Skip to content

Presidential Letter Prompted by Constituent Battle


While social media outlets were abuzz on Friday with details of an October letter from the Northern California Conference President to his pastors about church regulations regarding membership of LGBT individuals, the real story was not in the policy details outlined in the letter, but in why the letter was written.

The letter reminded pastors that they could be disciplined for allowing members of the LGBT community to be baptized into church membership. Then the president illustrated his point with a specific story. “In 2016,” he wrote, “the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church accepted into membership a person who is in a same-sex marriage. The pastor did not perform the marriage or the baptism of this person. NCC administration met with the pastor and a disciplinary process was instituted. Other actions may be taken in the future, if deemed necessary. The person (a retired minister) who performed the baptism is not credentialed or licensed through the Northern California Conference.”

According to a reliable source in the Northern California Conference office, there is a group of church members from the Chico area who continue to be agitated by this baptism. While they are not members of the church where the baptism took place, they continue to pressure conference officials about it. During camp meeting this past summer, they asked to meet with the officers of the conference and demanded that the Chico pastor be fired, that the baptized member be removed from church membership, that the credentials be revoked of the pastor who performed the baptism, and that conference officials make a public statement in support of the Fundamental Beliefs in the Union paper.

With election for conference officers upcoming in 2018, there were also suggestions by the group that if their demands were not met, the officers would not be re-elected. Pastors of other churches in the conference also began asking the conference officials how they should respond to questions about the 2016 incident—thus, the President’s October letter.

In 2016, when the request for baptism came to the pastor, he placed the request before the elders of the Chico church and asked for their guidance. They prayed over the request for several months before informing the pastor that the important issue to them was to follow Jesus’ example and to be an inclusive church. After the pastor was told by the conference that he could not perform the baptism, the elders responded that they would take that responsibility. Within the Chico Church, the decision was made to proceed with the baptism and membership. So what has evolved is members from another church attempting to overrule the actions of a sister church.

As of this writing, the pastor has not been fired. The conference has scheduled a meeting with the Chico Church Board later this month.

The letter, written by NCC President James Pedersen, is below:


Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image Credit: Peter Hershey / Unsplash

If you respond to this article, please:

Make sure your comments are germane to the topic; be concise in your reply; demonstrate respect for people and ideas whether you agree or disagree with them; and limit yourself to one comment per article, unless the author of the article directly engages you in further conversation. Comments that meet these criteria are welcome on the Spectrum Website. Comments that fail to meet these criteria will be removed.

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.