WCAS Principles of Action #10

Kent Knight

Vol 3, No.2

Principle #10:  World Church Affirmation Sabbath emphasizes the Seventh-day Adventist representative form of church governance.  We are the Church.

WCAS consistently encourages faithful support of our world church by its members and each unit of the world church—local churches, conferences, unions, and the divisions of the General Conference.  All find their organizational unity in the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in which they have representation.  Through them the world church reaches out in the name of Christ to a lost world.

The need for organization is set forth as follows: 

“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization there would be great confusion, and the work would not be carried forward successfully.  To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying the work in new fields, for protecting both the churches and the ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for many other objects, organization was indispensable,”  (Testimonies to Ministers, p. 26).

We recommend chapter three, “Organization and Authority,” of the 2015 Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, for a fuller discussion of this topic, including Old and New Testament models and references. Here is the first paragraph:

“Church organization is based on God’s principles. 'Never allow anyone’s ideas to unsettle your faith in regard to the order and harmony which should exist in the church. . . . The God of heaven is a God of order, and He requires all His followers to have rules and regulations, and to preserve order,'” (Testimonies to the Church, Volume 5, p. 274).

Regarding Seventh-day Adventists’ representative form of governance, Ellen White wrote:

“Every member of the church has a voice in choosing officers of the church.  The church chooses the officers of the state conferences.  Delegates chosen by the state conferences choose the officers of the union conferences, and delegates chosen by the union conferences choose the officers of the General Conference.  By this arrangement every conference, every institution, every individual, either directly or through representatives, has a voice in the election of the men who bear the chief responsibilities in the General Conference,”  (Testimonies for the ChurchVolume 8, pp. 236-237).

J. David Newman's succinct statement from 1995 still applies today:

"The General Conference in its session every five years is the highest authorizing body of the church.  If we do not like what it votes, then we can work through legitimate channels of the church to change the decision.  But in the process we must obey what the session has voted.  What is the alternative?  Anarchy, disunity, conflict, and fragmentation.

“Part of the struggle of living in this sinful world is living with decisions we do not like.  While majorities must always be respectful of the minority, the minority cannot expect to have its way when the majority rules otherwise.  Either God is leading thischurch or not.  If He is, then we need to respect the decisions made by the church in its highest governing session," (Ministry, April 1995 p. 30).
Dr. Alberto Treiyer, retired professor of theology, Adventist Antillian College in Puerto Rico, and La Sierra University, 
gives the bottom line:

“One of the tenets of religious freedom is the freedom for religious organizations to maintain their unity, mission, and values.  The Seventh-day Adventist Church has a right to expect its adherents, who choose of their own free will to be members, to comply with the teachings and policies of the church family.”

World Church Affirmation Sabbath participants have every confidence that God will have His way with His church family. We are “prisoners of hope” and see the day when God’s workers will unite with one another; avoiding anything that tends to separate the members of Christ’s church. “True religion unites hearts not only with Christ, but with one another in a most tender union,” (Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, p. 145).