaders begin again to ask whether there should be further organizational consequences for unions that do not comply with the voted actions of representative General Conference bodies I believe that they should pause to reflect on several facts.

  1. The San Antonio GC vote on ordination rejected the specific proposal to allow for the various Divisions of the world field to make decisions concerning the ordination of women. This was a resounding defeat of this specific proposal. Dr Athur Stele, GC Vice President responsible for TOSC, said as much in a press conference on the evening of this vote. The 1995 vote at the Utrecht GC had come to a similar, even more resounding conclusion.
  2. These two votes do not do away with the need for some further resolution of the issues. The GC is not fulfilling its sacred responsibility to all, if it balks at seeking such resolution.
  3. In the absence of such further resolution being contemplated, it is not surprising that challenges to the durability of the actions of representative GC bodies will come from the Unions.
  4. It is my understanding that the GC has access to minutes of every Union Conference or Union Mission Executive Committee. They can easily determine whether GCEC members come from entities that are in compliance with GC decisions or not.
  5. Elder Jan Paulsen’s outspoken objection to the signing of one’s compliance still stands.

There is one important question that the GC must ask as it begins again to seek for a resolution to the ordaination issue.This important question is - “Who ordains who?”

If some Adventists continue to say that the denomination ordains men only, while others say the denomination ordains men and women, then I say “a plague on both your houses.” We must push our theology beond these two alternatives.

Perhaps it is God, not the denomination who ordains either men only or men and women. This has the potential to reframe the whole conversation. Allow me to explain what I am saying.

The Salvation Army, like Adventists, sees themselves as a militant reforming movement and sub-set among Christians, though for different reasons. Until 1978, officers of the Salvation Army were not ordained. They were commissioned as officers, purely and simply. Salvationists had always maintained an “all lay” ethos for themselves, that is till 1978. But pressure for The Salvation Army Officers to have clerical status rather than merely a difference in function from the bulk of Salvationists had long existed and was becoming irresistible.

In 1978, General Arthur Brown ordered that officers should be ordained by the Army at the time of their commissioning. Over the next 20 and more years Salvationists debated the theological appropriateness of introducing an ordination theology into a christian movement with an “all lay” ethos. There was considerable theological debate among Salvationists which continues to this day.

In 2002, General John Gowans amended the wording through which officers of The Salvation Army were ordained and commissioned. In so doing he sought to clarify the theological nature of ordination as something God does in the heart and life of the individual officer. The said wording was amended to read, “Cadet (name): Accepting your promises and recognizing that God has called, ordained and empowered you to be a minister of Christ and of his gospel, I commission you an officer of The Salvation Army.”

It must be acknowledged that General Shaw Clifton has subsequently reversed this order such that now Salvation Army officers sometimes are said to be ordained by the Territorial Commander and at other times ordination is said to have resulted from one’s calling, gifting and empowering by God.

In a 2017 Commissioning and Ordination Service in Britain the following rubric was used - “Cadet (name): With gratitude to God for your calling into the paths of sacred service, and for his empowering and gifting in your life by which you are ordained as a minister of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, I now commission you as an officer of The Salvation Army with the rank of Lieutenant.”

In contrast, a 2017 Commissioning and Ordination Service in the USA used the following rubric: “Cadet (name): Recognizing that God has called you, equipped you and gifted you for sacred service, I now ordain you as a minister of the Gospel, and commission you as an officer of The Salvation Army with the rank of Lieutenant.”

So, who ordains who? In Britain apparently God does. In the USA apparently the Territorial Commander does. I notice that Australia follows the USA. (More’s the pity).

As I understand, the core meaning of ‘ordain’ is to appoint. God may rightly be said to do this. The body of Christ may rightly be said to commission.

So perhaps we could take a leaf from the Salvationists, (or at least from some of them).

@GOT51

The PUC and the CUC should desist from further claytons ordinations - the ordinations you have when you are not having any. The GC must show its willingness to move beyond this impasse.

