Actions of unions, conferences and individuals in disharmony with church policy may be addressed at Annual Council as well.Read More
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La Sierra University was contacted the day ADvindicate published "La Sierra University hires new evolutionary biologist," but was unavailable for comment until today. Their full statement is posted below:
For Immediate Release Larry Becker Executive Director, University Relations email@example.com 1-‐1-‐1
La Sierra University Responds to False Charges on Independent Websites
Educatetruth.com and ADvindicate.com have focused their efforts on damaging the reputation of Dr. Raul Diaz, who joined the La Sierra University biology faculty at the beginning of January.
Initially one of these sites used an unnamed source to accuse Dr. Diaz of being an atheist. When that was proven false, the site changed its conjecture to Dr. Diaz being agnostic. In fact, Dr. Diaz is a baptized member of the Seventh‐day Adventist Church. He has attended various Adventist churches throughout the span of his academic career.
Dr. Diaz is also quoted by these sites as saying he is an “evolutionary biologist.” Using this as an attack shows a lack of understanding of contemporary biology. An “evolutionary biologist” does focused analysis of the diversity of life, the genetic variations of living organisms, and how organisms interact with their environment. Through this important work, these scientists make possible advances in human health and medicine, agriculture, and the environment.
Dr. Diaz is a dedicated and talented young scientist who is seeking to discover what causes human facial and hand malformations through his research. His passion for his subject has already shone through to students in the three weeks he has been on campus. He looks forward to using his bio-‐medical research to develop classes for students with a pre‐professional health focus. His field and laboratory research efforts will also benefit those students planning to seek graduate biology education.
EducateTruth.com has also been attempting to short‐circuit the board’s efforts to revise the university’s bylaws in response to WASC’s and AAA’s concerns regarding governance issues. The Bylaws Committee members have worked many hours educating themselves so that they fully understand the issues. Their efforts have resulted in a set of recommended bylaws changes for the university constituents to act on during a special constituency meeting on February 21.
These recommendations are not designed to remove the university from Church control, as claimed by some. The proposals leave that defining relationship strong and unchanged, while addressing WASC’s stated concern about potential conflict of interest at the board leadership level. This is a unique situation, because the Pacific Union Conference is the only union in the North America Division where the union president chairs two college boards—Pacific Union College and La Sierra University.
A key recommendation from the Bylaws Committee is that the board chair be elected and be one of the four Pacific Union officers who serve as ex officio board members, rather than automatically being the union president. This allows the board to select its own chair, while ensuring that the chair will always be a union officer. The only limitation imposed through the proposal is that neither the board chair or vice chair of La Sierra University’s board may concurrently serve as chair or vice chair of another university or college board.
There is no change to the ex officio membership of the board, which will continue to have among its members the Pacific Union Conference president, secretary, treasurer, vice president, director of education, and the presidents of the Arizona, Southeastern California, and Southern California Conferences. The revised bylaws make no change to the constituent membership, and the constituency retains all existing control over lay appointments to the board and any amendments to the bylaws.
The board, according to the proposed bylaws, will continue to focus on setting policies that keep the university closely aligned with the mission, goals, and objectives of the Adventist Church.
Dr. Lela Lewis authored a petition asking conferences in Pacific Union not to support its recent decision to approve ordination to gospel ministry without regard to gender. The petition does not address the theological issues surrounding ordination, but attempts to "implore God’s people to come together in the spirit of love through the power of the Holy Spirit."
[W]e the undersigned do not support Pacific Union Conference’s recent decision to go against the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ council in respect to women’s ordination. We believe that to do so ultimately mars the image of God in His church and His people by creating disharmony and confusion....
The petition cites the recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and Mountain View Conferences to stay in harmony with General Conference working policy, as the example each conference should follow. Both those conferences are in the Columbia Union Conference, which recently voted 209 to 51 to authorize ordination of female pastors.
