The need for Reconciliation
After the 2015 GC Session vote, there were some Unions that continued to be vocal in their support for ordaining women as pastors and even continued to ordain them. This created a large and complex problem: what does the worldwide church do when entities seem to be going against what was voted by the larger body?
Unity or Discipline?
The document, titled Unity in Mission: Procedures in Church Reconciliation, was created in order in order for the General Conference Administration begin a process to figure out what was happening, why it was happening, and to find some way of reconciling seemingly non-compliant church entities to the world church as a whole. The document was accepted by a vote of 169-122
So what does it say?
The three-page document outlines a few steps to work toward reconciliation:
Listen and pray
-Governing body are made aware of the situation, meet with the entity in question, and listen and pray together.
Consultation with wider group
-If more discussion is needed, a group made up of lay people, pastors, and administrators will meet twice over six months.
Write pastoral letters
-If after six months the matter hasn’t been resolved, overseeing executive officers will write letters to the executive officers of the non-compliant entity encouraging them to lead their areas to be faithful to biblical principles, voted actions, and working policy.
Listen and pray again
-Executive officers will meet with the governing body of the non-compliant entity, encouraging them to reconsider and praying together.
Start phase two of reconciliation
-If the process of reconciliation has not been complete, the General Conference will become involved in the ordeal.
What’s the point?
The purpose of this process was to bring seemingly non-compliant entities back into harmony with the world church and was created with broad language so that it could be applied to various levels of church structure. It was intended to be a patient process where authority wouldn’t be authoritarian, but would engage in genuine conversation with believers in a non-compliant entity and seek understanding in the process of reconciliation. This process would lead to the creation of the “Phase II” document in 2017.