On the final day of the Mid-America Union’s Year-end Meetings, the MAUC Executive Committee convened at its headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska, to receive reports, review the preliminary budget for 2019, and vote agenda items.

MAUC president Gary Thurber spoke briefly about how mission is being accomplished in Mid-America territory and Gil Webb, MAUC vice president for administration, presented minutes from the last meeting, along with requests from several conferences for ordinations, commissioning and emeritus credentialing.

Troy Peoples, MAUC vice president for finance, shared the financial picture to date for 2018 and said he expected the year to end on a solid financial basis. Detailed financial statements were available for review by all Executive Committee members and the preliminary budget for 2019 was voted. The chair of MAUC’s Audit Review Committee, Ken Bacon, reported receiving an “unmodified opinion” in regard to MAUC’s 2017 audit from the General Conference Auditing Service, which is the highest score any entity could receive. The committee recognized the excellent work of the treasury team in MAUC and expressed appreciation for their efforts.

Following the president’s report, a motion was brought to the Executive Committee by Dakota Conference president Neil Biloff. He asked that an item be placed on MAUC’s regularly scheduled 2021 Constituency Session agenda stating the desire to provide ordination opportunities for all pastors in Mid-America, both male and female.

The motion followed a lengthy discussion of recent actions voted by the General Conference at its Annual Council last month and by the North America Division last week at its Year-end Meeting. Copies of the document  voted by the GC Executive Committee and the NAD’s response were included with each MAUC Executive Committee member’s information packet.

“People are hearing conflicting messages,” said Thurber. “Many are confused about what is actually happening and what is being said and what it means.” He shared with the committee a few examples of misinformation and added that “our conference presidents are doing a good job of explaining the true story.”

A question of time

While some members of the committee would have preferred a shorter timeframe in the motion for discussing ordination opportunities, Thurber pointed out the logic for the timing, stating that members and leaders of all six conferences will have ample time to explore the various considerations in depth. “We don’t want to move ahead of our constituents,” said Thurber. “No one will be pressured to vote either way.”

Central States Conference president Roger Bernard spoke in favor of the timeframe proposed, stating that it would give him adequate opportunity to talk with Central States members.

The longer timeframe will also allow for General Conference administration to respond to the NAD’s three requests, and will follow actions that may be taken during the 2020 GC Session in Indianapolis.

Mic Thurber, MAUC ministerial director, stated that while he personally resonated with moving ahead more quickly, “giving the GC the opportunity to respond to the NAD’s thoughtful action regarding the recent AC vote might provide the most peaceful way forward.”

The president asked if any members would prefer a secret ballot process, but none requested this option, so a voice vote was taken. The motion carried as proposed with very strong support.

Church is people

During the week of meetings, Iowa-Missouri Conference president Dean Coridan presented devotional thoughts based on his study of the Reformation and the founding principles of Protestantism. Coridan pointed out that until Adventists truly believe and embrace three basic principles of the Protestant Reformation there can be no resolution to the current challenges regarding church governance. He identified the three principles as being Christ alone, Scripture alone, and the priesthood of all believers.

“The church is the apple of God’s eye,” said Coridan. “But the church is not the organizational structure. The church is people. And our people matter a lot.”

This article was updated on Nov. 17, 2018.