The Potomac Conference Executive committee voted on February 26, 2019 to submit the name of Therezinha Barbalho for approval for ordination to the gospel ministry. Barbalho, a woman, serves as pastor in the Silver Spring, MD church. Union approval is required before a conference proceeds with an ordination. The target date for Barbalho’s ordination is June 2019.

The world church voted in General Conference Session 2015 not to permit Divisions to decide unilaterally whether to ordain women to the gospel ministry. Disregard for that decision led the General Conference Executive Committee to create and vote a special compliance process in 2018.

The highest human authority in the church is the General Conference Session held every five years. Between GC Sessions, the General Conference Executive Committee handles necessary business items. The GC in session is analogous to a church business meeting, and the GC executive committee to the church board meeting. In the case of the General Conference, these meetings have global authority. Divisions, unions, and conferences in their turn, are all under the authority of the next higher level of organization. The Church Manual, p. 27, reminds us, “In the Seventh-day Adventist Church structure, no organization determines its own status, nor does it function as if it had no obligations to the Church family beyond its boundaries.”

Because the world church has not approved the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, neither Potomac Conference nor Columbia Union, subsidiary entities that they are, have not been delegated authority \to conduct such an ordination. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the ordained minister is recognized by the Church as having authority to minister on behalf of the church globally. For this reason, no sub-entity can act unilaterally; ordination grants authority across the entire organization.

It is ironic that the Conference and the Union are following the lines of authority to approve such an ordination at the lower levels when they clearly lack the authority at the higher levels. When conferences and unions act unilaterally and in contradiction to the decisions of the world church, they are engaging in a form of congregationalism. They are disrespecting the decision-making process of the very entities which have delegated to them the authority they are misusing. They are sowing disunity in the Church.

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

The North American Division (NAD) Executive Committee acted in its 2018 Year-end Meeting (YEM) to openly defy the voted actions of the world church.

  • The NAD president claimed that the NAD had not contravened General Conference Working Policy, and stated the NAD “We will not be deterred. We don’t care what action, we don’t care what body, we do not care.”
  • NAD President: "We Have not Contravened GC Policy" from CAP on Vimeo.

  • And yet, present NAD leadership, by inaction on more than 50 unauthorized ordinations of women in NAD Conferences and Unions (Fulcrum7.com, “The real Issue: Hint–It’s Not Ted Wilson,” Oct. 10, 2018, http://www.fulcrum7.com/blog/2018/10/10/the-real-issue-hint-its-not-ted-wilson?rq=ted%20wilson), effectively aligns itself against world church 1990, 1995, and 2015 General Conference Session votes which refused to authorize such ordinations or to authorize the regionalization of such ordinations. In the November 6, 2018 meeting, NAD president Dan Jackson called these ordinations “small matters.”
  • On October 14, 2018, the General Conference Executive Committee, representing the world church, enacted a new Compliance policy designed to bring accountability for situations where different levels of church governance disregard world church policies and voted actions. The new policy enables appropriate intervention by General Conference leadership. The world church leadership is tasked with carrying out the decisions voted by the delegates of the world body.
  • On Nov 6 the majority vote of NAD YEM voted a reply telling the General Conference, “we 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” (Full text of voted statement at end of this article.) You can view a 51 minute “Readers Digest” version of four hour Nov. 4 floor debate which initiated the voted statement here:
  • NAD YEM Nov. 4 2018 "Reader's Digest" version floor debate from CAP on Vimeo.

  • The NAD is not granted authority to act thus, thus its action is a usurpation of authority.
  • Furthermore, the NAD voted to request a catastrophic reduction in the amount of tithe it passes onward to the world church.
  • After this vote, the NAD president specifically called out world church division leaders, reminding them that the NAD is “the breadbasket” of the church, and threatening them that they “had better be a spirit of reconciliation” and he threatened to “walk away,” warning, “my fellow division presidents, be a little careful.” View the Jackson’s statement here:
  • Jackson Demands New Push for WO from CAP on Vimeo.

    (We plan to update this article with an additional Video from NAD meeting.)


    North American Division Response to GC Annual Council Vote

    On November 6, 2018, the Executive Committee of the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted the following response to a General Conference vote taken at the 2018 GC Annual Council:

    North American Division 2018 Year-end Meeting Response to the Regard for
    and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions November 6, 2018

    Affirmation

    As the North American Division Executive Committee, we, along with our brothers and sisters around the world, wholeheartedly affirm a shared commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Based on the Bible and the 28 Fundamental Beliefs, this faith is expressed through the church’s worldwide mission and prophetic role in fulfilling the commission to proclaim the gospel “to every nation and tribe and language and people” (Rev 14:6, ESV; see also Matt 28:18-20; Rev 14:6-12).

