UPDATE: General Conference Considers Taking Over “Rebellious” Unions

I believe the mistake in the article on the General Conference “taking over”, _“rebellious unions” __ is found in the last paragraph of this article (quoted below after my statements). The error is in overreaching the “right” or “obligation” of a church organization about decisions of it’s members and churches. This “overreaching” is true on either side of the women’s ordination issue. Mostly the children in this bad divorce will be harmed, and it is the children (sheep) we are supposed to be serving. To “Take Over”, “Rebellious Unions” (whether those unions are for OR against women’s ordination) is needlessly forcing an issue as to cause and result in divorce. The sheep or children will of necessity need to take up the work, as God leads.

Quote below:

"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.”


The “sheep or children” have never been on the Adventist radar, and, I agree, they are not presently being considered.

Adventism has always been about Adventism.

It may take the “sheep or children” years, or decades, to figure out what hit them, and then the cosmic joke may start to dawn on them: there never was a work to take up.

This has nothing to do with nihilism.

It is the Pearl of great price.


“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.”

This one sentence from the GC study document quoted in the last paragraphs of the article above is closest to the rotten core of just what has been wrong with all organizations for all time. That is assuming that common, part time ‘members’ dedicated primarily to the business of everyday life, and full time ‘leaders’ who are often paid by the distracted common members to devote greater attention to the organization’s business, have equal time for independent ‘study’ and therefore wield equal influence and power. No. They never have in my experience.

In my experience, those in leadership positions are there because they enjoy the process and rewards of getting their own way . . . they want to be boss or they would step down, not make long careers of leading.

Those who do make long, successful careers in ‘leadership’ become convincing experts at molding the common members’ opinions according to their own. Everyone loves a ‘hero’, so the common members of organizations naturally make heroes of the ‘expert’ leaders, thereby often blindly surrendering even their best reasoning skills in worshipful submission to the most outrageous and corrupt expressions of their ‘hero’ ‘leaders’. This takes less time and adds less trouble to their busy, ‘common’ lives.

Just watch the linked video of these ‘expert’ and ‘heroic’, highly-influential SDA GC-approved leading MEN (only) discussing ‘Women’s Ordination’ at the 2014 ASI convention.

But first notice the long sales pitch for a song written by one of these leading men claiming to represent the God of the SDA church whose leaders at one time abhorred any close connection with violent militaristic states bent on making ‘Sunday Laws’, something the world’s ‘other churches’ love to do.

Then, about 19 minutes in, notice how they expertly word their survey questions to associate the question of Women’s Ordination with ‘homosexuality’ . . . . Amazingly, they unwittingly admit that the SDA church is not actually God’s leading religious authority on Earth, because they conclude that God’s SDA church is vulnerable to corrupting itself by following the example of the world’s other churches who have allowed Women’s Ordination (and multi-gender militarism).



‘Homosexual’ essentially means ‘same sex’.
So,what other sex is visibly present at this 3ABN-broadcast panel discussion ?

Come on ‘common people’ ! Wake up ! Let’s stop following and submitting to ‘leaders’ – however popular, however persuasive and comfortable they may be – who arrogantly, but blindly, walk into traps of their own making ! And, who twist even words of God’s own scripture to serve their own self-interests.

Jesus was never trapped. Have these men truly followed Jesus, then ?


That is not what happened with the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, of which I was a member. We were not a deliberate body, only an advisory one. And the straw vote we took—which turns out to have been a major mistake, as it has been constantly misunderstood and misconstrued—was not an official action, as we were never empowered to take such action.

Our only task was to present our findings to the General Conference leadership. We made no recommendations. We took no actions. All we did was share the results of our various studies with the brethren. It was then their task to decide what to take to the world church in session.


I felt dishonest singing this hymn in church this morning, though the militaristic perspective does seem to hit the mark, along with the absence of “sisters”:

Like a mighty army moves the church of God;
brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod.
We are not divided, all one body we,
one in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
with the cross of Jesus going on before.


The closest thing similar to our debate here is that that has gone on in the Methodist church on homosexuality. Although the other mainline churches have decided to allow for gay membership and clergy, the Methodist church has not become of their more conservative world membership, especially in Africa. The situation is similar to ours, but we have a much larger overseas membership that is growing way faster then our first world membership (the situation is similar in Methodism, but we are growing faster).

