GEOFFREY MBWANA: I would like to request Lynn Ripley to lead us in a session of prayer.
LYNN RIPLEY: I would like to invite all of you for a prayer session. We will pray for two or three minutes, and then I will close with prayer. Shall we bow now by two or three? [Prayer.]
GEOFFREY MBWANA: I welcome you to the business session. Today we have Tami Boward as our recording secretary, Dr. Rosa Banks as our secretary, and Todd McFarland as our parliamentarian.
Before we proceed with the agenda of today, I have an announcement regarding the voting process. We are asking all delegates to bring their electronic voting devices, because, as earlier indicated, there will be another testing of the electronic equipment later this morning or early in the afternoon. Be sure to have the electronic voting device with you.
Please be informed that all official authorized materials for this session will be distributed here in the meeting hall. Materials distributed elsewhere are not official materials.
We have a point of order from Jeroen Tuinstra.
JEROEN TUINSTRA: I have a question regarding making a point of order.
Yesterday I tried to make a point of order because the question was called, and it was unclear whether there was a two-thirds majority vote. At the place where you scan in, I was handed a telephone to explain to someone behind the stage what my point of order was. And I had to argue with the person behind the stage in order to get the point of order through, yet voting went ahead.
There seems to be confusion. If I want to make a point of order, do I first have to call someone, justify that I want to make a point of order, and then also explain or argue with a person behind the stage in order to get my point of order through?
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The procedure is if you have a point of order, you would come to the station, scan your card there, and indicate to the person on the station that you have a point of order, and the chair will recognize you.
I’m sorry that there was that confusion, but we will proceed as I have indicated.
When the floor is open for discussion, at the appropriate time when you’re invited to speak, please go to one of the six microphones that are in the hall. Carry with you your badge, scan your badge with the person at the station on the microphone where you will be speaking. If you have a point of order, please so indicate to the person at the station that you have a point of order.
As you participate in the discussions, keep in mind that we have translations going on, so be as clear and loud as possible. Also, don’t speak too fast, so that we can allow some time for the translators to do the translation.
We still encourage you to be precise, brief. If the point you wish to make has been presented already, please yield your position or your time to somebody else so that we can facilitate the agenda rather faster.
This morning we will consider the
Church Manual items.
When the Nominating Committee is ready to render its report anytime during the session this morning, we will interrupt the discussions on the floor at that moment to receive the report.
With these remarks we are ready to proceed with the agenda for today. And I would like to invite at this moment Elder Armando Miranda to give us some preliminary information before we go into the agenda.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: You may recall at the beginning of this session we approved and appointed the standing
Church Manual Committee.
Some discussion and some of the recommendations that we are bringing to you, if considered appropriate, may be referred back to the
Church Manual Committee, if the majority so approve.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: After these remarks we are ready to tackle the agenda.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: I ask the secretary of the
Church Manual Committee to introduce the first item to be discussed.
HARALD WOLLAN: The first item is “Church Organization Today.” This is just a clarification between the
Church Manual and the Working Policy of the General Conference.
Church Manual applies this principle of representation to the operations of the local congregation. General Conference Working Policy addresses how this principle functions in the rest of denominational structure.”
I’d like to move this.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: It has been moved and seconded.
Any comments? Observations? Questions?
JAY GALLIMORE: I’m uncomfortable with this, because it separates out the
Working Policy of the General Conference from the Church Manual. The Church Manual covers far more than simply the local church. I would be a lot more comfortable with this if it said “The Working Policy, in harmony with the Church Manual.” The Working Policy is not subject to this body, and it’s this dichotomy that bothers me here.
I would like it to say “The
Working Policy in harmony and principle with the Church Manual.” I don’t know if you want a motion to refer that back to the Church Manual Committee.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: OK. Let’s see if we have another observation. If you’re not satisfied with that, we may take a motion.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: It is clear that the
Church Manual applies to the local church only.
We can just add the suggested recommendation; it seems to me that there is no problem with that.
HARALD WOLLAN: I can understand the concern that Elder Gallimore presents here. But I think the wording already takes this into account, because it talks about the principle of representation and the principle of how the
Church Manual generally speaks to the local church and the principle of using the Working Policy for the wider organization. When it talks about delegates going to a session, it deals with people coming from the local church, instructing them.
So I think we have the same principle, and one shouldn’t interfere with the other.
