On February 2 of this year, Fulcrum7 broke a news story about a lesbian couple that was baptized into the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern California.
Alice Machado was baptized by Ginger Harwood, a former associate professor at the La Sierra University theology department.
Some of you may recall that on February 2, 2013, Ginger Harwood and Kendra Valentine (formally Haloviak) were both ordained as Seventh-day Adventist ministers, even though the action was out of harmony with the expressed will of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ginger Harwood is a long-time supporter of LGBT+ activism. Fast forward three years and Ginger Harwood is knowingly baptizing a “married’ lesbian into the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Due to wide exposure of the story on Fulcrum7, the NAD was obliged to issue a statement on the situation at Chico. Near the end of the statement are these words:
The North American Division has full confidence in the leadership of the Northern California Conference (NCC) in addressing this issue.
After the baptism of Amber and Alice Machado, Jim Pedersen, Ricardo Graham and Dan Jackson were each contacted repeatedly about the situation, and asked to recommend appropriate disciplinary measures for Dan Wysong of the Chico Church. They apparently did nothing about it, until the story broke.
On October 10 2017, the president of the Northern California Conference sent this letter out to pastors in the NCC:
- In the letter, he states that the official position of the Seventh-day Church is that we do NOT receive into membership anyone who is in an active homosexual relationship. This is true, but only true if Chico remediates their current situation.
- He acknowledges that pastors can be disciplined for not following the SDA Church Manual, Fundamental Beliefs or the counsel of conference leadership. This is also accurate, but only true if conference leaders enforce it. Most of them in North America do not.
- In closing, Pedersen mentions the Chico situation—where two members are in a same-sex marriage. He says they (NCC administration) met with the Chico pastor (Dan Wysong) and instituted "discipline." He declines to say what that discipline is.
A measure of accountability is needed for a healthy church. Somewhere, between the Amish Bishop who once shunned everyone in his church and the laissez-faire impotence of liberal NAD Unions and Conferences, there is a healthy middle ground of biblical accountability in love. Many faithful members across the NAD and in the Sacramento Valley are troubled by the situation at Chico, and perhaps pressure from the SDA grassroots has been able to persuade Jim Pedersen to finally address the situation. If he is acting in good faith to deal with this problem, then he has our respect. If not, we encourage faithful church members to speak up and hold our pastors & leaders accountable. If you don't, no one will.
If there have been disciplinary measures for Dan Wysong, the honorable thing for Jim Pedersen is to be transparent about them in the spirit of 1 Timothy 5:20. After all, this is a public sin issue, and we owe it to our church members to be consistent, compassionate, and above all, true to the Word of God.
"For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).