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Tim –
You have NOT computated the AMOUNT of MONEY being spent to fly all over the world to collect data. NOR have U computated the AMOUNT of TIME being spent to go all over the world to collect data.
And, YES, there is NO WAY a Union Officer knows how me and each individual member of my church group would answer these questions. Much less ALL the members in the Southern Union.

Apparently Mike Ryan instead of giving Pres. Wilson a NO, is now looking forward to his World Tour at Tithe Payer expense.

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Private Ryan on the tour of saving president Wilson. A little bit messy with movie titles, but will still be interesting to watch. GC YouTube Channel has already two blockbusters, why not shoot a third one.

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We make full circle, and begin again. Nothing has changed, and it is clear there is no intention to change. Like the famous bible quote," can a leopard change it coat", I only see the determination of going down the same road, this time giving the impression of been open to opinions. The divisions presented via their respective tosc there anaylis of what their members “think”, some had objections, others implied it did not see it as a hindrance, whiles others were openly in favour of it. There is one which is now part of a criminal case, one written by manly two people.
If there is a system in place to prevent or correct rebellious presidents or staff in any conference, union, division and including GC, then use it. It has done it in so many countries, suspend the president’s of unions, or take control of the union via a proxy. But maybe today, people are intelligent and are not affraid to stand up for their conviction, and they read their conference or unions constitution, and see how God has empowered them to be personally responsible in the design and function of "their " (their implies group of believers in a region) conference and unions God given mission to reach their people, and be an effective medium by reflecting God’s image to their members and “world”. But has a have mentioned before, this witch hunts makes no sense when theft and sexual abuse are permitted by the GC by pastor’s and friends, yet nothing happens concerning these issues, the only thing that will speed up Christ return is when we address women ordination. These folks have really missed the boat!!!

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A better plan would be to survey 25-50 local church elders in each Conference. Too much emphasis in being placed on high paid political leaders that are far removed from pulse of the church. When we become too organized we lose sight of Spirit’s guidance.

PS-Ask local elder how much trust to they have in church leadership at the Conference, Union, Division or GC leadership levels.

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Since when does membership opinion matter if the GC itself is God’s highest authority on earth?

Ssshhhhhh!

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NOTHING BUT A NEW MANEUVER!

AKA “FAKE SURVEY” just to impress the people who are less “aware” of the facts leading them to increase their trust in the sitting GC leaders.

Imagine, “personal visits and dialogues.” That must be some new surveying technique, uh? Oh,…, sorry, it’s not actually new: It was largely used by the Soviets long time ago. Very effective, indeed!!!

Those black suited now-self-appointed-surveyors spent over a $1MI to finance the FAKE TOSC, and just discarded the results as trash when the results were “not suitable to their needs.”

Since money just pours so easily into the GC’s coffers, why don’t they hire a PROFESSIONAL survey company to do the job, uh? Ah…, because they probably learned the lesson with the bitter TOSC experience and concluded that, “If you want the results you need, DO IT YOURSELF!” And some people applaud their maneuvering? Seriously???

My Prediction: This FAKE SURVEY’s results have already been written, therefore the results will support the continuation/perpetuation of DISCRIMINATION of women. Wanna bet on it???

How do I know? Over 60 years as part of the “system” is enough to learn how it actually works upstairs. Now, for those in the river in Egypt… (“in The Nile”), well … keep funding the maneuvers and surveys…
@elmer_cupino @timteichman @harrpa @robert_sonter @ProfessorKent

EDIT:

Timo, this is why I am actively working to launch my candidacy for GC Prez/2020. Will I have your vote.support? :wink:

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Will my faith community survive Mr Wilson and his garrulous surrogates?

And were he to somehow be replaced forthwith, is there a current in-the-wings capable leader to bring us 'round this mountain and out of our “heads stuck in the sand” wilderness? We do not need a “mini-me” replacement, but one with the pulse of the church in his hand, the whisper of God in his ear, and with his conscience pricked to stand up against evil wherever it lies.

We have been marching ebulliently around Mount Möbius too far long, and have created a wide and comfortable circuitous “lexus lane” for the “exclusives”. How long, how long??

