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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Metro New York Adventist Forum chapter and a celebration is being held September 8, 2018.

If Boston was the first Adventist Forum chapter to organize, New York was not far behind, so this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Metro New York Chapter and a celebration is being held September 8, 2018.

Initially, the key movers were Rick Meyer and Gail Kendall who had been involved in the moves towards founding the Boston Forum before they moved to New York as students at Columbia Law School. They brought the new concept of a forum chapter with them and shared it with other students and graduates that they met at the New York Center, an Adventist evangelistic outpost in Manhattan. Encouraged by their new friends, Rick and Gail launched what they initially called the New York Forum in the Fall of 1968. Meetings were held on some Sabbath afternoons in Earl Hall, the Religious Center at Columbia University.

Towards the end of the forum chapter’s first academic year Rick was asked by an Earl Hall official why their group was the only Christian group on campus not using St. Paul’s Chapel, a magnificent Romanesque structure with a famous five-manual Aeolian-Skinner organ. This suggestion came at a pertinent time, for Adventist authorities had recently put the New York Center on the market, having decided that it was a failure as an evangelistic center. Rick responded by forming what was originally named the Adventist Community at Columbia, which, beginning in September 1969, sponsored weekly Sabbath morning worship services in the Chapel. The Community was associated with the Forum chapter, which continued its quarterly meetings on Sabbath afternoons. The Sabbath morning meetings were designed in typical Adventist style with two segments: the first was a Sabbath School-styled study of a biblical book that the group had agreed upon, held in the crypt of the chapel; after that, for the second segment, attendees went upstairs to the sanctuary for their worship service. In this way the NY Forum became unique, the only chapter whose primary focus was weekly Sabbath worship and to use a university chapel.

The Chapel and its organ helped draw Adventist graduate students from New York City’s music conservatories also. These included Lonietta Thompson Cornwall, whose playing of the Aeolian-Skinner organ in the chapel was a highlight for many attendees. For others it was the high quality speakers that led out in discussions of significant issues.

The administrators of St. Paul’s Chapel took an interest in the group as one of the most faithful and well-attended student groups. Each semester they would provide a list of new Columbia students who had put their religion down as ‘SDA.’ Thus, a younger generation of students started joining the group.

Since the Community was meeting weekly, some suggested that it become an official church. The Greater New York Conference showed no interest in it as a church or branch Sabbath School. Flailing around for a solution, the group turned to Neal Wilson, then the Vice-President of the General Conference for North America who visited the Community for a Sabbath, and engaged in a long discussion with the members. He eventually urged the Community to remain independent as a group but friendly toward the church, representing it unofficially on campus.

In retrospect, this was the best possible result, for it gave the Community complete freedom to do what it felt it needed to do, and the acknowledged friendly relationship with the church opened the way for it to invite Adventist scholars and other speakers of interest to speak at its services.

Unexpected Tensions and Reshaping

It was about this time that two unexpected personal issues emerged that troubled the community. Disputes over racism and homosexuality split the congregation and some of the key founding members left, raising the question of the viability of the community. But no. Others proved equally determined to support the community. Much to my surprise, I was elected president of what at that time was known as “The Triumvirate” or “The Governing Body.” We dropped the distinction between Community and Forum meetings and, because a majority of our membership was no longer made up of Columbia University personnel, we changed our official name to The Metro New York Adventist Forum.

We worshipped at St. Paul’s Chapel for over 30 years, until the university upped the rent to $500 per week, a sum that was clearly beyond our ability to pay. Ed Samuel, our architect member, persuaded us that St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on W. 126 St. was the right choice for a new home, and it became our meeting place about 1999.

Conclusion

While I lived in New York for 44 years, 40 of them as Forum President, my community was the Forum and my closest friends were there. I often mused in wonder about the quality of the people who were members over the years. The Forum community proved a huge blessing to me personally, and I thank all the members who helped provide that blessing over many years.

