Subjecting to Church Authority

Subjecting to Church Authority

 
Since the election of Sandra Roberts as president of the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on Sunday, October 27, 2013, I have been questioned several times regarding this decision of the delegates. As a result, I thought to make a few observations. At the Yearend Committee of the Atlantic Caribbean Union, November 11-12, I will make a more thorough presentation.
 
Subjecting to the Authority of the Church
The election of a female president could be viewed in many ways. For some it could be said that there should be equality among workers. Or put another way no person is to be denied a position on the basis of gender if qualified. This argument is no doubt plausible, but to ordain a female pastor and then elect her to the office of president show disregard for the current policy of the church and the counsel of the leadership of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. This action has the potential of encouraging persons to take this approach in addressing any matter that they feel the church or leadership may be taking too long to address, or that is not supported by Church policy. The result of such could lead to independent actions, even rebellion and chaos. After all, why subject myself to authority when I can go it my way and do so now?
 
The Church Ought Not to Ignore Current Realities
On the other hand, the Church’s leadership ought not to disregard the current issues and situations faced by segments of the world church. One can argue that the topic of ordination as it relates to females has been in discussion for years and should have been addressed one way or another. And during some of the passionate and emotional discussions, unfortunately, some of our sisters have left meetings feeling hurt and wounded by both men and women. Of course, we could discuss and debate without wounding one another.
Notwithstanding previous discussions at sessions, credit should be given the present GC leadership for the appointment a Commission on the Theology of Ordination. The Commission, which consists of representatives from each division, has released an initial statement containing 5 points of agreement. Hopefully, the Commission will present its final report to the 2014 Fall Council of the General Conference, and in turn a recommendation will be passed on to the General Conference Session in 2015 for adoption.
 
The Church Is a United Body
Given that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a united body “bound together by a common commitment to Christ, the truths of the Bible” it is only proper that the Commission on the Theology of Ordination be allowed to complete its work before pockets and segments of the church move to action or preempt the Commission’s report in any way. (The North American Division just voted this week to affirm Women’s Ordination). Entities such as Mission/Conference and Union ought not to operate without regard to the relationship that exists among them and the GC/Divisions. According to Lowell Cooper, one of the Vice Presidents of the GC, “each is seen to be a part of a sisterhood which cannot act without reference to the whole.”  These are “separate but not independent organizations,” says Cooper.  An official statement of the GC Leadership regarding the Southeastern California Conference decision states, “The Church, the body of Christ, is inter-related. Actions that affect one part of the body affect the whole.” Additionally, the statement explains, “Working Policy, which is the recording of our agreements as to how we will work together to do the Lord’s work and mission, serves as one of the practical unifying agents that the Holy Spirit uses to bind the church together. Policy is not inflexible. It can be changed but it reflects the understanding of the collective group, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When personal convictions are placed ahead of the collective policy decisions of the worldwide church, troubling precedents are set.  God works in an orderly way and wishes His church to exemplify this sanctified behavior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Humility and submission to God for the good of the church body as outlined in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy are fundamental Biblical principles for the benefit of the church.”
Therefore, it is incumbent that we allow the process to work and that we pray sincerely for a resolution to this matter of ordination. I am of the view that some decision needs to be made as soon as possible.