UPDATE: General Conference Considers Taking Over “Rebellious” Unions

A rewrite of the proposal to discipline the unions that have voted to ordain women was requested in the committee known as GCDO—General Conference and Division Officers—after about an hour of discussion on Thursday. According to reliable sources, the rewritten material will come back to the committee early next week for reconsideration.

Both the Pacific Union and the North American Division have declined to comment on the ongoing discussions.

The proposal is that the General Conference take over such unions and operate them as missions attached to the General Conference. That would mean that the GC would then be able to remove present union leadership and replace them with their own appointees. Then a new constituency meeting could be called to attempt to reverse the ordination vote. Given that the constituency votes for women’s ordination in both the Columbia and Pacific Unions were approximately 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of ordination means that this is a move that is not without risk.

The legal process for such a move will undoubtedly be debated and lengthy. While “A review of organizational status may be initiated by a decision of the executive committee in any higher level of organization that was involved in granting the type of status in question,” according to the GC Working Policy (Section B 75 30), “When the entity under consideration is a union conference/mission or union of churches, the decision to adjust status shall be made, AFTER appropriate consultation with the entity concerned and the division executive committee, by the General Conference Executive Committee at a Spring Meeting or Annual Council.”

Section B 95 15 of the Working Policy deals with Dissolution and Expulsion of Unions. It spells out a lengthy process for such a move that begins with the division. The General Conference Executive Committee is consulted at step three to consider whether or not another union constituency meeting should be called. At step four, the recommendation from the General Conference Executive Committee is referred to the next regular or specially called General Conference Session for consideration.

Whichever section of the Working Policy the proposal under consideration is functioning under, the process, it would seem, cannot be limited solely to a vote of the General Conference Executive Committee. Other committees, specifically the Division Executive Committee, would be required to concur.

To support the proposed actions, earlier this week, the General Conference Secretariat released a lengthy study document on church governance and unity stressing the authority of the General Conference. Zeroing in on “invalid ordinations”, it stated, “It is incorrect to assert that there is nothing in denominational policy to stop unions from ordaining females to gospel ministry. Such ordinations have been explicitly disallowed by a GC Session action, a decision reinforced by two other GC Session votes.”

The document goes on to say, “If everyone were to defy decisions they disagreed with, there would be no point in having a decision-making process. To take part in a process, and then to disregard it if it does not go our way, is contrary to the biblical principles of unity and mutual submission. Equality and unity in Christ oblige church members and church leaders to make decisions together and then to respect fellow brothers and sisters in Jesus by following those decisions. Communities can only function if all members agree they will accept communal decisions; otherwise there is not community, but disunity.”

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7665

Could this be an indication that some leaders have began to magically develop a spine to stand up against this GCDO-induced “folie en masse?”

Folie a deux is contagious and infectious. Given men’s dependence on others for guidance, it illustrates why delusional ideas and actions can infect and spread eventually to involve an entire “executive committee.” In this context, the term “folie collective” or “folie en masse” best describes this “power grab” herd behavior.


Or else tightening up the document to remove loop holes?

The only negotiations are the terms of surrender. Jeremy if you actually believe that the GC will buckle now, you are living in a fantasy world.

@elmer_cupino do you really think they put this document out on a whim? This has been brewing for months. Obviously PUC knew about it last month and tried unsuccessfully to make a preemptive strike. This ain’t going away unless the unions in non-compliance acquiesce. Since I doubt that will happen, it looks like we are in for a protracted battle.

So long as this “appropriate consultation” with the PUC or NAD (etc) doesn’t hinge on an officially voted agreement, which SB7530 and SB9515 don’t appear to require, then the GC Working Policy seems to have its representative mandate after GC 2015. Silver Spring’s GC administrators, more than anyone, one would assume, must feel they have an airtight case and full grasp of their current policies and technical fineprint.

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How does this differ from current Working Policy about calling Union special constituency meetings? The NPUC constitution already allows the GC Executive Committee or division committee to call a special union constituency meeting.

Is the provision attaching a “wayward” Union to the GC a new provision? If not, how is the policy changing?


That would be wonderful but seems overly optimistic to me considering the language used in the governance documents. Will be praying.

It was my belief that wording & processes in the working policy of the church had to be changed by the GC in Session. I would like to see the working policy as it was written & published 6 or 7 years ago compared line by line and word for word with what it states now. Where did the changes come from, who made them, who approved them. And who gave the secretariat of the GC the authority to write & interpret the working policy. And for that matter at what point did the GC executive committee and Fall Council gain the same status as the “General Conference in Session”? And by doing so become the highest authority of the church here on earth?