Ronald Lawson’s PhD from the University of Queensland, Australia, is in both sociology and history. He taught at the City University of New York for 38 years. He now lives in Asheville, NC, where he initiated the formation of the Asheville Adventist Forum in 2016. He is making his many published articles on Adventism available on his website, www.RonaldLawson.net.

Image courtesy of the Metro NY Adventist Forum website.

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In this week’s news round-up, Atlantic Union College has completed its final program, Ghanaian pastor mourns five family members who perished in fire, Nigerian Adventists seek Sabbath recognition for voting and school exams, LLUH retools its public health PhD, and Jamaican Church develops youth membership programs.

In this week’s news round-up, Atlantic Union College has completed its final program, Ghanaian pastor mourns five family members who perished in fire, Nigerian Adventists seek Sabbath recognition for voting and school exams, LLUH retools its public health PhD, and Jamaican Church develops youth membership programs.

Atlantic Union College Closure Completed. Six months after announcing its plans to close, Atlantic Union College has completed its final program, marking the end of the 136-year-old college. AUC lost its degree-granting ability on June 30 when its five-year conditional approval for that authority from the state expired, according to the Department of Higher Education. Since then, Atlantic Union has been closing out its remaining certificate programs via a teach-out under the oversight of the Office of Private Occupational School Education in the state’s Division of Professional Licensure. Many students transferred to other institutions, including Andrews University. In addition, Ednor Davison, the communications director for the Atlantic Union Conference, which oversees the college, said the Atlantic Union Conference has been helping former employees at the college find new jobs elsewhere within the Seventh-day Adventist higher education network. Some have already secured new positions although she said not all laid-off staff have found new employment. Church and college leaders also have not made a decision regarding the college’s 135-acre campus. Davison said the Union is “in contact with several individuals and organizations that have expressed an interest in the facilities.” Orlando Pacheco, the town administrator for Lancaster, said the town is not among those that have been in talks with the college’s owners. From Telegram, “Closing Atlantic Union College wraps up final academic programs.

Ghana Pastor Buries His Family Who Perished in Their Home. The Dansoman District pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Ato Kessie, lost five members of his immediate family in last week’s fire at their residence. Kessie said he has been shattered by the death of his wife, three-week-old baby, four-year-old son, mother-in-law, and niece. From GhanaWeb, “'I’m empty' – SDA pastor breaks silence.

Nigerian SDA Church Seeks Sabbath Recognition for Voting and School Exams. Seventh-day Adventist Church, owners of Babcock and Clifford Universities, has alleged a disenfranchisement of 270,000 of its members during elections in Nigeria. This has happened due to the continued conduct of elections on Saturdays which is their day of worship. Speaking at a press conference, Freeman Dariya, President of the Northern Nigeria Union Conference of the Church in Abuja, stated that it was against the letters of the Bible and the religious liberty as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to conduct mandatory university entrance examinations on Saturdays. He said that many Adventist children had been deprived of admission into various universities by the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) for fixing the entrance examinations on Saturdays. He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Independent National Electoral Commission to adopt measures that would enable the members to vote during elections. Pastor Dariye was flanked at the briefing by some pastors and other church workers. He said, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a major Christian denomination with a significant presence in Nigeria.” From Vanguard, “2019 elections: SDA Church alleges disenfranchisement of over 250,000 members.

LLU Retools Public Health PhD, Emphasizing Plant-based Nutrition. Loma Linda University will become the first Southern California school to offer a doctoral program in plant-based nutrition when it launches its new PhD program this fall. The program will align with accreditation requirements set forth by the Council on Education for Public Health and will supplant the school’s existing Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) program. Students will focus on several areas of study including nutritional epidemiology, the impact of dietary choices on the environment, the effects of plant-based nutrition on disease prevention, and community nutrition. Students will also engage in clinical trials to determine the long-term effects of plant-based foods, particularly nuts and soy, on overall health. “The refocused curriculum and degree offering are part of the school’s new strategic direction,” program director Sujatha Rajaram, PhD said. From VegNews, “California university to offer PhD program in plant-based nutrition.”