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Mountain View Conference, which is within the Columbia Union, says they will support involvement of all members in church ministry, but will only do so in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist World Church as expressed by actions taken during the General Conference in business session. The statement was voted by the conference's executive committee July 23, 2012, according to a post on the Columbia Union Conference's (CUC) Facebook page. The statement can also be found on the front page of the conference's website:
Mountain View Conference Executive Comm. statement:
Due to the current and considerable dialogue in the North American Division regarding the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, the Mountain View Conference Executive Committee voted the following statement:
Whereas the Mountain View Conference has a long history of actively supporting, encouraging, and empowering women in church ministries, and
Whereas the Mountain View Conference recognizes itself as an integral part of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, it is therefore resolved:
The Mountain View Conference, following the scriptural mandate of the priesthood of all believers, and as directed by its Constitution and By Laws, intentionally chooses to continue its long-held commitment of supporting, encouraging, empowering, and celebrating the involvement of all members, regardless of gender, in church ministry. However, we will do so only in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist World Church as expressed by actions taken during the General Conference in business session. (Emphasis added)
After the CUC's July 29th vote to authorize ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender, the Pennsylvania Executive Committee voted a statement that said, "While the Columbia Union has a more general wording in its by-laws, the Pennsylvania Conference has very specific wording, which we will abide by."
Pennsylvania Conference Executive Comm. statement:
PENNSYLVANIA CONFERENCE OFFICERS STATEMENT REGARDING THE COLUMBIA UNION ACTION ON ORDINATION
The recent Columbia Union Special Constituency Session regarding ordination without regard to gender has led to some questions from those wondering how this might affect the Pennsylvania Conference and its future actions.
The Pennsylvania Conference Officers have carefully reviewed the action of the Columbia Union Session, and have reviewed the Pennsylvania Conference Constitution and By-laws. While the Columbia Union has a more general wording in its by-laws, the Pennsylvania Conference has very specific wording, which we will abide by. This wording states that the Pennsylvania Conference policies and procedures shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The purposes, policies and procedures of the Conference shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the NAD and the GC. (Pennsylvania Conference Constitution, article 3, voted 2009)
It is our belief that according to this wording we as a Conference will follow only that which the General Conference policy provides for, in regard to ordination. Our Pennsylvania Conference Constitution and By-laws Committee is not recommending a change in this wording to the Pennsylvania Conference Constituency Session this Fall.
The Pacific Union Conference's special session begins at 1 p.m. (PST). The event is being held at the Warner Center Marriott, Woodland Hills, 21850 Oxnard Street, Woodland Hills, California, 91367. ADvindicate will be covering this event via live blog, but the PUC will also be streaming the event live for those who want to watch it. According to PUC President Ricardo Graham, "This session is called to consider the following changes to the Pacific Union Bylaws. The proposed changes will enable the union to approve the ordination of ministers without regard to gender, when a local conference requests such approval."
There will be two discussions and two votes on today. The motion to amend the bylaws will require a 2/3 majority to pass. The proposed change will enable the union to ordain ministers without regard to gender and that will require 50 percent plus one. The agenda can be read online.
Watch the PUC's special session.
The 2012 International ASI convention arrived in Cincinnati last Wednesday with a reminder that each of us are called to action. The theme was “It’s Time.” And it was. It was time for thousands of believers to gather together for encouragement. It was time for preaching, seminars and re-connecting with those who take the Advent Message seriously. Perhaps we take it a bit more seriously now, after Shawn Boonstra’s Sabbath sermon and Elder Wilson’s evening message the same day. Both were good. This convention was also a first for ADvindicate. We had a booth there for the first time. Judging by the comments from people who visited our booth in the exhibit hall, now is a good time for a website like ADvindicate – a website that appreciates the Advent Message. ADvindicate’s goal is to find ways to strengthen that which God has given us, not tear down the message with unbelief and theological pessimism. The people that I talked to were encouraged by our vision. There were even several rather notable fellow Adventists who stopped by and thanked us for what we are doing. We appreciate them too.