    We also affirm a shared commitment to oneness in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-13, 27). As a global church family comprised of all generations, we belong to each other, care for each other, and are called to treat each other with respect and trust (John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17; 1 John 4:7-8, 11-12, 20-21; Eph 4:2, 32; Col 3:13). As Ellen G. White wrote, “There is no person, no nation, that is perfect in every habit and thought. One must learn of another. Therefore, God wants the different nationalities to mingle together, to be one in judgment, one in purpose. Then the union that there is in Christ will be exemplified” (Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, 137.1).

    We also affirm that structure and organization bring value to advancing the mission and message of the church (1 Cor 14:40).

    Our Church

    When the body of Christ functions as God intended, as exemplified by the early church, it derives its authority from Christ, the head of the church, who led through service (Matt 20:28; Mark 10:45; Eph 1:22; Col 1:18; 2:10). Servant leaders express and foster Christlike forbearance and humility (Matt 20:25-28; John 13:1-17; Phil 2:1-5). Such leadership creates healthy structure, which gives voice to all members of the body and respects the priesthood of all believers (Ex 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9).

    The structure of the church is characterized by unity and diversity, as stated by Paul in 1 Cor 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (ESV). Such st reflects a reality for which He prays in John 17. Honoring diversity in implementing the Seventh-day Adventist mission allows for effective response to specific conditions while still maintaining global values and identity, as exemplified in Acts 15.

    Our Position

    We recognize Christ as the head of the church (Col 1:18). We are guided by the
    Bible as our only creed, the Holy Spirit who inspired and interprets it, the writings of Ellen G. White that shine light on it, and a resulting spirit of Christlike forbearance.

    As such, we 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 (Zech 4:6; Rom 14:13; 15:7; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 2:5; Eph 5:2).

    Furthermore, we believe that the document moves us away from the biblical values proclaimed by the Protestant reformers and the founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and, in so doing, moves us toward a centralized power and a hierarchical system of governance that overrides the policies and procedures already in place (1 Cor 12:12-27). We are alarmed that, in this document, church policies and voted actions are equated with Scripture. We are also deeply concerned by the use of shame as a punitive measure, because it is in violation of the spirit of the gospel (John 8:3-11).

    Additionally, the document moves us away from the principles behind the 1901-03 reorganization, endorsed by Ellen G. White, which decentralized denominational authority.

    The voicing of our objection is in alignment with the 1877 General Conference voted action, which allows for questioning any General Conference vote “shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience” (Review and Herald, October 4, 1877, p. 106).

    Ellen G. White, in response to an 1888 General Conference Session vote she had counseled against, later wrote, “It was not right for the conference to pass it. It was not in God’s order, and this resolution will fall powerless to the ground. I shall not sustain it, for I would not be found working against God. This is not God’s way of working, and I will not give it countenance for a moment” (Letter 22, 1889, pp. 10-11). We believe the church should take heed of this counsel at this moment in our history.

    Requests for Action

    1. We respectfully request, in light of Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17 and in harmony with the call for unity in the body of Christ in Fundamental Belief No. 14, that the General Conference Executive Committee at its 2019 Annual Council rescind the action approving the document.
    2. We respectfully request that the 2019 Annual Council revise any policies that enable majority fields to dictate the management of non-doctrinal, non-biblical issues to minority fields (1 Cor 12:26) and create policies that protect the interests of minority fields.
    3. We respectfully request that an item be placed on the 2020 General Conference Session agenda calling for a statement by the world church that: (1) affirms our shared respect for the richness and variety of the multiple cultures and practices in which we minister; and (2) empowers ministry that is sensitive to the local context (Acts 15; 1 Cor 9:19-23).

    It is our sincere hope that the future will be characterized by continual prayer and open dialogue, empowered by “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20, ESV).

    This response was voted during the Year-end Meeting of the North American Division Executive Committee on November 6, 2018 in Columbia, Maryland.

    Facts and Fiction about the General Conference’s Compliance Document
    Oct 23, 2018, Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, Pastor Mark Finley


    If a myth is repeated often enough and loud enough a lot of people will accept it as reality. For centuries people believed the earth was flat, and the sun revolved around the earth. Even reputed scientists and scholars of the day taught and repeated the myth. A myth is a myth no matter how loud it is trumpeted and no matter who shouts it.