Jamaican Church Develops Youth Mentorship Clubs to Inspire Christian Lifestyle. Some 35 adolescents were inducted into mentorship clubs at the Tent City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portmore, St. Catherine, Jamaica. The clubs, known as the Girls of Eloquence, Morals, and Standards (GEMS) and Brothers of Eloquence Morals, and Standards (BEAMS), seek to inspire young girls and boys to attain a higher level of spiritual, emotional, and moral standard and to be the best they can be in their Christian walk. Howard Grant, pastor of the Tent City SDA Church, commended the women's and men's ministries departments of the church for spearheading the initiative and underscored the timeliness of the launch of the program. "In an age where so many young people are being initiated in various activities such as gangs and secret societies, it is fundamental that the Seventh-day Adventist Church come up with this program so that we can keep the young people in the Church and at the same time prepare them for leadership in the Church," he said. Lorraine Vernal, Family, Women, Children and Adolescent Ministries Director of the Jamaica Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, urged the youths to be a beacon of light in their communities. "You are called upon to shine your light, and if you are going to talk about Jesus, you can't follow somebody who you do not know. You have to know Jesus for yourself," she said. From The Jamaica Gleaner, “Adventist Church Launches Mentorship Clubs.

Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Redlands, California.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Lo que comenzó como un único Comité de Supervisión de la Unidad en la Conferencia General se ha convertido en una red de cinco comités de revisión de cumplimiento cada uno con un tema diferente para supervisar. Los comités de revisión de cumplimiento se han creado para 1) políticas principales; 2) Creación / Orígenes; 3) Homosexualidad; 4) creencias distintivas; y 5) Ordenación.

Lo que comenzó como un único Comité de Supervisión de la Unidad en la Conferencia General se ha convertido en una red de cinco comités de revisión de cumplimiento cada uno con un tema diferente para supervisar. Los Comités de Revisión de Cumplimiento se han creado para 1) Políticas Básicas de la Conferencia General; 2) Doctrinas, Políticas, Declaraciones y Pautas para las Organizaciones E Instituciones de la Iglesia Enseñanza de la Creación / Orígenes; 3) Doctrinas, Políticas, Declaraciones y Pautas con respecto a la homosexualidad; 4) Creencias distintivas de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día; y 5) Doctrinas, Políticas, Declaraciones y Pautas con respecto a los Problemas de la Ordenación.

Los términos de referencia de los comités se votaron en julio en una reunión del Comité Administrativo de la Asociación General (ADCOM) al mismo tiempo que se aprobó el documento “Respeto y práctica de la sesión de la Conferencia General y las acciones 1 del Comité Ejecutivo de la Conferencia General”. colocado en la agenda del Concilio Anual en octubre. En agosto, ADCOM especificó los temas para los cinco comités que crearon y luego los llenó con los nombres de más de 40 empleados de GC que servirán en los comités. Si bien hay un par de laicos incluidos en los comités, no se incluyen pastores ni funcionarios de otros niveles de la iglesia, como presidentes de sindicatos o conferencias.

En las encuestas y conversaciones que el CG ha tenido el año pasado, se discutieron documentos y procedimientos. Pero esta nueva capa completa de comités de supervisión simplemente ha sido creada por ADCOM, sin revisión de entidades fuera de la Conferencia General. Y los comités se han establecido antes de que se haya aprobado el documento que sería la columna vertebral del trabajo de los comités.

Cada uno de los comités recibió ocho términos de referencia y poder de actuación similares. Los comités son para:

  1. Ser comprensivamente conocedor y aceptar como autoritario las creencias, políticas, declaraciones y lineamientos de la Conferencia General de los Adventistas del Séptimo Día oficialmente votados que guardan relación con el comité de asignación.
  2. Desarrolle y recomiende a los Lineamientos del Comité Ejecutivo de la Asociación General (GCC) que describan explícitamente la conducta y el comportamiento de los empleados de la denominación, así como también de las personas que representan a la Iglesia en relación con el comité de asignación.
  3. Examinar las entidades que no cumplen con los requisitos identificadas y recomendadas por el Comité Administrativo (ADCOM) de una conferencia y / o unión y / o división y / o Conferencia General.
  4. Asesorar y servir como un recurso para la (s) unidad (es) de organización que abordan problemas de incumplimiento.
  5. Periódicamente recibir informes de progreso del ADCOM de una conferencia y / o sindicato y / o división y / o Conferencia General desarrollando e implementando planes de cumplimiento e informes periódicos y planes a través del Comité Administrativo de la Conferencia General (ADCOM) y la Conferencia General y Oficiales de la División ( GCDO) y el Comité Ejecutivo de la Asociación General (GCC).
  6. El resumen del ejercicio, y con divisiones, trabaja con asuntos de incumplimiento específicos del comité pertinente que son principalmente el deber administrativo de los sindicatos.
  7. Después de evaluar los resultados de la implementación del documento “Consideraciones y prácticas de la sesión de la Conferencia General y las acciones del Comité Ejecutivo de la Asociación General”, recomendar al GCC a través de ADCOM y GCDO, el plan de cumplimiento votado de la (s) unidad (es) no o después de mucha oración y consideración, recomiende al GCC a través de ADCOM y GCDO, las consecuencias identificadas en el documento mencionado anteriormente.
  8. Procesar apelaciones recibidas de unidades no conformes que no concuerdan con las recomendaciones del Comité Administrativo apropiado.

Este sistema de revisión / judicial recién creado dentro del adventismo comenzó con el documento sobre “Consideración y práctica de la sesión de la Conferencia General y las acciones del Comité Ejecutivo de la Asociación General” que describe un sistema de amonestaciones públicas a los funcionarios de las entidades no consideradas de cumplimiento con acciones de GC Si bien inicialmente se espera que las organizaciones autoanotifiquen los problemas de incumplimiento, si no lo hacen, se convierte en responsabilidad de la próxima organización superior y pasa rápidamente a los Comités de Verificación de Cumplimiento de la Asociación General que pueden hacer recomendaciones disciplinarias. Este es también el comité que escucha cualquier apelación.

Con este nuevo sistema de comité de revisión, la Conferencia General se encarga de ser el cuerpo legislativo que establece las reglas y el cuerpo judicial que determina si las unidades administrativas de la iglesia y los empleados de la iglesia están “en cumplimiento”. Con una acción radical, saca todo el poder a la parte superior de la organización, cambiando así la naturaleza democrática actual de la organización de la iglesia, ignorando las políticas y los procedimientos ya establecidos.

Cuando el documento sobre “Respeto y práctica de la sesión de la Conferencia General y las acciones del Comité Ejecutivo de la Asociación General” se publicó en el sitio web oficial de la iglesia en julio, todos los comentaristas de la propuesta se opusieron a la acción. La primera persona en comentar dijo:

Este documento tiene una suposición inicial que debe ser verificada. El documento asume que nuestra iglesia tiene una estructura piramidal y jerárquica. Esta suposición está en abierta contradicción con la historia y el fundamento de nuestra iglesia. Aún más, esta fue la razón, los fundadores de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día se opusieron a organizar una denominación, como se puede verificar en cualquier libro de historia denominacional. Nuestra iglesia tiene un sistema representativo de gobierno. Para respetar ese principio, el único cuerpo que tiene la autoridad de votar un documento como este es la Sesión de la Conferencia General, no los funcionarios de la Conferencia General.

Si se acepta este documento, estamos aceptando una estructura jerárquica piramidal de facto. Llamo a los líderes a reconsiderar este procedimiento porque las consecuencias serán tan peligrosas para la iglesia.

La segunda persona en comentar escribió:

Los representantes en el consejo anual están allí para representar a sus miembros constituyentes, no a sus propias opiniones. Castigar a los líderes que hablan por sus constituyentes es un ataque directo a la estructura ascendente de nuestra iglesia [sic] y es un movimiento hacia la autoridad de arriba hacia abajo. Este documento es obra del hombre, no de Dios. Está en contra de los principios [sic] de las Escrituras y es el producto de aquellos que buscan el poder y el control. ¿Qué recomendaron los apóstoles cuando los gentiles tenían diferencias en el libro de los Hechos? ¿Cuándo Dios forzó alguna vez la conciencia de alguien? No entregaré mi conciencia a ningún edicto papal, ya sea en Roma o en Silver Spring.

