The document, Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions, known colloquially as the “Compliance Document,” was approved at the General Conference Annual Council (GCAC) in October of 2018 at a vote of 185 to 124, with 2 abstaining.
What it is
The Compliance Document outlines the steps for disciplining union and/or conference leaders that are found out of compliance with the church’s Working Policy document. After a non-compliant entity has been referred to a compliance committee, these steps can include 1) warning, 2) public reprimand, and 3) removal of voice and vote in General Conference Executive Committee and Annual Council.
The Compliance Committees
The Compliance Document outlines the creation of four committees. Each committee handles specific issues related to its purpose: Core policy non-compliance (mainly in regards to financial policies), issues of Creation & Origins, Doctrines and practice regarding Homosexuality, Unique doctrines of the SDA Church, and Issues on Ordination. These committees do not have any power to discipline. They only investigate matters of non-compliance and make official recommendations to GC EXCOM that must pass with a two-thirds majority to be put into action.
Esther Abayo of the East Central Africa Division said, “I’m in favor of this document. All of us believe that compliance is necessary. The only fear I see if people afraid of consequences coming from non-compliance.”
“Faith without freedom is only a chain, a colorless flower,” said the Adventist Church’s Hungary president, Tamas Ocsai. “Freedom of conscience is important for Adventists. My serious concern is—’Do we really want to use our recent document to hurt the unity of our beloved church family?’”
Surprisingly, Fulcrum 7, a traditionally-minded publication that takes a position largely against ordaining women, writes, “...by forming these five committees, Wilson is surrendering. He realizes that he has lost the battle on discipline and is looking for a way to retreat without appearing to have given up altogether. The time-honored procedure to make something go away is to refer it to a committee. Let’s be clear: no effective discipline of anyone about anything will ever emerge from any of those committees. They’ve been designed and populated with the goal of burying the possibility of meaningful discipline.”