Adventist pastors who have perused the documents released by the General Conference on September 25, 2016, anticipate that readers of OrdinationTruth.com may be interested in reviewing what these documents say about the unauthorized commissioned minister credentials that have been issued in multiple conferences in the North Pacific Union since 2015. Such credentials are invalid since they carry authorities which the world church has not approved for this credential. The new GC documents support these concerns.

GENERAL CONFERENCE SAYS NEW COMMISSIONED POLICIES DIVERGE
On the first page of the document, the fourth paragraph reads as follows. Notice the last item.

Starting in 2012, however, a few unions have, in effect, claimed the right to set criteria for ordination, disregarding the 1990 GC Session action not to allow women to be ordained to gospel ministry, and the decisions of the 1995 and 2015 Sessions not to allow variances from this policy. Since the 2015 Session, some unions and conferences have diverged from GC Working Policy by discontinuing ordinations, and commissioning or licensing all new pastors; issuing ministerial licenses and/or commissioned-minister credentials or licenses to all pastors in their territories, including those previously ordained; and allowing commissioned or licensed ministers to function as ordained ministers (p. 1).

As we have carefully outlined in previous articles (SEE LINKS AT END OF THIS ARTICLE), this is the course that has been taken by Conferences in the NPUC. While the redefined commissioned credentials have not in all respects permitted function as ordained minister, in several respects they have. We understand this statement in the document as aimed directly at the illegitimate “commissioned+” credential voted into being by church administration in the regions of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

INVALID CREDENTIALING AND LICENSING PRACTICES
A section of the GC document discusses invalid practices. The document warns, “As we have seen, denominational policy results from deliberations by representatives from around the world. Ignoring what was commonly agreed upon sets a dangerous precedent in organizational terms. It also strikes a serious blow against unity” (p. 35).

In recounting the history of Adventist practice, the document compares the ordained with the commissioned credential. The Adventist Church “has consistently regarded” “ordination. . . as qualitatively different to licensing or commissioning” (Ibid.). Indeed, another paragraph directly addresses “unorthodox credentialing practices”:

What, however, of the unorthodox credentialing practices? Is it perhaps the case that the Church has not taken a position on them? As we have seen, in the absence of an agreed and stated view, organizational units could continue to act. In fact, however, these are practices about which the world Church has deliberated and pronounced, meaning that it is necessary for all to accept the decision of the wider body (Ibid.).

Credentials are a very concrete thing, and have been throughout all but the earliest years of the church organization. They reflect mutually agreed practice, and are not locally malleable. The Church has specified and defined credentials very carefully, and neither unions nor conferences may independently redefine what a credential stands for.

A FOUNDATIONAL PRINCIPLE
Are credentials in a sense dependent upon other credentials? Credentials differentiate workers and set parameters for responsibility sets. The document makes an important point:

A statement approved by the GC Executive Committee in 1930, then embodied in GC Working Policy, sets out a foundational principle: that ‘any shadow of uncertainty in the matter of what ministerial credentials stand for in one field reflects a shadow upon all credentials, and is a matter of general denominational concern.’ Where there is any question about policy’s provisions, then, the GC Executive Committee is obliged to take an interest and reach a verdict (p. 36).

This is why the Working Policy outlines so carefully (SEE LINKS AT END OF THIS ARTICLE) the duties, responsibilities, and privileges of each distinct kind of credential. The very purpose is to make the authorities vested in each kind of credential distinct, so as to remove even “any shadow of uncertainty” over the question “of what ministerial credentials stand for.”

The Commissioned Minister policies enacted by conferences within the NPUC carry a combination of authorities from commissioned and from ordained minister credentials. They are less than ordained minister credentials in some respects, yet more than the commissioned minister credential. They, thus, are really “commissioned+” or “ordained-” credentials. As we shall next see, the General Conference has authorized no such credential.

GC MUST APPROVE MODIFIED CREDENTIALS
Where there seems valid reason to issue a modified kind of credential, provision exists for this. The Church is not inflexible. But before any such credential would be issued, prior approval must be secured from the General Conference Executive Committee. However, in the case of the commissioned minister credentials now being issued by Conferences in the North Pacific Union, this approval has not been sought.

“Organizations that have departed from Adventist practice in credentialing and licensing have done so without consulting and taking counsel—and that, too, is a departure (perhaps a more egregious one) from our established practice” (pp. 38, 39).