En otros sitios web, los escritores han criticado el método propuesto para avergonzar a los funcionarios de las organizaciones que no cumplen y el uso de votos de mayoría simple para disciplinar a las entidades en lugar de un voto de dos tercios que es habitual para los temas controvertidos.

En octubre, el documento propuesto estará en la agenda del Consejo Anual del Comité Ejecutivo de la Conferencia General para su consideración, pero la estructura del comité ya ha sido aprobada. Las reuniones anuales del Consejo del Comité Ejecutivo de la Conferencia General en los últimos dos años han visto propuestas de los líderes de la Conferencia General para algún tipo de acción disciplinaria. Cada una de esas propuestas fue enviada a un comité, solo para ser reemplazada por algo nuevo y significativamente diferente. Esta creación de un sistema de comité de revisión antes de que se haya considerado el nuevo documento es una medida que aparentemente elude al propio Comité Ejecutivo de la Conferencia General. Ya sea que el documento sea aprobado o no, los comités de revisión están en su lugar y pueden comenzar a interpretar las políticas de la iglesia con o sin el documento que se ha propuesto. Y los empleados de las denominaciones, así como las instituciones pueden ser blanco de los comités.

Las personas nombradas para servir en los cinco comités son:

1. Comité de Verificación de Cumplimiento de la Conferencia General con las Políticas Principales de la Conferencia General
J. Raymond Wahlen, II, presidente
Daisy JF Orion, secretario
Guillermo E. Biaggi
Claude J. Richli
Dos miembros adicionales que se nombrarán
Invitados: Paul H Douglas, GCAS Asociado de la región bajo review
Asesor legal: Josue Pierre
Ex Officio: Ted NC Wilson, GT Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

2. Comité de Revisión del Cumplimiento del CG con Doctrina, Políticas, Declaraciones y Pautas para Organizaciones e Instituciones de la Iglesia Creación de Enseñanza / Orígenes
Artur A. Stele, presidente
James L. Gibson, secretario
Kwabena Donkor
Chantal Klingiel
Ronald Nalin
Suzanne Phillips
Karen J. Porter
Michael L. Ryan
Timothy G. Standish
John H. Thomas
Randall W. Younker
Asesor legal: Jennifer Woods
Ex-Officio: Ted NC Wilson, GT Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

3. Comité de Revisión del Cumplimiento del CG con Doctrina, Políticas, Declaraciones y Pautas para Organizaciones E Instituciones de la Iglesia en Materia de Homosexualidad
Artur A. Stele, presidente
Elias Brazil de Souza, secretaria
Lisa M. Beardsley-Hardy
Gary T. Blanchard
Peter N. Landless
Ekkehardt F.R. Mueller
Neil Nedley
Elaine Oliver
Willie Oliver
Kathryn Proffitt
Gerson P. Santos
Lori T. Yingling
Asesor legal: Thomas E. Wetmore
Ex officio: Ted N.C. Wilson, G.T. Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

4. Comité de Revisión de Cumplimiento de la Conferencia General con las Creencias Distintivas de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día para Organizaciones e Instituciones de la Iglesia
Elías Brasil de Souza, presidente
Clinton L. Wahlen, secretaria
Raquel Arrais
Mark A. Finley
Pavel Goia
Hensley M. Moorooven
Jerry N. Página
Heather-Dawn Pequeña
Ella S. Simmons
Brad Thorp
Alberto R. Timm
Asesor Legal: Todd R. McFarland
Ex-Officio: Ted NC Wilson, GT Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

5. Comité de Verificación de Cumplimiento de la Conferencia General con Doctrinas, Políticas, Declaraciones y Pautas para Organizaciones E Instituciones de la Iglesia en Asuntos de Ordenación
Guillermo E. Biaggi, presidente
Hensley M. Moorooven, secretario
Abner De los Santos
Mark A. Finley
Frank M. Hasel
Janet Página
Jerry N. Page
Michael L. Ryan
Galina Stele
Asesor legal: Karnik Doukmetzian
Ex-Officio: Ted NC Wilson, GT Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

Bonnie Dwyer es editora de Spectrum. Traducido al español por Kim Green.

