The Southeastern California Conference (SECC) has nominated Sandra Roberts to serve as president of that conference (http://seccsession.org/nominating-committee-report, accessed 2013-09-18). The nominating committee recommendation to delegates is that the constituency session to be held on October 27, 2013 vote to appoint Ms. Roberts to this position. Roberts is currently executive secretary of SECC. However, the Seventh-day Adentist Church, in harmony with biblical principle, throughout its history has ordained only males to this leadership role. The current edition of the Church Manual, states that:

“The conference president should be an ordained pastor of experience and good report. He stands at the head of the gospel ministry in the conference and is the chief elder, or overseer, of all the churches” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 2010 ed., p. 32).

The position of conference president is one of male headship. The Adventist Church has nothing against any particular “she,” but the church has indicated that this is a “he” position. The pastor who functions as president “stands at the head of the gospel ministry in the conference.” The apostle Paul stated the authority principle clearly in 2 Timothy 2:12:

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (ESV).

The highest position involving the exercise of authority in a conference is that of its president. No unit which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has authority to appoint a female person to this male-specific office. Two General Conference sessions (1990, 1995) forbade any such innovation. If, on October 27 constituents vote as their nominating committee recommends, by this act they shall place Southeastern California Conference in an unambiguous position of voted rebellion against the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

17 thoughts on “SECC defies world church, nominates Roberts president

  1. Does anyone have any insight on what one should do when church leaders promote error? I feel that even not doing or saying anything offers passive support to this activity and makes me as culpable as those who actively participate, yet I am worried that standing up to error in the wrong way may only serve to tear the church apart.

    Reply
    • “…when he [a servant of God] begins to work against the truth, and make his disaffection public, declaring things untrue which are true, these things must be met. The people must not be left to believe a lie. They must be undeceived.”
      7 Manuscript Release 332

      “When men stand out in defiance against the counsel of God, they are warring against God. Is it right for those connected with such ones to treat them as if they were in perfect harmony with them, making no difference between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not? Though they be ministers or medical missionaries, they have dishonored Christ before the forces of the loyal and the disloyal. Open rebuke is necessary, to prevent others from being ensnared.”
      SpTB02 9

      “Men of courage and energy are needed to expose fashionable sins. Iniquity must not be palliated and excused. Those who lead the church to follow the customs and practices of the world, are not to be lauded and exalted. No regard for family or position will hinder the faithful servants of Christ from guarding the interests of his people. God is no respecter of persons.”
      The Southern Work 7-12-04

      If wrongs are apparent among His people, and if the servants of God pass on indifferent to them, they virtually sustain and justify the sinner, and are alike guilty and will just as surely receive the displeasure of God; for they will be made responsible for the sins of the guilty.”
      Testimonies, Vol 3, p 265-266

      “If God abhors one sin above another, of which his people are guilty, it is of doing nothing in a case of emergency. Indifference or neutrality in a religious crisis is regarded of God as a grievous crime; and equal to the very worst type of hostility against God.”
      Review & Herald 9-30-1873

      Think seriously about this. Do you want God to consider you as being hostile toward Him? I think there’s abundant counsel on what we’re to do. It’s our duty as Christians to speak up.

      Reply
  2. KM, when leadership promotes error, then they are the ones responsible if there is any negative reaction, not yours or mine when we call them on it. They are in grave error from all sides here. The Bible, SOP and twice by the world church in session that does not permit the action they took. Their rebellion is in your face. Now it is up to Elder Wilson and other top officials to reprove and remove the illegal vote. Perhaps it is also time to remove certain ones from their offices. If they wish to counter Biblical mandates, then they would be better joining some evangelical church that finds Holy Writ less important.

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  3. The following is not all that can be said but perhaps helpful – from T. Vol 9 pg 257-261 as found under “Resources” near the end of the column at the right on this page. And here sharing only a snippet. “Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body.”

    Of course there is always Mt 18 and while it may not have a direct application here, I believe the principle of acting in love and going (or writing/calling) only after and with much prayer applies.

    As for “splitting the church”, lets hope the only split is by those who may choose to leave because they do not get their way.

    Reply
    • Matt 18 applies just for personal trespass/sins. 1 Tim. 5:20 is what applies here. Read about Matt 18 vs 1 Tim 5:20 in the whole story in 2T. Here it is condensed a bit.

      Ellen White explains; “…a sister for whom I had a testimony that she lacked discretion and caution, and did not fully control her words and actions came in with her husband and manifested feel-ings of great unreconciliation and agitation…. Her pride was touched as I brought out her faults in so public a manner. Here was evidently the main difficulty. But why should she feel thus? The brethren and sisters knew these things were so, therefore I was not informing them of anything new…. Her husband seemed to feel unreconciled to my bringing out her faults before the church and stated that if Sister White had followed the directions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15-17 he should not have felt hurt: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone…” My husband then stated that he should understand that these words of our Lord had reference to cases of personal trespass, and could not be applied in the case of this sister. She had not trespassed against Sister White. But that which had been reproved publicly was public wrongs which threatened the prosperity of the church and the cause. Here, said my husband, is a text applicable to the case: 1 Timothy 5:20: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” 2T 15,16

      Reply
  4. Perhaps this quotation applies:

    Her husband seemed to feel unreconciled to my bringing out her faults before the church and stated that if Sister White had followed the directions of our Lord in Matthew 18:15-17 he should not have felt hurt: “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” {2T 15.1}
    My husband then stated that he should understand that these words of our Lord had reference to cases of personal trespass, and could not be applied in the case of this sister. She had not trespassed against Sister White. But that which had been reproved publicly was public wrongs which threatened the prosperity of the church and the cause. Here, said my husband, is a text applicable to the case: 1 Timothy 5:20: “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” {2T 15.2}

    Reply
  5. I can’t see the point in their defiance – are the bent on self destruction? Where is the deference, the diplomacy and tact? One thing, I think that the action clearly indicates what their views are regarding the world church.

    Those of us who were inclined to suggest patience and dialogue, are less likely to do so the more we see of this attitude of separatism and rebellion being fostered among them.

    Reply
  6. Your point is well made, Tim

    The problem with rebellion is that no matter how smoothly and subtly it starts off, if given enough time, it will ripen into its true malignant form.

    If their position could be founded effectively on a “Thus saith the LORD,” they would have no problem waiting until the results of the study on ordination was complete.

    By their fruits, we know them…

    -ASB: http://XeeMe.com/AndrewBaker

    Reply
  7. Tim,
    This is the manifestation of incrementalism and death by a thousand cuts. The goal is to remain part of the official church while becoming effectively autonomous. Unless the higher levels of the church react, the authority of the GC is steadily drained. It is clear that Pacific Union and NAD are wholly on the side of SECC since they are on the same autonomy-cultivating plan. They will do nothing substantive to halt the slide. This is actually a manifestation of congregationalism. WO = congregationalism, just on the level of conferences and unions. The calculation of pro-WO forces is that in the end they will have their way and will have dramatically weakened if not entirely destroyed the authority of the higher levels of the church in the bargain.

    They will achieve their goal too, unless decided action is taken in perhaps the next 36 months. These units need to be dissolved and reconstituted. Ohio and California have clearly, intentionally departed, even whole unions. These areas are clearly mission fields, and need to be treated as such.

    I have been part of SECC constituency meetings before. I predict that on October 27 SECC will indeed vote Sandra Roberts president. This long-looming crisis is now imminent. The future of the SDA church will be decided in San Antonio and its immediate aftermath.

    Reply
    • The future of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is in God’s hands. Your comments do not take into account the importance of prayer. I’ve seen the Lord already performing miracles. We must continue to pray, and ask for wisdom to speak when and where the Lord would have us to speak, and to be still and see the salvation of the Lord when He would have us keep still. Also, the Adventist Church is not a “Power from the Top” structure. Actually, its the union constituents themselves who need to take action. Pray that the Lord’s will will be done. His hand is not shortened that it cannot save.

      Reply
      • Gina,
        Certainly we should pray. And certainly we should act locally, in our own conferences and unions. I hope to write an article on that very soon. I quite agree on these points.

        The way I see it, to speak of the GC taking action is not really a bottom up/top down question, because the GC is simply the means by which the system God has given His people reflects the will of the church as a world body. Everything is the result of the grass roots and that includes the GC too. An individual conference or union, or even division, could go astray but the consensus of the whole SDA church is reflected in decisions made in General Conference sessions, and to a lesser extent, at Annual Council sessions each Fall.

        Think of it this way. The constituents are the grass roots. The grass roots all exercise an authority over the various levels of the church. In my own case, I am a member of my local church, a constituent of Upper Columbia Conference, my union is NPUC and my division is NAD. In various ways I impact these units. But through the GC I also exercise an influence over SDA work in India and Belize and so on, because the GC has an authority over those units. And, I might add, SDAs in India and Belize exercise an authority over NAD, NPUC, UCC, and even my local church in the sense that the GC reflects not only my own view but the view of the church member in India and in Belize.

        The GC is not some separate group out there hierachically several levels above me; because I am part of the SDA church, the GC is me. And I am the grass roots. In some ways we exercise our grassrootsness from below (like in my local conference and union) and in other ways we exercise our grassrootsness from above (GC). The GC has my back. Again, I am the GC. The GC is not toxic or separate or distant; the GC is my own local church gathered to worship God on Sabbath. We are all—voluntarily—woven together into this body of Christ under Jesus its head.

        Reply
  8. One more EGW quote on the topic:

    False teachers may appear to be very zealous for the work of God, and may expend means to bring their theories before the world and the church; but as they mingle error with truth, their message is one of deception, and will lead souls into false paths. They are to be met and opposed, not because they are bad men, but because they are teachers of falsehood and are endeavoring to put upon falsehood the stamp of truth. {TM 55.1}

    Reply
  9. Prayer is most assuredly important, but the faithful at all levels of church life must act as well as pray. A day of reckoning is clearly coming for those who are rebelling against both Scripture and the authority of God’s church. Whether there will be any immediate consequences resulting from the pending actions of the Southeastern California Conference, we cannot be sure. But our General Conference leaders are following a course which clearly will lead to the affirmation of Biblical truth regarding distinct gender roles. The leaders’ actions so far bespeak deliberation and careful strategy. Let us inform them of our support and encourage them to act in harmony with the counsel of God and in respect of the united voice of the Seventh-day Adventist body.

    Reply
  10. Comparing defiance of chauvinistic gender bias to rebellion against God is like calling opposition to slavery rebellion. When are men going to “wake up and smell the coffee” and realize that the pronouncement by God to women that men would rule over them was in reality a prediction, not a command. And that Paul’s statement that in Christ there is no make or female, we are all one in Christ Jesus, means exactly what it says. Get over it boys,your chauvinistic days are over.

    If one lives in the Arab world where the society in general does not recognize gender equality, then I can understand a reluctance to recognize women’s equality but that is certainly not the case in North America.

    Reply
  11. Is she a wife?
    Is she a mother?
    These were basic requirements (husband and father) for those in the Sanhedrin (Desire of Ages, pg. 133).

    Should we be concerned about Claremont’s School of Theology close ties with the Episcopal Church? Have we no leaders trained in our own institutions?

    Reply

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