SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – On December 4, 2018, the executive committee of the Upper Columbia Conference, covering portions of the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, issued a statement banning a group known as World Church Affirmation Sabbath (WCAS) from holding events on any conference church, school, or property, and prohibiting the promotion of WCAS in any church within the UCC.
WCAS was founded by members of UCC’s Lay-Advisory Committee in March 2016, with the purpose of affirming “the leadership of the General Conference and the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world.” Since then, they have hosted “World Church Affirmation Sabbaths”—regional events held at local churches across the UCC and beyond—to advocate the decisions and policies of the General Conference.
WCAS initially ran into a number of conflicts with the UCC back in May of 2017, when UCC ministerial director Mark Weir requested that constituent churches not promote an upcoming WCAS event, partly due to his inability to find answers to questions about the event’s purpose.
Since then, tensions have escalated as WCAS has carried on activities leading—according to the statement issued by the UCC—to “dissension among our members and the spread of false information.” According to the statement, these actions have included various attempts to use voting blocks and political maneuvering to ensure that the UCC and its constituent churches remain in alignment with General Conference policy and procedure.
The most significant of these actions was the recent issuing of a “Statement of Harmony”—a pledge of loyalty to General Conference decisions and policy which church pastors were requested to have approved by their church board, as a means of overriding Division, Union, or Conference “non-compliance” with General Conference policy at the local church level.
In response to this and other actions by the WCAS group, the UCC has issued a statement declaring that WCAS is, among other things, “not authorized nor recognized as a group of the Upper Columbia Conference.” Furthermore, the statement directs pastors and church members to ensure that “no conference church, school, or property […] provide meeting space for the WCAS meetings, public or private,” and that “no UCC pulpit […] be used to promote the WCAS activities or agenda.”
Commenting on the issue, UCC president Minner Labrador, Jr. stated that,
We do not have time for false alarms that divide our members. The true emergency we face as a church is our low growth rate. We have a vital work to do both in sharing the gospel and in seeking to bring back our missing members.
The full statement detailing the Upper Columbia Conference’s position on WCAS and its activities can be read here: Official Upper Columbia Conference Position on World Church Affirmation Sabbath