Crédito de la imagen: ANN

Te invitamos a unirte a nuestra comunidad a través de la conversación comentando a continuación. Le pedimos que participe en un discurso cortés y respetuoso. Puede ver nuestra política completa de comentarios haciendo clic aquí.

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What began as a single Unity Oversight Committee at the General Conference has blossomed into a network of five compliance review committees each with a different topic to oversee. Compliance Review Committees have been created for 1) Core Policies; 2) Creation/Origins; 3) Homosexuality; 4) Distinctive Beliefs; and 5) Ordination.

What began as a single Unity Oversight Committee at the General Conference has blossomed into a network of five compliance review committees each with a different topic to oversee. Compliance Review Committees have been created for 1) General Conference Core Policies; 2) Doctrines, Policies, Statements, and Guidelines for Church Organizations and Institutions Teaching Creation/Origins; 3) Doctrines, Policies, Statements, and Guidelines Regarding Homosexuality; 4) Distinctive Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church; and 5) Doctrines, Policies, Statements and Guidelines Regarding Issues of Ordination.

The committees’ terms of reference were voted in July at a meeting of the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) at the same time that the document “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” was approved to be placed on the agenda for Annual Council in October. In August, ADCOM specified the topics for the five committees that they created and then populated them with the names of over 40 GC employees who will serve on the committees. While a couple of lay people are included on the committees, no pastors, or officials from other levels of the church such as union or conference presidents are included.

In the surveys and conversations that the GC has held in the past year, documents and procedures have been discussed. But this entire new layer of oversight committees has simply been created by ADCOM, without review from entities outside of the General Conference. And the committees have been established before the document that would be the backbone of the committees’ work has been approved.

Each of the committees was given eight similar terms of reference and power to act. The committees are to:

  1. Be comprehensively knowledgeable and accept as authoritative the existing officially voted beliefs, policies, statements, and guidelines of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists germane to the committee of assignment.
  2. Develop and recommend to the General Conference Executive Committee (GCC) Guidelines that explicitly describe the conduct and behavior of denominational employees as well as any individuals representing the Church germane to the committee of assignment.
  3. Examine non-compliant entities as identified and recommended by the Administrative Committee (ADCOM) of a conference and/or union and/or division and/or General Conference.
  4. Advise and serve as a resource for the organization unit(s) addressing issues of non-compliance.
  5. Periodically receive progress reports from the ADCOM of a conference and/or union and/or division and/or General Conference developing and implementing compliance plans and periodically report plans and progress through the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) and General Conference and Division Officers (GCDO) and the General Conference Executive Committee (GCC).
  6. Exercise overview, and with divisions, work with germane-committee-specific non-compliance issues that primarily are the administrative duty of unions.
  7. After evaluating the results of the implementation of the document “Regard for and Practices of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions”, recommend to the GCC through the ADCOM and GCDO, the voted compliance plan of the non-compliant unit(s) or after much prayer and consideration, recommend to the GCC through the ADCOM, and GCDO, consequences identified in the document named above.
  8. Process appeals received from non-compliant unit(s) which do not agree with the recommendations of the appropriate Administrative Committee.

This newly created review/judicial system within Adventism began with the document on “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” that outlines a system of public reprimands to be meted out on the officers of entities not deemed in compliance with GC actions. While initially organizations are expected to self-report issues of non-compliance, if they do not do so, it becomes the responsibility of the next higher organization and quickly moves to the General Conference Compliance Review Committees which may make discipline recommendations. This is also the committee that hears any appeals.

With this new review committee system, the General Conference tasks itself with being both the legislative body that makes the rules and the judicial body that determines whether church administrative units and church employees are “in compliance.” With one sweeping action, it pulls all power to the top of the organization, thereby changing the current democratic nature of the church organization, ignoring the policies and procedures already in place.

