The various responses to the disciplinary process document voted at Annual Council show how ideologically fractured our church has become.
Michigan Conference president Jay Gallimore has penned an editorial in the November/December "Michigan Memo" supporting the adoption of a process that will culminate in discipline for those subdivisions of the church that continue to flout church policy. Elder Gallimore argues that the catch-phrase "unity in diversity" must not be a cover for doctrinal pluralism:
"To use the expression 'unity in diversity' as a means to embrace cultural positions, which are contrary to Scripture, is to promote a delusion called pluralism. Pluralism, within the church context, assumes that unity can be maintained by giving credibility and support to different competing beliefs and practices. Babylon has already embraced this, but it is not the oneness for which Jesus prayed.
"Today the Seventh-day Adventist Church is faced with this temptation. Will we as a church choose faithfulness to Scripture or concede to cultural norms? The pressure to conform to cultural standards burdens the church in many ways. At the end of the day, should we endorse pluralism for the sake of unity?"
Elder Gallimore emphasizes that, because the General Conference in session has decided this issue, the controversy is no longer about ordination but about church unity and order:
"Sadly, there are some unions and entities that are defying the vote of the GC Session by refusing to bring their practice into harmony with the vote of the world church on this matter. So now the issue is no longer about ordination, but rather the unity of the church. . . . It should come as no surprise that [Annual Council] voted on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 to start the process of addressing the issues of noncompliance. . . . It will be a patient, redemptive, and longsuffering process. One can only hope and pray that those supporting this opposition will have a change of heart. If not corrected, there are consequences of insubordination to the worldwide body. "
The question now is whether or not there will be a world Seventh-day Adventist organization:
"The world church is faced with two choices: (1) allow noncompliance to go on, and thereby dismantle the unity and practice of the church; or (2) stand firm on the vote of the GC Session and preserve the integrity and oneness of the church. Redemptive discipline can be painful and filled with tears! Yet, any organization that cannot or refuses to discipline itself is doomed to failure."
Meanwhile, the Pacific Union's Facebook page features an article dated November 21, 2016, entitled "To be True to Our Calling." This document in essence says that the Pacific Union will continue to defy the world church and ordain women to ministry:
"We are committed to equality in ministry, and we reaffirm the actions of this Executive Committee and the Pacific Union Conference that stretch back more than two decades affirming the mission-critical role of women in ministry. We support the North American Division in its renewed commitment to focus resources on the development and training of a significantly increased number of women in ministry. . . . we affirm again our unwavering support and steadfast recognition of men and women in ministry. . . . We understand that ordination is the equity for pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. . . . We affirm that equality in ministry is not a distraction from mission—it is a fulfillment of mission. It is deeply rooted in our faith. We are committed to consciously reaching out to connect with those who may not understand why this conversation is of critical importance to our mission effectiveness."
So the Pacific Union is doubling down on its rebellion against the world church. They have no intention of participating in good faith in any "patient, redemptive, and longsuffering process" the purpose of which is to bring them into compliance with world church policy. They are going to do what they have been doing, and see whether the world church has (1) the will, and (2) the ability to force them to stop. They are betting it does not.
The extra year or two that the world church has just voted to give them will be used to lawyer up and shore up their legal position in preparation for the litigation that will ensue should the world church seriously attempt to enforce its ordination policy.