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AC2016 Votes Process Toward Unity

[UPDATED Oct. 12, 2016]
After a lengthy meeting, the final vote of the General Conference Executive Committee was Yes 169 and No 122, adopting the recommended document, “Unity in Mission: Procedures in Church Reconciliation.”
Early in the discussion Kathryn Proffitt told the group that she had been a delegate to the Pacific Union Conference constituency meeting. She told the assembled Autumn Council, that “As I was reviewing the Pacific Union bylaws, one particular article stood out. It said that the constituents had the authority to change the bylaws, but only if they remained in harmony with the model constitution. As a lay person, I had no idea what the model constitution was, but I knew it must be very important if it limited the delegates’ authority.”
Once she had obtained a copy and read it, she said, “This really had a profound effect on me, because I understood how much, for maybe the first time, the unity of God’s Church means to Him. My feeling, as a member of the executive committee, is that I don’t have the right to deviate from actions that have been taken by the world church.”
Many did not share this view. As much as 80% of the debate was dominated by participants from the North American Division (NAD) arguing against the document. Numerous claims went up: more time is needed; the wording needs to be improved; more study of this, more study of that. The dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, actually suggested that the church assign theologians study church policy to tell administrators what it means!
Some made emotional appeals warning that young people might leave the Church over the decision. One example was offered by Loma Linda University Church pastor Randy Roberts (located in one of the non-compliant Unions), who said the following:

“If you follow the trajectory of church after church, in the latter phases of those churches, much time, much energy, and much focus, is given to propping up the realities of that church by policies and procedures, rather than focus on the vision. When it becomes calcified in that way, people break off and start the process again with a new vision and dream. I think we’re at a point where we’re in danger of that. I can say that at least in my part of the world, to vote a document like this may actually be a very good thing in terms of vision. Because young adults and many others will say, we have to do something that is not so regimented and governed by policy.”

NAD president Dan Jackson claimed to be an African, a Canadian, and a variety of other nationalities. He said that because he had traveled around the division, “I have become Columbia Union. I have become the Mid-America Union. I have become the Pacific Union, and the church in Canada, and a member of every union.” He did not speak in favor of the document.
Dan Houghton offered the following observations:

“I’m extremely puzzled by this discussion, and I want to speak in favor of this motion. Its seems to me that 90% of everything that’s been said has been re-litigating what happened in San Antonio. And we’ve heard Mike Ryan get up twice and say, that’s not our issue. And I would just like to say, that there are lots of people watching this proceeding, right now, around our country, with different ideas. The question I have, Does a vote in General Conference session mean anything? Does it mean anything? We spent five years, and I don’t know how many dollars, preparing for Indianapolis, and we took a vote. And there was a vote. This is really not about women’s ordination, and cannot be; we cannot make it that. Does this Church have a unity,? And does it have an authority? I would encourage those of my brothers and sisters who I love, they’re my friends, to find a different way to express their frustration with that vote, than undermining the authority and the unity of this Church.”

While many aging administrators worried out loud about young people leaving the church over the decision, the one young person who did speak, Natasha Dysinger, said this:

“As a young person, I have to echo what Mr. Houghton just said. When I first read this document when it came to my inbox, I found it extremely refreshing. . . when I read it I found it to be extremely pastoral in nature. . . What I read in this is, let’s have some simple Christianity, and sit down, and pray, and discuss, and communicate.”

Some had insinuated that the General Conference, in seeking compliance with the 2015 GC session decision, was exercising kingly power. But Dr. Clinton Wahlen in speaking from the floor contradicted that claim with facts:

“Mr. Chairman, there is a difference between local policies, and policies voted by the General Conference session. The situation before us today, is, in some important respects, unprecedented. That’s why a focused solution is needed. The events leading to non-compliance with the San Antonio vote were not accidental. A great deal of energy was expended on crafting proposals for constituency meetings to act on, and these deliberate efforts have placed some unions and conferences in non-compliance. This situation arises from deep theological convictions that have been held for a very long time. Following the vote in San Antonio, a formal appeal was made on August 17, 2015 by the GC Secretariat to each division, kindly asking every entity to come into alignment with the world church. I had thought that this kind of process would have been underway for 15 months already and a report brought here today. The time has come to take action. I appeal to this body to choose the solution that policy already provides, and that the Secretariat’s recent Unity document suggests. Quoting B 05 .3, ‘Organizational membership and status are entrusted to entities that meet certain qualifications, including faithfulness to Seventh-day Adventist doctrines, compliance with denominational practices and policies, demonstration of adequate leadership and financial capacity, and responsiveness to mission challenges and opportunities. Membership and status can be reviewed, revised, amended, or withdrawn by the level of organization that granted it.’ Please hear this final appeal from Jody, a constituent of one of the non-compliant unions: ‘I feel that my local church, my conference, and my union are the ones with the kingly power. It is frustrating wanting to be unified with the GC under the layers of three uncooperative kingly powers. I want to be made whole with the world church.’ We need to consider her plea and the cry of many thousands like her.”

G.T. Ng, the Executive Secretary of the General Conference also spoke to the proposal to adopt the document:

“Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. G.T. Ng from the custodial service of General Conference. Mr Chairman, I’m very proud of this Church because it prides itself as the church of prophecy. And this afternoon I hear prophecies being uttered from prophets, or sons of prophets. Whether they are major or minor, it is not for me to decide. But they utter prophecies I cannot find in the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy. This morning I heard that this document is capable of setting the Church on fire. I never knew that. This afternoon we heard words such as ‘splitting,’ causing ‘earthquake’ And if we stay on until eight o’clock, we will hear terms like ‘Tsunami’ and ‘Armageddon.’ Where in the world do those terms come from? I think this document this afternoon—what is on trial is not this document. What is on trial is our faith and belief in the Spirit of Prophecy and the Bible. It has been clearly foretold that what is decided at General Conference is decided by the highest authority on earth, and either we believe that or not; its up to us. Our General Conference president has stated to us that he will move on whatever the vote. When the vote it taken, he will abide by that vote. And now it is our turn.”

Near the end of the debate, Michigan Conference president Elder Jay Gallimore made these remarks:

“Thank you brother chairman, Jay Gallimore for the Michigan Conference. I want to rise to support this document. Its an outstanding document. Redemptive discipline takes time. I wrote an article some years ago on redemptive discipline for the Ministry magazine. And they need time to get started. And I’m disappointed to hear so many references made that the issue that faced the General Conference in San Antonio is some kind of minor policy. That motion required a vote based on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. We spent months and years, through all kinds of committees, to get to the place where this Church could vote on that issue. At this point, the issue is no longer that issue. The issue is the unity of the church. And the unity of the church is not maintained by pluralism. If we want to try to find a way that’s painless, to keep the unity of the church, we can go down the road of pluralism, but it will be very, very costly in the end. Redemptive discipline is painful. Its patient. Its full of love. And this document, I believe, gives us the start on that. We cannot as a Church maintain our unity, and allow people who oppose the world church, to simply accomplish what they wanted by default, by the Church never addressing the issue. Should it be patient? Should it be longsuffering? Should it be all those kinds of things? Yes. And I think this document is the journey that starts the world church on addressing what it needs to, and I hope this body will vote this.”

When the final vote is considered, what was stated by general Conference vice president Billy Biaggi was likely true. He indicated that while there were many participants who felt free to speak in English, that there were hundreds who did not feel comfortable speaking. It seems clear that many of these did not concur with the numerous voices of doom and disagreement offered by North America and a few other international voices.
Soon after, the vote was taken by secret ballots on paper. After this, the meeting was closed with kind and courteous remarks by General Conference president Ted N.C. Wilson.
God had worked for His people.

18 replies on “AC2016 Votes Process Toward Unity”

Hallelujah, “JESUS” Now, can we get on with the Lord Business, carrying out what this “World Church” has been Commissioned to do. For The Second Coming of Our Lord and Savior
“JESUS CHRIST” is upon us; and enough, is enough!

It’s not over yet. Let us not think as we did in 2015 that all will be wonderful after the GC. This what NAD president Dan Jackson has to say in the NAD Newspoints I just received-
October 11, 2016
North American Division Statement on General Conference Vote on “Unity in Mission” Document –
While stated that the document was generic in nature, many people can’t help but tie it to the issue of Women’s Ordination. In response to the document and the concerned voices in his division, Jackson, expressed his desire to reinforce the position of the division on the role of women in pastoral leadership. “I want to share my strong support for the role of women in pastoral ministry. Voted church policy allows for women to fill this very important position and this will never change within the North American Division. We want to recognize the calling that God has placed upon both men and women to spread our message of hope and wholeness to everyone that resides in the borders of our territory. We will do everything in our power to move forward with the mission that God has given us all.”
Prepared by the Communication Department of the North American Division

Thank God for this vote. Once again, the church has decided and I hope all entities will comply. If not, how long will the church exercise long-suffering? Giving this year of grace is really a tangible expression of that long-suffering, which may be abused and abused again. The 122 votes may have said “NO” in the sense that the time that elapsed since San Antonio and all the interventions and pleadings from the church leadership to these Unions were enough, thus, it was time take a concrete action. According to me, this vote has not changed and will not change the entities that are defiant. On the contrary, it may harden their position. I hope I am wrong.

A great victory has been won. But the struggle goes on. Our unique task as a church will be to continue the prosecution of our mission to the world while simultaneously prosecuting the difficult struggle for internal revival and reformation, of which the process voted into motion yesterday is but a part.

Now the Church in session has spoken again. We are either a World Church, unified and under God or we are not! We either obey the Voice of God or we do not! We are supposedly the fastest growing denomination in the World. Let us step up to the plate as a unified body and get the work finished that God has given us. NO ONE has to be ordained to do that! We do have to be unified. Maybe not totally in agreement, but unified! My appeal is that all of us, and I include myself, stop complaining and get busy.
Elder Jim Cox, Ret.

I am very relieved to see that the Adventist General Conference has had the courage to take a high view of the authority of scripture and defend the very clear apostolic counsel regarding the order of headship in the family and the church. So many other Protestant denominations have caved in on this matter and they are now wallowing in liberalism, “social gospel”, “liberation theology”, and political correctness. When the smoke clears the Seventh-day Adventist denomination will be stronger than ever as it continues to stand almost alone among the Protestant Reformation denominations for a literal reading of Genesis and a recent six day creation of the world, a literal Adam and Eve, a literal temptation and fall into sin, suffering, and death, and a literal atoning sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary. “Sola Scriptura” will always be the “formal cause” of the true Christian faith.

I am pleased with the new document. May those in position to do so, follow through under GOD to work with the erring (erring in what ever way) and has been said, get on with the gospel commission.

Read 1 Corinthians 12 & Romans 12. Then move onto this: “From the Lifetime and Experience of Ellen G. White
A paper presented at the ministerial meeting at the 1990 General Conference session. Prepared by the White Estate staff. DG 248.1
1. A resolution to ordain women was discussed at the General Conference of 1881. No action was taken. The minutes include the following lines: DG 248.2
“Resolved, that females possessing the necessary qualifications to fill that position may, with perfect propriety, be set apart by ordination to the work of the Christian ministry. DG 248.3”

In the symposium, “Prove All Things,” edited by Mercedes H. Dyer, there is a short section on this on pages 281,282. The discussion about this resolution was recorded in the Review and Herald, Dec. 20, 1881 p. 392.
The committee on Resolutions introduced this statement at the 1881 General Conference session. Eight delegates spoke to the issue and the floor referred it to the General Conference Committee where it died a quiet death. Neither the committee nor anyone else ever reintroduced the matter.
Those who use this statement claiming that the 1881 General Conference approved ordaining women to the gospel ministry are suggesting or passing on info that is inaccurate. This matter did not come back up again until the 1990 General Conference session.

Praise God for the men and women who stood up for His word. This is just the start. Discipline is suppose to be redemptive in nature, not punishing. We must proceed with much prayer, and we must be patient.

I have read other sites and I am appalled by the spirit of rebellion that still exits. Regardless of topic, when are we going to become a people of the book.
I believe we are in the times of 2Tim 4: 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Is 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.
Do not let any living man come to you and begin to dissect God’s Word, telling what is revelation, what is inspiration, and what is not, without a rebuke. Tell all such they simply do not know. They simply are not able to comprehend the things of the mystery of God. What we want is to inspire faith. We want no one to say, “This I will reject, and this will I receive,” but we want to have implicit faith in the Bible as a whole and as it is. {Ms13-1888.43}
Now, there are some that may think that they are fully capable, with their finite judgment, to take the Word of God and to state what are the words of inspiration and what are not the words of inspiration. I want to warn you off that ground, my brethren in the ministry. “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground”. There is no finite man that lives, I care not who he is or whatever is his position, that God has authorized to pick and choose in His Word. {Ms13-1888 (December 1, 1888) par. 13}
We call on you to take your Bible, but do not put a sacrilegious hand upon it and say, “That is not inspired,” simply because somebody else has said so. Not a jot or tittle is ever to be taken from that Word. Hands off, brethren! Do not touch the ark. Do not lay your hand upon it, but let God move. It is with His own power, and He will work in such a manner that He will compass our salvation. We want God to have some room to work. We do not want man’s ideas to bind him about. {Ms13-1888 (December 1, 1888) par. 44}

I have read other sites and I am appalled by the spirit of rebellion that still exits.
Actually this is matter of perception.
People express themselves the way they can;
so indeed you could condemn them in having rebellious spirit but not a fact that they actually have it.
That’s why I’d rather look to the point they’re trying to deliver and leave the recognition of their spirit to God.

“I feel that my local church, my conference, and my union are the ones with the kingly power.”
In support of this sentiment, consider this quote from an article in the 5/13/1909 issue of the Review, p. 7.

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them, receiveth us not.” 3 John 9.
No doubt this advocate of the independence of the churches from the general oversight established, was loud in his denunciation of the effort of the organized body to preserve the unity of the work. He prated against the apostle ” with malicious words,” and had the word been coined then, he would surely have called the apostles’ effort popery. Inspiration says that his real difficulty was that he loved to have the pre-eminence among them. This was the spirit of self-exalting independence and disregard of gospel order and organization which led straight on to the papacy.

Thus I think that Jody, as quoted above, hit the nail on the head.

May we intercede in prayer this year. May the Lord soften hearts. I have experienced having a rebellious spirit. It is a miracle of the Holy Spirit’s moving that a turn-around can happen. I am grateful for our GC leaders who have waited patiently this year and yet have not been idle. This proposal reveals their desire for redemptive reconciliation. This is biblical; this is Spirit-led. Courage in Christ and what He can do!

With solemn recognition of prophecy, I have to agree with Pastor Randy Roberts. As repugnant as the thought of a division in the church is to me, it has been prophesied that it will accomplish renewal and revitalization to the SDA Church. God is the author of free choice. All should have that privilege, including those who believe that their position on this matter is more important than submission to the legitimately voted policy.

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