Many of you are aware that there have been challenging issues facing our world church.

At the North American Division (NAD) Year-End meetings on Nov. 1-6, 2018, numerous statements were made against an action that was recently voted by the General Conference Annual Council (GCAC). On Monday night, Nov. 5, our NAD president spoke against the GCAC action for 18 minutes. It was a speech that resulted in several standing ovations by many who were in favor, but was viewed as a tirade by others who watched it by livestream.

On Wednesday, Nov. 7, the NAD published the “North American Response to the GC Annual Council Vote.” This was emailed from NAD Newspoints, a weekly email newsletter. In this email it was stated, “We are compelled to reject the spirit and direction of this document voted at the 2018 Annual Council.” It’s hard to miss the irony of this at this when our current Sabbath School Bible Study Guide is all about seeking church unity.

What is the regular church member to do? Why is there such disunity at this time? To understand the issue a little bit of history is needed.

1970’s to 2000’s

Many years ago, there was a push for women to be ministers. Very slowly that began to happen; first as associates in pastoral care on the staffs of large college/university churches. Voices spoke out for women to be ordained just as men were. However, church policy did not allow for this.

At the General Conference (GC) Session in Indianapolis in 1990 ordaining women to the gospel ministry was not approved. A much greater effort was made at the GC Session in Utrech in 1995. There, a NAD request was put on the agenda to determine if World Church Divisions could decide for themselves to ordain women or not. This was voted down by an enormous margin. Right after that, the Sligo Church in Maryland, and the La Sierra and Loma Linda churches in Southern California went ahead and ordained some of their female associate pastors for local service only.

In the 2000’s it was reported that at several NAD Year-End meetings it was voted to ordain women as ministers, but were told the vote was invalid for being out of harmony with GC policy. Since a Division is part of the GC they couldn’t vote against their own policy.


In 2010 following the election of a new NAD president, a new strategy emerged. Since union conferences was the place for the approval of individual ordinations, and the GC didn’t have direct administrative jurisdiction, it was viewed that ordination of women as ministers could just be done anyway. The Columbia and Pacific Unions voted to proceed with ordination of women pastors. Some conferences in those unions voted to follow suit. The NAD, which had administrative jurisdiction, made no effort to oppose these entities that were within their territory.


In 2015, the matter went back to a GC Session, this time in San Antonio, where it was voted again that Division territories could not follow their own course on the question of ordaining women pastors. Neither the Pacific or the Columbia Union’s, nor their complicit conferences (Southeast California, Southern California, Northern California, Potomac, and Ohio) were willing to comply with the GC vote. They instead argued that unions had the sole right to make ordination decisions regardless of GC policy.

Ordinations of women pastors were continuing to take place. As a result, an effort was made at the 2017 GCAC to bring about compliance of these non-compliant entities, but the proposal was viewed as too strong so it was voted down.


At the GCAC of October, 2018, it was voted to set up “Compliance Committees” to review issues of non-compliance submitted by the relevant conference/union/division Administrative Committees and make recommendations to the AC to bring out of compliance entities of the church into compliance with GC policy and with the 2015 GC Session action.

Several European leaders joined scores of North American leaders at this meeting in speaking against having these compliance committees. Ultimately, the vote didn’t go their way. The compliance committees are only advisory and have no power, but the vote still stands as an official disapproval.

So, when the NAD Year-End meetings took place at the beginning of November of this year, the NAD took action to officially reject the AC action. All the discussions at the AC and the NAD Year-End meeting were live streamed. Click here if you would like to watch our Division president’s 18-minute speech. You can decide if a standing ovation is a fitting response or if it is a tirade.

How Should We Respond?

It seems that the NAD has crossed the “Rubicon” and that this will likely have an effect on all of us in North America. So, what can we do?

1) First of all, we must guard against both an overreaction or sticking our heads in the sand not wanting or caring to know what is really going on. The church has never been perfect. It has always been faulty, but God has used it anyway. The parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13 makes it clear that there will be problems in God’s church. “We should remember that the church, enfeebled and defective though it may be, is the only object on earth on which Christ bestows His supreme regard” (The Remnant Church, 54). God uses all of us in spite of ourselves, but there are some who are actually working at cross purposes with God. While we should be very concerned, we should not be shaken and allow our faith to crumble as though God has abandoned His church.

