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Introducing: Best of Spectrum Comments, June 18-25, 2015

In order to highlight the great feedback we often receive as comments to the articles on the Spectrum Website, the editorial team introduces what will be a regular Friday feature: The Best of the Comments. Spectrum editors will select comments representing the best in respectful discourse and furthering the conversations that begin with Spectrum's articles and news stories. Here are nine comments we especially appreciated this week with links to the articles under which the comments appeared. -Editors

 

Lake Union Conference Says Racism Led to Regional Conference, Formally Apologizes

blairrj​71 wrote:
"Well said and thank you pastor Livesay. It's refreshing to see a church leader admit past wrongs and engage with his constituency. Time to move forward and remove duplicated administration based on race."

 

Perspective: How Deep is Skin?

Garnett Weir wrote:
"This is indeed an excellent article by Michael Nixon. I just wonder what is the stance of the churches in the Dominican Republic ( not just SDA churches) towards this outrage. Chances are they will sit and do nothing because, perhaps, they too, see the Haitians as inferior beings. What a tragedy. Isn't this a matter the United Nations should address. The Dominicans can do what they wish, but the world should not let them get away with it. On November 6, 1962, the United Nations adopted Resolution No 1761 requesting member states to impose sanctions on South Africa because of their implementation of the Apartheid system. Economic sanctions, Sporting sanctions, Academic sanctions, Diplomatic isolation etc. eventually brought that South African Regime to its senses. The Dominican Republic should be given the same treatment until they reverse their ethnic cleansing policies."

 

At the Church’s Dying Edge

Andreas Bochmann wrote:
"Thank you, Loren, for a thoughtful, and thought provoking essay. I worship in a church with less than 20 in attendance, where my wife (well into her 50s) is the youngest church member, with an out of tune "bar piano" nobody can play anyway... Will it survive another decade? I don't know. What I do know is this: you will hardly find another church nearby with a Sabbath school discussion as lively, open and honest. Our church pastor (we see him about once a month) preaches exquisite, gospel oriented sermons of a quality that I rarely hear elsewhere. And as to church singing - since there is no organ, no piano being played ... the church sings to saxophone accompaniment occasionally with a bass added (think of the old German hymns in sax and bass). Beautiful. But the anticipatory pain lingers. And the pain of self-deception which seems to have become a hallmark of our church along with a megalomania that is not only lacking humility, but eye sight. Alas, like you, Loren, I don't have any answers to the dilemma. To some extent the view of more experienced members and colleagues comfort: it is God's church, not ours. Jesus is Lord.

Loren Seibold wrote:
"Thank you, Andreas, for your story about your little church. I know that feeling well. Have experienced it many times, even the singing to a solo instrument. I think your concluding thought, that the wiser in the church say, "This is God's church, and we leave it in His care" is a faithful response, and perhaps the best one, even if it is an admission of our own defeat. But aren't we all defeated in the end, without God's power? "Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord," applies to congregations as well as to individuals. Let me just add one more thing here, out of a bit of frustration, that bothers me. If I had written a piece here about women's ordination, or creation and evolution, it would have 75 responses by now. To me, this is a more important discussion for us to have (especially since no one is talking about it, compared to these other things), but very few are interested. Why are we so anxious to pile on to the same old fights we've had for decades, but not a lot of interest in solving a problem that threatens to sink us as a denomination in this territory? Puzzling, isn't it?"

 

Ordination Herstories: Kendra Haloviak Valentine and Norma Osborn

Eric Webster wrote:
"One appreciates the testimonies of Kendra and Norma and also the fruit of their lives and ministries.
 No doubt those who set them apart to this ministry accepted the literal truth of Ephesians 4:11 in respect to the gifts of the Holy Spirit: "And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." Those involved did not understand that these gifts were gender based. They accepted that any man or woman could be the recipient of these gifts. After all a woman amongst us had received the gift of prophecy. Why should a woman not be able to receive the gift of pastoring a flock?
Is it not rather strange that we do not find extended discussions as to the evils of women receiving the gift of teaching or the gift of evangelism. Can anyone supply me with a few documents as to why women may not be teachers or evangelists? But the moment we come to 'pastoring' the flock for qualified women it is as if we have flown a red flag to wild bulls."