    Myths are running rampant on social media about the document, “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions,” recently voted at the 2018 Annual Council.

    Some claim the General Conference desires to control what happens even on the local church level and no one is safe from its tentacles of control. The document has been called “papal,” “anti-protestant,” and “unbiblical.”

    Let’s consider seven common myths and the facts of the document.

    Myth #1: The document is an overreach by the General Conference to centralize power.

    Fact #1: The document actually states, “Planning for and ensuring compliance shall initially be entrusted to the entity closest to the matter” (p. 1, line 25).

    The intent of the document is to allow the entity closest to the issue of non-compliance to handle the matter. Rather than a centralization of power, it encourages the opposite. It urges all issues of policy non-compliance to be solved at the local level. If that is not possible the next highest level of church organization may become involved. For example, if a local conference has a challenge with non-compliance that it cannot or will not solve, the Union Conference/Mission can become involved in working out a solution. This is true for each level of church organization.

    If there is non-compliance of a General Conference Session or Executive Committee voted action, the GC Executive Committee may become involved.

    Continue reading

    The General Conference Administrative Committee voted on Tuesday, July 17, 2018, to approve a complicated proposal offered by the Unity Oversight Committee. Details here:

    https://www.adventistreview.org/church-news/story6303-administrative-committee-takes-step-forward-in-unity-process

    The action proposed by the Unity Oversight Committee (UOC) for Annual Council 2018 is inadequate. God has spoken through His people. The world church has voted not to permit units to act unilaterally to ordain women to the pastoral ministry. Neither did the church vote in 2015 to permit modified specious credentialing practices. Since the 2015 vote, non-compliant conferences and unions in the North American Division (NAD) have been given more than sufficient opportunity to come in line with the decision of the world church. MORE THAN THREE YEARS HAVE PASSED since the San Antonio July 8, 2015 world church decision. In this time, NAD leadership has brought not even one insubordinate entity into compliance.

    The proposed UOC plan calls for noncompliance to be reported to the next higher level. If that level fails to address the non-compliance, that level becomes responsible to the next higher level of organization. Thus, in the North American context, some entity would need to report non-compliance by Pacific Union, Columbia Union, or North Pacific Union (all of which presently embrace non-compliant practice regarding ordaining or credentialing women pastors). But reporting to the non-compliant union itself would be ineffectual. Then, if somehow the matter were actually forwarded to the North American Division, what? NAD does nothing.

    If the matter is not resolved by the NAD, the General Conference can assign the matter to be reviewed by the compliance committee. And in all this there are no time limits. Indeed, the proposal asks for “much prayer and dialogue.”

    There is no concrete set of time limitations at any stage. At every stage the implementation of any action is built on indeterminate “mays” and “ifs.” And even if a committee somewhere has enough conviction and energy to call for the actual application of sanctions, the possible actions are:

    1. Warning. (No action to address individual leaders.)
    2. Public reprimand. (The leaders of the non-compliant entity continue to have voice and vote. They are rewarded for their non-compliance. But a reminder is given each time they seek the floor, publicly stating that their entity is in non-compliance.)
    3. If non-compliance continues, members of the non-compliant entity may be removed “for cause,” according to Bylaws Article XIII Sec. 1. c. and GC B 95.

    But this option (number 3) ALREADY EXISTS. By creating an elaborate series of additional steps, barriers are created which hinder the application of discipline.

    And, according to the plan, even

    In instances where a president has been removed from the membership of the committee “for cause,” other members of the General Conference Executive Committee from that union shall continue to exercise full privileges without mention of reprimand.

    Thus, the process envisioned by the UOC achieves little. It actually adds layers. Church members are not calling for additional bureaucratic labyrinth or for time-consuming, ineffectual actions. The effect of this plan, if implemented, will be to facilitate non-compliance, assuring no substantive consequence will be applied for breaching the trust of the world body.

    The proposed plan will further divide the church of God.

    Instead, we urge all parties to consider a simpler proposal: to immediately remove “for cause” at Annual Council 2018 the three current NAD executive administrative officers, whose inaction has deeply damaged the global unity of the church and in the North American Division.

    Three years have passed and nothing substantive has been done. Let the Annual Council now act.

    The Adventist Review recently posted a survey on Facebook which appears to be designed to link Antitrinitarianism with Last Generation Theology and with those who oppose women’s ordination.