During the convention we gave away a Kindle Fire to a fortunate individual who signed the register. Congratulations to Nehemiah Fowler! Let us know what great things you read with it someday.
Those of you who couldn’t make it, we appreciate your prayers and contributions to the ADvindicate forum. Walk with the King and be a blessing.
For more information on the ASI Convention, please visit the ASI website.
In less than two weeks, Cincinnati, Ohio, will be filled with committed Adventists from around the world. Only a couple blocks from the Ohio River, the Adventist-laymen's Services & Industries (ASI) convention begins August 8th and ends on the 11th. The atmosphere at ASI is a combination of energy, encouragement, and excitement. And this is exciting: ADvindicate will have a booth there for the first time. The Lord placed it on the hearts of two couples in Ohio to help make this booth happen, and I am grateful to my friend Steve and his wife for their gracious participation in helping to organize this event. I am also grateful to Nancy Wagoner and her untiring support. The booth number is 1022 in the exhibit hall.
David Read and Gerry Wagoner will take turns working the booth during exhibit hours. There will be a drawing for a Kindle Fire, and other materials made available to exhibit hall attendees. Please pray for us, and all who attend the ASI convention.
As they say in Kentucky (just over the river) “Ya’ll come.” It ought to be fun!
For more information on the ASI Convention, please visit the ASI website.
The world leadership of the Seventh-day Adventists issued an “appeal for unity” to several union conferences that have either taken or are considering independent action regarding the ordination of women to gospel ministry. The request comes in a statement issued June 29, 2012.
An Appeal For Unity in Respect to Ministerial Ordination Practices
Since the beginning of 2012 several union conferences1 have recorded actions expressing support for, or commitment to, the ministerial ordination of women. The world-wide Seventh-day Adventist Church is currently engaged in a study of the theology of ordination and its implications. This study is scheduled for completion by the 2014 Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee. At that time the Executive Committee will determine the report which will be given to the 2015 General Conference Session along with whether or not any new recommendation should be considered by delegates to the Session. [Main News Story]
In the light of this current study and the actions of several unions, General Conference officers2, including presidents of the 13 world divisions, have unanimously communicated an appeal for unity in respect to ministerial ordination practices. The appeal calls: 1) for unity in respecting a global church action (i.e. the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session decisions on ministerial ordination); 2) for each union executive committee to carefully review the far-reaching effects of pursuing a course of action that is contrary to the decisions of the General Conference in session; and 3) for each union to participate in the current study about the theology of ordination and its implication.
1. Respecting a global decision of the Church The world-wide Church recognizes the General Conference in Session as the highest ecclesiastical authority for Seventh-day Adventists. The 19903 and 19954 General Conference Session decisions with respect to granting ministerial ordination to women represent the current voice of the Church in this matter. The actions of certain unions indicate their desire to establish an alternative source of authority for a matter that already carries the authority of the world Church.
As currently understood in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ordination to the gospel ministry is ordination to serve the global Church. No provision exists for a geographically localized ministerial ordination.5 Consequently the decision to change or modify ordination practices is a global one and necessitates a decision from the world body.
For any union to introduce a different ministerial ordination practice is seen, by the rest of the Church, as readiness to set aside a world Church decision and proceed in another direction. Such actions, taken at the very time when the world Church is engaged in a study and discussion of the matter, pre-empt the process and any decision that might come from it. This creates widespread confusion, misunderstanding as well as erosion of trust and also nurtures doubt about these unions acting in good faith as members of the world-wide family.
Some who would encourage unions to proceed with ministerial ordination for women draw attention to selected statements from a General Conference Executive Committee document.6 As used by these individuals, the statements would indicate that a union has final authority in matters relating to ministerial ordination. The intent of the document from which such statements have been taken is to emphasize the interconnectedness of Seventh-day Adventist denominational structure. The authority and responsibility entrusted to any entity of the Church is exercised within the context of beliefs, values, and policies of the entire Church. Being a part of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church obliges every organization to think and act for the good of the whole and to shun a spirit of autonomy and self-determination.
