Why Does WCAS Exist?

Belinda Lowry - Lay Advisory Committee Member Upper Columbia Conference

Vol. 2, No. 13

The question has been asked, “Why does World Church Affirmation Sabbath exist?”  That is a very good question and one that needs to be answered.  In order to answer this question, we need to go back to the events that lead up to the formation of World Church Affirmation Sabbath (WCAS).

In April of 2016, the regular Lay Advisory Counsel meeting was held on the tenth.  What was out of the ordinary was the fact that the mailed agenda was left blank.  Lay Advisory members typically receive the complete agenda ahead of time, with any needed materials pertinent to the topics planned for presentation.  During this meeting, then president, Paul Hoover shared with the counsel that the Executive Committee had voted a new Commissioned Minister Policy on March 29th.  While Elder Hoover took care to explain the implications of this change, which included ordaining women to pastoral roles, the reaction among the counsel was mixed with shock, disbelief, and even some elation.

The floor was then opened up for questions, one of the final being “If commissioned and ordained is just a matter of semantics, what is the difference of the two-regarding our policies?”  The answer given by Elder Hoover, “There is no difference.” He also said that we are in harmony with the working policy of the General Conference (GC) when this was questioned, because of the ordaining of women elders.

During the lunch break several individuals representing four different churches, talked about what had just taken place.  We could not believe the inappropriate act the Executive Committee had taken to make a policy that is not in harmony with the working policy of the GC.  We also were in utter awe of how pleased the president and secretary, Doug Johnson, were with the new policy.  All of us wondered what we could do; was there any recourse for this insubordinate action?

As this willful separation on the part of the Executive Committee pressed on the hearts of some of us, we were determined to find out what we could do to stop our conference from working independently, in opposition to the General Conference vote in 2015.  We learned that there is a safe guard for redress.  The method we followed was in accordance with the Constitution and Bylaws of the Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Article 7, Section 3 C, Which reads:  “Special sessions may be called by: … C. Petition at any time by fifteen (15) percent of the constituent church boards determined as of December 31 of the previous year.”

Once we clearly saw the proper protocol for addressing this error, we set to work right away.  A few of us from two different churches began contacting other churches in the Upper Columbia Conference and found that many had the same concerns as we did.  Therefore, an example petition was drafted and sent to the board of the concerned churches.  The petition requested that the new Commissioned Minister Policy be rescinded or that a special session be held to address the issue at hand.  After the conference received at least 11 board voted requests (other letters were still on the way in the mail), the Executive Committee voted to rescind the new policy and maintain the old.

While this seemed to be a victory in maintaining unity by staying in harmony with the working policy of the GC, it was only on paper.

Following the rescinding of the new Commissioned Minister Policy, the Lay Advisory Counsel met again on the 26th of February, 2017.  Paul Hoover once again spoke about the policy, the decision to rescind it, and the misunderstanding of the policy.  The President and Secretary had begun to meet with all the churches who had sent in letters of petition.  However, during those meetings Paul Hoover related this to a family quarrel caused by misunderstandings of one another.

Much discussion took place regarding this issue, including an update on the Annual Council meeting.  Elder Hoover stated that Annual Council was a “meeting to dialog and find a way forward.” He then proceeded to explain that ordaining has a Catholic background and that we are already out of harmony with the church manual in other ways-so the executive Committee decides.  He finally explained that the old policy allows conferences to ordain women anyhow, so we will move forward in commissioning them. In closing, he stated “If a congregation calls a woman as a pastor, we are completely in support of that.” Once again, several of us Lay Advisory members were baffled at what was happening.

During the meeting (with President Hoover and Secretary Johnson) held at my church, we discussed the debate of headship roles, wherein Elder Hoover stated there is no support for distinction.  The meeting was very cordial, but tension was apparent when Elder Hoover said he would not be here all night to continue this discussion.

As several of us were praying and meeting together to discuss the concerns regarding our church as a whole, we recognized a need to call the people back to the old paths, the paths that are plain and clear from the Scripture and Spirit of Prophecy.  We were painfully aware how this division was causing some confusion and anger among our church membership.  We concluded that only a return to primitive Godliness would resolve the Women’s Ordination and other damaging errors that have come into the church.  The issues that divide us are only a manifestation of the heart of the issue in the church.  We needed a way to move the people of God back to His Word and ways.

WCAS was formed by lay people from several churches out of their concern for the mission and wellbeing of their beloved church.  WCAS meetings have been taking place since May of 2017 with open invitation to all Seventh-day Adventists.  However, this has not been without great opposition from the very leaders who should rejoice that church members want to be more consecrated and active in a way that uplifts our work.

So why does WCAS exist?  To once again put our feet on the path clearly laid out for God’s Church.  To have the lay people take ownership of the mission given to Seventh-day Adventists.  At a WCAS event someone asked, if the vote at the GC had gone the other way-to allow Women’s Ordination, would WCAS even exist?  Unfortunately, that question was not answered by WCAS members themselves.  As a founding member of WCAS, I believe it would still have been formed, because Women’s Ordination is not the only issue causing division and hindering the work in our church.  WCAS is a call to unite, as the global church that we are, to bring about the commitment that will finish the work and draw our mission to completion.  Anyone, who is honestly wanting to know, can attend a WCAS meeting, sign-up for our newsletters and see for themselves what WCAS is doing and what it should accomplish.

All that I have shared with you in this article comes first hand from my experience in conjunction with other lay members.  May God continue to light the fire of revival among our lay people to finish the work in reaching souls before the soon coming of Christ.  Our leaders can not do it all by themselves.  It is God’s plan that each one has a calling to serve the Kingdom. Won’t you commit today to take up your cross and enter the mission of His church?