Upper Columbia Conference Asks Churches Not to Promote Lay-Organized “World Church Affirmation Sabbath”
May 7, 2017: Mark Weir, the ministerial director of the Upper Columbia Conference of the Adventist Church, sent out a message on May 4 specifically asking constituent churches not to promote a certain event organized by lay people.
The “World Church Affirmation Sabbath” is scheduled to take place on May 20. It has been promoted in the conference via a church bulletin insert and an accompanying website.
It will take place at Stateline SDA Church in Milton-Freewater, Oregon and Chewelah SDA Church in Chewelah, Washington.
It is advertised as “The FIRST conference-wide fellowship gathering organized by lay members of the SDA-UCC,” and promises “Biblical emphasis in support of the world church,” aimed at “Empowering lay members for decision making.”
The theme for the event is “FORWARD – with Yesterday in View.”
A variety of presenters are scheduled to present at the two churches. Presentation titles include “Dangers at the door,” “Truths we must share,” and “Non-unity to unity.”
In his message about the event, Weir said that he had learned of the event on Monday (May 1) and had not seen the bulletin insert until the following day.
“As of this time, Conference Administration is requesting that you do not distribute these flyers in your churches,” said Weir.
His reasoning for the request included the fact that the conference was not prone to promoting events that it did not sponsor.
Weir also cited that he had not been able to find anyone who could answer some specific questions he had about the event.
The “About” section of the event’s website states:
“Affirmation Sabbath originated in conversations that arose between members of the Upper Columbia Conference Lay-Advisory Committee in March 2016, in the context of disregard by some North American Division church leaders for the voted decisions of the 2015 General Conference in Session. The eventual result was Affirmation Sabbath.”
Larry Kirkpatrick, of the anti-women’s ordination website OrdinationTruth.com, is the pastor of Chewelah SDA Church, one of the event’s host sites.
OrdinationTruth campaigned actively against the ordination of women in the run-up to the San Antonio-based General Conference Session of the Adventist Church.
Delegates at the 2015 General Conference (GC) Session in San Antonio, Texas, voted not to permit the denomination’s world Divisions (continental regions) to decide for themselves whether or not to ordain women clergy, despite a report from the denomination’s Bible scholars stating there is no Scriptural prohibition.
The vote left in place the traditional church practice which does not include the ordination of female clergy. However, some units of the denomination have been ordaining female pastors for years and are likely to continue the practice.
Adventist Church executives disagree as to whether or not denominational policy actually prohibits ordination of women clergy. The San Antonio vote did not explicitly establish a policy because 1.) The GC Session is not the body that has the duty of policy-making for the denomination; and 2.) the vote was against a proposal, not a proactive adoption of a resolution or document.