South Pacific Division Church in National Headline News

September 16—Australia’s most widely read newspaper, The Sydney Morning Herald, reads:

 “Church At War with itself and locals over residential development”

 The Seventh-day Adventist Church is at loggerheads with members of its own congregation and community over a proposed residential development around the Wahroonga Adventist School.

The church plans to build up to 175 apartments in four buildings, six storeys high, which Senior Elder David Swain and church clerk Coralie Batchelor said would have “irreversible adverse impacts” on the school and two churches on the Wahroonga Estate.

In a strongly worded letter to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, they also labelled the proposal “a gross over-development of the site”.

However, Pastor Glenn Townend, president of the church's South Pacific Division which has jurisdiction over its work in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other nations in the region, said the development must proceed.


With this kind of national scrutiny from Australia’s most widely read newspaper, there are some hard questions that must be asked—and answered—of Glenn Townend, SPD President.  

Why is the South Pacific Division tarnishing the reputation of the Adventist Church by bringing it into disrepute over a development site?

Opposition to the development extends beyond the church, with residents and school parents concerned about traffic congestion, overdevelopment and bushfire risks.

Facebook page.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church has become an entity unto itself with blatant disregard for the community and its own church congregations,” according to the SOS Wahroonga website.

 For those of you who might recognise the name Glenn Townhend, it is probably because Glenn Townend and his team initiated another internal war last year with the Speaker/Director of It Is Written Oceania, Gary Kent.

What really happened in the Gary Kent saga?

The South Pacific Division President, Glenn Townend terminated its only prominent television evangelist in 2017.  Tithes and offerings dropped considerably as a consequence. A large number of SPD members have grave concerns on its leadership across Australia and New Zealand. People on the ground feel that the church has lost its focus, its mission and are seeking a new change in the Church’s headquarters in Sydney.  

How is the Church growth in Australia?

The South Pacific Division is experiencing growth, due mostly to robust outreach in Papua New Guinea. Over the last decade, the SPD experienced 23% growth. 63% of that growth has come from Papua New Guinea. 7% Has come from the Australian Conference.

in 2017, the Australian Conference experienced 2.3% growth, the least in the Division. Papua New Guinea had 10.73% growth, New Zealand had 3%, Trans Pacific had 4.74%.

With the lack of church growth in Australia people are wondering what is the South Pacific Division doing to rectify this and outreach in the community? Has the church become a corporate money making machine?

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Members are praying earnestly that the world Church steps in and seriously takes swift action with  SPD leadership. Some have messaged me sharing that the SPD leadership is very similar to the Vatican as a dictatorship.  They are not listening to its constituency or its community. The likely permanent damage will affect the churches growth in the future if they continue ignoring those with concerns.   The SPD [leadership] seems to be more concerned with investments and profit than it does with the Three Angels’ Messages and outreach.

Is there any biblical evidence that our Church should put its priorities in investments like this? Or should we be using our money for the purpose of spreading the 3 Angels Messages to the world? Rhetorical questions:

If we remove God and the name Seventh-day Adventist, we are like any other secular entity striving to invest heavily in investment properties and into the stock market. Should our Church be involved in investing our tithes and offerings in this way?  Is there any biblical evidence that our Church should put its priorities in investments like this? Or should we be using our money for the purpose of spreading the 3 Angels Messages to the world?

Who is the money benefiting that is supposedly being made by undertaking these investment properties? And how is this going to help our Church get the 3 Angels Messages delivered?

 Adventists Pour 70 Million into Developer 

 Sydney Adventist Hospital’s $200 million Redevelopment

 Are SPD leaders open to input from their constituencies and communities they serve?

One person wrote to me:

I guess the guys at the top don't like being told what to do! The people at the bottom don't get told anything, the people in between (usually Church employees) are too frightened to speak out, this all equals a perfect society for conference Presidents and executive committee members to do what they think is best or what is best for them (not sure).

Independent ministries are evil because they are out there with no control mechanisms. Am I sounding cynical ? This is just reality!”

 Does the SPD support homosexuality and same sex marriage?

 In 2017 Australians went to vote on same-sex marriage.  

50 members of the Australian Seventh-day Adventist community have signed in favour of same sex marriage earlier this year.  Some of these individual are still employed as church pastors of our church today, others in senior positions. It’s also believed that a current conference president signed in favour of same-sex [homosexual] marriage.

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So the question is being asked has the SPD lost its focus? It seems to be pleasing the secular society and not God’s word.

Is the SPD in harmony with the decisions of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church body?

This South Pacific Division is not following the leadership of the General Conference and our world-wide decision regarding female ordination.

Now that a secular newspaper (which is the Australian equivalent of The New York Times) has run a story on the SPD controversy, we ask if their leadership is helping or harming the Three Angels’ Message. You can decide, but it looks like damage is being done to our Church’s name in this matter.

Surrounding the school with apartment blocks will prevent it from future expansion while reducing green space and playing fields, they said. “We are very concerned that the proposed development will not only land lock the school but also place at risk the reasonable privacy and safety of the students."

In contrast, Glenn Townend said: “We understand and expect that change in any community will always bring some sense of anxiety and a time of adjustment.”

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