In an unprecedented act, the North Pacific Union (NPUC) executive committee voted 34-2 on November 14 to “unreservedly endorse the official response of the North American Division (NAD) to the document approved by the General Conference (GC) executive committee” (Gleaner, December 2018, p. 5).

Readers will recall that on November 6, 2018, the NAD voted a response to the October 14, 2018, General Conference action. In its response, the NAD stated

[W]e are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council (hereafter indicated as ‘the document’), as it is not consistent with the biblical model of the church. We simply cannot, in good conscience, support or participate in the implementation of the process outlined in the document, as it is contrary to the culture of respect and collaboration taught in the Bible.

Excerpt from NAD Newspoints, November 7, 2018. https://www.nadadventist.org/sites/default/files/2018-11/NP%2011-7-18.pdf

It is difficult to see how the NPUC decision can do anything but create disunity in the North Pacific Union, its constituent conferences, the NAD territory and the world church. The 2015 General Conference Session vote at San Antonio regarding ordination is being openly disregarded. And now, the NAD—with the unreserved endorsement of the NPUC—adds further insult. The NPUC leaders have published a decision which can only encourage disregard for the Holy Spirit-guided decision-making of representative members from the broader world church.

The Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP) hereby expresses its unreserved disagreement with entities acting in open resistance toward the work of the Holy Spirit. The church should now be given an example of unity. Instead, entities we have respected act in insubordination, telling the world church they refuse to participate in the generous, even mild, compliance process voted at GC Annual Council 2018.

We find instructive the following lines published in Ministry magazine in 1995 shortly after the world church decided a second time not to embrace the ordination of women to the gospel ministry:

The General Conference in its session every five years is the highest authorizing body of the church. If we do not like what it votes, then we can work through legitimate channels of the church to change the decision. But in the process we must obey what the session has voted. What is the alternative? Anarchy, disunity, conflict, and fragmentation.

Part of the struggle of living in this sinful world is living with decisions we do not like. While majorities must always be respectful of the minority, the minority cannot expect to have its way when the majority rules otherwise. Either God is leading this church or not. If He is, then we need to respect the decisions made by the church in its highest governing session.

Ministry, April 1995, p. 30

By a vote of 185 yes, 124 no, with two abstentions, the General Conference Executive Committee (GCEC) on Oct. 14, 2018 adopted a plan to facilitate course correction for church entities rebelliously engaged in ordaining women to the gospel ministry.

One day later, October 15, NAD leaders issued their own statement. Disagreeing with the GCEC decision, they asserted that the newly voted plan “seeks to create a hierarchical system of governance.” Present NAD leadership indicated that “In a collaborative effort, leaders in the NAD are discussing how the church in North America will move forward.”

The Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP), a group including both conference-employed and retired North American Division pastors, decided to issue its own statement as follows:

At the 2015 General Conference Session held in San Antonio Texas, it was voted not to permit any Division to unilaterally engage in the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. Yet recent years have seen approximately 60 such illegal ordinations—many actually occurring after San Antonio. What was voted by delegates in 2015 was not a policy decision; the motion enacted was based on the word of God. Recall the motion’s wording:

“After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G White, and the reports of the study commissions, and;
After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission,
Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No”

Church membership is always voluntary. The people of God by faith are bound to obey the decision voted. CAP pastors believe that for the NAD to manifest anything less than whole-hearted commitment to timely and full cooperation with the world church is profoundly misguided.

With rejoicing CAP reiterates its full support of the 2015 San Antonio decision and indicates its full support of the voted decision of the 2018 Annual Council. As pastors and workers presently serving Jesus in the North America Division, NAD CAP pastors treasure unity with the world church.

Consider these sample responses from some NAD CAP pastors:

* Pastor Kent Knight, ret., states “I found Sunday’s deliberation and the outcome of the resulting vote to be greatly reassuring of God’s leading. I retired last evening with a prayerful concern for those who were disappointed.”

* Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick says, “Here we stand at the end of time and just now some are trading present truth for a stale feminism that cannot be reconciled with Scripture. But Jesus is ready to help those who have become confused to turn to Him.”

* Pastor Lonny Liebelt wrote, “I was grateful that the motion was passed at Fall Council to move forward with the compliance issues in our church today.”

* Pastor Jim Anderson says, “God’s counsel is being followed, at least by our brothers and sisters in much of the world. Lord, may it be so in the NAD.”

* Pastor Dan Knapp, ret., said, “The vote to implement the Compliance Document Sunday, October 14 confirms once again that Biblically-based faith and governance practices will triumph over strained Biblical hermeneutics, secular cultural accommodation and radical gender obliterating social political correctness.”

* Pastor Alvaro Sauza writes, “I am praying for Elder Daniel Jackson to seize the opportunity of stepping up to the plate and humbly submitting to the decision we have made as a church. May our NAD president take the lead in surrendering personal agenda for the sake of unity. I believe God is waiting for a genuine demonstration of Micah 6:8 by the NAD.”

* Pastor Mike Lambert added, “I am part of something that is bigger than me. It is the Great Advent Movement, tasked with a mission that goes to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. On Sunday, our brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world voted a document to help keep order in our great mission. Let us faithfully pray for and support their decision.”

Refusal by GCEC to act decisively toward errant NAD leadership as necessary, would spread the virus of non-compliance to the General Conference Executive Committee itself, making the GCEC itself non-compliant. If present NAD leaders manifest anything short of full cooperation with the world church, let it be known that those leaders speak for themselves only and not for rank and file workers and members. Our hearts and prayers are with the God of heaven and His world church. Jesus never purchased peace by compromise (DA 356). Neither can God’s remnant church.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE GENERAL CONFERENCE DOCUMENT: Unions and Ordination to the Gospel Ministry


Prior to the August 19 North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Executive Committee meeting, the General Conference Secretariat released a document entitled, “Unions and the Ordination to the Gospel Ministry: Brief Summary and Comprehensive Working Policy Explanation.” General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson wrote to division presidents to explain its purpose.

In his accompanying letter, he states, “The document is provided since there have been some who have proposed the idea that unions have the full prerogative to decide about all aspects of ordination including criteria. As the GC Secretariat document shows, the authority for the unions to make decisions about the approval process for ordination candidates is delegated by the GC Executive Committee and is limited to that review and approval process. The authority for setting the criteria for ordination is not delegated since that is the purview of the world church as outlined in GC WP L 35 and voted on by world representation at Annual Council.”

The letter’s tone is clear and positive. Each division president is requested to forward the material promptly to their respective division officers and to all union presidents. We are grateful to God for the work of responsible leadership at our General Conference to correct a misunderstanding regarding the authority of unions that has created confusion and disunity.

The Secretariat document is a reminder of the principle of delegated authority. Workers across the global field operate under this plan. Members from every part of the world are represented at the GC Session, and this authority is delegated to the elected GC Executive Committee. One of the responsibilities of the GC President as Executive Committee Chair is to help the various units of the church to work together harmoniously according to the authority vested in them by the world body.

We appreciate the work of the Secretariat and the leadership of Elder Wilson and all of our leaders at the GC in producing this wise and well researched policy and historical review document to bring clarification, correction and encouragement to the Church. The clarification should aid units of the church which have erred to make immediate substantive changes so as to come into harmony with the divinely-led vote July 8 in San Antonio. At the General Conference Session in San Antonio, the Church in session agreed with the longstanding Seventh-day Adventist practice of appointing only qualified male spiritual leaders as ordained clergy and as presidents of conferences, unions, and divisions.