On one hand, the Nominating process in a local church can be a very calm, democratic, fair and highly spiritual occasion of trust and confidence in God’s leading through the unknown. On the other hand, it can be a very tense, highly politicized and emotionally disruptive period which often brings to light, unethical and un-Christlike behavior on the part of some who participate in destructive criticism in church, in their homes, over the phone, or on the social media.
In general, many people have come to believe “hearsay” about the nominating process from leaders and members without any verification of how truthful their declarations are. Hence, many members are ignorant of the principles underlying the nominating process. Each member of the church is responsible for reading the Bible and the Church Manual (www.adventist.org) and the leaders are responsible for explaining them.
Trusting the Process
When the recommendations for the composition of the Organizing Committee are voted by the Church, it is the result of a democratic, fair and impartial process. In the process, which the Church adheres to, the results are not always what one desires. When the nominating process is administered with proper ethical guidelines, praying, singing and consecrating oneself to God, so that He may lead in the process, then one must trust the process. A fair process is democratic, non-discriminatory and absent to verbal influences in favor of one or the other. If there are no factual reasons for mistrust, then one must trust the process. There is no other way for the faithful!
Giving remarks and objections
When remarks are being taken during the nominating process (Church Manual, p. 113), it is legitimate for a member to voice their concern, and in this matter, it is to be voiced to the Organizing Committee in person. Some members are unaware that they need to present themselves in person. The Organizing Committee takes into consideration all remarks at the appointed time and takes a decision to adjust or not to adjust the list of nominees. Again, some members are ignorant to this fact and feel that because they make remarks, the Committee has to comply.
Members are required to maintain their spiritual dignity by not making false accusations or defaming the personal integrity of any nominated member. “Trivial or groundless objections to any name should never be made, but if there are serious reasons that any nomination should be changed, these reasons should be stated to the nominating committee” (p.113). Objections have to be factual and the name of the person in question has to be stated. It is un-Christlike to declare someone unfit to be in a Committee and not provide the evidence. This can be seen as slanderous by insinuation, unethical and a lack of spiritual responsibility, with the potential to undermine the integrity of the whole Committee. If the Organizing Committee complies with unsubstantiated demands, then the Organizing Committee fails to guarantee a democratic and Spirit-led process.
Two members of the same family
Two members of the same family on the committee is not prohibited. Why should one be declared suspect when another family member is in the same Committee? One should tread carefully on the grounds of suppositions, fears and insinuations, more so, with regards to the lack of integrity of the members of the Organizing committee or of the nominees. Two members of the same family can act independently, have diverse opinions and decisions. We are not to judge the motives of others. Church members are not considered as groups of families, but as individual members all having the same rights and privileges. One should not discriminate against a nominee simply because they are related to another member of the committee.
Principle under question
When relatives are present in the Organizing Committee and no request is made for the removal of one, but that request is made only when it happens in the Nominating Committee, the process becomes random and unprincipled.
The following statement is often misunderstood and therefore misused: “The effort of one individual or a small group to dictate to the entire membership is disapproved” (p.110). While the statement is within the context of floor nominations for the Organizing Committee, many have misused it to challenge the composition of the nominating committee by claiming that any friends, or family members on the given committee represent a group. This is an incorrect interpretation of the text.
What is meant by “every effort should be made to ensure fair representation on the composition of the organizing committee?” (p.110). It means that no “individual or a small group should dictate to the entire church the composition of the organizing committee” by proposing more than one name or a list of names. Fair representation in the organizing committee is allowing for an open process to all where any member can propose a name. A fair representation of the church is to allow for men, women, young people, leaders, and treasury personnel to compose the organizing committee. If we wish to regard members as representing families (even though that’s not the case), a committee that has eleven (11) members represented by eight (8) different families, remains a fair representation. As every church member cannot be on the committee, it is church representation that we consider rather than family representation.
Examples of Biblical nominations
In the Old Testament, God handpicked different members of the same household to undertake responsibilities in the temple. The book of Chronicles confirms that Kings David and Hezekiah were following God when they reorganized and upheld the music ministry in the Temple and chose family members to lead” (1 Chron. 6:16, 17; 9:33, 34; chaps. 15, 16, 23-26; 2 Chron 29:25). Saul was rejected by God, and David took his place on the throne (10:13). David was blessed and successful. David’s choices were despised by Michal, Saul’s daughter (15:29) despite God’s leading. So Michal was jealous of David who was now sitting on what was once her father’s throne. Do you see how easily a highly spiritual process led by God can be seen through the eyes of personal dissatisfaction, political grudges and envy? Sometimes, even when God does his own nomination, there is dissatisfaction.
In New Testament times, among the twelve disciples chosen by Christ, Simon Peter and Andrew were brothers and James and John were brothers, the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 10:2-4). God gave the ministry of prophecy to the four daughters of Philip, the Evangelist (Acts 21:8, 9). The fact that members of a group are of the same family, of itself cannot be considered as unfair.
It is incumbent on the Chairperson of the committee to protect the integrity of all members and to guarantee as within the Chair’s power, an ethical, democratic, fair and spiritual process. The Chairperson guides according to the principles and standards of the Church Manual and the Bible. The Church is in God’s hands and He is in full control. It is unethical and misguided for the Chairperson or anyone to make unfounded judgments on individuals or on a process. Whatever the result, we must let God do his work and trust his democratic process.
We may all have concerns and anxieties around the nominating process. I would encourage you not to be afraid. Let us trust that God is able through this process, to guide the committee into making the right decisions. Let us earnestly pray for each member to fully surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit.