Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick will be tweeting live updates from Fall Annual Council of 2017. You can follow his feed here.Read More
Jay Gallimore, president of the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, wrote this editorial on the recent decision of the Annual Council. Many have construed the events at Annual Council as a further attack by conservatives on women's ordination. In this editorial, however, Pastor Gallimore shows what the real issue is, and why it is so important for the church to deal with it.Read More
This year's Autumn Council generated much interest with its focus on reconciliation and mission. Yet General Conference President Ted Wilson chose neither unity nor mission, but education as the topic of his October 8 Sabbath sermon. A gift copy of Ellen White's Education had been placed at each seat, and he recommended it as both a complement to the educational instructions in the Bible and a book that could change the direction of our institutions.Read More
On October 11, 2016, the Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee voted to approve a procedure by which the non-compliance of certain denominational entities with world church policy is to be addressed. This procedure will involve a year-long, two-step process in which efforts at reconciliation will be conducted by those strata within the church organization which bear responsibility for those entities—such as Unions and local Conferences—who have lately veered in their practices from the voted decisions of the worldwide Adventist body.Read More
Video of Elder Wilson's Closing RemarksRead More
Transcript of Elder Wilson's Opening RemarksRead More
Simple, melodic music and hymns play a vital role in improving depression and anxiety, according to President of Weimar Institute Neil Nedley.Read More
Fallout from the world church’s decision on women’s ordination has begun.Read More
Former US Ambassador to Malta and Seventh-day Adventist Kathryn Proffitt presented the devotional at the General Conference Annual Council’s first business session Sunday.Read More
There was a time when no one seemed to care what happened at the General Conference committee.Read More
Actions of unions, conferences and individuals in disharmony with church policy may be addressed at Annual Council as well.Read More
Speaking to a capacity crowd of more than 450 in the General Conference auditorium, General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson emphasized a call to “communicate God’s truth in love and illuminate the earth with God’s glory.”Read More
Following three hours of respectful study and discussion, leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist world church voted to approve a “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination” on October 16, during the Annual Council of world church leaders held in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. The vote was 264 in favor and 25 opposed.
The move comes after three local unions – the North German Union in the Euro-Africa Division, and the Columbia Union and Pacific Union in the North American Division – separately voted this year to permit ordination “without respect to gender,” something the Adventist Church as a whole has twice rejected in votes at the movement’s General Conference Sessions, which are held every five years.
The voted statement expresses disapproval of the independent actions of the unions, appeals for all Church units “to consider thoughtfully the impact and implications of decisions” made independently of the world community, and affirms the role of women in the Church’s life and ministry. The document also points toward continuing studies on the theology of ordination, the results of which are expected to be ready in 2014, ahead of the following year’s 60th General Conference Session. No sanctions are applied, or suggested, in the document.
“This statement deals with Church structure and procedures. It does not address the question of ministerial ordination practices per se,” the statement said. “The central issue is one of Church polity – how the Church defines its organization, governance and operations.”
“Decisions to pursue a course of action not in harmony with the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session decisions (with respect to ministerial ordination) represent not only an expression of dissent but also a demonstration of self-determination in a matter previously decided by the collective Church,” the statement said. “The General Conference Executive Committee regards these actions as serious mistakes.”
The statement text continues, “The world Church cannot legitimize practices that clearly contradict the intent of General Conference Session actions. … Accordingly, the world Church does not recognize the actions of unions or conferences that have authorized or implemented ministerial ordination without regard to gender.”
But the statement is also clear in stating the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s position on women: “The General Conference Executive Committee specifically affirms the important roles that women fill in the life of the Church. Their giftedness and commitment is a blessing to the whole Church and a necessary part of its work in mission.”
The measure passed on a secret, paper ballot after the day's discussion, which began with comments from Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, Seventh-day Adventist world church president. Wilson expressed the hope that the world church's units would continue "focusing on the mission of the Church, uniting in Christ, even though we will face some differences and disagreements."
Wilson was followed by noted evangelist and retired General Conference vice president Pastor Mark Finley, who spoke about the question of how the early church made decisions and worked in unity. He referenced three incidents in the book of Acts.
