MCA Newsletter-August 2007

As we previously reported, the SDA General Conference established a Commission on Ministries, Services, and Structure in the fall of 2006.

MCA (Members for Church Accountability) believes that the present SDA church organizational structure is unnecessarily cumbersome in an age of communication technology that has made instant global communication a reality. Our founders never anticipated this reality.

We feel that the church should establish field trials on a number of proposals so that an ultimate restructuring of the church will be realistic, efficient, and cost effective.

MCA’s Southern California Chapter has developed a church-restructuring plan for the North American Division. This “trial” proposal could be field tested in the Pacific Union Conference. The proposal assumes that the local churches would have technical support with email, satellite video, and other communication technology.

The following proposal has been submitted to the 116 members of the Commission on Ministries, Services, and Structure.

Church Reorganization


The Adventist Church in North America has a number of non-theological problems, some in crisis proportions.

1. The multi-level church organization is not cost effective and is archaic in an age of computer and communication technology.
2. Financial debacles continue to plague the church.
3. An inordinate number of church owned entities have been lost to bankruptcy.
4. Church administration, by policy, is accountable to the church membership, but in reality church members are effectively excluded from church politics.
5. Church members are powerless to effect meaningful reform.
6. There seems to be no master plan at the Union Conference level for church school education.

For whatever reason, in North America a disturbing number of church members leave the church. The loss of church members is quite significant and some believe that there are four former Adventists for every one current church member.

The cause of this current state of affairs is complex and requires integrated solutions. However, the need to modify structure and function is incontrovertible. Church reorganization in North America is a reasonable starting point.

Church Reorganization

The following are recommendations for reorganization:
1. Eliminate local Conferences by fusing them into the Union Conference offices.
2. Transfer local church building
ownership to the Union Conferences.
3. Union Conferences would assume the oversight of the local churches, 670 in the case of the Pacific Union.
4. Local church congregations would conduct their own affairs with the primary goal of spreading the gospel and the secondary goal of nurturing its members and training members, young children, and teenagers for community service.
5. The local churches would fund a yearly outside audit, which would be sent to the Union Conferences.
6. The Union Conferences would provide resource services by computer to the local churches for various activities, such as community programs, evangelism, Sabbath School programs, and church planting.
7. The Union Conferences would provide a master plan for the number and locations of church schools within the union territory, and integrate the plan with adjacent Unions. The Unions also would perform oversight on quality education.
8. The Union Conferences would finance pastors for the local churches.
9. The lay oversight board would hire an outside auditing firm to conduct an annual audit, financed by the Union Conferences, and made available to any church member upon written request.
10. The Union Conferences would be financed by 40% of the income from the local churches. This percentage would be reviewed and adjusted every 5 years.
11. Closing the local Conferences and streamlining the Union Conferences should save hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
12. Closing the local Conferences and streamlining the Union Conferences would also make available many excellent evangelists and pastors for local churches.

Church Governance

Union Conferences

1. Eliminate some departments and streamline the remaining ones.
2. Institute “term limits” for all Union officers (8years).
3. Ineffective personnel should be terminated rather than transferred to other departments or other unions
4. Nepotism would not be tolerated.
5. Conflicts of interest would not be tolerated.
6. Tuition in Adventist schools is expensive for laity. In contrast, the clergy receive generous tuition subsidies financed by tithe income. Recognizing this to be the case, there should be a means whereby the laity can use their tithe for tuition or develop a method whereby tuition would be tax deductible

Voting for Union Conference officers:

1. Each congregation would vote for a local church representative (LCR).
2. An eleven member nominating committee composed of LCR’s would be randomly selected by a computer program.
3. The nominating committee would start meeting at least 6 months prior to any election.
4. The first meeting would be in person. Subsequent interactions would be by email.
5. Five candidates for each office would be submitted to the nominating committee by Union Conference administration. Personnel files on all candidates would be available to the committee and be reviewed during the first meeting.
6. The committee may consider additional candidates. The names of all nominees for any office would be copied to the LCR’s.
7. The names of all nominees for any office would be presented to the local church congregations by the LCR’s for input.
8. Input from all local congregations would be forwarded to the nominating committee by the LCR’s.
9. The nominating committee would submit two candidates for each of the three offices to every registered church member.
10. Local church members would pre-register with the church secretary, receive the computer access code, and be assigned a Personal Identification Number (PIN).
11. Elections would be held by computer with all registered local church members voting on three Union Conference officers.
12. Only the President, Secretary, and Treasurer would be voted into office, all other Union Conference officers would be appointed by the President.

If you feel that our current church organization needs restructuring, we urge you to contact the chair and vice-chair of the
Ministries, Services and Structure Commission.

Dr. Jan Paulsen, Chairman
General Conference of SDA
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904-6600

Elder Lowell C. Cooper, Vice-Chairman
General Conference of SDA
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, Maryland 20904-6600

Or send comments directly to

Encouragement from church lay members can empower the
Commission to significantly restructure our church to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness in nurture and outreach.

Southern California Chapter of MCA

Members for Church Accountability
PO Box 1072, Morrison, CO 80465