Babies In The Church

Babies in the Church

Many talk emotionalism and sentimentalism, while the world's most despicable organizations are far more disciplined than God's people. Some disgruntled SDA Church members are dangerously stirring sentimentalism. Surely, such clever men like George Knight and our own Dutch knights, are making use of their influence to spread undifferentiated articles about a valid motion, they themselves will be able to discuss at the coming AC. What a sorry bunch some have become...

The WP [Working Policy] is established in a democratic way, under much prayer, we presume, by representatives of the highest levels in the church administrations—e.g. Union presidents, meeting with division and GC staff. In the Bylaws, they gave themselves authority as EXCOM to have power to remove from position 'for cause' and they have decided that "any 40 members together with the GC ADCOM' shall be quorum enough to do so.

This Bylaws article, (13 - READ it at the bottom of this post!!!) was put into the WP for crises such as this. And mind ye, every level has this provision, even to the local church level. The Bible passage not to allow for division causing individuals is not put in the Bible for nothing (Romans 16:17-18).

So, I don't understand all those who scream havoc and persecution now! We are an organization under God and there should be order. Any other worldly organization has provisions to dismiss those who want to play football on a tennis court.

A Sensible Mind

On our private (Dutch) Facebook SDA Forum group there was a sensible mind who said, “Some say ... that the traditional Adventist church structure unfortunately appears to show signs of an autocratic power structure."

Now, I believe that the 5-year general meeting (the 'GC-session') is the highest authority in our church. The binding decisions are taken there, that we should have unity and order. Between these 5-year meetings,  EXCOM is charged with (supervising) the implementation of the decisions taken in a democratic manner at GC sessions. This EXCOM will be asked in October 2018 to decide how to deal with practices that deviate from - or go against - the GC decisions taken. In order to ensure that the legal decisions are implemented, those five [Compliance] committees have been set up.

If this is our established ecclesiastical organization, then I wonder why there would suddenly be 'an autocratic power structure' within our church?

 It seems to me that these committees are inevitable if the Church wants to implement and maintain its own democratically established policy. After all, it concerns the will of the majority of the worldwide community of SDA believers — even though there is an influential minority who is (very) unhappy with certain aspects of that policy. And let's be honest, as soon as a minority wants to impose its will on the majority, there is no longer democracy, but rather an undemocratic power struggle.

 All this must be viewed entirely separate from the freedom that each member has to have a personal, dissenting opinion. But as long as you are a member of an organization (church), you stick to the rules of that organization. You also have the freedom to strive in an orderly (democratic) way for an amendment to that policy. But if everyone arbitrarily sets and follows his own rules, the organization is one big chaos in the shortest possible time. And we should not want that, especially not in a church.

Should we not Rather Dialogue further?

We've gone through that, years prior to the GC 2010. The dissenters received their TOSC proposal at that GC; there has been a dialogue for 4 years; at AC 2014 this party insisted that the question of the motion was formulated as it was presented in July 2015, 'out of respect for each other's views and consciences.' But only ONE (minority's) position was acceptable to them. Anyone who thought otherwise would get out of bed. What is the democratic and respect level of that attitude?

Democracy is ALSO that you accept what has been accomplished through the mutually accepted process that you respect—even if you do not agree with it. Those who wreck our church are the people who have been holding the church hostage for years and for whom a 'totalitarian' solution applies, to them and theirs only. They seem to forget that they are in that position, because of the same church policy that they are kicking against. Common members are not at the table when that dialogue is being conducted and we are not asked anything.

But many of the members in this church hear the screamers, and do not get to know the due process and the church policy. Underbelly feelings dominate. . . .

If we do not understand each other, and don't agree with each other, someone has to cut the knot—otherwise this WO thing will destroy us. This may be a final attempt, to hear and appeal to everyone individually - what more can one reasonably do?

 The 2015 Action was Manipulated?

Some say the outcome of 2015 was manipulated and TOSC never brought consensus, and that some of those against WO were acting in an unChristlike manner, framing liberals as devils.

Some say there was and is little mutual respect for each other's opinions. One does not have to diabolize people or their opinions. That's altogether true, but there are always delegates who 'misbehave' and excel in disrespectful 'framing' and manipulation.

The discussion and voting at GC 2015 could be followed publicly and the vote was secret and therefore without any influence. We must keep in mind that we are not talking about 'ordinary members', but about a vote among Leaders! They are capable of individually assessing their opinions with their own conscience and then voting accordingly. They have prayed a lot and we may assume were led in their individual decisions. The outcome is known: NO.

And TOSC has drawn a consensus in that matter, when the motion was formulated by EXCOM at the AC 2014, by the main actors from around the world — Union presidents, together with GC and DIV officers - those who had requested the TOSC investigation in the first place - the WO advocates - insisted that the question was worded as submitted.

The president of the GC did not give voting advice. The only thing he said (freely translated by me) is:

You know my point of view; I do not have to repeat it. I promise you that the Church will respect and execute a YES. I urge you to do the same with a NO."

That was the kind of respect the advocates of WO could not bring themselves to. So honestly, if we raise a point of respect and dialogue, what are we really talking about ...?

 Power Struggle is Played by Those Contesting Authority

My opinion is, that the dissenting party in our Church 'sense it at their waters' (as we say in Dutch) that the ADCOM motion will make it in October and that there will be an established action — most probably with a fair majority — to finally dismiss them for what they are — Church Wreckers. Making the committee to judge dismissal of a majority of WO-promotors, and have them decide on common sense that we cannot go on like this, is the best ADCOM could have done, excluding the least accusation of conflicts of interests. Because after all, we have established a Church structure and a minority cannot go on holding the World Church hostage any longer, because of inaction by the GC administration.

