At last October’s Annual Council, it became apparent that the General Conference Committee was not willing to vote to discipline the unions who continue to ordain women in violation of the San Antonio vote. By refusing to vote for even token or symbolic discipline, the GC Committee effectively nullified and reversed the Session vote. The Seventh-day Adventist Church currently finds itself in the embarrassing situation in which its administration simply refuses to enforce a democratically voted decision of its constituency.
Now, according to a report in the Review and at ANN, the General Conference seems to be continuing to repudiate the San Antonio Session vote. The “Unity Oversight Committee,” which was charged with bringing the rebellious unions into conformity with the GC session vote, has decided that they will instead take a survey of union and division presidents. The survey will “more accurately judge where the world Church leaders and members stand on issues relating to compliance with voted actions of General Conference Sessions and of the General Conference Executive Committee.”
So if the survey finds that “Church leaders” do not want to comply with the General Conference Session vote they don’t have to? The General Conference Session vote is church law and must be complied with whether “Church leaders” like it or not. Or else the GC session is meaningless Kabuki theater. Why not take a survey of indicted criminal defendants to see “where they stand on issues relating to compliance” with criminal law? Why not take a survey of stopped motorists to see "where they stand on issues relating to compliance" with highway speed limit laws?
“Both union and division presidents have been requested to answer the six questions according to what they believe is the view of the majority of members in their territory, as opposed to their personal opinion,” says David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR).
Who cares what union and division presidents “believe is the view of the majority of members in their territory”? If you want an accurate picture of the views of the membership, survey the membership! Why rely on the guesses of union presidents?
And how is this not an attempt to re-do the San Antonio vote? We already had the “survey” that counts; the General Conference in Session voted not to ordain women. And the division and conference Presidents who will be surveyed in this study have likewise already given their only meaningful vote, at last Fall’s Annual Council: They overwhelmingly refused to vote for even token discipline of non-complying unions.
“The committee unanimously agreed that this process would be an open and transparent one, in which the views of the Seventh-day Adventist world Church are taken into account,” explains Ryan.
And yet we the tithe-paying Adventist public are not being told what the six questions are, nor will the answers be shared with us: “The individual survey responses will only be accessible to four individuals—ASTR and Unity Oversight Committee leadership—in order to protect the integrity of the process and to ensure the data is handled appropriately,” explains Moorooven.
What could be more “transparent” than secret questions and secret answers?
My evaluation of this situation—perhaps pessimistic, perhaps realistic—is that there will never be any discipline for the non-complying unions. The 95% of the General Conference governing bureaucracy that favors female ordination will continue to toy with Ted Wilson and run out the clock on his administration. We will eventually get a new General Conference president who will not make even weak, half-hearted attempts to enforce the San Antonio vote.