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Document Voted at Annual Council Outlines Process for Dealing With Non-Compliant Church Entities

G. Alexander Bryant address the Annual Council meeting on Oct. 14, 2018

G. Alexander Bryant, North American Division executive secretary, addresses the Annual Council meeting on Oct. 14, 2018, during the discussion on the compliance document. Photo by Dan Weber

On Oct. 14, 2018, after more than five hours of presentations and discussion, the General Conference Executive Committee, at its Annual Council meeting, approved a recommendation from the church’s Unity Oversight Committee: the creation of a new compliance process to assist with the need to implement church policies and voted actions.

In a vote of 185 to 124, with two abstaining, the document, entitled "Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions," follows upon the October 2017 vote by the GC Executive Committee, that referred an earlier compliance proposal back for further study and revision.

Ron Smith, Southern Union Conference president, addresses the Annual Council business session on Oct. 14, 2018

Ron Smith, Southern Union Conference president, addresses the Annual Council business session on Oct. 14, 2018. Photo by Dan Weber

Voted Process

A joint Adventist News Network/Adventist Review report outlines the voted process. Below is an excerpt from this report:

"The process begins with perceived non-compliance being reported to the administrative level of the Church closest to the matter. ... As part of the process, the non-compliant entity would be asked to provide evidence of compliance or a plan to 'achieve sustained compliance.'

"If no resolution is reached at the closest administrative levels, the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) may refer the matter to one of five advisory committees. These committees, termed “compliance committees” had earlier been endorsed by ADCOM."

During the Discussion

GC Executive Committee Members and invitees from the NAD spoke to the body during the discussion period before the vote.

NAD officers and union conference presidents spoke to the proposed document, saying it added in an unnecessary level of administration when current church procedures already define a process to deal with disagreements in church policy. Comments also expressed the need to bridge the differences between church entities on non-doctrinal issues. Questions were also raised on the challenge of policy interfering with mission objectives.

Dan Jackson comments during the 2018 Annual Council discussion on Oct. 14, 2018.

Daniel R. Jackson, NAD president, comments during the 2018 Annual Council discussion on Oct. 14, 2018. Photo by Dan Weber

Ron Smith, Southern Union Conference president, was the first delegate to speak to the compliance document, saying, "We are particularly frustrated because of what is in this document. New machinery continues to heighten mistrust of world church leadership. If this is passed, who will be in/out of compliance next? We are distracted, hurt, and demoralized."

More than 70 delegates spoke on the document; some for and some against. G. Alexander Bryant, NAD executive secretary, told the GC Executive Committee gathered on Oct. 14, 2018, that "I’m an avid supporter of the policies of the church; but policies don’t hold us together. The Spirit of God holds us together. The document threatens to tear [the church] apart."

Jiří Moskala, dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, commented, "This document violates Sola Scriptura. ... This is the first time in history of the church that we punish our leaders on non-biblical grounds."

[CLICK HERE to read the NAD statement on the voted document.]

Article updated 18:52, Sept. 16, 2018