I really do wish the GC would take over the rebellious unions and operate them as missions. It isn’t going to happen, but I’m enjoying the wailing and gnashing of teeth on this site that the proposal has caused.


At David Read, “but I’m enjoying the wailing and gnashing of teeth on this site that the proposal has caused”. A sentence like this makes my heart ache. Is that the way we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ? To enjoy their pain? What type of Christianity is that?


What type of Christianity? Vindictive and immature.

It comes from a place of “if they don’t agree with my interpretation then they are wrong and they can go” which is a product of the entirely legalistic point of view of the Last Generation Theology people.



For my good friend David Read, the lake of fire cannot be too hot for those Seventh-day Adventists who disagree with him. There are many who feel the same way.

But David is sane. Ellen White is interpreted to have written that before the Lord comes the Seventh-day Adventist Church will appear as if it is about to fall. Is it possible that Ted Wilson is trying to hasten the Lord’s coming by bringing the Church down to its knees? I regret to say that I do not know the answer to that question.

Never underestimate the intoxicating narcotic of religious certitude. I once asked someone in a local church not to circulate a petition, which called for the pastor’s removal from office, to people the pastor was preparing for baptism. Despite the pastor’s roughly 30 baptisms during the previous year in a church of about 120 attendees, my request was denied, the petition succeeded, the pastor was forced out, and the baptism candidates were never baptized. It is a fearful thing to obstruct the work of God, even if you think you are right, even if you are a GC administrator.

The trampling of conscience always results in collateral damage.


Doubtful that a vote would be required in order to reverse rebellious ordination votes. This would be contrary to the whole idea of taking over rebellious unions. Just as the rebellious staff would be ousted without a vote from constituents, so would rebellious policy be made obsolete without a vote, otherwise the whole purpose of the takeover would be defeated. You typically don’t give the fox keys to the hen-house. I’d be interested in reading GC policy that supports the idea of a re-vote on policy after a takeover, if it exists.


For those who have an appreciation for satire, this is solid gold.

There is so much more I could say, but I think Barely Adventist sums it up pretty well on this occasion. I really do hope all of the Division and GC officers take a look at this - the view in the mirror might give them a much needed reality check.

Edit: I normally wouldn’t add to a comment after people have “liked” it, but on this occasion I really felt that Kevin Paulson’s comment below needs a response. So for the first 8 people who have liked my comment, I apologize if you don’t like what I’m about to say.


Pray tell, how do you determine “findings” without a group consensus? And how do you determine a consensus without taking some kind of a vote?

There was nothing at all ambiguous about what was voted on. It’s clear from the terms of reference of the committee (indeed even from the name of the committee) that the purpose was to establish any theological implications as regards ordaining women. And the overwhelming consensus was that there is no theological impediment.

This outcome was quite remarkable in light of how the committee was set up in the first place. The organizers set out to find an equal number of members who were supportive of, and opposed to, women’s ordination. There happen to be very few Adventists with an advanced education in theology, who are not supportive of women’s ordination. (I wonder why?) So the organizers had to scrape the bottoms of some pretty interesting barrels to find committee members to make up the “anti-women’s ordination” numbers.

But in spite of this the group overwhelmingly found that there was no theological reason to not ordain women (though it was felt that some world territories were not yet culturally ready.) It was for this reason that the motion as presented, was taken to the GC. The reason for it being voted down was political - nothing more, nothing less, and was achieved via some nefarious machinations on the part of Ted Wilson.


How many ways can you re-word “You’re fired.” ?

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The document states, “To take part in a process, and then to disregard it if it does not go our way, is contrary to the biblical principles of unity and mutual submission.” Yet, that is exactly what happened with the Theology of Ordination Study Committee. The church invested millions in a process that overwhelmingly concluded either in favor of women’s ordination, or allowing for variance, yet in San Antonio, it was almost completely ignored (and seems to have been largely forgotten now). Had it concluded otherwise we would have certainly heard plenty about it.

If the insinuation is that those acting in favor of women’s ordination are doing the work of the enemy, then surely to ignore the consensus of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee was to stifle the Spirit.


