Last year, a group of dedicated laymen in the UCC (Upper Columbia Conference) came up with an amazing idea.
They decided to hold some meetings affirming their identity in the world Seventh-day Adventist Church. World Church Affirmation Sabbath. Praise God, it was the right message at the right time, on the right day. They are holding several of these these encouraging meetings next Sabbath, too (in multiple states across the NAD). But why would they need to affirm something that should go without saying? Because...
Exactly on schedule we Adventists have arrived at the point where we’re not quite so sure about ourselves anymore. The evidences of it have become increasingly apparent and continue to grow. Why are we experiencing this kind of ferment and why now?
For some forty years a self-pronounced progressive wing of the Adventist church has promoted reinterpretation of virtually every fundamental of the Adventist faith. That liberal element has grown from a mere 'wing' of the church to the majority of Adventist leadership and academia throughout the NAD, and yes, in the UCC.
As these reinterpretations prevail, the character of the church is being redefined, leaving little beyond a lingering sentiment to tie us to the work of the pioneers. It is with interest that we notice a curious but predictable phenomenon. The process that we are describing exerts a particular and peculiar impact on those reared on the internal culture of our church. And many of these people seek leadership positions within the Church--where they are more effective at changing the Church into their own image.
Thus Adventist self-identity is under tremendous attack in the North American Division (and also in the European and South Pacific Divisions). Because of this, committed Adventist Church members are confronted with the pressure to choose between the worldwide Church--that they joined in good faith--or a localized (often rebellious) subsection of the SDA Church. Yes, this is unethical, and it was predicted. It's a tough time to be a conservative in the Adventist Church in western culture.
Like many of us in the NAD, our brethren in the UCC are fighting for something terribly important. Their lives? They are contending for something even more crucial to an Advent believer, they are fighting for their identity as part of God's last-day Remnant Church. And that Church extends a lot farther than a localized conference citadel. We are joined to one another around the world, our hearts united in hope---the tie that binds even when our hands can't touch. That is an encouraging thing to affirm. So why would the UCC object to a meeting where church members affirm their position & gratitude to a world Church they are a part of? There are two reasons.
Fear. They are afraid that they will lose control over the lives and agenda of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in their small corner of the world. They forget that they were elected to be stewards of the Advent Message---their duty is NOT to reinvent, redefine or reconstruct the Adventist Message in Washington/Oregon. Or control it somehow. They, like every other SDA member in the world, share the same duty---to honor God in these last days and warn a world awaiting the Second Coming and the First & Second Resurrections.
They don't wish to be exposed. That shouldn't be a problem, because the WCAS meetings are simply affirming our place in the world Church, not trying to expose anyone. The meetings aren't even about that liberal chestnut--Women's Ordination. They are about loyalty to God's Message and the unique identity that He gives us in that Message. But, like Noah who condemned the world through his obedience, a simple, transparent faith condemns those who do things with an agenda.
Political. Last year, I called and spoke with Mark Weir, the UCC Ministerial director, about the first wave of WCAS meetings. He said "We don't support the meetings, because we don't know what it is about, we read the website but we just don't know." Ok. I gave him the benefit of the doubt. A year has passed, and some of the UCC officers attended a WCAS meeting. Now they know, right?
They are still pleading ignorant, and still trying to block these meetings. "We don't have enough information on these meetings or their motivations for affirming the World Church. We're afraid they might be political." Tut-tut. The WCAS meetings aren't political at all (I listened to them last year). These are not politicians, these are ordinary people being good stewards of the Adventist Message. Dear UCC, that's what you should be doing, too.
The UCC knows exactly what the WCAS meetings are all about. That isn't the problem. The problem is, they haven't figured out a way to say "We don't want you supporting the world Seventh-day Adventist Church!" without exposing full-blown hypocrisy and rebellion. So they equivocate "We don't know what this is all about; we just don't know who is behind it...We're just not sure..."
- "There can't be seventh-day Adventists in our territory who would support the world Church. We're more important."
- "When we find out who is behind it, we will fire them if we can."
- "We're the ones who are political. We don't want any competition." (They mischaracterize their lay member's ecclesiastical/theological stewardship as "politics.")
On March 4, Fulcrum7 posted a news advertisement about the upcoming March 17 WCAS meetings. (World-Church-Affirmation-Sabbath.)
Last week, the UCC Ministerial Director instructed pastors across Upper Columbia Conference NOT to allow any WCAS meeting information in the church bulletins. Their reasons were--as discussed--lame.
WCAS is depending on friends who support the world church in the NAD to share this information. Bulletin inserts for other event locations are available at this link under the heading "Participating Locations." The goal of WCAS is to affirm the world church of Seventh-day Adventists rather than follow the many voices who now speak against it.
:: SPECIAL LIVESTREAM LINK ::
One event location for Affirmation Sabbath this time is the Sacramento Central SDA Church in Northern California. Our Sac meetings will be live-streamed! Come if you are able. If not, tune-in to the livestream link.
The event occurs from 3:00 to 6:30 Pacific Time (for viewers around the world, this equates to starting at 10:00 pm UTC/GMT). See you there, and God bless!
"Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Psalm 107:2).