Who Gets To Vote?

For the past several years I have been reading articles, listening to sermons, attending debates and watching videos on both sides of the women’s ordination issue. 

When the two previous votes were taken at the General Conferences on the WO issue many years ago, I was home rearing children and then taking care of elderly parents, blissfully unaware of the ongoing conflict.

Then two years ago I went to San Antonio for my very first General Conference as an adult.  I listened to the all-day debate and observed the actual WO vote.  As a lay-person, I naively assumed the issue was settled, never having been privy to the inner workings of church committees and their accompanying politics.  I also assumed the “Yes” voters would be humble and compliant. 

Only three days after the vote while flying home on a plane packed with G.C. delegates and other miscellaneous G.C. attendees, I heard numerous delegates and attendees openly bemoaning the WO vote and eagerly discussing their intent to mount another offence to change things, “next time.”  My naivete’ turned to dismay.

Since then (now over two years later) I have kept listening as the issue continues to roil (to make turbid by stirring up the sediment or dregs) the waters -- waters that have yet to be calmed.

Today as we await the action of next week’s Annual Council I am wondering what will they decide to do about those who continue to ignore the G.C. vote – choosing to follow their own way.  I was thinking . . . Who gets to vote?

  • There are leaders/pastors on all levels of authority who continue to ordain women in direct opposition to the G.C. actions.  Do they get to vote?
  • Since the 2015 G.C. Session action, editors of most Church publications allow only proWO issues to be published.  Do they get to vote?
  • All of the Union presidents in the North American Division (and others around the world) openly state and overtly act upon their opposition to the G.C. action.  Do they get to vote?
  • How about the Conference Executive Committees and their Presidents who with a ”nod of the head” hire new pastors based on their proWO status?  Do they get to vote? 
  • When the Annual Council determines whether/how to discipline those in direct opposition to the GC action, will those who remain in open defiance be sent out of the room?  Do they get to vote?
  • Does anyone else see a conflict of interest here?

The August issue of Adventist World, (p. 40-41) contains a powerful article by Kathryn Proffitt, in which she described her service as Ambassador to Malta during the administration of Former President Bill Clinton.  Her title, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, gave her “unlimited power and authority to transact business on behalf of the United States of America.” 

Proffitt described her power as conditional upon her being faithful to the policies of the U.S. government, “regardless of my personal beliefs.  Had I not honored this trust, I would have been immediately recalled and stripped of all authority.”

Referring to President Clinton’s personal letter to her, Proffitt stated, “While debate and dissent serve a vital role in policymaking, once policy is formed I was required to support it fully.  Not only was I obliged to support U.S. policy – I was also expected to make sure all members of my mission did the same.”

  • If absolute loyalty is essential --
  • If personal beliefs must be put aside to honor the mission –
  • If policy, once formed, must be fully supported –
  • If all members of the mission must comply --

And this is for government work?  

How much more important would working in the service of God’s church require equal or even greater obligation?

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much:  and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much”  (Luke 16:10).

“It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful”  (1 Corinthians 4:2).

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 Janet Lundeen Neumann lives in College Place, WA.