2. The effects of unilaterally pursuing a different course of action The significance of any union proceeding in a manner contrary to a global Church decision is not limited to the specific action involved (ministerial ordination in the present instance); it touches the very heart of how this Church functions as a global family. The essence of unity in Seventh-day Adventist organizational functioning is the mutual commitment of all organizations to collective decision-making in matters affecting the whole family—and the acceptance of those decisions as the authority of the Church. The action of any union in pursuing a different course of action represents a rejection of this key value in denominational life. Unless this value (i.e. collective decision-making and the acceptance of those decisions as the authority of the Church) is maintained, all other values that contribute to unity are seriously weakened.
For one entity to express its reasoned dissent with a global decision of the Church might appear to some as a legitimate course of action. However, the implications of acting contrary to a world Church decision are not limited to the one entity. Any organization contemplating a course of action contrary to a global Church decision must ask itself, “Is this the pattern of participation in Church life that we wish to establish and recommend for other entities to follow?” “How will we deal with the situation if an organization in our territory should decide to discontinue its participation in one or more matters under which it disagrees with the larger family of organizations?” Mutually agreed upon policies benefit the entire Church and keep it from fragmenting into independent, locally-driven units. They are the reflection of the Spirit-directed will of the body and allow each entity to look beyond itself for the good of the whole body of Christ.
3. Participation in the current study of ordination and its implications General Conference officers welcome and invite unions to participate in the global study of ordination. This study will be the most widespread and thorough study the Church has undertaken on this topic. Earlier studies have been conducted by commissions. This is the first time that a study of ministerial ordination engages the whole Church through the 13 divisions.
Biblical Research Committees in all divisions have been asked to conduct a study on the theology of ordination and its implications. In addition, during 2012, the General Conference Administrative Committee will appoint a Theology of Ordination Study Committee, with representation from all divisions, to oversee and facilitate the global discussion process and to prepare reports for presentation to the General Conference Executive Committee. The Annual Council 2014 will determine what action, if any, should be recommended to the 2015 General Conference Session. Careful thought is being given to ensure that the study and education process is conducted with fairness and thoroughness in respect to examining the theology of ordination and its practical implications.
All unions are welcome to submit their conviction as part of the global dialog on this question. Their voices, along with others, in this matter need to be heard. Now is the time for unions to share their position on ministerial ordination, and the rationale behind it. Doing so will ensure that various perspectives will be clearly understood by the world Church.
The appeal sent by the General Conference officers to certain unions also reflects this Church leadership group’s message to other unions that may be considering similar steps with respect to ministerial ordination practices. The communication concludes: “We have shared with you our deep concerns about the course of action you have chosen. We realize that sharply differing convictions with respect to ministerial ordination for women exist in our global family. We also realize that the passage of time without finding satisfaction for the tensions on this question can give rise to frustration and the erosion of confidence that a timely and mutually satisfactory resolution can be found.”
“We therefore earnestly appeal to you:
1. That your union continues to operate in harmony with the global decisions and global decision-making processes of the Church. 2. That until such time as the Church decides otherwise, your union refrains from taking any action to implement ministerial ordination practices that are contrary to the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session actions. 3. That the union membership be informed concerning the implications for the entire Church in the event that one entity, for whatever reason, chooses a course of action in deliberate opposition to a decision of the whole Church. 4. That the union actively participates in the global discussion about the Church’s understanding and practice of ordination. The contributions of a union in this discussion can be forwarded to the Theology of Ordination Study Committee through the respective Ordination Study Committee set up by each division.
“Thank you for your willingness to receive and reflect on these things. We join you in diligently and prayerfully seeking to know the will, the blessing and the guidance of God in this and all other matters affecting our life together as a Church and our collective endeavor to advance His kingdom.”