JAY GALLIMORE: I did note the principle, but it still creates the dichotomy. I appreciate the suggestion to put in something that is in harmony, and I would like to see that done.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: I would like to read from the
Church Manual, page 18, “Authority and Function of the Church Manual”: “The Church Manual has existed in its current form since 1932. It describes the operation and functions of local churches and their relationship to denominational structures in which they hold membership.”
Here is the description of the relationship with the different structures of the church.
JAY GALLIMORE: I think the
Church Manual chairperson was suggesting that he has no problem putting that “harmony” word in, however you want to put it. And I’d like to see that accomplished, because I think it will strengthen the meaning. We want harmony between the Working Policy and the Church Manual, and not dichotomy. There should be a harmony in principle.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: We will take note of that and have this item taken to the
Church Manual Committee and see how it comes back.
MARIO VELOSO: The motion to change the wording related to the representation on separating the
Church Manual just for the local church and the Working Policy for the rest of the organization poses difficulty whenever an interpretation will come in the future, and this dichotomy is really a problem for the church.
We have never had this before. We all understood the role of the
Working Policy. But reducing the Church Manual to only for the local church brings this situation that we have many links in the Church Manual to the entire church. How is that going to operate if we separate them?
There is also the problem that the Fundamental Beliefs are in the
Church Manual. And if this is only for the local church, what is going to happen with the handling of any changes in the future? Somebody may come up with the idea that this body has no authority. Somebody could try to change the Church Manual at the local level or at the church or at the conference, and then the authority is confused.
The way it reads as it is now is more clear. And I would like to support the concept of making it clear that both are interpreted in a way that they are in harmony and they are for the whole church. In the
Working Policy are items that make a link with the Church Manual, and that link we should not destroyed.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: I understand the concern the two speakers have expressed. But again, I would like to go back to the
Church Manual. On page 18 it says, “The Church Manual also expresses the church’s understanding of Christian life and church governance and discipline based on biblical principles and the authority of the duly assembled General Conference sessions.”
So it includes the authority of the church, even at this level, which is the highest authority for the church on earth.
MARIO VELOSO: I understand that, and it is quite clear. But this addition will create a confusion with that general concept. We would have internal contradictions in the
Church Manual, and any document with internal contradictions poses problems.
The second addition, which make a sharper separation, would prevail in any contention or discussion about the item.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: I will recognize a point of order from Roscoe Howard from the North American Division.
ROSCOE HOWARD: I’m concerned about the procedure that we’re taking. There needs to be a formal motion to refer this back to the committee if we’re going to vote on this. Only the body has the right to actually change the document, and so one individual cannot just say, I’d like to see this changed. The body has to make an actual motion, and this body has to vote whether or not we want to refer it back.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The chair will take note of that.
At this point, let me continue to register additional comments on the item, and then we’ll entertain a motion to refer back.
LOUIS TORRES: Since it is mentioned in the
Church Manual, then there’s no problem in mentioning it in this writing. Therefore, I move that it be referred back to insert the corrected language that would join both this wording with the Church Manual.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The chair recognizes the motion.
Is there a second?
There is a second.
All in favor to refer this idea back to the
Church Manual Committee, please indicate your favor by raising your card.
Opposed by the same sign.
The item carries. It will be referred back to the
Church Manual Committee.
HARALD WOLLAN: Item 402, Mr. Chairman, deals with when and how to deal with appeals. As the
Church Manual is written today, it indicates that an individual can appeal and continue to appeal every step of the organization until the General Conference session. In order for us to make sure that an item can be dealt with efficiently and without taking the attention of every organizational step, the suggestion that we bring to you is to bring this into harmony with the General Conference Working Policy.
So the changed wording you will find from line 24 to line 33. And it reads: “When differences arise in or between churches and conferences or institutions, it is proper to appeal to the next-higher organization not directly involved in the matter. The decision of the organization to which the matter was referred shall be final unless that organization itself chooses to refer the matter with comments and recommendation to the division or General Conference Executive Committee/General Conference session. During the interim between sessions, the General Conference Executive Committee at Annual Council shall constitute the body of final authority on all questions where a difference of viewpoints has been referred. Its decisions shall control on controverted points, but at the request of the division executive committee concerned, such a decision may be reviewed at a General Conference session.”
I’d like to move this.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: We are bringing this change to the
Church Manual to be similar to the Working Policy.
JIM HOWARD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have some concerns about this particular change to the
Church Manual. It appears that however it was put together, it was with a certain measure of confidence that there would never be a case where a conference or union conference or institution would do something different from what was voted by this body in session.
