Q: We attend a very nice international Adventist church with members from many countries. It’s a more traditional church, and we appreciate that. For almost a year we didn’t have a pastor. Recently, the conference assigned to us a woman pastor who is very modern, wearing short skirts, etc. For many in our church, this is quite disturbing. We are not trouble makers, and we try to keep peace and harmony. We love coming to this church, but how can we deal with this situation? — Anca, in Belgium
A: Anca, a good process to be followed when a pastoral vacancy needs to be filled is that conference representatives will visit the church. They will give opportunity for members to express their thoughts about what kind of pastor they believe would fit well with their church and help it in achieving its important mission. While church pastors are employees of the conference, rather than of the local church, the conference usually tries to find a good combination for both pastor and church.
If the unrest in your church is because of the way the person dresses or other concerns, then someone should kindly approach that individual and explain their concerns. If that does not resolve the issue, then, following the instruction given in Matthew 18, two people should go together to speak with that individual. If still unresolved, then it can be taken to the church board.
If members and church leaders believe that the pastor assigned is not a helpful fit for your church, then it would be good if the first elder, along with another elder or church member could speak with the conference president about the situation. Everything should be done in Christian love and care when sharing concerns.
Although it is always best to try to resolve issues at the level closest to the situation, if there is no resolution, then your concerns can be taken to the next level, which is the union level. If that fails to find resolution, then you can bring the situation to the attention of the division, and from there to the General Conference, if needed.