"First of all I would like to thank you for the very appropriate, civil, Christlike manner in which we conducted the activities. May this always be a mark of Seventh-day Adventist meetings. Secondly, I would like to share that—what is obvious—no one wants to split the church. No one. I would hope no one. I certainly don’t.
Our aim is to bring reconciliation and a focus on mission. We have spent the last almost seven days at Annual Council. It officially began Wednesday night, which is a little unusual, and we have spent almost seven days talking about mission. Those of you who have been here, I hope you haven’t escaped the fact that we have packed this Annual Council with mission. Now the last two hours and forty-two minutes or so, we have talked about a serious item, but tomorrow, and in the future, we will continue, I hope, all talking about mission. Jesus is coming soon. It is our mission. I want to underscore again, I love our church everywhere. Whether we agree from one portion or the other, whether we have differences, I want to say from my heart, I love the church everywhere.
I think as we go into this, I would hope that people will not surmise the worst, but that we will work with diligence to bring a good dialogue and discussion. It is in our plan to work with divisions that would like to work in a consultative way, in a prayerful way, to engage in what we know is the most important thing to bring about the coming of the latter rain, that is, fulfill Christ’s prayer of John 17, to be in unity. How exactly that will happen, I don’t have the full answer. I doubt whether anyone else does. The Lord is not going to let this church falter. This church will move ahead with its mission.
I want to remind us of that marvelous passage in Ephesians chapter 4. Paul was a prisoner of the Lord, and he was beseeching those in Ephesus. Verse 1: “That ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love,” and all of that is vital. But notice what he says next: “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” And then he focuses on—it is important—“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” This is the mandate for the Seventh-day Adventist church.
I encourage you to understand the church is not on a witchhunt. The church is on a journey to bring us into unity, and into understanding that when we make decisions, whether we agree with them or not, we work together. Personally I can think of at least two major decisions that this body has made in the last number of years that I didn’t agree with, and voted against. But I didn’t go on a campaign to try to negatively affect those votes. I work with the church. And I implore all of you to do the same. “One Lord, one faith . . . one Father.”
I ask for your prayers, and I will pray for you. And let’s not forget the real reason we are here, as a number have said, it is the mission of the church and God will see to it that we accomplish that mission. May God bless each of you and as we reunite tomorrow morning, may we again look at the centrality of Christ and His righteousness which can cover us and bring us into a harmony regardless of our opinions. I urge you, as I urge myself, to fall at the foot of the cross, and to be changed every day, so that we can work together in unity.
Thank you to each of you."
Rich and Cathy with their four precious children live in Oklahoma where Rich is the pastor of the Ardmore and Arbuckle View SDA churches. Besides God and family, they enjoy outdoor activities, traveling, and learning.