SILVER SPRING - During a lengthy and emotional discussion of the General Conference's "Unity in Mission" document, voted at the 2016 General Conference Annual Council meeting two weeks ago, the North American Division (NAD) voted a statement asking the General Conference to officially recognize Dr. Sandra Roberts, president of the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The vote was taken on day two of the 2016 NAD Year-end Meeting.
The discussion of the GC "Unity in Mission" document was characterized by many impassioned statements by division leaders in favor of equality in pastoral ministry.
As the 5:00 hour approached, well after the scheduled 3:30 p.m end of the meeting, Dr. Randal Wisbey, president of La Sierra University in Southeastern California Conference, stood at the microphone and read from a prepared statement that ended with a motion asking the General Conference to recognize Dr. Roberts.
I want to thank you, Elder Jackson, for your leadership and personal commitment on guiding us in a way that embraces our deep commitment to women in ministry.
I am speaking as a member of the SECC. This is illustrative of what we are discussing this afternoon.
I am deeply concerned that the General Conference continues to be dismissive of our conference president, Dr Sandra Roberts, by not including her name in the SDA Yearbook. This would be troubling if this happened to any of our conferences--yet this has occurred to the duly-elected president of the largest conference in our division.
This was compounded at the recent Annual Council when Elder Roberts was not provided a badge that would grant her the ability to attend and to speak as was provided to every one of her fellow presidential colleagues.
The reason for this, I am told, is that, as the GC does not recognize her ordination, they do not recognize her presidency.
Elder Jackson, when something occurs that hurts and diminishes one of us, all of us are diminished and hurt. When we allow something to occur that we know, deep in our hearts, is unjust, we participate in this injustice.
I implore this body to find an appropriate response that enables us to move from talk to action. So many in our church are today watching to see if we will truly live our convictions.
For these reasons, I would recommend that we forward to the General Conference the following statement:
The attendees of the North American Division Year-end Meeting respectfully request that the General Conference provide Elder Sandra Roberts, President of Southeastern California Conference, the same respect, rights, and privileges of office as any other conference president within the North America Division who has been duly elected by an official and legal constituency meeting of that conference. This will include inclusion in the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook as president of Southeastern California Conference, and being provided with regular and official credentials at General Conference meetings, such as Annual Council, etc., the same as any other North American Division conference president.
After brief comment on the motion, a vote was taken. The results of the vote: 141 yes, 32 no, 5 in abstention. Discussion of the "Unity in Mission" document ended after the vote and will resume on Sunday. Spectrum will be providing live updates on Twitter @spectrummag throughout the meetings.
Image Credit: Pieter Damsteegt / NAD.
Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.
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