Besides, all those rebels are members of the GC administration themselves, by their membership in EXCOM. They will be allowed to discuss and try to amend the motion, but surely they see that something has to be done. It has been long due…

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What whining babies they are. Very disappointing, despite all their ‘academic credentials’ they prove themselves foolish. For all who want to know what authority the minority have, here is article XIII, established in a democratic way

Look up the conditions to be a member of the European Parliament or to even work at the EC and you will understand the GC proposal, by putting it in perspective of established governance structure. Those who appose the authority of the GC have had their stretch of leash far too long.

ARTICLE XIII—GENERAL CONFERENCE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Sec. 1.

a. During the intervals between Sessions of the General Conference, the General Conference Executive Committee is delegated the authority to act on behalf of the General Conference in Session. The membership of the General Conference Executive Committee includes representatives of all the divisions of the world field and the presidents of all unions and therefore speaks for the world Church. Major items affecting the world Church are considered at the Annual Council meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee, when all the members of the Committee are invited to be present. The authority, therefore, of the General Conference Executive Committee is the authority of the world Church.
b. The General Conference Executive Committee shall also have power to grant or withdraw credentials or licenses, to appoint committees, such as an administrative committee, with their terms of reference, to review, change, and create working policies, to approve strategic plans and programs for the world Church, to employ personnel that may be necessary to execute its work effectively, and to take all necessary actions not otherwise reserved for the General Conference in Session to assure the continuous effective operation of the world Church to fulfill its mission.
c. The General Conference Executive Committee shall have power to elect or remove, for cause, officers, directors, and associate directors of departments/ associations/services and committee members, and to fill for the current term any vacancies that may occur in its offices, boards, committees, or agents due to death, resignation, or other reasons. The phrase “for cause,” when used in connection with removal from an elected or appointed position, shall include but not be limited to
1) incompetence;
2) persistent failure to cooperate with duly constituted authority in substantive matters and with relevant employment and denominational policies;
3) actions which may be the subject of discipline under the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual; or
4) failure to maintain regular standing as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
d. The General Conference Executive Committee shall have power to effect the retirement, before the expiration of the term for which they have been elected, of persons elected under Article VI, Sec. 1. of the Constitution who may develop a health condition that prevents them from properly discharging their duties.
e. The removal from office by the General Conference Executive Committee of any person elected under Article VI, Sec. 1. of the Constitution or its withdrawal of credentials or licenses shall be by a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting at any regular meeting.
f. The Executive Committee shall have the power to remove, for cause, members from the Executive Committee or any committee for which it is responsible by a two-thirds majority vote of the members present and voting at any duly called meeting.

Sec. 2. a. A meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee, known as the Annual Council, shall be held annually for the purpose of considering budget requests and making appropriations, for the transaction of other business, and the adoption of policies that may be necessary in the operation of the worldwide work.
b. A meeting of the General Conference Executive Committee, known as the Spring Meeting, shall be held annually for the purpose of receiving the audited financial reports of the General Conference and for transacting regular Executive Committee business as provided for in the General Conference Working Policy relating to Spring Meetings.

Sec. 3. A majority of the full membership of the General Conference Executive Committee, including the president or a general vice president, is empowered to transact denominational business of any nature at any time and place. All meetings require notice to members as per Sec. 8. below.

Sec. 4. Any fifteen members of the General Conference Executive Committee, including an officer of the General Conference, shall constitute a quorum of the Executive Committee for the disposition of routine items, and shall be empowered to transact business that is in harmony with the general plans outlined by the Executive Committee.
A quorum of forty members is required for the disposition of non-routine items such as major financial decisions, the dismissal of elected and appointed employees, and the election of presidents of divisions and of general vice presidents. All meetings require notice to members as per Sec. 8. below.

Sec. 5. All meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee shall be held at the General Conference headquarters, or at another place that may be voted by the Executive Committee. Members may participate in meetings by means of a telephone conference or similar communications by which all persons participating can hear each other at the same time, and participation by such means shall constitute presence in person at such a meeting. All meetings require notice to members as per Sec. 8. below.

Sec. 6. Meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee may be called at any time by the ranking officer of the General Conference who may be present at headquarters, and this officer, or any member of the Executive Committee appointed, in harmony with Bylaws, Article III, Sec. 2., shall act as chair of the meeting.

Sec. 7. Local conference/mission/field presidents shall be invited to attend Annual Council meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee when it is held within the territory of their division. Unless an executive session, which consists of members only, is called, such invitees shall be extended the privilege of participation in all discussions of the meeting, but without vote.

Sec. 8. Notice as to time, place, and any other requirements under these Bylaws of all General Conference Executive Committee meetings shall be provided to all members in a reasonable manner at least three (3) days prior to the meeting if the meeting is to take place by telephone conference or similar communications, or at least fourteen (14) days if it is to take place in person, unless the meeting is held during a General Conference Session. These notice requirements are waived in the case of a General Conference Executive Committee meeting convened during a General Conference Session since all General Conference Executive Committee members are expected to be in attendance at the Session.

 There, you can see it for yourself.

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Ingrid A. Wijngaarde is a biologist and a member of Groningen SDA Church in The Netherlands.