The Executive Committee of the Michigan Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has decided that LaSierra University is in “apostasy”; consequently, they will no longer be giving financial assistance to the children of employees who wish to study there. Reports at Spectrum and Educate Truth.
This action has tremendous ecclesiological implications that are barely hinted at in these reports. This action is a rebuke not only of the university, but of its board and “constituency” (e.g., the Pacific Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church), which Michigan says “have collectively been unwilling to rectify this vital spiritual issue.” The most recent constituency meeting was held just two weeks ago; the issue of the university’s stance on creation and evolution was discussed, but apparently no action was taken by that meeting. In another news report, however, the president of the Pacific Union Conference, Elder Ricardo Graham (also president of the university’s board), said that they are taking this seriously and are taking action.
So we have the leadership of one part of the Seventh-day Adventist church telling an institution of another part of that same church that it is in apostasy. And it is telling the leaders of that other conference that they are failing in their duty and are supporting apostasy. I cannot recall a time that this has happened in the church’s history. And it is in light of that historic import that I find something troubling. Gallimore’s memo is addressed to Michigan Conference employees; it has “CCs” to various officials in the General Conference, North American Division, and Lake Union Conference–but none to Elder Graham or the president LaSierra. Gallimore makes no reference to any other correspondence he might have had with them–or to Graham’s public statement that action is in fact forthcoming.
Surely there will be some interesting discussions at this summer’s General Conference. I hope that the session will clarify the denomination’s stance on creation, so there is no ambiguity. I agree with Elder Gallimore that this is an important issue. I also believe that the prescriptions of Matthew 18 should be followed in matters such as this. I would hope that he communicated with the Pacific Union and LaSierra officials before taking this action. I would hope that he sent them a copy of this decision, too.
Update: LaSierra responds.