"The essence of unity is not uniform action; it is respecting one another enough to listen carefully, respond thoughtfully and decide together," Finley said. "Insurmountable difficulties were resolved as early church leaders met together, prayed and surrendered their personal opinions to the decision of the larger corporate body."
During an extended comment period, Pastor Daniel Jackson, North American Division president, sought to reassure world church leaders that the division supported the Church's mission, despite the polity question discussed in the statement.
"We want to make it abundantly clear that the NAD without any hesitation expresses our unity with the world church," Jackson said. "We are not just an adjunct to the world church; we are brothers and sisters with every person in this room."
A pastor in the NAD’s Atlantic Union Conference, Dedrick Blue, told his fellow delegates that “the process deals with the mechanism, but the effect is just as important as the process. What we are grappling with here is the effect of our decision as a world body,” adding, “Don't get involved with process to neglect justice and mercy.”
While he voted in favor of the statement, Northwest Pacific Union Conference president Pastor Max Torkelson II said he hoped younger Adventists wouldn’t get the wrong message from the action. He spoke with a reporter following the meeting.
“I’m concerned that, particularly our younger church members have less patience” to wait for the world church to act, he said. “And we’re asking them, we have been asking them, for years, to be patient, and now again we’re asking them to be patient. I admire them to the degree that they are, but I’m wondering how long we can presume that they will be patient. I’m afraid that we may disappoint them.”
Following the vote and before prayers by Adventist university leaders from three continents, Wilson said he appreciated delegates’ careful approach to the matter.
“Thank you for your confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring unity to God's Church,” Wilson said. “We're not at the end of the road, we still have a journey to complete, but by God's grace, let's do it together.”
By Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review, and Edwin Manuel Garcia/ANN
—Click HERE to read the full statement (PDF download)
Next week’s Annual Council will likely have a packed agenda, from a discussion on how leaders should respond to actions of two administrative unions that conflict with world church policy to a possible name change for the denomination’s Euro-Africa Division. Annual Council, set for October 11 to 17, is the yearly meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Executive Committee, a group of more than 350 world church leaders. It is the church’s top business meeting other than General Conference Session, which is held every five years.
“We appreciate the prayers of members worldwide for this council and expect that the Spirit will be evident throughout the proceedings,” said Myron Iseminger, undersecretary for the Adventist world church. “It’s encouraging to see world church leaders representing diverse cultures passionately yet peacefully expressing their positions on tough issues and then praying together.”
Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson will deliver the Sabbath Sermon on October 13, which will be broadcast on the church’s Hope Channel network. Leaders will also give updates on several presidential initiatives, including the Great Controversy Project, a global distribution of the book written by church co-founder Ellen G. White, and Revived by His Word, a Bible-reading program.
Adventist Church Secretary G. T. Ng is scheduled to deliver his report regarding the world church’s membership and steps the denomination is taking enhance its records.
Secretariat is also expected to recommend a change in church structure to enhance ministry in the Northern Asia-Pacific Division and in Burundi in the East-Central Africa Division.
Church Treasurer Robert E. Lemon will deliver his report on the state of the church’s finances and a revised policy on tithe incorporating recommendations from a study commission.
Delegates are also expected to receive an update on the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, which was established last month. The move follows last year’s unveiling of a roadmap for how the denomination will study the role and practice of ordination in response to a 2010 request at General Conference Session.
While the Adventist world church’s policy does allow for women to be commissioned as ministers, it does not allow for the ordination of women to ministry. The issue has become one of intense discussion again in recent years. Church officials said two union constituency sessions have authorized their executive committees to ordain women as ministers despite requests from Adventist world church leaders to wait for the committee’s conclusions.
Delegates are also expected to vote on wording of a policy change that adjusts the percentage of tithe from the North American Division that is offered forwarded to the General Conference headquarters. NAD currently contributes 8 percent of tithe to the General Conference, and the proposal is a reduction to 6 percent by the year 2020. The other 12 divisions, by comparison, each contribute 2 percent of tithe to the General Conference.
There could also be a name change for the denomination’s Euro-Africa Division, based in Berne, Switzerland. Last year, the division’s territory in Africa was aligned with the newly-created Greater Middle East Union.
Secretariat also said the two church statements on homosexuality will undergo rewording to more clearly articulate the denomination’s position.
By Ansel Oliver/ANN