“While generally requiring strict adherence, it provides that local organizations can adapt, even depart from, the policies—but this requires ‘prior approval from the General Conference Executive Committee’ (B 15 10, 1). Such approval has not been granted” (p. 39).

In other words, what has been seen in the NPUC is exactly what this GC document addresses—unilateral action. This is unacceptable, and designated as such in the document.

CORRECT CREDENTIALS ESSENTIAL FOR UNITY
The document states,

The ordaining and commissioning of pastors, and the issuing of credentials and licenses, are not matters essential to salvation, but they are essential to the unity of the Church. They are also important elements of the Church’s smooth functioning as an organization: that is, they are important for mission (p. 42).

The commissioned minister credentials currently being issued by Oregon and Washington Conferences in the NPUC are invalid, for they are a hybrid credential granting authorities reserved to the ordained minister to the commissioned minister. Neither Oregon, nor Washington Conferences, nor the Union, have sought or been granted the authority to create this “commissioned+” credential. The creation of this credential has created disunity and distrust in the Union.

RESTORING TRUST
It would be a first step toward restoring trust if the executive committees of the Oregon and Washington Conferences, and the executive committee of the North Pacific Union, would act immediately to rescind and repudiate their actions creating and approving this false credential, before further embarrassing the Church in the Northwest and contributing to a situation which may lead to the dismissal of the NAD president under whose watch these errors occurred.


LINKS:

CM Crisis 1: What is a Commissioned Minister?

CM Crisis 2: UCC Commissioned Minister Policy Compared With World Church

CM Crisis 3: Significance of Commissioned Minister Policy Action

Laypeople Speak Out on UCC CM Policy

UCC Rescinds Commissioned Minister Policy

Text: Washington Conference Mission-Focused Leadership Policy

CM Crisis 4: Washington Conference Misleads on Policy

Who Should be NPUC President?

NPUC Churches raise Nomination Concern

CM Crisis 5: A History Lesson as Annual Council 2016 Approaches

John freedman Elected NPUC President

General Conference Documents Prepare for Action

5 thoughts on “CM Crisis, pt. 6: GC Unity Documents and the Commissioned Credential

  1. We must come together, and stay together, and defeat this challenge from within! We must maintain our “FAITH” and keep it, believing in the “POWER” that is given unto us, as it is written: “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you”. Luke 10:19

    For it is now become more evident than ever, that there is an Achan within the camp! …and it is no secret that the fallen angel Lucifer Satan the Demon, has Targeted this remnant church that keep the Commandments of “GOD” and the Faith is “JESUS CHRIST”!
    For these warnings are written in the Spirit of Prophecy, as well. “When the church is in difficulty, when coldness and spiritual declension exist, giving occasion for the enemies of God to triumph, then, instead of folding their hands and lamenting their unhappy state, let its members inquire if there is not an Achan in the camp. With humiliation and searching of heart, let each seek to discover the hidden “SINS” that shut out God’s presence. Patriarchs and Prophets 497.3}

    Therefore, we must rebuke those that have decided within their hearts to go their own way, by not recognizing, the facts!
    That the General Conference is the finale Authority of this “World Church”!
    We must stand together, keeping the “FAITH” not forgetting what is written: “But without faith it is impossible to please “HIM”: for he that cometh to “GOD” must believe that HE is, and that HE is a rewarder of them that diligently seek “HIM”. Hebrews 11:6

    Wherefore, by the Power of our “FAITH” we will defeat this Spirit of Challenge and overcome it by the “Power” of our Lord and Savior,
    “JESUS CHRIST”, Amen!

    Reply
  2. Wow, I find this website so disturbing, and the hateful comments…you are talking about brothers and sisters in Christ. Where is your compassion and love? Where is your talk about Jesus and His goodness…your fixation on controversy and “getting people in line” is most concerning and why so many of my friends have stopped coming to the Adventist church…they look at website like this and they do not see Jesus, they see distain and hate for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. So they leave. This is heart sickening to me. How much time are you spending rebuking people rather than loving them, loving those who think differently. Jesus did little rebuking and much loving in his ministry and those he did rebuke were the religious leaders who were making up rule and rules to enforce their rule, who were making it hard for people to come to God. It seems those involved in this website are more similar to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who criticized and rebuke the accepting, loving work of Jesus.

    Reply
    • Would you care to point out to the reader, and use quote marks, to identify hateful comments in the body of the articles? Or are you referring to comments made below the aritcles by persons posting in response to the article?

      Reply

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