However, it perhaps was not reviewed by anyone who was a part of a church that was in a situation where they were within a conference or a union or institution, connected to an institution, where they did do something very contrary to what this body has agreed on, whether it’s in beliefs, practices, or policies.
This seems to take any ability of appeal away from an individual church that may be in a situation like that, where their local conference is actually doing something very contrary to what this world church body has voted. And there is nothing they can do about it, because at that point that conference or union can simply say, “We choose not to allow this to go to a higher level,” and there is then no level of appeal allowed.
Even in our governments, they understand there must be the ability, for a matter of fairness, for those at the lowest levels to be able to make that appeal all the way to the highest levels.
So I would strongly recommend that this be dropped altogether and that this be left as is, that this body simply vote no to this recommendation. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HENRY MONCUR: My concern is similar.
So if you will allow me, I would like to move that we refer this back to the
Church Manual Committee.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Brother Chairman, just to make the clarification that, in this case, we are not talking about the individuals. We are talking about the differences in or between churches and conferences or institutions. We are not talking about the right of the individuals.
HENRY MONCUR: Mr. Chairman, I understand that, and that’s why I’m saying, even if you have a church that appeals to a conference, and a conference somehow feels that they don’t want to carry it any further, that church is limited in how they can be able to have that matter resolved. And so, yes, I understand it’s not the individual, it’s the organization; but it still has the same challenge in terms of an organization being limited by what one other organization higher up may be able to do with their appeal.
And so I come back, Mr. Chairman, to the motion that we refer this matter back for the Committee.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Could we hold your motion a little until others have spoken and then we can take it up? Would that be OK with you?
HENRY MONCUR: Fair enough.
MBULELO NQUMSE: The first point I would like to get clarity on is whether this amendment has done away with an individual first making his or her appeal to the local church.
HARALD WOLLAN: Mr. Chairman, it is obvious that the individual’s first line of appeal should be the local church.
MBULELO NQUMSE: I note the fact that our manual does not prescribe time frames regarding the appeals. How long does an appeal lie in an appeal forum?
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Well, that does not speak to the motion on the floor, so I suggest that it be addressed through the normal protocol of addressing
Church Manual adjustments and changes.
EUGEN HARTWICH: I’m also concerned with this amendment. During the explanation it was said that it is important to bring the
Church Manual into harmony with the Working Policy. I understand that the Church Manual is higher in authority than the Working Policy, because the Church Manual can be amended only in this body, while the Working Policy can be amended also at the GC Executive Committee. So it would be better to bring the Working Policy in harmony with the Church Manual, not vice versa. And there should be always a possibility to appeal to the highest authority, which is the General Conference.
So when Ellen White says here in line 39, “But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered.”
I would encourage us to keep with what we have right now and not amend it.
LOUIS TORRES: I strongly encourage and support the motion, to take it back and to leave it as it is. If the change should be made, it should be made in harmony with the rights for people to appeal.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: We noted that.
PAUL RATSARA: What we need is a stronger policy to put us together. The way it is has been a great help for the church. I strongly advocate the fact that we need to refer this back and leave it the way it is. It has helped us, and we need it non-amended in the future.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: We recognize Neil Nedley from the General Conference.
NEIL NEDLEY: If we have a court system that, after making a decision, says that they will not allow an appeal, we are actually setting ourselves up for massive disunity. We should always have the ability to take it to the highest level.
I have two questions regarding why this change was recommended. First: Is the General Conference Executive Committee getting so many requests for appeal that they feel that they are being overwhelmed and thus cannot handle them?
Second: If they are being overwhelmed, the highest level has the authority to state, “We will not receive this appeal and consider it, but will allow the lower level’s decision to stand.” Just as our Supreme Court does in the United States.
HARALD WOLLAN: I will just briefly mention, Dr. Nedley, a short correction. There is an opportunity of appeal, but we are talking about bringing the appeal all the way through.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: We are basically aligning the
Church Manual with the policy. And we are not changing, just aligning, and not denying the right for the churches to appeal. The General Conference is not overwhelmed with the amount of appeals. This is not the reason we are bringing this to you.
This is a recommendation from one of the divisions to follow the regular procedures. We discussed that with the
Church Manual Committee.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Larry Boggess from the North American Division.
LARRY BOGGESS: I want to thank the GC body for making this material available to us before GC session time. I too am very concerned about what I see being recommended, and I would support its being sent back to the committee.
I’d like to call question on the motion that it be referred back.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The question has been called.
I announced that we would like to receive input before I receive a motion, and I see two other individuals on the microphone. So let me request the previous speaker to please bear with me as I take these two more comments, and then I will accept a motion to refer the matter back.
