Facts and Fiction about the General Conference’s Compliance Document
Oct 23, 2018, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, Pastor Mark Finley
If a myth is repeated often enough and loud enough a lot of people will accept it as reality. For centuries people believed the earth was flat, and the sun revolved around the earth. Even reputed scientists and scholars of the day taught and repeated the myth. A myth is a myth no matter how loud it is trumpeted and no matter who shouts it.
Myths are running rampant on social media about the document, “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions,” recently voted at the 2018 Annual Council.
Some claim the General Conference desires to control what happens even on the local church level and no one is safe from its tentacles of control. The document has been called “papal,” “anti-protestant,” and “unbiblical.”
Let’s consider seven common myths and the facts of the document.
Myth #1: The document is an overreach by the General Conference to centralize power.
Fact #1: The document actually states, “Planning for and ensuring compliance shall initially be entrusted to the entity closest to the matter” (p. 1, line 25).
The intent of the document is to allow the entity closest to the issue of non-compliance to handle the matter. Rather than a centralization of power, it encourages the opposite. It urges all issues of policy non-compliance to be solved at the local level. If that is not possible the next highest level of church organization may become involved. For example, if a local conference has a challenge with non-compliance that it cannot or will not solve, the Union Conference/Mission can become involved in working out a solution. This is true for each level of church organization.
If there is non-compliance of a General Conference Session or Executive Committee voted action, the GC Executive Committee may become involved.