If Mr Wilson raises his hand, Moses-like, and, with his chosen crafted stick, strikes “this rock, (made with human hands)”, there will result such a deluge out of this church that the desolation inside the “perfect church” will be stunning. He may yet get his wish, for a church absent people is absent sin, and sinner.

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The excellent book “The Science of Virtue” points to an important phase that our church must understand and embrace:
“The church can be an enclave of virtue, and it many ways is should be, but t can also move outward into the messy world, as Jesus did.”
“Moving outward” and embracing diversity and gender equality shows growth, defending a shrinking base of hardline “conservative” stance is tragic.

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In case of discrepancy!?

Mr Trim, in case you missed the origin of this discussion this whole issue is a result of discrepancy itself. TOSC’s recommendations were sidelined once it was discovered the results were not consistent with TW’s agenda. He then tried to strong-arm his agenda to punish the WO movement only to rebuffed by his peers and constituents. Now he has proposed a run-around scheme to mislead the whole church. Perhaps it’s time to take the wool off your eyes and see clearly. Otherwise, you are enabling bad behavior on TW’s part.

The most effective way to full resolution is to get rid of the biggest “clog” that blocks the pathway. And we do not need an “Einstein” to identify him nor any qualitative and quantitative data that will waste more tithe monies.

I would wager @ProfessorKent made his post with tongue-in-cheek.

Allen, but that was only after our highly esteemed and fearless GC president rejected the consensus of TOSC. Had he modeled publicly how it is to accept defeat, we would be in a different trajectory which should remind us all of “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”

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“The individual survey responses will only be accessible to four individuals—ASTR and Unity Oversight Committee leadership—in order to protect the integrity of the process and to ensure the data is handled appropriately,” explains Moorooven. It is the intention of the committee to share results with senior General Conference administrators and the broader Unity Oversight Committee. Aggregated results will be available to wider Adventist audiences."

Rather than a statement of confidentiality - given the track record of control at the GC in the last few years - this appears more like with the intention of being able to disseminate what they choose to as so few will actually know what is actually said.

I think we have an issue of control rather than trust. A process of collusion rather than transparency.

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Seems like you have both, issues of control and trust.

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It appears that God has chosen and anointed a whole host of folks to point out church leadership flaws and then shout them on the housetop to the world. Yes, flaws and sins may abound, but the remedy is earnest prayer for one another - God knows we need that very much, why can we not see how much we need to band together in prayer?

It is no strange thing that we wait and wait for the latter rain.

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Reply Deleted by Dog Tail

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Not a single positive comment among you, save possibly from Kent.

There are two realities here:

  1. The church, meeting as a whole, rejected allowing unions or divisions the prerogative to do WO. That action was taken by the highest authority in the church, the members (not a pope, or general) voting as a representative group. Not abiding by this vote undermines the WHOLE governance structure of the church. This is a very serious matter and cannot just be swept under the rug without serious consequences.

  2. A group of believers has taken the radical step of ignoring the vote. They give various reasons for this, but it is actually a rejection of legitimate church governance and the right of the group to determine its own policy. Again a serious matter.

The method suggested to resolve this at Annual Counsel fell flat. This present group has been set up to try to resolve the impasse. The survey is a method of determining if a union or division president supports the church as a whole. And if the members support him. Apparently the committee feels a very concrete response is necessary to make the issue crystal clear, something that some object to, I think withput merit. Sometimes one must make a public show of their position.

I sense most here would like to be just left alone to do what they want. This is not possible without rending the church. The campaigning before the vote with expectation that the issue, taken to the whole group, would be resolved, made the vote even more binding. A whole year was given for it, and advocates on both sides were allowed complete freedom without restrictions to make their case. Such votes cannot be ignored

Let these men and women do their work.

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Allen, given all the available evidence, the 2015 San Antonio vote was clearly an ‘off-side’ goal*, the repercussions of which have led to a DEEP DISTRUST of the ‘umpires’ and those officials entrusted with ensuring the integrity of the ‘game’.
*(Consider the side-lining of the TOSC recommendations, for starters, not to mention other apparent devious ploys.)

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My thoughts exactly.

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