Church Manual Updated After Inadvertent Omission

Church Manual Updated After Inadvertent Omission

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As it is customary, I seek to share with you information related to pastoral ministry, performance and practice. However, for this weekly, I share with you that portion of the Church Manual that was inadvertently omitted. It is good to be aware of that as well as the history and purpose of the Church Manual. In the August 24, 2016 edition of Adventist Review, Andrew McChesney, news editor, wrote, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church has updated the Church Manual after finding that part of an amendment voted at General Conference Session last year was unintentionally excluded.”
 
That Which Was Omitted
Associate Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Hensley, M. Moorooven, shared with fellow General Conference employees by e-mail, “It has come to our attention that there was omission on p.127 of the current Church Manual. The correction has been made, and a statement has been issued in that regard.” The section which is small but important reads: “Who May Conduct the Communion Service —The communion service is to be conducted by an ordained/commissioned pastor or an ordained elder. Deacons or deaconesses are not permitted to conduct the service.” (Italicized words voted at GC Session 2015)
 
Initial Reactions
            Looking at the responses, comments and feedback in the Adventist Review under the article, it would seem that numerous persons felt that there was some cynical move by the church to advance the female ordination agenda. One person wrote, “Love that sneaky word commissioned. The devil is in the details.”  This is so unfortunate, as it is simply an omission without any hidden agenda. On the other hand, another individual commented that the term “commissioned is not a sneaky word,” noting that “Pastors are not ordained immediately, it usually takes over 5 years for pastors to be ordained.” He clarified that his pastor “is commissioned” and without this section, “my church wouldn’t have someone to lead the communion.” The reality is that the italicized words which are noted in the above paragraph, were voted by delegates of the General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas, in July 2015 and would have to be included. To change or to omit would require another vote, for The Church Manual can only be revised during General Conference Session, which is held every five years. “Many of the modifications in the latest edition were minor edits.”
 
History of the Church Manual
The Church Manual, as noted in the Adventist Review, “was first published in 1932, traces its roots to a 1875 statement by church cofounder Ellen G. White, who wrote: ‘The church of Christ is in constant peril. Satan is seeking to destroy the people of God, and one man’s mind, one man’s judgment, is not sufficient to be trusted. Christ would have His followers brought together in church capacity, observing order, having rules and discipline, and all subject one to another, esteeming others better than themselves’” (Testimonies for the Church, Volume 3, page 445). The article further states in referencing the Church Manual on Adventist.org “that God is a God of order and says the Church Manual seeks to achieve order ‘through principles and regulations that guide the church in its internal operations and in the fulfillment of its mission to the world.’”
 
Both the updated version of the 2015 Church Manual and the statement are available at: https://www.adventist.org/en/information/church-manual/ as well as via the Ministerial Department of Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists website at http://www.atcunion.org/ministerial.html.