 

Pacific Union Conference Announces GC Delegates: 42% Female

Victor Pilmoor wrote:
Very Good. 16/38 = 42.1%
In the British Union we managed 6/14 = 42.8% 
It's called 0.7% up-wo-manship

 

An Open Letter to the General Conference Delegates from Africa

djmush1000 wrote:
"This is the second article I have read urging Africans to vote yes and though this article is not as racist as the other one it does reek of elitism and assumes that we are a gigantic monolith and that our only reasons for Africans believing in male headship is culture or a faulty hermeneutic and as a young African i can only say that i am thoroughly disappointed with brother Quartey with perpetuating such elitism. I am an African and I take offense that my position on WO is perceived as cultural simply because I am an African. Once again the false analogy of slavery is invoked and I actually feel that it is Brother Quartey who is using a faulty hermenuetic employing false analogies and intellectual dishonesty. The generalisation employed in said artice are hurtful to say the least and It is interesting that most who are applauding this article are not even from Africa. I feel that the author of this article comes dangerously close to being the theological equivalent of an Unlce Tom."

Matthew Quartey (the article's author) wrote in reply:
"The Akans in Ghana have a proverb that doesn't translate well into English, but it goes something like this: A person cutting a path is not aware that the path behind him/her is crooked. The idea is that we tend to focus so intently on the task on hand that we don't see aspects of the same task that need some modification to make it better. And often it takes someone unconnected with the task to point out the rough edges. In essence, criticism, when done well and in good faith, add to the dialogue. So it is not enough to just tell the "path cutter" that his/her work is not good without specifying what is wrong with the path and where it needs straightening. I am having some difficulty identifying the elements in the Letter that are racist (even if partially so) or elitist or dishonest, or Uncle "Tomish". Citing examples help when loaded words are used to accuse as djmush does in his post."

Jeremy Vandieman wrote:
"when i think back on the culture of the south africa i was born into - many people see south africa as an historical racist enclave, but they don't always know how sexist it used to be - there is no question that women's ordination would not have led to decency and order in the church then and there, anymore than it would have in paul's world...but living in north america for several decades now - in the church, out of the church, and now in the church for good - i do see that there are circumstances in which a literal interpretation of phrases like "husband of one wife", 1 timothy 3:2, not only fails to achieve the good it intends to, but leads to an opposing, if not opposite, result...the world we live in today really is so disparate, a policy that accomplishes one thing in one place accomplishes an entirely different thing in another...given this reality, there can be only one effective solution to the problems posed by wo, and that is a yes vote in san antonio...a yes vote means male headship should continue where it is deemed the best approach to achieving decency and order in the church, and women's ordination should be allowed to proceed where it is clear it can be a blessing while maintaining decency and order in the church - and maintaining decency and order in the church is the over-riding consideration, 1 corinthians 14:40. . . .to me, any notion of male headship in the seventh-day adventist church can only mean that the significance of the holy spirit's choice of egw has not received adequate consideration...we have to understand that egw, in her role of guiding prophet, is half the reason the remnant church is the remnant church, revelation 12:17...this is an astounding level of honor and authority to place in one person, and the fact that that person was a woman must mean something...how can an ordination policy built on a literal understanding that women must not speak in church, teach, and exercise authority over men, 1 timothy 2:11-12, be meaningful in the face of the 70-yr ministry of egw, to which the ministry of only moses compares...when egw clearly says that women are sometimes better managers of a church than men, pastoral ministry:36, and the path to the exercise of that management is blocked because ordination is a prerequisite that is being systematically withheld, is that ordination policy in harmony with egw, or isn't it..."

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