GERRY KARST: In the
Working Policy there is a conflict- and dispute-resolution policy that clearly outlines all the levels of appeal that an individual or an organization can be involved in. If this is being referred back, it may be useful to the committee to cross-reference the Working Policy, perhaps even make mention of it in the Church Manual. Some of the concerns that have been raised here are covered in that conflict and resolution policy.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Elder Israel Leito.
ISRAEL LEITO: We are not dealing here with individual appeals. That is clearly stated in the
Church Manual and in the Working Policy.
Here we are talking about differences of opinion between organizations, a church with a conference, and how to deal with that kind of thing. The wording here strengthens the appeal process by opening it wider. This can reach up to the General Conference in session when there are differences of opinion between organizations.
And the discussions that I’m hearing are referring back to the individual. If you read our manual and our policy careful, you will notice there is ample provision for individual appeals, not the regular church member that reaches only to the conference level, but employees, how to appeal up to the division level.
But when it comes to the organizational level, then it may even reach this point. And this is all that the
Church Manual Committee is trying to explain, amplify, and make it easier for organizational disputes to be resolved even at this level.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The chair had also recognized earlier that there were intentions to make a motion to refer this back. The chair would like to recognize that motion at this moment without necessarily going back to the microphone.
[The motion was seconded and voted.]
The motion carries, and so we’ll refer this back to the standing committee.
HARALD WOLLAN: The next item is number 403. And it is just to bring the harmony of the
Church Manual in the way we use the word “pastor.” In some places we use the word “minister” and in some the word “pastor.” We are suggesting to use the word “pastor” instead of “minister.” The suggestion we bring to you is instead of “licensed ministers,” use “licensed pastors.” And this goes through the whole page. The items where changes are suggested are underlined. I’d like to move that we use the word “pastor” in this particular document and throughout the Church Manual.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Yes. The motion has been seconded.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Just to be consistent with the terms that we use in the
Church Manual. On page 20 we define some of the terms we are using through the Church Manual, and the use of “pastor” or “minister” is one of those words. And in this regard, it says, on page 21, “Pastors referred to in this manual are those who have been appointed by the conference to oversee the affairs of the local church or district.” That’s the reason we are bringing this to you, just to be consistent.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Based on our experience in the previous item, the chair would like to advise that if, as you stand on the microphone, you see a number of others on the microphone and you wish to move the item to be referred back, you be sensitive to those who are on the microphone, delay your desire to have the item referred back, just to give a little time to others so that we can get more input.
MARIO VELOSO: Thank you, Brother Chairman. This change that we have here is much more than just changing the word “minister” to “pastor.” It actually changes the language, too. And the language is coming now as gender-inclusive reading, and eliminating entirely the phrase “to give men” be changed for “to give individuals.”
So there are two items. One is the change that, to me, it is a little bit too fast to do it. We have the item to be discussed on Wednesday, and we should wait until after Wednesday if we will go into the inclusive language or not. That is one item.
The other one, the pastors or ministers. If we read Ellen G. White, we find a clear difference between the office of minister and the gift of pastoring. So in making this change, we would somehow be a little bit awkward with that language of the Spirit of Prophecy. It would make us a little bit too close for any solution that we would need in regard to creating some other offices beside this senior minister of the church.
CLINTON WAHLEN: I agree with the concerns that have been expressed. I think the language, actually, that is present now in the
Church Manual is far clearer. I would recommend that if consistency is desired, we should make it consistent by retaining the word “minister” when referring to an office and “pastoring” when we refer to the gift of pastoring.
QEDUMUSA MATHONSI: I agree with the rest that let’s wait until we agree whether we want to be inclusive in language.
GERARD DAMSTEEGT: If you study the book of Ephesians, you’ll find that pastoring is a gift, teaching is a gift, apostleship is a gift, prophecy is a gift; but minister is an elective office right from the very beginning.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Brother Chairman, just a clarification.
At the GC session in 2010 we accepted and voted the terms to be used in the
Church Manual. The use of the word “pastors” has already been accepted and voted at the GC 2010 session.
ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ: The discussion on the ordination of women to the ministry or not should be left for Wednesday.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Daniel Jackson, North American Division.
DANIEL JACKSON: This item is not referencing women’s ordination at all. This item is a general statement about licensure that is extended to those who are being given the opportunity to expand the ministerial gift and to grow it.
By being inclusive here, we are recognizing the policies of the General Conference which provide for women to serve as pastors. There is no linkage to the discussion that will be undertaken on Wednesday regarding women’s ordination. We need to understand that very clearly.
That which will take place on Wednesday should not even be a discussion on women’s ordination, but rather that divisions be given the opportunity to review this matter and to either approve it or disapprove it, as is the need in their particular division.
The reality is that this discussion today really has nothing to do with anything other than licensure.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Samuel Davis, from the Trans-European Division.
SAMUEL DAVIS: Many of us delegates have female pastors who are working for us, and regardless of the vote on Wednesday, they will continue to work for us after this session concludes. We need to be gender-inclusive, and I welcome this amendment.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Elizabeth Talbot, North American Division.
ELIZABETH TALBOT: I remind the delegates that in 1985, 30 years ago, we voted on the fact that there could be licensed women pastors, and that is not on the floor at this time, and neither will it be on Wednesday.
Those of us who have been pastors, in my case for 15 years, have served within the General Conference-approved position of licensed commissioned pastors.
At this time, any discussion that takes us out of that position should not be taken by the chair, because it is not the discussion on the floor.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: I request that unless you have something different from what has already been mentioned, we would like to proceed after the last person on the list.
Mike Cauley, North American Division.
MIKE CAULEY: I would like to ask that our world church understand that we are a global south church today. North American, Europe, and Australia have very little representation in the decisions that are made. In the case of female pastors, please allow us to view these issues from our culture as well as others’ culture.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Next on our list is Ammaran Williams.
AMMARAN WILLIAMS: In the future as we deal with these items, we need a more vigorous explanation from the persons concerned, especially with background information about the rationale for these changes, so that it would avoid a lot of the discussion and we can move the process along.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Shirley Chang, North American Division.
SHIRLEY CHANG: In view of the previous discussions, in which I was going to be redundant, I’d like to move the previous question.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Is there a second to that?
LOUIS TORRES: This is a point of order. We have been requested not to make motions until everybody has had an opportunity to speak.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The motion does not allow for discussion. We will proceed to take a vote.
Let me make an appeal to the person who made the motion. Shirley, in honor of a commitment I made previously that I would like to honor, please allow me to entertain a motion I promised that I would entertain, which would possibly have the same effect, if you don’t mind.
SHIRLEY CHANG: Actually, I do mind, because I believe we are being redundant. But if this is what the chair wants to do, I will back off of it.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Thank you for your understanding. I have a few individuals in line, but the individuals in line will also help me because we don’t want to repeat; we want to move on.
LOUIS TORRES: Thank you. And I’m glad that you did honor the point of order, because you had requested no motions until everybody had the opportunity to speak.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: And I’m sorry for the slip that I made.
MARIO VELOSO: When I spoke before, I said that I would like to make a motion later on after the discussion. Would you allow that?
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Can I take the next person since yours was a point of order, and then I may come back?
MARIO VELOSO: Of course.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Microphone 6, Cecil Perry.
CECIL PERRY: The use of semantics has a way of coloring what we want to say.
In any language, the word “pastor” has a similar meaning from a biblical point of view. It is couched in a pastoral context of shepherding.
The word “minister” has to do also with service, whether it be by the deacons or whatever you may want to tag it.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Thank you very much. And please don’t applaud. It will help us facilitate the agendas more neutrally.
I recognize those who are already standing on the microphone. But because there is quite a bit of repetition, I would like to actually suggest that we entertain a motion.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: If a delegate wants to do that, the chair will accept it. We have a point of order from Israel Leito.
ISRAEL LEITO: We need to speak slower, because the translators are not coming through, and many of the non-English-speaking people are lost in translation.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: I encourage every delegate to take note of that so that everybody can benefit from these discussions.
ED GALAN: I love languages. And out of respect for all the languages that are present, I agree with Pastor Leito about slowing down.
One very crucial thing that I would appreciate would be to have a glossary in many of our documents like the
Church Manual. the Rules of Order, etc., with all of the acronyms and their explanation.
I would recommend that we include such a glossary because words evolve with changes in language. The inclusion of a glossary containing the uniform definition of the words “minister” and “pastor” would bring clarity to the issue. We all want unity. So a glossary with a uniformly accepted and agreed-upon definition for some of these terms would be so helpful.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: We’ll take that as advice.