______________________________ 1. At December 31, 2010 the Seventh-day Adventist Church had 60 unions with conference status and 59 unions with mission status 2. The group of 40 officers involved include officers from the Presidential, Secretariat and Treasury offices of the General Conference plus the presidents of divisions who, in additional to being presidents of their divisions are vice-presidents of the General Conference. 3. The 1990 General Conference Session approved that women should be given wide participation in all church activities, including soul winning and pastoral duties, but that “in view of the possible risk of disunity, dissension, and diversion from the mission of the Church” the Session also approved the Annual Council recommendation that ordination of women to the gospel ministry not be authorized. 4. The 1995 General Conference Session action denied the request of the North American Division that the Session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below: "The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committee takes specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions." 5. Information that a number of women serve as ordained ministers in China has been cited as justification, for unions elsewhere to proceed in a similar manner. It has been alleged that the Northern Asia-Pacific Division recognizes these ordinations and has therefore established a precedent for granting ministerial ordination to women. However, these ordinations were not authorized or conducted according to the policies of the Church. Nor are these ordinations approved or recognized/endorsed by the Northern Asia-Pacific Division. The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not have an officially organized structure in China that is comparable to other areas of the world. Government regulations do not permit outside involvement in church affairs within China. The practice, in China, of ministerial ordination for women is acknowledged as a reality that has arisen in China and is beyond the influence of the world-wide structure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. 6. “The General Conference and Its Divisions”, General Conference Executive Committee, April 2012
ADvindicate is sponsoring a new website, Christ or Culture, to provide biblical, historical, and church support for this position and to address the challenges of the latest effort to compromise biblical truth in favor of social and cultural acceptance.
A segment within the Seventh-day Adventist Church is currently campaigning to change our historic position regarding the ordination of pastors —that only consecrated men should be ordained. In addition, this push to begin ordaining women as pastors is being done in disregard to the world church’s clear policy on this issue. This presents a serious crisis that threatens to fragment our beloved church, create confusion in our homes, and cripple the progress of the three angels’ messages. Your voice here today can help prevent this disunion. For nearly 150 years, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s position has consistently been that only men should be ordained as pastors. This doctrine has been based on the clear guidance of multiple scriptures, including such passages as 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9.
ADvindicate is sponsoring a new website, Christ or Culture, to provide biblical, historical, and church support for this position and to address the challenges of the latest effort to compromise biblical truth in favor of social and cultural acceptance.
At their March meeting, the Pacific Union executive committee voted to table until May 9 a motion that would immediately approve the ordination of ministers without regard to gender. They also set up an Ordination Study Committee to outline the steps necessary to make gender-neutral ordinations a reality as soon as possible. Today at the La Sierra University Alumni Center, that committee delivered their report to the full executive committee. The committee replaced the original motion with a new one and voted overwhelmingly to call a special constituency meeting, tentatively scheduled for August 19.
The committee voted separately on the main motion, including the preamble. The preamble and main motion were approved by a vote of 42-2. The process, which includes calling a special constituency session, was approved unanimously.
- Whereas Scripture is clear that the end-time Church is blessed precisely because men and women preach God’s message (Joel 2:28-29 and Fundamental Belief 17);
- Whereas we are commanded to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8);
- Whereas “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28);
- Whereas “differences between male and female must not be divisive among us” and “we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation” (Fundamental Belief 14);
- Whereas the Seventh-day Adventist Church is co-founded by a woman, Ellen G. White, who remains an authoritative and guiding voice;
- Whereas the Pacific Union is enriched by Spirit-filled women who are responding to God’s call in our schools, churches and conferences;
- Whereas the Seventh-day Adventist Church assigns Unions the final decision-making authority and responsibility with respect to ordination (NAD Working Policy L45 05 3, Spring Council 2012 116-12G Report);
- Whereas the Pacific Union Conference voted its full commitment to Women’s Ordination, August 30, 1995 (reaffirmed May 12, 2010 and March 15, 2012);
Therefore, [main action]
- The Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee will approve or disapprove candidates for ordination without regard to gender, effective when the Union Bylaws are amended.