When the document on “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” was released on the official church website in July, all of the commenters to the proposal were opposed to the action. The first person to comment said:

This document has an initial assumption that needs to be verified. The document assumes that our church has a pyramidal, hierarchical structure. This assumption is in an open contradiction with the history and foundation of our church. Even more, this was the reason, the founders of the Seventh Day Adventist Church were so opposed to organize a denomination, as you can verify in any denominational history book. Our church has a representative system of governing. To respect that principle the only corps that have the authority to vote a document like this is the General Conference Session, not the officials of the General Conference.

If this document is accepted, we are accepting a pyramidal hierarchical structure de facto. I call to the leaders to reconsider this procedure because the consequences will be so dangerous for the church.

The second person to comment wrote:

Representatives at the annual council are there to represent their constituent members, not their own opinions. Punishing leaders who speak for their constituents is a direct attack on our churches[sic] bottom-up structure and is a move to top down authority. This document is man’s doing, not God’s. It is against the principals[sic] of Scripture and is the product of those who seek power and control. What did the Apostles recommend when the Gentiles had differences in the book of Acts? When did God ever force the conscience of anyone? I will not surrender my conscience to any Papal edict, whether it is in Rome or Silver Spring.

On other websites, writers have criticized the proposed method for shaming officers of non-compliant organizations and its use of simple majority votes for disciplining entities rather than a two-thirds vote that is usual for controversial issues.

In October, the proposed document will be on the Annual Council agenda of the General Conference Executive Committee for consideration, but the committee structure is already voted into place. Annual Council meetings of the General Conference Executive Committee for the past two years have seen proposals from the General Conference leadership for some kind of disciplinary action. Each of those proposals were sent back to committee, only to be replaced by something new and significantly different. This creation of a review committee system before the new document has been considered is a move that seemingly circumvents the General Conference Executive Committee itself. Whether or not the document is approved, the review committees are in place and can begin interpreting church policies with or without the document that has been proposed. And denominational employees as well as institutions can be targeted by the committees.

The individuals named to serve on the five committees are:

1. General Conference Compliance Review Committee with General Conference Core Policies
J. Raymond Wahlen, II, chair
Daisy J. F. Orion, secretary
Guillermo E. Biaggi
Claude J. Richli
Two additional members to be named
Invitees: Paul H Douglas, GCAS Associate from region under review
Legal Advisor: Josue Pierre
Ex Officio: Ted N.C. Wilson, G.T. Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

2. GC Compliance Review Committee with Doctrine, Policies, Statements & Guidelines for Church Organizations and Institutions Teaching Creation/Origins
Artur A. Stele, chair
James L. Gibson, secretary
Kwabena Donkor
Chantal Klingiel
Ronald Nalin
Suzanne Phillips
Karen J. Porter
Michael L. Ryan
Timothy G. Standish
John H. Thomas
Randall W. Younker
Legal Advisor: Jennifer Woods
Ex-Officio: Ted N.C. Wilson, G.T. Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

3. GC Compliance Review Committee with Doctrine, Policies, Statements and Guidelines for Church Organizations and Institutions Regarding Homosexuality
Artur A. Stele, chair
Elias Brazil de Souza, secretary
Lisa M. Beardsley-Hardy
Gary T. Blanchard
Peter N. Landless
Ekkehardt F.R. Mueller
Neil Nedley
Elaine Oliver
Willie Oliver
Kathryn Proffitt
Gerson P. Santos
Lori T. Yingling
Legal Advisor: Thomas E. Wetmore
Ex Officio: Ted N.C. Wilson, G.T. Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

4. General Conference Compliance Review Committee with the Distinctive Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for Church Organizations and Institutions
Elias Brasil de Souza, chair
Clinton L. Wahlen, secretary
Raquel Arrais
Mark A. Finley
Pavel Goia
Hensley M. Moorooven
Jerry N. Page
Heather-Dawn Small
Ella S. Simmons
Brad Thorp
Alberto R. Timm
Legal Advisor: Todd R. McFarland
Ex-Officio: Ted N.C. Wilson, G.T. Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