    The current resurgence in Antitrinitarianism is not justified by the Bible or the Ellen G. White writings. A small number of persons have recently adopted Antitrinitarian notions and are presenting teachings such as

      – There are two persons in the Godhead—the Father and the Son Jesus only—and that there are not three distinct persons.
      – The Holy Spirit is not an actual person in Himself.
      – There was a time when Jesus as a distinct person actually had a beginning.

    All three notions are false. There are three persons, not two (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:13). The Holy Spirit is a distinct person in Himself just as the Father and Jesus. And, Jesus has always existed as a distinct person in the Godhead; He never had a beginning (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-3).

    Meanwhile, “Last Generation Theology” is basically a shorthand way to refer to the distinctive Adventist sanctuary package. In the last days God has raised up a movement to follow Jesus fully, and to receive His forgiveness and power for victory over sin (Revelation 14:12; 18:1). As Ellen White writes,

    Christ is cleansing the heavenly sanctuary from the sins of the people, and it is the work of all who are laborers together with God to be cleansing the sanctuary of the soul from everything that is offensive to Him (Manuscript Releases, vol. 11, pp. 54, 55).

    There is more to say, but Ellen White stated a profound truth in The Great Controversy that

    The subject of the sanctuary was the key which unlocked the mystery of the disappointment of 1844. It opened to view a complete system of truth, connected and harmonious, showing that God’s hand had directed the great advent movement and revealing present duty as it brought to light the position and work of His people” (The Great Controversy, p. 423).

    Meanwhile, other voices seem determined to give the impression of a strong connection between LGT and Antitrinitarianism. George Knight, not content to compare General Conference leadership to Nazis and Catholics over the women’s ordination issue, follows a guilt-by-association plan in his new book End-Time Events and The Last Generation (ETETLG). What he does here is similar.

    Knight claims in ETETLG that “anti-Trinitarianism is especially strong among the believers in Andreasen’s last generation theology,” and, “It should be noted that not all of the newer voices among the last generation theology believers are anti-Trinitarian,” and, “it is important to realize that the last generation segment of Adventism is far from united on Trinitarian issues,” pp. 113, 114 and 114, respectively). Knight’s attempt to link the recent interest in anti-Trinitarianism among a small number of Adventists and former-Adventists at the margin falls flat. All of the prominent contemporary voices Knight names as supporting Last Generation Theology and who are named in the Seminary book God’s Character and the Last Generation, are fully Trinitarian and fully supportive of the Fundamental Beliefs of the church including the Godhead or Trinity.

    Adventist Review editors in early May 2018 posted a short survey on Facebook titled “The Godhead Survey.” Most of the questions composing the survey are significantly misleading. Do we believe that the one God in three persons, whom Ellen White refers to as the “heavenly trio,” are co-equal? or co-eternal? Do we believe that Jesus is eternally submissive to the Father? or functionally submissive? Here are the survey questions:

    1. God the Father and God the Son share co-equal, co-sovereign divinity. T or F
    2. Jesus may properly be called God’s only begotten Son because He had a beginning at some stage in eternity past. T or F
    3. God the Father and God the Holy Spirit share co-equal, co-sovereign divinity. T or F
    4. Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father is a divine dimension of the hierarchy also present within God’s created order. T or F
    5. Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father illustrates the same principle of headship applicable between husband and wife in God’s ideal for marriage. T or F
    6. The life of Jesus proves that victory over sin is assured to everyone who trusts in God as Jesus did. T or F
    7. Before Christ returns God is looking for a generation of people who will vindicate Him by showing a perfect reproduction of the character of Christ.
    8. Because Christ shared the same human nature that we do, we know that we may overcome as He did.
    9. How old are you?
    10. Gender? M or F

    What is intended in the survey to be the meaning of “co-equal”? Adventist Fundamental Beliefs do not make this claim. Instead, FB #2 states, “There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons.” The full texts of FBs #2 The Trinity, #3 The Father, #4 The Son, #5 The Holy Spirit, never use language stating that the three divine Persons are co-equal. But Survey questions #1 and #3 use “co-equal” and ask the respondent to indicate True or False.

    The second survey question states “Jesus may properly be called God’s only begotten Son because He had a beginning at some stage in eternity past.” The title of the survey, “Godhead,” seems calculated to interest antitrinitarian respondents, who will certainly mark question two as “True.” This response, along with others, will cause it to appear that there is a connection between those who believe regular Adventism, who are thus “LGT,” and those who are Antitrinitarian!