NEIL NEDLEY: If we get rid of the word “ministers” in the
Church Manual, we can cancel Wednesday’s discussion altogether, because that is talking about ordaining ministers, which we no longer have in the Church Manual.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Again, in the
Church Manual approved in 2010 we find this statement under the subhead “Pastor and Minister.” “Most areas of the world church use ‘pastor’ to identify a member of the clergy, so that term is used in these pages rather than ‘minister,’ regardless of the responsibilities assigned by the local conference. Use of the term here is not intended to mandate the usage where the custom is to use ‘minister.’ Pastors referred to in this manual are those who have been appointed by the conference to oversee the affairs of the local church or district” [pp. 20, 21].
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Ray Roennfeldt.
RAY ROENNFELDT: I’m happy with the proposed change as to the
Church Manual. I just want to point out that the licenses and credentials that we actually give are called “ministerial licenses” and “ministerial credentials.” I’m wondering whether we’re going to change these terminologies and call them “pastoral licenses” and “pastoral credentials.”
HARALD WOLLAN: We are dealing only with the
Church Manual, not with the Working Policy. And the licensure that you’re talking about is mentioned in the Working Policy, so I can answer only for the Church Manual. And we wanted to bring it into harmony with the decision that was taken in 2010.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Doug Batchelor.
DOUG BATCHELOR: I also notice that the word “men” has been replaced by “pastors.”
There’s a big biblical difference between the gifts of the spirit and ordained offices.
I oppose these changes, and I recommend we send these items back to the committee at least until after our vote on Wednesday.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The chair would like to recognize if you want to make that as a motion.
DOUG BATCHELOR: That was intended to be a motion.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Moved and seconded that the item be referred back to the committee. [The motion to refer back was voted.]
HARALD WOLLAN: Number 404 deals with the question of who is allowed to speak in the church. And the issue in front of us deals with the fact that the current
Church Manual says that in order for a person to speak, that individual needs to have a credential.
Church Manual is written today, it indicates that for a person to be able to speak in a local church, he or she has to have a credential. The fact is that we do not have a system where all of the elders who normally speak on Sabbaths do not have credentials issued by the conference. And we would make sure that it is, according to the Church Manual, permitted for a local elder or a person who is respected to be able to speak in the church.
I read from line 24, “No one should be allowed to speak to any congregation unless he/she has been invited by the church in harmony with guidelines given by the conference.”
And then I read, “It is recognized, however, that there are times when congregations may be addressed by government officials or civil leaders; but all unauthorized persons shall not be given access to the pulpit.”
I’d like to move this.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: OK. On this item, we already have people on the microphone. And at this time I recognize Larry Boggess, microphone 2, North American Division.
LARRY BOGGESS: Knowing the times in which we live and knowing of how many people would like to be in our pulpits. I don’t like the word “invited,” and I don’t like that it’s left up to the local conference to decide.
EUGEN HARTWICH: In my last district there was a church board that wanted to invite pastors from other denominations to preach regularly on Sabbath in the church. And I opposed it, so there was a tension. And we referred it to the conference, and the conference said that because of the
Church Manual, it’s not possible to invite pastors from other denominations to speak and preach regularly on Sabbath to the congregation. So if we change this wording right now, you give the conferences the possibility to create different guidelines. And this will bring confusion to the world church. So my appeal to the congregation here is to leave it as it is.
ONALENNA BALAPI: In regard to the suggested change, particularly on the speakers that must speak in our churches, the idea doesn’t sound clear to me, because we have several segments of times during which we address the church or speak the church.
For example, you have the Sabbath school program, lesson study, the main service, and Bible study in the afternoon. At what segment of time should this person be authorized?
JIWAN MOON: During the General Conference session, for Sabbath worship I heard powerful preaching from a young girl. I believe she doesn’t have a credential or license, but I was most gracious that that young child was given a chance to speak to the congregation. So I’m speaking in support of the motion that the local churches be given an opportunity to invite them——of course, in consultation with the conference.
[The motion was seconded and voted.]
HARALD WOLLAN: Number 405. It deals with reasons for discipline. And in order to deal with the realities that we face and to have actually written backing for decisions taken in the church, we are suggesting rewording, restructuring, of the various points mentioned for reasons for discipline.
“Violation of the commandment of the law of God, which reads, ‘You shall not commit adultery’”——and we refer to Exodus and to Matthew——“as it relates to the marriage institution and the Christian home, biblical standards of moral conduct, and any act of sexual intimacy outside of a marriage relationship and/or non-consensual acts of sexual conduct within a marriage, whether those acts are legal or illegal. Such acts includes but are not limited to child sexual abuse, including abuse of the vulnerable. Marriage is defined as a public, lawfully binding, monogamous, heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman.”
