Two new developments in the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s ongoing policy discussion were reported by Adventist News Network on Sept. 18.

Update to document being considered at Annual Council

The General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) voted an update to the document it released on July 17 (see original document), outlining a process by which various levels of church governance would deal with issues of policy non-compliance.

Among other changes, the updated version adds a timeline for entities perceived to be out of compliance to “provide evidence of compliance or a plan to achieve sustained compliance.” However, there’s an apparent contradiction in the revised document. In one place it states the entity would have 60 days to provide said evidence/plan, while in another it states a period of 30 days. We reached out to ANN for clarification and did not immediately receive a reply.

The report stated the updated document is subject to further refinement, including by the GC and Division officers (GCDO) before reaching the floor of the Annual Council next month, where it is still open for revision before a vote is called.

Clarification on Compliance Review Committees

ADCOM also released a statement clarifying that the “Compliance Review Committees” it recently established would report to ADCOM and not the GC Executive Committee as previously reported. In their statement, ADCOM said that because the compliance review committees will report to them, they are already in the process of deploying two of the committees: one dealing with finance and the other dealing with ordination. Here is ADCOM’s statement in full:

During a discussion of the General Conference Administrative Committee on Sept 18, 2018, it was recognized that a procedural oversight was inadvertently communicated, which stated that an in-house General Conference committee would be established by the General Conference Executive Committee, and that committee would report directly to the General Conference Executive Committee. In the normal course of establishing General Conference in-house operational Committees, those committees are established by and report back to the Administrative Committee of the General Conference. The General Conference Administrative Committee established and determined the terms of reference and membership of the five Compliance Review Committees. The Terms of Reference for the Compliance Review committees state that these committees carry-out their responsibilities and report their findings back to the General Conference Administrative Committee. The General Conference Administrative Committee will then consider the report and may recommend through normal processes actions to the General Conference Executive Committee. The General Conference Administrative Committee regrets any misunderstandings that may have resulted from this oversight since the ADCOM members understood, at the time of the voting, that it was a Committee appointed by and reporting to ADCOM.

During its regularly scheduled meeting on September 18, the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s General Conference (GC) Administrative Committee (ADCOM) voted to ask two of its newly created compliance review committees to look at some areas of perceived non-compliance.

In line with their terms of reference, the subcommittees will explore perceived areas of non-compliance and will report their findings and recommendations to the GC Administrative Committee.

According to the September 18 ADCOM action, the two areas to be considered by the subcommittees are briefly introduced below:

1.    It is vital for the Church to have an exemplary conduct in financial matters. It has come to the attention of the GC that some entities have had noted non-compliance to the same financial core policy (S 90) for several years. GC ADCOM has voted to request the General Conference Compliance Review Committee with General Conference Financial Core Policies – S 90 to exercise their Terms of Reference regarding entities that have exhibited a pattern of repeated non-compliance. The committee will use existing policies and structures to recommend to ADCOM how to lead these entities toward compliant behavior.

2. The 2015 General Conference has taken an action ‘to not allow division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.’ It has been brought to the attention of the General Conference Administrative Committee that some unions have not complied with this General Conference in session action. ADCOM voted to request the General Conference Compliance Review Committee with Doctrine, Policies Statements, and Guidelines for Church Organizations and Institutions Regarding Issues of Ordination to exercise their Terms of Reference exploring solutions and assessing the reaction of the church in relation to ordination policy and guidelines.

Today’s action was predicated with a season of prayer and was approved with unanimous support from the GC ADCOM.