Step into this time machine….
If you had been in Battle Creek, Michigan for Annual Council in October 2018, you might have thought you’d stumbled through a time portal. Amid the Adventist church leaders who had grown full beards and broken out their 1800’s cosplay, there were some who believed the attitudes represented by said display were equally old-fashioned. On October 14, GC EXCOM voted to approve a new compliance process that outlines how the church will deal with entities that are not in compliance with GC policies.
Do we have to approve it to find out what’s in it?
The new compliance process, which has been revised--and prayed over fervently--since its original conception, prescribes this escalation of events: 1) a church entity is perceived to be out of compliance and reported 2) the entity is warned and given opportunity to comply 3) if they don’t comply, they may be publicly reprimanded 4) if noncompliance persists, representatives may have their voice and vote removed from GC EXCOM “for cause.”
This probably won’t actually affect anyone, will it?
During the discussion portion of the council, leaders and representatives in the church had a chance to comment on the proposed document. Some pointed out that as much as 80% of church entities around the world are out of compliance and that to pursue action on all of them would be a waste of resources. However, supporters of the document expressed that because a majority of the church is in favor of this process, there should be no reason to oppose its implementation and that everyone should embrace it for the sake of unity.
Now we’re all unified!
While the document was approved by a majority, 185 to 124 votes with two abstaining, the approval has created much discussion and argument among church leaders and members. Several church entitles like the North American Division (NAD) and the Theological Seminary have released statements expressing frustration or caution about the newly voted compliance process. On the other hand, some entities and prominent leaders have voiced their approval, including the GC president, Ted Wilson, who also urged people to remember that, “It’s your document. It’s in your hands. It is not my document.”
Let’s not fight about it though…
Among lay members, many feel that this compliance process was intentionally put in place to target NAD entities over the issue of Women’s Ordination (WO). Some have said that, because there is no consensus on whether WO is biblical, this new process is a last resort by church leadership to maintain the status quo. However, there are also plenty of supporters among the laity who hope that this annual council vote will promote unity in these turbulent times.