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Letter to GNYC - Oct. 20, 2012

  Open  Letter  to  Leaders  of  GNYC

                                                                                              October 20, 2012
Dear GNYC Leader
     I have been prompted to send you a message relating to recent events at Manhattan Church. Consider this a Sabbath message from the inspired writings of Ellen White.

As the sons of Joseph made preparation to attend the Feast of Tabernacles, they saw that Christ made no movement signifying His intention of attending. They watched Him with anxiety. Since the healing at Bethesda He had not attended the national gatherings. To avoid useless conflict with the leaders at Jerusalem, He had restricted His labors to Galilee. His apparent neglect of the great religious assemblies, and the enmity manifested toward Him by the priests and rabbis, were a cause of perplexity to the people about Him, and even to His own disciples and His kindred. In His teachings He had dwelt upon the blessings of obedience to the law of God, and yet He Himself seemed to be indifferent to the service which had been divinely established. His mingling with publicans and others of ill repute, His disregard of the rabbinical observances, and the freedom with which He set aside the traditional requirements concerning the Sabbath, all seeming to place Him in antagonism to the religious authorities, excited much questioning. His brothers thought it a mistake for Him to alienate the great and learned men of the nation. They felt that these men must be in the right, and that Jesus was at fault in placing Himself in antagonism to them. But they had witnessed His blameless life, and though they did not rank themselves with His disciples, they had been deeply impressed by His works. His popularity in Galilee was gratifying to their ambition; they still hoped that He would give an evidence of His power which would lead the Pharisees to see that He was what He claimed to be. What if He were the Messiah, the Prince of Israel! They cherished this thought with proud satisfaction. 
Desire of Ages, page 450.1

  Was it a mistake for Him to alienate the great and learned men of the nation?  -  It was not?  Was Jesus “at fault in placing himself in antagonism to them?” He was not. But according to this inspired text there were those who thought that he was.
  And why did they think so? - - it says because “they felt that these men must be in the right.”  And why did they feel that these men must be in the right?  It says because “they were the religious authorities” – “the leaders at Jerusalem.”  Just because these men occupied position and place, they “must be in the right.” And, of course, just because of this, Jesus must be “at fault” in “placing Himself in antagonism” to them.
  But in all this Jesus was not at fault in any sense whatsoever. He was blameless, he was right all the time in the sight of God: and the real antagonism was not at all on His part.
  I ask you to apply this thinking to the situation with ________ and her mother, who disagree with the Pastor and the Elders of Manhattan Church. Certainly, they feel that members of the family of God should be welcome in God’s house.
  According to the text quoted above, disagreement with church-leaders, to dissent from “religious authorities” even to occupy an attitude of antagonism to them, is never, in itself, any evidence of error or fault. No man, no association or combination of men, even has any authority because of any official position or place in the church of Christ, or in any church professing to be the church of Christ. And when any man or group of men ever does have authority in any church it is because that church is of men only and not of Christ.  “The princes of the Gentiles [the heathen] exercise dominion over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them, but it shall not be so among you.” Matthew 20: 25, 26
  Among Christians it is not so. And wherever it is so, in any church, then just so far that is an apostate church; for it is only among the “gentile” that such things are done, and allowed to be done.
  Another quote from Desire of Ages, expands on this principle.

In the kingdoms of the world, position meant self-aggrandizement. The people were supposed to exist for the benefit of the ruling classes. Influence, wealth, education, were so many means of gaining control of the masses for the use of the leaders. The higher classes were to think, decide, enjoy, and rule; the lower were to obey and serve. Religion, like all things else, was a matter of authority. The people were expected to believe and practice as their superiors directed. The right of man as man, to think and act for himself, was wholly unrecognized.  {DA 550.2}
  Christ was establishing a kingdom on different principles. He called men, not to authority, but to service, the strong to bear the infirmities of the weak. Power, position, talent, education, placed their possessor under the greater obligation to serve his fellows. To even the lowliest of Christ's disciples it is said, "All things are for your sakes." 2 Cor. 4:15.  {DA 550.3}
  "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many." Among His disciples Christ was in every sense a caretaker, a burden bearer. He shared their poverty, He practiced self-denial on their account, He went before them to smooth the more difficult places, and soon He would consummate His work on earth by laying down His life. The principle on which Christ acted is to actuate the members of the church which is His body. The plan and ground of salvation is love. In the kingdom of Christ those are greatest who follow the example He has given, and act as shepherds of His flock.  {DA 550.4}
Desire of Ages, page 550, paragraphs 2 - 4

        The inspired writings go on to say . . .

In matters of conscience the soul must be left untrammeled. No one is to control another's mind, to judge for another, or to prescribe his duty. God gives to every soul freedom to think, and to follow his own convictions. "Every one of us shall give account of himself to God." No one has a right to merge his own individuality in that of another. In all matters where principle is involved," let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." Rom. 14:12, In Christ's kingdom there is no lordly oppression, no compulsion of manner. The angels of heaven do not come to the earth to rule, and to exact homage, but as messengers of mercy, to co-operate with men in uplifting humanity.
Desire of Ages, page 550, paragraph 6

No where in the church manual or working policy does it allow a grievance to be resolved by the involvement of the police who exercise force and can threaten punishment, this is contrary to the principles of the government of God.

The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan's deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened. To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan.  This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world's dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, "with healing in His wings."  Malachi 4: 2
Desire of Ages, page 22, paragraph 1   also  RC 23.3

You are in a position which represents God’s church to the members and visitors of Manhattan Church, to the conference constituency, to the police and to the Greenwich Village community, and I urge you to remove the police involvement and treat this matter as a grievance.

A final thought from the inspired testimonies to the church
This sin of these noble leaders was great. Their lives might have been illustrious to the close. They had been greatly exalted and honored; yet God does not excuse sin in those in exalted positions any sooner than He does in those in more humble positions. Many professed Christians look upon men who do not reprove and condemn wrong, as men of piety and Christians indeed, while they think that those who stand boldly in defense of the right, and will not yield their integrity to unconsecrated influences, lack piety and a Christian spirit.  
Testimonies, Volume 3, page 302, paragraph 1

Many are praying that the Holy Spirit will soften your heart and that your light will shine brightly to those who need to understand the principles and thoughts found in the inspired writings above.
In God We trust
Concerned Member of Manhattan Church

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Mario Pietravalle
2013-01-23 2:33 PM

When the police involvement was not removed by the conference President and Executive Secretary, the grieved ladies accused them of professional misconduct in accordance with Working Policy L-60 section 15.

The policy describes a process where the charges are investigated by the Executive Committee of the local conference. The next meeting was on December 11th - however, the accused provented an investigation which could clear them of these charges by not putting the matter on the agenda.

The policy makes provision for a 'failure of this process' by defining a new process where "the Administration of the next higher organization" is given emergency power to call a meeting of the same Executive Committee to deal with the matter that they were prevented from investigating and the President of the higher level is the chairman of this meeting.

We are waiting for the Atlantic Union Conference leaders to do their duty.