On October 3, 2018, the Mid-America Union Conference posted an article on Outlook Magazine, the official news outlet of the MAUC, concerning the GC compliance committees.
A note from the Outlook editors at the beginning of the article states, “Many constituents have contacted the Mid-America Union Conference asking for a statement from the MAUC regarding the upcoming vote at Annual Council concerning the General Conference forming compliance committees. While the MAUC is not currently out of compliance on voted actions of the GC, our leaders are gravely concerned.”
The article goes on to state that during the recent annual meeting of the MAUC Presidents Council, several thoughts, beliefs, and concerns were expressed. Those “on which all members of the Council agreed” were as follows:
We strongly support our Church’s need to be able to hold its members and institutions accountable; however, since 1903, the Church has had policies in place to deal with discipline issues for every level of the church, from local congregations to the General Conference. We believe Ellen White’s counsel to establish these policies is time honored, has the blessing of Heaven, and is appropriate for a Protestant church.
We believe the proposal coming to Annual Council is a departure from the principles set forth in our Working Policy and, therefore, have deep concerns with this new direction and are not supportive of the content of the proposed document to be voted.
The trajectory of the Unity Committee is turning our membership against one another and not bringing the unity the Committee was established to promote. The MAUC presidents all know churches, members, and families that are divided because of the Committee’s proposed discipline strategy, and are turning against each other, creating a toxic environment.
We believe the forming of these compliance committees puts too much authority in the hands of a few individuals.
The idea of a simple majority vote for major decisions of discipline as outlined in the document is foreign to our Church and again opens the door for abuse of power.
While the compliance committees might bring about the desired uniformity the Unity Committee is looking for, we have heard from enough of our constituents to know we will lose the heart of many members.
We support the North American Division’s approach to the non-compliance issues, which at the heart calls for forbearance. In essence, this is a call to heed Gamaliel’s counsel in Acts 5:38-39: “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (NASB). In other words, let God do the disciplining. We believe He will, because in Heb. 12:6 we read, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (NIV).
Like others before us, we also want to invite our members to fast and pray for God’s presence and leading at Annual Council. We have been given the Three Angels’ Messages and have a profound work to do for our Savior. We believe this is God’s Church and that He will lead us.
Following these eight points, the statement from the Presidents Council closed with two “comments for consideration” from Ellen G. White:
“He [God] has never laid upon anyone the burden of making rules of action which will bind about and restrict the work, and confine the workers to a certain course of action…. if a board shall make rules that enter into the details of what the workers should do, no help will in any way come to those who are engaging in the work. The workmen are compelled to decide on the spot as to what they will do. The place, the circumstances, the interest, the moral sentiment of the people, will have to decide in many cases the course of action to be pursued.”(EGW Letter 53, 1894, Manuscript Release 714).
“Laws and rules are being made at the centers of the work that will soon be broken into atoms….If the cords are drawn much tighter, if the rules are made much finer, if men continue to bind their fellow-laborers closer and closer to the commandments of men, many will be stirred by the Spirit of God to break every shackle, and assert their liberty in Christ Jesus….With [some strong administrators] it is rule or ruin” (EGW, RH, July 23, 1895, p. 465).
This statement can also be found on Outlook Magazine’s website, where it was originally published.
Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org
Image: MAUC logo, courtesy of midamericaadventist.org.
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