17 May 2018 | Adventist World announced that the General Conference’s Unity Oversight Committee has started the process of outlining the basic components of a compliance process due to be discussed in October at Annual Council 2018. Mike Ryan, chair of the group, characterized the most recent May 14 meeting of the group as positive and productive.

The committee is an element of the “Unity in Mission: Procedures in Church Reconciliation” process voted by the church’s General Conference (GC) Executive Committee during its 2016 Annual Council as it sought to find a way to ensure compliance by entities of the church that were ordaining women as ministers contrary to a controversial 2015 General Conference Session vote.

The vote denied permission for the Adventist denomination’s world divisions to determine whether to ordain women as pastors within their territories. GC leaders regard as noncompliant some union conferences, the organizational entities where ordination is usually approved, for either ordaining women or ceasing to ordain all pastors in harmony with the unions’ own constituency votes to pursue equality.

“Consensus is forming around a few points to be included in the outline,” said Ryan, “although it is still under development.” He added that “the dialogues with the world divisions and various unions have been very helpful and have guided the writing committee in its outline.”

Members of the committee have met with all but two world entities of the church. Conversations with the remaining two are planned for the next few weeks.

Ryan stressed that the document being crafted by the committee is in outline stage. It contains the following components:

There will be listing of consequences for non-compliance and a process of recourse.

The idea that the denomination operates on trust is stressed. The administrative level with closest proximity to the issue of non-compliance will be in charge of bringing the erring entity back in line.

The next higher administrative level gets the job of overview and is supposed to set the tone for the achievement of compliance and unity. 

Church leaders handling noncompliance are asked to use mature judgment and have at their disposal GC policies and guidelines to use as tools.

The GC Administrative Committee (ADCOM) will weigh in on the document before it is released. It will then head to the General Conference and Division Officers (GCDO) Committee and finally the GC Executive Committee at Annual Council in October of this year.

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