Then we suggest the following: “The production, use, or distribution of pornography, and other sexual perversions.”
The next change is concerning: “Adherence to or taking part in a divisive or disloyal movement or organization.”
And I’d like to move these changes.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: We have a second.
JEROEN TUINSTRA: I would like to make this amendment to the motion as follows:
“Violation of the commandment of the law of God which reads ‘You shall not commit adultery’ as it relates to the marriage institution and the Christian home, biblical standards of moral conduct and any nonconsensual act of sexual conduct within or without a marriage, whether those acts are legal or illegal.”
ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ: I want to speak to the amendment.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: This is a point of order.
BOYCE MKHIZE: Is not this motion diametrically opposed to and fundamentally impairing our Fundamental Beliefs and doctrines? If such an amendment would violate that which is biblically authorized or sanctified, that motion should not be entertained. If a motion were to be approved here to change the day of worship, that motion would not be capable of standing. Therefore, the entertainment of a motion of this nature would impair that which we stand for. I submit that it is not capable of standing.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Given the parliamentary rules that we voted, every delegate has a right to that. The point you are making is not provided for in the parliamentary rules that we voted.
We can now move to the amendment.
ÁNGEL RODRÍGUEZ: The motion goes against fundamental belief 23, which defines what marriage is. Living together is considered today to be a redefinition of marriage. We have, based on the Bible, defined marriage as: “Marriage was divinely established in Eden and affirmed by Jesus to be a lifelong union between a man and a woman in loving companionship.”
I am not even sure that the motion should be entertained.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Jay Gallimore, North American Division.
JAY GALLIMORE: I’d like to second what Dr. Rodr
íguez just said. This should be voted down overwhelmingly and quickly. We›re not really going down this road. And if the chair would like to entertain it, I move the previous question.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: The chair will recognize that. Is there a second?
The vote that we are to take is to cease debate on the amendment, not the amendment itself.
[Motion was seconded and voted.]
There is a point of order. Julie Keymar.
JULIE KEYMAR: I have a request. If someone asks for an amendment, I think that out of respect for our brothers and sisters who don’t speak English, the amendment needs to be put into writing so we can all read it on the screen.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Good point of order. And we will try to do that.
Now we are voting on the amendment. We are back to the main motion.
LANTE THOMPSON: I do appreciate the effort of the committee to somehow summarize the issues here. But since this testimony will be used in local churches where people will want to argue the issues, I will humbly request that these specific words that have been omitted should be brought back as part of the
Church Manual, indicating fornication, promiscuity, incest, homosexual perversions.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Emmanuel Mwale.
EMMANUEL MWALE: The statement as it stands is very good because it includes a number of things that are difficult to explain to the members. But I wanted also a clarification on the part that talks about nonconsensual acts of sexual conduct within a marriage. Does this refer to spousal rape?
GEOFFREY MBWANA: John Bradshaw.
JOHN BRADSHAW: I am encouraged that my church has recognized the importance of this issue by writing a statement that is very comprehensive and very biblical. I would like to commend those who have submitted this to us for our consideration.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Luis Jerez.
LUIS JEREZ [translated]: I suggest that we keep the words “fornication, promiscuity, incest, homosexual practices.”
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Daniel Jackson, North American Division.
DANIEL JACKSON: I affirm this statement number 3. And I concur with what Elder Bradshaw said that the moral sands are shifting beneath us.
We read the last sentence on lines 22 and 23 “Marriage is defined as a public, lawfully binding, monogamous heterosexual relationship,” etc. I think at some point we are going to have to review this sentence. Even though it is identified on line 23 as heterosexual, in the United States and Canada there are now lawfully binding marriages that are not heterosexual. At some point consideration needs to be given to a redefinition of marriage to make sure that we work around what is lawful and what isn’t and keep it in harmony with the Word of God and with what the church has taught. I don’t think we should lose sight of this wording. The “lawfully binding” idea has changed in the past several years.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Would you like to make a recommendation to refer it back?
DANIEL JACKSON: I certainly would be happy to do that, if that’s in order.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: It will be in order.
DANIEL JACKSON: I move that we refer to the standing committee a consideration of the wording of the sentence on lines 22 and 23, with specific attention being made to the terminology “lawfully binding.”
GEOFFREY MBWANA: It’s been moved, and I see a second. The motion is to refer back.
ARMANDO MIRANDA: Can we just clarify this before you accept the motion?
Elder Jackson is right——the law is changing.