They had a “General Conference” meeting in May of this year, and could not come to a conclusion on the matter, though many gay clergy came out, and there was celebrations of gay folk during the meetings. They decided to seat a committee to study the issue for two years and then report back on the issue “Human Sexuality”. There is anticipation of a break up of the church into liberal and conservative entities. It would be a difficult one because of the churches and monies involved. This has happened with other churches that have divided along such lines.

Reading the comments here I see that:

  1. There is little sympathy for the GC (now it was the members, not the executive that voted this issue down), and that they are to blame for it (the members angry with the members for voting on an issue the more liberal wanted to vote on?). That the executive would enforce compliance with the vote really seems to stir the depths of anger of the more liberal folk here. What did they expect, meek acquiescence? There are others int the world, after all, that think differently than you, and they feel strongly.
  2. The discussion of the legal ramifications seems superficial to me. Churches have divided before on numerous occasions, especially here in the US. It can happen and could be done. Three would be fallout and anger, but so?
  3. That wealth would be squandered and members lost seems a foregone conclusion. But I don’t think that matters to those that lost the vote. The principle of WO is more important than that loss, and is more important than submission.
  4. I think the more liberal need to realize that if they were able to set up an entity that, lets say, included the Pacific Union, the Columbia Union and a few other entities (European Unions are so small they could make little contribution) and that it included all the institutions that were located there, that it would not be a going concern. Liberal churches are almost uniformly declining, their seminaries are closing and the churches being sold. And besides, liberals do not have the loyalty of more conserve folk to a cause.

I would think to avoid a disaster, the the more liberal folk should stay pat, accept that having credentialed women pastors is enough for now, and settle down to live with that as a good compromise. To insist on the other is to invite division and real damage. The differences between credentialing and ordination are small. They should be able to put up with that.

The church should accept that some Unions will have only credentialed pastors. It should be able to live with that. There is a sense that with this compromise, both could win, and we could continue to do God’s will for us here.

May God help us!

1 Like

I believe there are only two approaches:

Accept the vote of GC 2015, and move on.


Set up a new church organisation, with adequate sponsorship, and move on. In the division where I live this wouldn’t be as difficult as in the USA.


Has the Middle East North-Africa Union already been reduced to a union mission attached to the GC with the leadership being appointed? My previous students who work there report that whatever has happened has resulted in an improvement. Quite generally, those most anxious to do the work of spreading Adventism are most encouraged when their administrators are most in tune with the Three Angels Messages. And, in the Middle East at least, that was the direct result of the take over.

This is the right question.


To take this line of myopic thought Mr Prewitt employs further (hard pressed to call it reasoning), why does God not simply cut to the chase, make all the right choices for all of us, and then take us home now? Why force the GC to force?

If that is reasonable conclusion, it then requires an answer to another pesky question-
namely, why did He not do this before all this? Perhaps even before the shadow of the omen tree, all the way at His own right hand in the heavenly courts? Such divine action then initially may eliminate our wrestling with theodicy now, but certainly would open a yet more difficult conundrum. Can love exist absent meaningful choice?

Is this current illegal attempt by the GC sequelae of an image of a capricious and arbitrary god?
Is our love-ie love as in fully synonymous with worship-a true testimony to the correct image of God?
Is it not all about such love-and the character of He who says “I AM” love? If it is, what province does coercion, shaming, enforcing etc have in the Kingdom?

No, we desperately need eye salve, before we try to save ourselves and thereby condemn His character (and our faith, both personal and corporate)


The SDA church is not filled with people with spine. If push comes to shove, all the Unions and Conferences will cave to the GC. It doesn’t matter if 90% of their constituents originally voted to support WO and were supportive of their Union/Conference standing up for principle. They will cave in the end. The reason is simple: The Prophetess is clear there is only ONE remnant in the end, so if it splits, at least one, and likely both aren’t The Remnant, so it kind of invalidates the whole narrative: Therefore Unity at All Cost.

What is quite likely to happen is that Tithe income will decrease from some of the afflicted entities, and the youth will continue to fall away from the Church. Meanwhile Kevin P., Birder, Allen S., Cliff G., David R., etc, will get greyer and greyer, but no wiser.

