Church Member Pens Open Letter Regarding His Non-Compliance

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Written by: 
Published:
November 28, 2018

To:     General Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists
          North American Division
          North Pacific Union Conference
          Oregon Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists
          Meadow Glade SDA Church

From: Douglas M. Palmer
Date: October 20, 2018
Re: My non-compliance with voted actions of the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM

It is my understanding that the October 2018 Annual Council of the General Conference votes were taken to approve five different committees whose role is to collect complaints, information, etc. regarding officers and entities of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who are not in compliance with the voted actions, policies, and beliefs of the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM and other official committees of the General Conference. It is further my understanding that these new committees are to refer non-compliant officers to the local level for a three-step process of 1) warning, 2) public reprimand, and 3) placed on removal for cause.

I am an officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and I wish to report my own non-compliance with the voted actions, policies, and beliefs of the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM and the other official committees of the General Conference. First, I am a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with membership at the Meadow Glade SDA Church. As a member, I have the right and duty to vote other members into local church office, approve budgets, approve the sale or purchase of church property. As a member of the Priesthood of Believers proclaimed by Martin Luther several centuries ago, I take this office seriously. But I also hold other offices.

I am a member of the Meadow Glade Seventh-day Adventist School Board. Furthermore, I am the chair of the Policy Subcommittee of the School Board. I have also recently been a vote constituent to the last several constituency meetings of the Oregon Conference and to the last constituency meeting of the NPUC. I am a voted member of the Rules Committee of the Oregon Conference. Finally, I am a member of the official Advisory Committee for Big Lake Youth Camp of the Oregon Conference. These are all official church offices, voted by my fellow Priesthood of Believers, which makes me an Officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Now that I have documented my status as an officer of the church, let me now document how my beliefs and future actions will not be in compliance with the GCC, GC, GC-ADCOM and other official committees of the General Conference. I believe that women should be ordained as ministers of the Gospel. I do not believe that our Heavenly Father intended to make any distinctions in office and that passages from Paul that purport to the contrary reflect his cultural views. As our Fundamental Belief No. 1 states, “The inspired authors spoke and wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” This means those passages by Paul were not dictated to Paul. He still used his own culture and language to express his God-given inspirations. My beliefs are not in conformity with voted actions.

Fundamental Belief No. 14 provides,

In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. (Emphasis added.)

My beliefs are in 100% compliance with this statement of unity.

I believe that it is solely up to the Unions to decide who they will or will not ordain. I do not believe in the legitimacy of any voted action by the GCC that purports to intrude on the long-standing role of Unions over ordination. I do not believe these voted actions are in conformity with Fundamental Belief No. 14.

My future actions as an officer of the church will also not be in conformity with these voted actions by the GC. I pledge that I will only support candidates for church office who will promise to uphold the power and role of unions to decide for themselves who will or will not be ordained. I will propose and vote to support changes in my organization’s constitution that prohibits it from discriminating, in any respect, on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, or gender in conformity with Fundamental Belief No. 14.

Returning to the progressive discipline identified by the recently voted GC Annual Council, you are welcome to ask the leaders of my local church, conference, union, or division to warn me about my non-compliance with voted actions. I tell you now that I will not heed their warnings. My conscience is my own and I will not surrender my beliefs. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters, the Devil doesn’t care what we believe, so long as we do not act on that belief. I will act on my belief.

That then leads to the next level of progressive discipline: public reprimand. Please instruct my local church, conference, union, and/or division to issue a public reprimand of me in one or more of their official publications or a dedicated page on its website. I suggest the following language:

We, the [insert name of organization here] hereby publicly reprimand Douglas M. Palmer of Battle Ground, Washington an officer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for supporting the role of Unions to determine for themselves whom to ordain, for believing that women should be ordained by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and promising to act in any of his official capacities in opposition to the voted actions of the General Conference.

I am breaking and will break both the letter and spirit of the recently voted actions. Therefore, it is important that you apply to me the punishment that also has been voted. I believe the voted action to be unjust, but as Martin Luther King Jr. correctly explained there is a way to determine if a law is just or unjust:

A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law, or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. —Letter from Birmingham Jail.

We will discover whether or not these voted actions uplift or degrade human personality. We will discover whether the application of your punishment uplifts or degrades human personality. We will discover whether excluding women from the sacred office of ordination uplifts or degrades human personality. I am not in conformity in my belief or actions with the GC’s voted actions. Punish me. Here I am Lord, your servant.

 

Douglas M. Palmer

 

cc:

Administration Committee, Meadow Glade SDA Church: 11001 NE 189th St, Battle Ground, WA 98604

Administration Committee, Oregon Conference of SDA: 19800 Oatfield Rd, Gladstone, OR 97027

Administration Committee, North Pacific Union Conference: 5709 N 20th St, Ridgefield, WA 98642

Administration Committee, North American Division: 9705 Patuxent Woods Drive, Columbia, MD 21046-1565

Administration Committee, General Conference: 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring Maryland 20904

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Editor’s Note: This letter has been shared with Spectrum readers with permission from the author.   

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash / SpectrumMagazine.org

 

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