    Survey question #4 states, “Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father is a divine dimension of the hierarchy also present within God’s created order.” But “eternal subordination” is a straw man argument of the pro-women’s ordination faction in the church. Rather, from what we read in the Bible and EGW writings, Jesus chooses to be in functional submission to the Father. Eternally subordinate could indicate a structural or organic difference within the Godhead. We have Bible evidence for functional submission but not for eternal subordination.

    Survey question #5 states “Jesus’ eternal subordination to His Father illustrates the same principle of headship applicable between husband and wife in God’s ideal for marriage.” It is wrong to use the term “eternal subordination,” which, again, is not employed by any who support LGT or who oppose women’s ordination. But this question, if answered “True,” would lend support to the idea that male leadership or headship is based on a mistaken view of the relation between the three persons of the Godhead or Trinity.

    What the Adventist Review would seek to prove about male leadership using the potential survey results of this misleading Survey?

    Questions #6 through #8 would likely be regarded by most Adventists as close to true. We believe that Jesus’ victory shows us how to overcome. Yet we have to ask, Who can claim to trust in the Father with hearts as deeply committed to Him as Jesus did? Yes, that should be our goal. But those trusting the most in Jesus will feel deep distrust in themselves. Such might hesitate to mark this “True.” Christ has not yet come, as He seeks to see His character closely copied in the last generation (Ellen White uses the term “perfectly reproduced.” See Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69; Counsels to Teachers, p. 324). But we must beware of claiming that they vindicate Jesus. By living holy lives, they will give testimony to God’s goodness, and those lives will have a vindicating aspect to them (The Desire of Ages, p. 671), but all should be clear that Jesus’ death on the cross provided the complete sacrifice for our sins and that humans living holy lives in no way add merit to the sacrifice of the cross.

    Most will be comfortable answering questions #6, #7, #8 “Yes,” but what would be the result of the finished survey? Question two would assure receiving many “True” answers from Antitrinitarians, while questions 6-8 would provide many “True” answers from Adventists who believe what the Church teaches. Thus, survey results could create the false impression that there is substantial overlap between Antitrinitarianism, Last Generation Theology, and those who support a biblical-qualifications only position with reference to women’s ordination (those opposing women’s ordination).

    Thus, the Antitrinitarian error might be used misleadingly to portray conservative Adventists as heretics. The Adventist Review “Godhead Survey” appears to be intentionally designed to create false impressions, false linkages between truth and error.

    Was it so designed? We will likely never know.

    Hopefully, the survey will be deleted from the Adventist Review’s Facebook page during the next few days. But “The Godhead Survey” is filled with misleading questions, seems to treat the members of the church with contempt, and to be designed for political purposes to divide and confuse conservative Adventists and to unite and advance the insubordinate position of those now combining against the authority of the world church in session and the General Conference. Are the editors at the Review working to unite the Church at this time? Bill Knott’s remarkably awful 2015 article “A Time to Marginalize” reminds us that the Review has been a deeply-divisive source of disunity, right when we need to unify over biblically sound decisions the church has made which have been decided by duly elected delegates in Session.

    Let us pray for the appointment of new leadership at the Adventist Review and apology for this remarkable exhibit of deception.


    The editor of the Review can be contacted at revieweditor@gc.adventist.org. But at this point, a more effectual course really would be to write to the chair of the Adventist Review, Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, at president@gc.adventist.org.

    Diversity failed in the Mennonite Church USA on December 31, 2017 when its largest group, the Lancaster Conference, left the denomination over same-sex “marriage.” The Lancaster Conference opposes same-sex “marriage” as unbiblical.

    The “official” Mennonite Church USA definition of marriage continues to affirm “We believe that God intends marriage to be a covenant between one man and one woman for life” (Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective, Article 19, Marriage, http://mennoniteusa.org/confession-of-faith/marriage/, accessed 2018-01-04). However, the Mennonite Council has encouraged “full inclusion” for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the church since 1976.

    On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in Obergefell v. Hodges, that states cannot prohibit the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, or deny recognition of lawfully performed out-of-state marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The ruling invalidated same-sex marriage bans in individual states. That decision was followed almost immediately by the Mennonite Church USA Biennial Convention, held June 30-July 5, 2015.