Edit: Congrats Sunnycb for noting this:

“If you read the documents you will see the GC is not just concerned with
WO but also controlling conferences that want to only credential

Two other posters here, Jeremy and Allen S. have held forth the hope that the GC would respect entities that try to handle the situation by just credentialing men as well as women. The GC Papal Edict makes it quite clear they are highly displeased with that angle as well, so the odds of them compromising on that front look well south of zero.


It’s taken be a while to get my credentials renewed to be able to comment. During that time, I’ve considerably pared down what I want to say. Here’s what’s left:

I wish a delegate would stand up to the tactics under discussion, and say, “I move this discussion be tabled until the Seventh-day Adventist Church issues a complete and humble apology to Merikay Silver McLeod and Lorna Tobler.”


She wrote about the Church, and the remnant, not the SDA church. Do not extrapolate based on the air of superiority and exclusivity that has grown to accompany the usual arrogance that exclaims “we’re right!”. It seems that everyone just takes for granted, but who gave anyone the authority to usurp that term (remnant) for this church? It is based on assumption, surmise, and speculation - and grounded in self-righteousness.

My friend used this quote this morning in another social media, and I just love it;

“Force is the last resort of every false religion” - EGW, ST, 1897

@Oldskoolchristian - Just because they have been around forever does not mean they are more godly. On the contrary, just the fact that they are still around may be a strong indication of a ‘yes man’ status, or one who always says what the leaders want to hear, and may be willing to say anything to hang on to their job long enough to retire. Certainly the ones who disagree don’t last.

One thing is for sure, Christianity has changed, just like the world has, like it or not. It has been affected by culture, among other things, and if the workers are not able to keep up with that change, their connection to the ‘flock’ suffers. It is my opinion that many who have been around a long time (especially those with advanced degrees, as we all know how out of touch with people some theologians can be, especially after they get a few letters after their name - by the way, are we worshiping God here, or knowledge?) are usually a bit out of touch, especially with the younger generation - but we wouldn’t want them sticking around and messing things up for us, would we?

Why, they may want to be in charge and (gasp!) change something! (facetiousness for purposes of emphasis, not condescension)

Not long ago I sat in a LGBT+ Summit meeting with several other youth directors and church leaders when a career (and very loving) pastor sitting next to me posed the dilemma, “…if only we had a ‘thus saith the Lord’ on this issue (of accepting those who identify as LGBT+ into the church), we would know how to proceed…”. Honestly, I had never even considered that in lack. I responded naturally, "We do. “A new commandment I give you, to love one another. Even as I have loved you.” I’m not a genius, or gifted with supernatural spiritual insight, just always made sense to me. You love each other. Not just the ones who behave like I do, or whose actions I approve of. Everyone. And our love for one another is displayed in how we live, like a thermometer in the sunlight.

My point is this, not to pat myself on the back for having a crucial answer at an opportune time, sometimes the answer has been in front of our face for 40 years or more, and we just don’t see it because we’re waiting for fire to come down from heaven. And most of the time, it doesn’t.

We are a people. By representation we are a people of one accord, one God, one salvation and one Savior. We profess to follow the example of the One who paid it all, for us who have nothing to pay. That in itself should cause us to sit back and say ‘wait, maybe different people understand the biblical principles we are trying to set in stone - and force obedience to - differently than we do’. Salvation is a one man show. That’s me and Him for me. You and Him for you. I can’t save you, and vice-versa. There are those who will be called by God that we just don’t understand - but it is clear to them. Who are we to stand in their way of serving God to the very best of their ability?

Ultimately, the type of ordination we are speaking of is not even biblical. God will call whom He calls, we can just hope to recognize it. What worries me is that the church seems to be going the way of the government - upside down and top heavy. It was designed for the leadership to serve the people and facilitate the congregations in spreading the gospel - of the people, for the people, by the people, so to speak - not fabrication and enforcement of enough policies and procedures (that they seldom apply to themselves, by the way) to rival the very Pharisees they resemble.

When I was in paid ministry, I never needed the ‘recognition’ of the church to do my job. Ordained or not, didn’t matter. Still doesn’t. But fine, the church doesn’t want to recognize the calling of many of my sisters who love God with all their heart, and somehow wish to limit their effectiveness? I just won’t recognize the church! :slight_smile: God bless!


This is absolutely true. The ties that bind are too intertwined…financially, generational connections, and being part of a subset of Christianity that can only exist with itself.

