What’s What and Who’s Who, Part I: Adventist Church Affirms ADCOM’s Authority
- Church says GC ADCOM can release statements which give “general counsel to World Church entities as requested” with, notably, “the power to act.”
- Statements warns that potential results of challenging the church’s authority could be people leaving the Church, organizing independent worship groups, or creating off-shoot movements that would view the Church in apostasy.
- Statement comes in the wake of recent sermon by Adventist Frontier Missions President Conrad Vine that challenged the legitimacy of immunization statements by the Church.
26 January 2022 | The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Communication Department released a statement today titled, Concerns Regarding COVID-19, Church Governance, and Liberty of Conscience. In particular, it addressed challenges to the right of the General Conference Administrative Committee (GC ADCOM) to speak on behalf of the Church.
“These critical statements have the potential to undermine Church authority, create confusion, and lead to fragmentation,” according to the statement.
While the statement did not mention the names of people challenging ADCOM’s authority, a recent YouTube sermon by Adventist Frontier Missions President Conrad Vine titled, “An Appeal to the Adventist Nobility,” does dispute it. The sermon has been generating buzz in Adventist circles. At the time of publishing, the video had more than 60,000 views.
In the sermon, Vine said the denomination’s 2015 position statement on immunization and the 2021 reaffirmation statement of the church’s position on immunizations should be retracted because they were released by a small circle of church bureaucrats that allegedly exceeded the mandate given to them by ordinary church members, reported David Hamstra in a commentary piece.
That 2015 Immunization statement was issued by the GC ADCOM. The GC ADCOM is a committee of approximately 58 (46 members and 12 invitees) top church administrators. GC ADCOM members are determined by the GC Executive Committee, a larger committee of 474 members from around the world that includes denominational leaders, denominational employees and laymembers. The Executive Committee is the church’s highest governing organization outside of the General Conference in Session.
The GC ADCOM generally meets weekly at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to oversee a number of items related to the church and its operation. Notably, it was the organization that oversaw the unpopular and now defunct Compliance Committees.
In his sermon, Vine said the role of the GC ADCOM is to deal with the “day-to-day administrative trivia” of the Adventist headquarters, like installing new security systems on doors.
However, the church statement said that “to reduce the GC ADCOM’s authority to merely minor items is to undermine the authority of every ADCOM on the local conference, union, and division level. To erode confidence in the organizational structure of the church is an extremely serious matter.”
Vine also said that “ADCOM only acts in areas where it has delegated authority. It does not have the right to make theological statements that affect every Adventist worldwide.”
According to the Church’s statement, the Executive Committee gives specific authority to the GC ADCOM, which includes “releasing Statements, Guidelines, and other Documents on behalf of the Church.”
The church’s defense of ADCOM follows Hamstra’s reasoning that GC ADCOM has the authority to “give general counsel to World Church entities as requested” with, notably, “the power to act.”
The statement also included criticism of its own for those who challenge church authority, using a passage from Ellen White that said, “When men arise, claiming to have a message from God, but instead of warring against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, they form a hollow square, and turn the weapons of warfare against the church militant, be afraid of them. They do not bear the divine credentials. God has not given them any such burden of labor” (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 22).
The statement warned that the consequence of these unfounded challenges to legitimate church authority might lead to “an erosion of confidence that could result in people leaving the Church, organizing a movement of independent worship groups, or creating off-shoot movements that would view the Church in apostasy.”
(Photo: The Adventist Church released a statement upholding the authority of the GC ADCOM to speak on behalf of the church on Jan. 26, 2022.)