A liberal news website recently reported on the upcoming World Church Affirmation Sabbath (WCAS) meetings in the Upper Columbia Conference (UCC). The report stated that the Upper Columbia Conference leadership asked pastors not to permit bulletin inserts for Affirmation Sabbath to be distributed. The reason given was that this is not a "church-sponsored" event. However, the event is organized by faithful Adventist lay members and approved by the host church boards.
We were able to obtain a copy of UCC Ministerial Director Mark Weir’s email to pastors regarding World Church Affirmation Sabbath.
Fulcrum7 interviewed two WCAS organizers and two UCC pastors. We also initiated a phone conversation with Mark Weir, the UCC Conference Ministerial Director.
Interview with Mark Weir
F7: What is the World Church Affirmation Sabbath Meeting on May 20 in your Conference?
MW: I really don’t know. I heard about it last week and I called around to find out more about it.
F7: Did you look at their website? All the information appears to be on there.
MW: I did.
F7: Did you send out an email requesting that churches not distribute flyers about the meeting(s)?
MW: I did. My task was to research the meetings and relay that to the Conference President. The subsequent email was at his direction.
Interview with organizers, supporters and a UCC pastor:
F7: There is a report on the Atoday.org website that Upper Columbia Ministerial Director Mark Weir sent a memo to all Conference pastors asking that the lay-organized event not be advertised. Is this true?
Eiji Minami, MD: It is true. I sent a flyer to the conference asking permission for it to be inserted in the Conference Bulletin. My request was ignored. Then I called the Conference and asked them again. That was ignored too. Mark Weir was questioned about the meetings at the Spokane minister meeting and he eventually called me for information. I spoke with him and offered to send him more information in an email. He declined the email, and the next day sent his own email to UCC pastors, advising them to prevent WCAS flyers from being inserted in church bulletins.
Janet Neumann: He did. And he sent the email after speaking with the host church pastors, both of whom explained that this is a lay-led initiative in support of the world church.
F7: Did that memo attempt to prevent churches from distributing a flyer advertising the World Church Affirmation Sabbath meetings?
Eiji Minami, MD: Yes. Some may have distributed them anyway. I don't know.
Janet Neumann: It was strongly suggested. The laypeople organizing the event printed 5300 color flyers and the conference leaders are trying to keep them from being shared.
Pastor: I’m sure if you ask around you can find a copy of a note that went to all the UCC pastors. But let me say that there is a group of godly laypeople in Upper Columbia Conference. They are supportive of the Conference in many ways, including with their energies and finances, and they are very supportive of the world church. There are also many pastors here who are highly supportive of the world church. These are good things, not bad things.
The church board voted to host the event. They voted to make the event a meeting of our local church. So this is actually a voted, church-sponsored event of a church in the Upper Columbia Conference. If you call the Pastor of the other church I think you will find the same thing. This is not an independent meeting.
F7: Why is the Conference opposing this encouraging meeting? Is your Conference against unity?
Eiji Minami, MD: I don’t know.
Janet Neumann: A majority of the leaders can’t accept what we are doing because they are opposed to a vote of the world church (San Antonio) and they won’t let it go. It causes them to have trust issues.
Pastor: Conference leadership has spoken to the churches about unity on these topics. One of the very appealing things about the Affirmation Sabbath is that it not only affirms the world church but if you look at the meeting list, there are at least two meetings focused on how to achieve unity. The Conference should be really happy about that.
F7: Are you distributing flyers?
Eiji Minami, MD: We are. There is also a website set up to promote the meetings and to promote church unity.
Janet Neumann: I have already. We are going to be inserting more this Sabbath. People will be sharing copies and we will be providing extra copies.
Pastor: The flyers were printed and given to the church by WCAS. If anyone wants to know whether the church is making flyers available, visit us this Sabbath to find out.
F7: What is your hope for the outcome of these meetings?
Eiji Minami, MD: Our short term our goal is to get laypeople more involved in the direction of our conference, and network together for fellowship and encouragement. We are grateful for the Advent message and appreciate our part in the world-wide church. Long-term, if we wish to bring positive change to the conference, we must get involved and be positive people.
Janet Neumann: We want this meeting to give members a fuller picture of what the world church is doing, and encourage them to get involved so their voices can be heard.
Supporter Kent Knight: I hope that all who are in attendance come away with a sense of ownership for how we do church. Consecrated ownership is essential to the health and vitality of the church body—this brings a sense of unity to all of us. I want members to be inspired and feel a sense of belonging. Our Adventist people need to know they are a legitimate members of the team—the team being the worldwide church.
"But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other" (1 Corinthians 12:24-25).