To breakaway and try to sustain an SDA church from the “mother ship”, then add to that, they can’t mingle with the greater body of Christians in any meaningful way becuase they are just too different, this makes them a tiny island, as it were, and I don’t think they can last for long in that situation.

I’m probably thinking more of individual churches breaking away. But, I do agree with you that nothing major will happen.


If this happens in the PUC, my pastor will promptly be getting a request from me for my excommunication.


Following the logic of the document the GC secretariat has passed (note: without any evident input from any qualified theologians who have made a serious study of ecclesiology), it seems that the Protestant reformers would have to be judged the original satanic rebels against “unity”. They defied the authority of those God had placed “above” them; they created schism in the body of Christ; and they spoke and acted against the will of the majority of their fellow Christians. So will Adventist officialdom itself now repent of its “sectarianism” and submit, minimally, to the decisions of the great ecumenical councils? Or do church leaders apply standards to others that they do not apply to themselves?

There are seemingly only two paths forward. Either Adventism can attempt to resolve its internal contradictions, tensions, and disagreements by consolidating hierarchical control and establishing a true magisterium, similar to the Catholic Church; or it can embrace and develop a free church ecclesiology of devolved power that leaves considerable space for freedom of conscience and local autonomy as the Holy Spirit leads wherever two or more are gathered…for example, in the explosive growth of the church in China that has been led largely by female pastors, without any direct GC control. Such a free church ecclesiology would be in keeping with our Anabaptist and radical dissenting heritage. The alternative vision stands, I fear, as a deep betrayal of the Gospel of Christ. The betrayal, I also fear, has already happened, perhaps beyond repair.


The General Conference is NOT the “higher level” of our SDA organization – regardless of what Ted Wilson wishes it were.
The POWER is in the MEMBERSHIP – at the congregational level! The officers are mere servants of the members themselves.

For an administrator to harbor the vain wish that he’s “higher” than an ordained minister who leads a congregation is blasphemy. Tell him/her to look to Jesus’ example, as a Servant while He was here on earth.

I would vote to impeach any GC officer [including the president] if he attempts to usurp the power of the people.


Sounds very much like a junket and a complete waste of time and money. How much exactly did it cost? Did you not feel just a little bit guilty for using the mite of the faithful widows of Adventism who give expecting their money to advance the Gospel? Of course when you are on a Mission from God the normal criteria for ethics morality and cost efficacy are moot as evident by the parable of Jake and Elwood.


Roman Catholic vs. Protestant attitudes toward dissent:

Many years ago I read E. A. Sutherland’s classic on education, entitled “Studies in Christian Education.” It quotes liberally from other sources, the quote below from “Macauley’s von Ranke.” Sutherland moved Battle Creek College to Berrien Springs, there to lay the foundation of Emmanual Missionary College (Andrews University). He then became a physician and the founder of Madison College (Madison Missionary and Normal Institute). He is still revered as a remarkable self-supporting pioneer. What would Sutherland say to Ted Wilson’s attempt to bring about unity and quash dissent? Listen to these words: “The Papacy was wiser than the Protestants in dealing with those who became somewhat irregular in their views. She spent little in church trials. She directed their efforts, instead of attempting to force them from the church.” “The ignorant enthusiast whom the English church makes … a most dangerous enemy, the Catholic church makes a champion. She bids him nurse his beard, covers him with a gown and hood of coarse dark stuff, ties a rope about his waist, and sends him forth to teach in her name. He costs her nothing. He takes not a ducat away from the regular clergy. He lives by the alms of those who respect his spiritual character and are grateful for his instructions… All this influence is employed to strengthen the church… In this way the church of Rome unites in herself all the strength of the establishment (organization) and all the strength of dissent… Place Ignatius Loyola at Oxford. He is certain to become the head of a formidable secession. Place John Wesley at Rome. He is certain to be the first general of a new society devoted to the interest and honor of the church.” (M. R.) Dissent and difference are by this criterion not a threat but a strength. Has Wilson read “Studies in Christian Education”? If he has, he is now proceeding in direct contradiction to the book’s ideal.


Allen: Thank you for contributing. A couple comments:

  • You view WO from a liberal/conservative slant. There may be a tendency in that direction but many conservatives like myself view WO as an important step in using every person to the fullest in spreading the Gospel.

  • If you read the documents you will see the GC is not just concerned with WO but also controlling conferences that want to only credential pastors.