5. General Conference Compliance Review Committee with Doctrines, Policies, Statements and Guidelines for Church Organizations and Institutions Regarding Issues of Ordination
Guillermo E. Biaggi, chair
Hensley M. Moorooven, secretary
Abner De los Santos
Mark A. Finley
Frank M. Hasel
Janet Page
Jerry N. Page
Michael L. Ryan
Galina Stele
Legal Advisor: Karnik Doukmetzian
Ex-Officio: Ted N.C. Wilson, G.T. Ng, Juan R. Prestol-Puesan

Bonnie Dwyer is editor of Spectrum.

Image credit: ANN

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Maranatha Volunteers International’s annual mission trip for high-school teenagers, Ultimate Workout, recently finished its 28th generation in Bolivia. A total of 167 teens and adults served at four locations in the Entre Ríos area from July 18-30. Every day, volunteer teams spread out to four different sites, each almost an hour away.

Maranatha Volunteers International’s annual mission trip for high-school teenagers, Ultimate Workout, recently finished its 28th generation in Bolivia. A total of 167 teens and adults served at four locations in the Entre Ríos area from July 18-30. Every day, volunteer teams spread out to four different sites, each almost an hour away.

In Entre Ríos, volunteers laid block and excavated for new buildings at the Entre Ríos Adventist School. They also conducted a Vacation Bible School (VBS) children’s program at the Belen Seventh-day Adventist Church.

At the Río Blanco Seventh-day Adventist Church, volunteers painted, constructed a property retaining wall, facilitated VBS for local children, and participated in community outreach. In Manco Copak, volunteers led VBS and conducted community outreach. Throughout the trip, the medical team rotated through each site, providing health screenings, dental care, and reading glasses to over 550 patients.

Beyond daily service projects, teens were challenged to pursue a deeper connection to God. Pastor Brandon Westgate was tasked with the spiritual leadership of almost 100 teenagers. “Leading a trip with that many teens is energizing for me,” says Westgate. “I can see the talents and passion they possess, and it is fun for me to help them discover how to channel that.”

Adult staff also helped create an environment of mentorship and spiritual growth. Dina Ramirez has been on three Ultimate Workout trips and has a passion for working with teenagers. “I want to see them grow spiritually and be a mentor,” says Ramirez. “I saw them grow spiritually through the course of the trip when they would read their Bibles, even when it wasn’t worship time.”

Participants pointed to the final Thursday evening as the spiritual climax of the trip. “Pastor Brandon made an altar call for baptism and teens started going forward,” recalls lead trip organizer, International Volunteer Manager, Rebekah Shephard. “We were done with worship at that point. But we didn’t stop. Our music leader continued to play music and for another 45 minutes we just sang as people came forward, supported the ones who had made their decisions or sat with each other singing. I stood in the back thinking to myself, ‘This is why I do Ultimate Workout. We were successful — people met Jesus.’”

In all, 18 youth were baptized, and it was clear teens were taking ownership of their faith. “People were recognizing this was their belief and not anyone else’s,” explains teen Elyssa Proulx, a three-time Ultimate Workout veteran. “Being away from home, being in a new environment, you’re making your own decisions. Instead of being influenced by others, you’re deciding things for yourself.”

As the volunteers left Bolivia, they found they had not only impacted those they served, but were changed themselves. “This year I saw how God orchestrates the best things for us even before we know we need them,” says Shephard. “Even though this trip is all about the teens, it continues to impact me each and every year.”  

“I would highly recommend teens go on an Ultimate Workout mission trip, because it’s an experience like none other,” says Ramirez. “They grow closer to God, experience the joy of serving others, and have bonding experiences that create life-long friendships.”

Ultimate Workout is an annual mission trip designed for high school teenagers. More than 3,800 volunteers have participated since 1990. Each project allows teenagers to experience construction service, community outreach, and spiritual engagement.

This article was written by Dustin Comm and originally appeared on the Maranatha Volunteers International website. Image courtesy of Maranatha.

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