As I write this, it appears that the General Conference is strongly considering re-designating the Pacific Union in the North American Division as the Pacific Union Mission.
The Pacific Union (and possibly the Columbia Union) would be changed from union status to union mission status. A variety of consequences flow from this, one being that current executive officers would be released from service, and new officers would be appointed by the General Conference to lead the mission (or missions). Why take such an action?
The Pacific Union has been the locus of a long and determined attempt to pressure the world church to accept the ordination of women. For years, the leadership of that union and of its constituent conferences have been making illegitimate, and probably illegal, changes to their Constitution and Bylaws. For many years, the Southeastern California Conference has been particularly egregious in its behavior, voting illegitimate credentials, conducting denominationally illegal ordinations, and even electing a woman as its "president."
All church members should know that the the church specifies that a conference president shall be “an ordained pastor of experience and good report,” and only men are ordained. The Church says, “He [the conference president] stands at the head of the gospel ministry in the conference and is the chief elder, or overseer, of all the churches’ (Church Manual, p. 31, 2016 ed.). To place a woman as conference president is, beyond question, to place her in a he position, exercising headship authority which the Word of God has reserved to spiritually qualified males according to the creation order.
My purpose is neither to list the sequence of transgressions and failures in this region, nor to mark out the consequences of such a re-designation, but I will offer a few thoughts in the more positive vein.
First and most obviously, re-designating this region as the Pacific Union Mission will have the effect of providing for the region new leadership which can help the beliefs and practices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church be aligned more closely with the world church of which it is a part.
Second, a union more closely aligned with the world church will be better prepared to resist the current pulsations of the postmodern ethos. The Church in this region can move away from a pro-cultural stance to a counter-cultural one. Without intentional, biblically faithful leadership, the workers in this ideologically hollowed-out region are at serious risk of echoing the local liberationist, feminist, and LGBTQ ideologies. The world church will then be able to restore a viable and distinctively Seventh-day Adventist witness in these unions.
Thirdly, the world church will have stronger protection against embarrassments such as happened when the Southern California Conference threw one pastor under the bus who preached the biblical view of sexuality. Or, the embarrassment that ensued when another professor at La Sierra University preached a sermon at the Hollywood Church titled “Repenting of Our Patriarchy and Heterosexism.” Or, the discrediting of our witness that has arisen when evolutionistic origin views have been taught by our University near Riverside.
Fourthly, connected with the previous point, our evangelistic work around the world will not have to offer explanations for why such patently unbiblical teachings are permitted, or how they do not really represent our teachings as a world church. Our evangelistic work will be helped by increased global consistency in our teachings and practice.
Fifth, by carefully taking concrete steps to restore order in the Church, we will save energies in the future by settling it now that our theological approach is to strengthen our practice of the historical-grammatical approach to biblical interpretation.
Sixth, Adventist evangelistic outreach in California and Eastern environs can be sharpened, made more intentionally mission-oriented. A Union can slip into a feeling of being established--of having 'arrived.' But if a region is re-designated as the “Pacific Union Mission,” or other fitting name, there could be a transformation of spirit. There could be an increased appreciation for the fact that there is a distinctive end-time message to be carried across the territory.
Seventh, Adventists in these regions who have sought to remain faithful to the message and mission of the world church will be encouraged. Many have experienced feelings of hopelessness and alienation as time and again troubling approaches have been pressed to the front. They can rejoice in the assurance that they are contributing to the advance of the same message and mission that their brothers and sisters elsewhere are promoting.
Eighth, it will be seen that we are not a loose grouping of domesticated regional churches but that we are a world church, that the decisions voted in a General Conference session truly matter, and that there is a cohesive global body standing shoulder to shoulder in the work of Jesus to draw hearts to Him and prepare them to stand with Him in the adoption and proclamation of present truth.
And ninth, an example will be set which will help other runaway unions rethink their stances. After all, not many unions or conferences will savor the idea of being re-designated as mission units.
Let’s face it. Something deeply troubling has gone wrong in the Pacific Union and it has significantly lost its way. Some there have forgotten that they are part of a world movement, and that they have a responsibility to work in harmony with their brothers and sisters as part of a world church. If the region is re-designated as a Union Mission, it may be painful but it may be the best thing that can be done to correct the work in this region, and to help hearts remember from whence they have fallen. And upon remembering--to return.