The major flaw with this article is its misrepresentation of the opposing view. those who oppose WO (myself included) have never made it an issue of equality. That is an invention of the pro WO crowd. To suggest that someone is not equal because they do not do the same things is rediculous and unbiblical, otherwise it really would be robbery for Jesus to consider himself equal with God as their roles are very different. Before God we are all equal, Jesus paid the same infinite price for all of us and we all have equal access to salvation. To suggest that by extention we all must have the same roles is a stretch. To say that the bible says nothing on the issue is also a stretch. The evidence in the bible and SOP for male headship is there for anyone who is willing to look for it. I won’t go into it here because there are some excellent articles already written on the subject that say it much better than I ever could.
So if one half of our church (or slightly more) consideres headship to be a biblical principle, now that the question of equality is out of the way then yes. A biblical principle is something worth requiring unity on in my book. God has a reason for what He does and ours is not to question but obey. Even when it appears to go against our western ideals.


.[quote=“potsy4u, post:22, topic:11829”]
those who oppose WO (myself included) have never made it an issue of equality.

You mean they have never understood that it is an issue of equality and justice. Letting women do the same job but not recognizing their call from God is unjust. The “headship principle” as you call it is eisegesis at best, it has never been part of adventist belief.
Yet without this unadventist principle one cannot justify the opposition to WO …no wonder those “rebellious” presidents have stated that they have to obey their consciences more than the GC.


i don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up prematurely because i know how devastated we all felt when we took in the news on july 8, 2015 that delegates in san antonio had returned a no vote on the question of divisional autonomy with respect to WO, but if what i think is happening really is happening, annual council 2016 could go down as a most wonderful early xmas present for WO supporters everywhere…i think the rewrite request by GCDO indicates that pro-WO unions are preparing to negotiate with annual council for exemptions from the san antonio no-vote…this would be why PUC and NAD aren’t commenting…

one important point made in the GC secretariat’s 50-page, “A Study of Church Governance and Unity”, is that diversity in practice in our church is desirable, but only when it is arrived at collaboratively…this is the study’s interpretation of the jerusalem council recorded in Acts 15:

“In summary, the lesson of the Jerusalem Council is this: in the Church, diversity of practice can be allowed, but only after a representative body has agreed to allow some variation.” A Study of Church Governance and Unity, p.13

key to all of this is that annual council is now, along with a sitting GC session, the highest authority in our church:

“We believe the authority granted the Church by Jesus enables church leaders to make decisions that bind all members; we further believe that the apostles affirmed the principle of collective decision-making by leaders representing the whole body of believers. In furtherance of this principle, we collectively subordinate ourselves to decisions taken at General Conference Sessions, which have always been representative bodies, and by Annual Councils, whose membership became representative of the world Church in the second half of the twentieth century. These bodies are our highest authorities, reflecting both the model of the Jerusalem Council and Ellen G White’s explicit counsel.” Ibid., p.14.

“In sum, longstanding Adventist practice, reflecting the model found in the book of Acts, is to let diversity flourish whenever possible, but to reserve to the world Church decisions about whether to allow diversity in matters of significance. The Adventist equivalent of the Jerusalem Council traditionally was a GC Session, but, as the denomination expanded, a greater role has been accorded to the GC Executive Committee, which is now, in its defined areas of authority, equivalent to the Jerusalem Council, for both are representative bodies, reflective of the Church as a whole.” Ibid., p.19.

what this really means is that annual council, which gave us ordained women elders in 1975, and affirmed that decision in 1984, may have effectively become a chamber of sober second thought to votes taken on the floor of a GC session…if this theory is correct, the no vote in san antonio will not be repealed, but exemptions will be negotiated with annual council on a case by case basis…what gives me cause for so much optimism, besides the come-let-us-reason-together tone of the secretariat’s study, not to mention annual council’s history with respect to ordained women elders, is the fact that the presidents of all 135 of our unions are members of annual council…the regional tilt we saw in the san antonio no vote will likely not be an obstacle as each union’s needs are being considered by annual council 2016…


I think your theory has validity, Jeremy.

We survived in unity when most of our leadership didn’t ascribe to the Trinity. We have survived the wedding band controversy by allowing “conscience” and “circumstance” sway decisions about wearing or not wearing. We will survive the WO controversy as well if we’d let exemptions for those areas of the work in which theologically we can’t agree on this point. WO will not split the church if we move out of our zero sum mentalities and look to the focus of our existence: sharing the everlasting gospel to a world that has very little good news.

(Thanks, Jared, for combining my two comments. I forgot about the limit. Appreciate your kind help in this regard.)


Personally, I think the GC pursuing this only makes sense. How can one have a world wide organization with various sections of that organization doing whatever they want?
How far does this go?
What’s next, disagreement with the GC on doctrine with the Unions or Divisions summarily thumbing their nose at leadership over anything they disagree with?
If the Unions and/or Divisions can do whatever they want, even to defying the world church, why have a GC?