    Delegates at that meeting voted the following resolution:

    “The ways in which we have engaged the decades-long conflict in the church over issues related to human sexuality have diverted us from our central mission, divided us from each other and damaged the name of Christ in the world. While acknowledging different interpretations, we affirm the centrality of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture as an essential part of our collective discernment. We also affirm the goodness of marriage, singleness, celibacy, sexual intimacy within a marriage covenant, and fidelity for all people, and we acknowledge that there is currently not consensus within Mennonite Church USA on whether it is appropriate to bless Christians who are in same-sex covenanted unions. Because God has called us to seek peace and unity as together we discern and seek wisdom on these matters, we call on all those in Mennonite Church USA to offer grace, love and forbearance toward conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways, seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters related to same-sex covenanted unions” (http://mennoniteusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ForbearanceResolution.pdf, accessed 2018-02-04).

    Mennonite Universities had not remained neutral. “Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College, both schools affiliated MC USA, adopted policies to protect faculty in same-sex relationships in 2015” (“Biggest Mennonite Conference Leaves Denomination,” http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/january/biggest-mennonite-conference-leaves-denomination.html,” accessed 2018-01-04).

    Lancaster Conference Mennonites describe what happened:

    “At its annual conference in Kansas City earlier this summer, Mennonite Church USA attempted to stake out a compromise position on the role of homosexuals within the church.

    “At that meeting, delegates affirmed membership guidelines that disallow same-sex marriage while at the same time asking that individual churches be allowed to dialogue, discuss and pray on the issue. Mennonite Church USA also placed a four-year moratorium on further discussion.

    “The Lancaster conference held eight regional meetings with leaders and members to discuss options after July. More than 1,800 people attended those meetings” (http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/lancaster-conference-votes-to-leave-mennonite-church-usa/article_06b9765a-8f94-11e5-aa0c-1f0717d08474.html, accessed 2018-01-04).

    A two-year period of discernment soon began, and when the split became effective at the last day of 2017, more than 180 churches had joined with the Lancaster Conference in leaving the Mennonite Church USA.

    The same-sex “marriage” debate of the last two decades has left a trail of shattered denominations. Numerous Christian bodies have refused to sustain the clear Scriptural teaching that homosexual practice is sin, and that authentic marriage is only between a man and a woman. Instead, denominational bodies have repeatedly voted themselves exempt from two thousand years of Christian understanding and then sought to suppress their brethren upholding Scriptural views.

    We want to point your attention to four interesting new websites that did not exist even six months ago. All are the products of laypeople who support the world church in the present crisis!

    TheStairView.com is entirely the work of Adventist laypeople who support the long-standing Seventh-day Adventist use of the historical-grammatical method of biblical interpretation. The focus is on sound biblical interpretation. The material fully supports the decision of the world church. Layperson Johnston Robinson is responsible.

    Rollene.no is a new website from laypeople in Norway. “Rollene” means “the Roles.” Many Adventists in Norway have remained largely unaware of the crisis concerning women’s ordination. The site invites Adventists to strengthen their understanding of bible truth applied to gender roles. The Bible is to be read according to the “Sola, Tota, Prima Scriptura” principle. Some leaders are resisting the world church and leading church members away from the body with them. The goal of Rollene.no is to minimize the resulting harm. Articles are grouped in the four sections: The Bible, the Family, the Church, and Q&A. The material fully supports the decision of the world church. Layperson Sergey Paniflov is responsible.

    UnityInTruth.com is a new site seeking to activate laypeople in support of the world church. Its mission is to promote loving, Christlike accountability in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, so that we may truly reflect Christ to a world in darkness. UnityInTruth.com seeks to encourage leadership and laity alike to faithfulness to message and mission, hastening the return of Christ. The site also features a thoughtful petition calling for action against the insubordinate sections of the Church. The material fully supports the decision of the world church. Laypersons Gabe and Jennifer Arruda are responsible.

    AffirmationSabbath.org is the official site of a growing movement of laypeople from across the NAD called World Church Affirmation Sabbath. The work of this group is to hold lay-led meetings where laypeople can meet face to face and learn how to better fulfill heaven’s plan for representative church governance, which has been largely ignored leaving us in the present crisis. The site gives locations for meetings to be held in September, publishes a twice-a-month newsletter, and has links to videos from it meetings. It will include livestreaming links for the September event. The work of Affirmation Sabbath fully supports the decision of the world church, and the initiative has been positively featured in the General conference Executive Committee Newsletter. Laypersons involved are listed on the site.

    Many of these sites merit further detailed review and we hope in the near future to describe some of them more fully.