2) Second, none of this has caught God by surprise. “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good” Proverbs 15:3. He is still on His throne. “I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do my pleasure” Isaiah 46:9-10. He’s still the sovereign LORD of the universe. However, it does appear that He is letting this play out for reasons that are bigger than we can fully grasp. But, we must always remember that no matter how bad it looks, God is still has the whole world in His hands. God says, “My hand is upon the wheel, and I will not allow men to control My work for these last days. My hand is turning the wheel, and my providence will continue to work out the divine plan, irrespective of human inventions….In the great closing work we shall meet with perplexities that we know not how to deal with, but let us not forget that the three great powers of heaven are working, that the divine hand is on the wheel, and that God will bring His purposes to pass” (MS 118, 1902).

3) Third, defects in the church do not prevent us from our own experience with God as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus. It is true that God’s church “is the church militant, not the church triumphant” (Testimonies to Ministers, 52). That is, it has both wheat and tares until the harvest. We can and must prove faithful on an individual basis because, “The work is soon to close. The members of the church militant who have proved faithful will become the church triumphant” (Evangelism, 707). Be very careful not to focus on the negative. With such a glorious ending before us, we have every reason to be positive.

What’s Next?

We do wonder how God will allow these things to play out in the near future. What will AC do in 2019? What will happen at the 2020 GC Session? How will these things affect us here in the Northern California Conference and at the Sacramento Central Church? Can we mostly ignore these things and just take care of our ministries and mission here in Sacramento? These are things that call for serious prayer.

Do you have questions? Feel free to email them in. Let us know how we can help. Obviously, discussions may be helpful. Ultimately, we must always remember that it is our connection with Jesus that matters most.

Your Pastors at Central




Discipleship University

Join us on Sabbath, November 17 @ 2 PM in Central's Camellia Room as we continue to study the gospels together, along with the combined reading of The Desire of Ages and Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing. Recordings can be found here.


Every Heart: A Christmas Concert

Central Music Ministry invites you to
their annual concert on December 8 at 7 PM. Join us as we prepare a
place for Christ through carols and more. From our hearts to yours. Doors open at 6:15 PM. All are welcome!


Why a Manger?

Have you ever wondered why a manger? What purpose did this fulfill? Take time to ponder these thoughts this Christmas season by joining Fountainview Academy Orchestra & Singers on December 15th here at Central from 4pm. 


Click on the Calendar to find out what else is happening at Central this month - from Sabbath speakers, to events, plus much, much more!



Watch Us Television!

Watch Receiving The Word on Sacramento Faith TV (www.sacramentofaithtv.org), It Is Written TV (www.itiswritten.tv), and Firstlight Broadcasting (www.firstlight.org.nz). Please let your friends know!




Project Paradise

The Camp Fire in Northern California is the state’s most destructive blaze in recent history. We are saddened by the loss of many lives and the number of people still unaccounted for. Tragically, the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church burned down, and many Adventists, including pastors, are among those left homeless. Your immediate help is needed. Please bring gift cards (Walmart, Target, Winco, Raleys, Trader Joes, etc.) to the church (drop in mail slot after hours) or mail them to 6045 Camellia Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95819. You can also directly donate to Project Paradise where all proceeds will go toward helping those displaced by the fires. Thank you for giving generously!


Response to "Even at the Door"

Recently, a well-known Adventist missionary released a video presentation entitled, "Even at the Door" which attempts to set dates for important prophetic events the Bible outlines prior to the return of Jesus. This presentation by David Gates has stirred up no small controversy in the Adventist Church, even warranting responses from supporting ministries of the church. David asserts that 3 1/2 years of persecution will begin in March 2019, among other things. Many, in their sincere desire to see Jesus come soon, are buying into the rationale being presented, perhaps without carefully weighing the veracity of the claims by the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. Please take a moment to prayerfully review this timely response by Mark Finley who addresses the issues David Gates raises. And remember, it is not for us to "know the times or the seasons."


Central Happenings is published by the Sacramento Central Seventh-day Adventist Church, 6045 Camellia Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95819 www.saccentral.org

Sacramento Central Ministry Team: Chris Buttery, Lead Pastor; Mike Thompson, Associate; Fred Dana, Associate; Michael Butler, Youth-Young Adult; JeAnn Davis, Bible Instructor

Central Happenings: Chris Buttery, Editor; Chrystal White, Copy Editor/Distributor