Silver Spring, Maryland
Leadership of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Executive Committee, at their Annual Council, voted this afternoon to approve a document titled Unity in Mission: Procedures in Church Reconciliation, which examines the need for procedures that the church can follow when an administrative body fails to follow “biblical principles as expressed in the Fundamental Beliefs, voted actions, or working policies of the Church”.The Executive Committee is made up of church leadership representing the entire world church, lay members from the 13 world divisions and institutional leadership. After a lengthy discussion from the floor, the document was accepted by a vote of 169 to 122.
Discussion of the document began with an introduction by General Conference President Ted N.C. Wilson, who introduced the topic of reconciliation by the church body when a disagreement exists. Wilson reminded the committee members that Ellen G. White referred to the “General Conference Executive Committee, when in session, as a group with authority”, and urged members to vote the approval of the recommended document.
Mike Ryan, special assistant to the General Conference president, described the reasoning behind the creation of the document and urgent need for its approval. Ryan referred to the assumption that many people will have in relating the document to the issue of Women’s Ordination and the recent vote on regional approval of women’s ordination that was taken last summer in San Antonio, Texas at the 2015 General Conference Session. He then clarified that the document can refer to many different situations when entities don’t abide by voted policy.
Discussion on the document from the floor of the General Conference auditorium resulted in many different statements both in favor of and in opposition to the proposed document. All nine NAD union presidents and a large number of conference presidents voiced their concern for more dialogue before the document could be approved.
Daniel Jackson, president of the North American Division, went to the microphone and referred to his own baptism in 1963. “When I was baptized I joined the Adventist family, and because of that I am part of a much larger group. I am an African, I am a Bolivian, I am an Asian. We all are part of something much bigger than ourselves. We are part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and its mission.”
After more than 90 minutes of discussion a vote was taken by secret paper ballot.
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.”