Voted, approval for the following process:
- Because the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee is committed to following denominational procedures and processes, and to facilitate the involvement of the entire Union constituency, a special constituency session will be called to consider amendments to the Pacific Union Conference Bylaws to clearly authorize the ordination of ministers without regard to gender.
- The Pacific Union Conference Bylaws Committee will examine the Union bylaws and suggest amendments to clearly authorize the ordination of ministers without regard to gender.
- The Pacific Union Conference will provide an informational packet for the delegates, pertinent to the issues to be discussed in the special constituency session.
Both the study committee and the executive committee made it clear that they are committed to following established church processes and procedures. Their recommendations and actions were guided in large part by a summary of church structure prepared earlier this year by the General Conference and distributed at GC spring meetings. The full name of the document is The General Conference and Its Divisions — a Description of Roles and Relationships in Light of Organizational Structure Development, Current Governance Documents, and Practices. That documents makes clear that:
Authority and responsibility in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not centralized in a hierarchical structure. Instead authority and responsibility is distributed throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church structure ….
The distribution of authority and responsibility in the Seventh-day Adventist Church is illustrated by the following examples of how and where final decision-making authority and responsibility are located ….
The document goes on the explain that the “final authority and responsibility” for deciding who will be a church member is located at the local church; the “final authority and responsibility” for the employment/assigning of pastors and other workers resides at the local conference; and the “final authority and responsibility” for deciding who will be ordained is officially located at the unions.
The committee also considered that the same paragraphs that declare ordination decision are to be made by the unions, not by the divisions or the General Conference, include this counsel:
It is to be understood that the exercise of authority and responsibility is done within the context of the belief, values, and policies of the entire church. No entity is authorized to exercise its authority and responsibility in a manner that is contrary to the interests of the whole church and its activities in fulfilling its mission.
Obviously the distribution of authority found in the Seventh-day Adventist Church can result in tension between world-wide policy and the “final authority and responsibility” which has been assigned to the congregations, conferences and unions. The GC document has much to say about balancing those centers of authority, especially in the final Conclusions and Recommendations:
The following paragraphs and sentences are chosen from the Conclusion to the GC Spring Document. The full document will be made available in the next few days.
The distribution of authority and responsibility in the Church along with the recognition that “authority rests in membership” presents significant challenges in finding a balance between centralized authority (actions of the global church) and the more localized authority (actions of the constituency) in churches, conferences and unions.
At the same time the church has worked to preserve unity, the effect of church growth has enlarged the understanding of diversity and its rightful place in a worldwide community. To expect that every entity in the world church will look and function exactly like every other entity of its type may in itself become an impediment to mission. The development of structural designs in the history of the church indicates that unity must be built on a stronger foundation than uniformity.
There must be room to recognize the need for a legitimacy of local adaptation of policies and procedures that facilitate mission while not diminishing the worldwide identity, harmony and unity of the Church.
The relationship among the entities of the church is more than a matter of law and policy. Therefore attempts to codify that relationship will always be inadequate. The primary strength of the Church comes not from its structure but from its collective desire to live out a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Such a commitment embraces a call to community.
Pacific Union executive committee members made it clear during discussions this week that they are committed to taking seriously the “final” authority and responsibility that the Seventh-day Adventist church has assigned to unions. And they made it clear that their call for a special constituency session is not to be interpreted as a way to delay the ordination of all whom God has called to ministry. It is rather, the result of a commitment to follow church procedures and to make sure the final action, whatever it is, is backed by the full authority that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has assigned to the Pacific Union Conference.
Gerry Chudleigh Communication Director 2686 Townsgate Road Westlake Village, CA 91361 Mail to: (PO Box 5005, 91359) www.puconline.org Office: 805-413-7286
Source: Pacific Union Conference