NEWS ABOUT THE NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION
FRIDAY, JULY 7
Divorce And Remarriage Amendment Returned To Floor, Adopted
July 7, 2000
Delegates this morning rescinded Wednesday's referral of The Divorce and Remarriagement Amendment back to the Church Manual Committee, and then voted by an overwhelming margin to adopt the document. No new alterations were made, though the minor alterations stood that were already voted on Tuesday.
After South Pacific Division Delegate Gary Hodgkin's motion to rescind was carried, Henrik Ingo of the Trans-European Division moved to adopt the amendment "as it now appears." After a few minutes of discussion, delegates closed debate and then, by a show of yellow voting cards, passed the motion.
Some delegates appeared stunned by the quick reversal. "We just witnessed a series of parliamentary maneuvers," said Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, a member of the Africa-Indian Ocean Division employed in Michigan. "This is an item that affects the well-being of the Church."
While no delegate had argued that the document was flawlesseven Church Manual Committee Chairman Lowell C. Cooper called it "imperfect"many described it as an "improvement" over the existing policy on divorce and remarriage. Had the amendment not been passed today, the final business session, it would have returned in some form at the 2005 Session in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Divorce and Remarriage Amendment is the product of the Church Manual Committee's revision of a report from the Divorce and Remarriage Commission, a multinational group appointed following the Church's 1995 gathering. While the document more clearly defines cause for divorce, such as "abandonment by a unbelieving spouse" and "physical violence," it doesn't substantially alter the Church's previous position on divorce and remarriage. As before, the only allowance for remarriage is adultery/fornication (whose definition now includes "incest and child sexual abuse," as well as homosexual practices).
"[The revision] is simply a change of language and a change of attitudea more Christian attitude," said Mario Veloso, General Conference associate secretary. "As far as reasons for remarriage, the document does not have any new element. The Bible is much more open to divorce than to remarriage."
Following the vote, World Church President Jan Paulsen walked to the floor microphone and urged that no further debate be given to the divorce and remarriage document. "We have spent quite enough time on this one," he said.
In another action, the delegation voted to change the format of the Church Manual. The content of some chapters will now be divided into two types of material: (a) the main content; and (b) notes containing explanatory material which will appear at the end of the chapter.
Changes in the main content will continue to be made only at a General Conference Session. Changes to notes, however, may be assembled for approval by the General Conference Executive Committee at the final Annual Council meeting of the quinquennium (five-year block).
Andy Nash, Adventist News Network
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