On May 18, 2014, the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (a unit in the insubordinate Pacific Union) held its constituency meeting in Angwin, California. The conference of some 40,000 members was represented by hundreds of delegates. Several churches in the conference combined to bring to the delegates three items proposed for action. One item was a statement supporting the unity of the church and directly addressing the question of women’s ordination. A majority of delegates chose not to make a “yes” or “no” decision on the matter but to refer the motion to the conference executive committee. The full text of this motion was:
Resolution Supporting Unity of the Church
Whereas, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in response to conflicting practices within the church, the Apostles established church order by holding the Jerusalem Council, whose decisions were regarded as binding upon the Church everywhere;(1)
Whereas, in like manner, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established as the highest constituted authority determining policies and procedures for the worldwide Church as reflected in the General Conference Working Policy;
Whereas, the Pacific Union has been delegated authority to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church in its geographical region, conditioned upon the Union’s willingness to work in harmony with the working policies of the denomination as documented below;
Whereas, the General Conference Model Union Constitution and Bylaws requires sections essential to the unity of the Church worldwide, appearing in bold print, to be adopted into the Bylaws by each union conference;(2)
Whereas, the General Conference Model Constitution includes bold print mandatory language that requires all purposes, policies, and procedures of the union to be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists;(3)
Whereas, the Pacific Union Conference recognizes its role, as part of the worldwide church, as indicated by its adoption of Article III into the Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Article III incorporates required language from the Model Union Constitution of the General Conference Working Policy as follows:
“The Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is part of the North American Division which in turn is part of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a world church organization.
“All policies, purposes and procedures of this Union shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”
This Union shall pursue the purposes of the Church in harmony with the doctrines, programs, and initiatives adopted and approved by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Constituency Session.(4)
Whereas, to assure the future unity of the Church, the Article XIV of the of the Pacific Union Conference Bylaws specifically precludes the Constituency Delegation from voting changes to its Bylaws which are not in harmony with the spirit of the Model Union Constitution;(5)
Whereas, Article VII, Section 7 of the bylaws of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NCC) requires that rules and regulations of the NCC adopted by the Executive Committee shall be in compliance with the Bylaws of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (PUC);(6)
Whereas, the current edition of the General Conference Working Policy declares all appointments and responsibilities within the church to be open to persons regardless of gender, “except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry.”(7)
Therefore, be it hereby resolved by the Northern California Conference in constituent session assembled, that the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists shall refrain from pastoral ordination to the gospel ministry without respect to gender in practice, policy, rule, or regulation until such time as the Delegates of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in worldwide session approve a Bylaw, policy, rule, or regulation which allows such ordination.
1. Acts 15
2. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, D 10 05 Constitution of the Union Conferences, Page 135
3. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, D 10 05 Constitution of the Union Conferences, Page 136, Article III – Relationships
4. Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August 29, 2011, 5, Article III – Relationships
5. Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August 29, 2011, Page 16, Article VII – Amendments
6. Bylaws of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Artcile VII, Section 7
7. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, BA 60 10 p. 113
As can be seen, the proposed motion was entirely reasonable, respectful, and appropriate. It was directed to the very body of persons—Northern California delegates—who should make such decisions. It would have inculcated unity and harmony with the world church.
Unfortunately, the Pacific Union and its subentitites has increasingly and persistently demonstrated a voted pattern of insubordination toward the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Union is operating in open violation of General Conference decisions in 1990 and 1995. A unit within the Union, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, voted itself a woman president outside the agreed policies of the church in 2013 who is not recognized by the General Conference.
The motion, and the two other motions, were never read to the meeting, nor debated. They were consistently treated as a set when they were three distinct and separate motions. When their turn on the agenda arrived, almost immediately two delegates moved they be referred to executive committee. Several minutes of debate ensued, with many delegates opposing such course of action.
In the end, a slim majority of the delegates voted to defer all three items to a conferance administration that has supported the insubordinate action of the Pacific Union on women’s ordination and operated in contradiction to the world church. Northern California churches entrusted the delegates to represent them and to make decisions. Rather than vote “yes” or “no” on important issues impacting the mission of the church in their field, they punted.
Today’s action by delegates in the Northern California conference, emanating yet again from within the Pacific Union, is added evidence that units in this section of the church are operating independently of the world body. Rather than moving toward unity, this field is spiraling further away from the broader consensus of the world body.
Other items included a plan to change from two to five year apart constituency sessions. That plan was rejected by the delegates. Agenda items condemning the teaching of evolution and which also would have stated “unqualified disapproval” of the practice of homosexual acts, were, like the unity motion, referred to the conference executive committee. The most recent previous Northern California constituency session was held May 20, 2012.
The text of all three important motions is available here from the Northern California Conference website.
A 19 page set of footnotes supporting the Unity motion meticulously compiled was made available to delegates via the Northern California website, and is available VIA THIS LINK.
NOTE: ADvindicate.com has an article now offering more detail about the events at NCC Constituency meeting: The rest of the story: NCC constituency meeting