But there is something really clear here in line 23: the last section says “between one man and one woman.” It seems to me that it’s covered, because in some countries same-sex marriage is legal. We are defining here that marriage is only between one man and one woman. It seems to me it’s very clear.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Elder Jackson, would that cover your concern?
DANIEL JACKSON: I recognize that on line 23 it does cover it. My concern is whether there is better terminology than “lawfully binding”? My concern is that at some point in the future, there may be a question about what is lawfully binding even though it’s been spelled out.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: We have people who want to speak to the motion. Mario Veloso.
MARIO VELOSO: I would like to support Elder Jackson. He’s right on seeing a danger here. It is true that, later on, it is clearly said between one man and a woman. But the sentence “lawfully binding” stands by itself. If somebody would take us to court, this will play against us. The committee should look at it again.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: Stoy Proctor.
STOY PROCTOR: Mario made my point. I think we ought to consider taking the word “lawfully” out.
GEOFFREY MBWANA: On the motion to refer this back, we would like to take a vote on that. If you’re in favor of referring this back because of the concerns here stipulated, please indicate your favor by raising your card.
Opposed by the same sign.
The item will be referred back.
We have five minutes to the end of our session. And I take counsel from one of the delegates that we spend some time in prayer. Let’s spend some moments together again in groups of two where you are. Let’s call upon the Lord to continue to be with us as we transact the different businesses of the church here during this session, that we will again be guided by the Holy Spirit. And then when we finish praying in twos. James Hasu will close with a prayer.
[Closing prayer by James Hasu.]
GEOFFREY G. MBWANA,
ROSA T.BANKS, Secretary
NILTON D. AMORIM, GARY PATTERSON, and
Sixtieth General Conference Session
July 5, 2015, 9:30 a.m.
VOTED, To refer back, to the Church Manual Committee of the General Conference Session in San Antonio, the item “Church Organization Today -
Church Manual Amendment.”
VOTED, To refer back, to the Church Manual Committee of the General Conference Session in San Antonio, the item “General Conference the Highest Authority -
Church Manual Amendment.”
VOTED, To refer back, to the Church Manual Committee of the General Conference Session in San Antonio, the item “Licensed Ministers -
Church Manual Amendment.”
VOTED, To amend the
Church Manual, Chapter 4, Pastors and Other Church Employees, pages 35 and 36, Credentials and Licenses, to read as follows:
Credentials and Licenses
God’s work is to be jealously safeguarded by responsible leaders from the local church to the General Conference. Official credentials and licenses are issued to all authorized full-time Church employees and are granted by controlling committees for limited periods.
In a local conference, the committee confers authority upon individuals to represent the Church as pastors and gospel workers. This authority is represented by the granting of credentials and licenses, which are written commissions, properly dated and signed by the officers of the conference. The authority thus conveyed is not personal or inherent in the individual but is inherent in the granting body, which may recall the credentials for cause at any time. Credentials and licenses granted employees are not their personal property and must be returned when employment is terminated or at the request of the organization that issued them.
In order that enemies of the Church may not gain access to our pulpits, noNo one should be allowed to speak to any congregation unless he/she has been invited by the church in harmony with guidelines given by the conference. presents a current denominational credential or license. It is recognized, however, that there are times when congregations may be addressed by government officials or civic leaders; but all unauthorized persons should be excluded fromshall not be given access to the pulpit. (See pp. 114-116.)
Expired Credentials and Licenses—Credentials and licenses are granted - No change
Retired Employees—Retired employees deserve honor and consideration - No change
Former Pastors Without Credentials—Individuals previously ordained as - No change
VOTED, To cease debate on the amendment to the motion.
VOTED, To not amend the motion, Reasons for Discipline -
Church Manual Amendment, paragraph 3., to read as follows:
3. Violation of the commandment of the law of God, which reads, “You shall not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14, Matt. 5:28), as it relates to the marriage institution and the Christian home, biblical standards of moral conduct, and any act of non-consensual sexual conduct within or without a marriage, whether those acts are legal or illegal. Such acts include but are not limited to child sexual abuse, including abuse of the vulnerable. Marriage is defined as a public, lawfully binding, monogamous, heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman.
Violation of the seventh commandment of the law of God as it relates to the marriage institution, the Christian home, and biblical standards of moral conduct.
VOTED, To refer back, to the Church Manual Committee of the General Conference Session in San Antonio, the item “Reasons for Discipline -
Church Manual Amendment.”
Geoffrey G Mbwana, Chair
Rosa T Banks, Secretary
Myron A Iseminger, Actions Editor
Tamara K Boward, Recording Secretary