Spectrum Magazine releases investigative report of WCAS and the Nameless Network
On August 15, Spectrum Magazine released a report from Alex Aamodt, a Roy Branson Investigative Reporter for Spectrum, about the group known as “World Church Affirmation Sabbath” (WCAS). The report sources from hours of first-hand interviews, written and digital materials, and public record searches which were compiled into one complete story of the group. WCAS is an organization founded in 2016 by a group of lay members located in the Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) who believed that UCC was not in line with the General Conference (GC) and the world church. WCAS opposed UCC’s commitment to increase the number of women in professional ministry and “value, affirm and foster their leadership gifts,” seeing it as a declaration of intent to ordain women to the gospel ministry regardless of the voted policy of the world church. UCC also gave commissioned women similar responsibilities to ordained pastors (see this article for differences between the “commissioned” and “ordained” pastors). WCAS believes the “conservative voice” is being lost in Seventh-day Adventism and has been seeking to renew it.
Nameless Network...Is this a Matrix prequel movie?
Alongside WCAS, a network of Adventists known publicly only as the “Nameless Network” (NN) meet online to create fellowship and discuss world church matters. Although little is known about NN, it seems to be an extension of WCAS. Anonymity is a core value of NN, so the identities of its leaders and members are closely-guarded secrets. Kent Knight, a lay person in UCC involved with WCAS during its early days, says that though WCAS was “the ‘pioneering chapter,’ […] the Nameless Network was a 'vehicle by which to [sic] bring people from a larger sphere, geographically, nationally, even some international.’” Because of the anonymity, much is speculated about this group and its true motives. However, because of seemingly privileged information released in GC articles published about WCAS (before anyone else could have knowledge of the actions of WCAS and NN), it is likely that its membership includes people currently serving at the division and GC levels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Anonymous sans Guy Fawkes
The goals of WCAS and NN seem to be to affirm the world church’s votes (most notably, rejecting individual divisions the permission to ordain women in their territories), establish a movement of lay people who support the world church, and restore a strong conservative voice in Adventism. The controversy stems from the refusal of these groups to be transparent with conference leadership, with their actions leading to a questioning of WCAS’ motives and UCC’s refusal to endorse them. For instance, WCAS distributed pamphlets to promote its initial meetings without notifying UCC. With its name (World Church Affirmation Sabbath) seemingly indicating an event rather than an organization, the lack of communication caused people to question if the meetings were an official GC function or if this was a group trying to trick people into believing they were holding official denomination events. When UCC’s administrators investigated WCAS early on, it was difficult for them to identify leaders. The conversations that did eventually take place didn’t provide much clarity. WCAS leadership eventually met with UCC leadership once, but the groups walked away from that meeting with very different understandings of each other and there was an unrelated change in UCC administration shortly thereafter which is likely the reason the groups haven’t met again. In addition to WCAS’ background, Aamodt concludes from his investigation that individuals involved with NN are likely afraid of real-world repercussions for advocating their conservative beliefs and have decided to remain anonymous to protect themselves. Their unwillingness to provide information and lack of clear communication channels make it difficult for the Adventist church at any level to affirm these groups.
Word on the street is...
The UCC and Texico Conferences have made their positions clear by banning the use of church facilities for these groups. WCAS argues they want to see the coming of Jesus, and maintain they are only standing up for their belief that “the world church when it votes, according to Mrs. White, is God’s authority on earth for today.” Some Adventists question why any lay groups supporting the world church and teaching Adventist beliefs are banned from using Adventist facilities and claim leadership is abusing its authority by doing so. Others are concerned about the secrecy of these groups and the potential involvement of church leadership in these kinds of organizations.
2019 Digital Discipleship Conference hosted in New Zealand
DDC, not DDR
Over 150 individuals from all over New Zealand, who are passionate about using media and technology to spread the gospel, gathered at the Auckland University of Technology for the first Digital Discipleship Conference (DDC) ever held in New Zealand. The theme for the conference was titled “Story,” referring to the power of sharing personal stories of various digital mediums for the glory of God and to reach the hearts of others—particularly in an age where many people invest so much time in social media. The attendees brought various levels of experience in their respective fields, but all heard the call to dream big and build this community of digital disciples; sharing their faith in the digital world.
Adventist Deaf Association meets in France
The “signs” of the times
From May 30 through June 2, Deaf Adventists met for the third time in Saint-Malo, France. Around 40 individuals identifying as deaf, hard-of-hearing, or sign language users came from all over France for the event. Jeff Jordan, a deaf pastor in the USA, was the guest speaker. He encouraged members to “commit themselves to God, their church, and to sharing their faith with other deaf people.” The leadership of Special Needs Ministries (commissioned by the GC in 2011), Corrado Cozzi, Communication Director for the Inter-European Division (IED), and Phillippe Aurouze, Treasurer for the Franco-Belgian Union (FBU), led workshops and offered church administration’s support for the event’s attendees.
International Pathfinder Camporee brings $20 million to Oshkosh
The 2019 International Pathfinder Camporee brought roughly 55,000 pathfinders (and President Ted Wilson) from over 92 countries to Oshkosh, WI. In addition to bringing over $20 million to the local economy, attendees made the nearby Walmart “the busiest Walmart in the United States.” Pathfinders broke the world record for the largest Pathfinder scarf (4,000 lbs) and 13,000 Pathfinders formed themselves into the shape of a cross, breaking the world record for the world’s largest human cross. The main event was the Broadway-style production of the story of David, written and produced by Sitler and Strong Productions and broadcasted on Hope Channel each night. (Fun Fact: The Scratch’s co-founder, Kevin Christenson, voiced several characters including “General Abner” and a humorous, Irish servant.) There were also various activities and honors for the Pathfinders to experience from day to day, including trading pins, a highly-anticipated tradition each Camporee that most Adventist organizations produce limited-edition pins for. The Camporee led to over 1,300 baptisms.
Contributors: Rachel Beaver, Ryan Becker, Kevin Christenson, Juan Mora
Editors: Ryan Becker, Kevin Christenson, Jill Evans