A Seventh Day Adventist Church in Northern California has baptized and apparently welcomed into membership a practicing lesbian who also happens to be married to another woman.
The baptism of the woman identified as Alice Machado by the Chico Adventist Church bulletin, where the baptism took place, actually occurred over 6 months ago on the 4th of June in 2016, and had apparently gone unnoticed by conference church leaders until recently. The woman’s spouse of two years, whom she calls her “husband”, Amber Machado, is also a baptized member of the church, having been raised a Seventh Day Adventist and apparently being baptized some time in the past.
The baptism was performed by Ginger Harwood, a retired Adventist minister and former professor of religion at the denomination’s La Sierra University. According to the Adventist Council of Pastors Website,
Mrs Harwood “holds a commissioned minister credential through the Pacific Union Conference” where she “was ‘ordained’ as a Seventh-day Adventist minister in 2013 in a rebel ordination service held at the La Sierra University church in Riverside, California.”
The website also takes care to point out that “the Seventh-day Adventist Church never has and currently does not practice the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.”
In response to the situation the governing division of the church, located in Silver Springs Maryland, released the following statement on it’s website explaining that it is currently leaving the issue in the hands of the local Northern California Conference leadership to resolve.
“In the summer of 2016, a baptism was performed by a retired denominational employee, and the baptized person was voted into membership at the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church. This person was part of a same-sex couple that had been married in a ceremony elsewhere two years earlier. Northern California Conference administrators did not learn of the baptism until afterward, and the conference administration has met with the pastor to work through the situation. The North American Division has full confidence in the leadership of the Northern California Conference in addressing this issue.”
According to the website Fulcrum7 the senior pastor of the Chico Adventist Church, Pastor Dan Wysong, in an email exchange with a member of their staff stated that
“decisions on church membership” are appropriated to the “local church” and “Our local church elders take the theology of church membership and the care of our church members very seriously.”
He offered no further comment, however the implication is that not only himself but also a likely majority of his church membership seem to stand by the decision. This also seems to be supported by the testimony of the aunt of Alice Machado, who spoke by telephone with the hosts of the YouTube channel ProphesyAgainTV about the matter.
The slow movement of the church leadership in response to a violation of a stated fundamental belief by a minister, as well as the governing body’s decision to leave resolution of the issue in the hands of the local conference, is causing some members to grow concerned, with the previously mentioned Fulcrum7, and the Council of Adventist Pastors’ websites both publishing articles critical of the denomination’s handling of the issue.
Adventists believe Ellen G. White, one of the founders of their church, exercised the Biblical gift of prophecy, as such lets hope they will consider her counsel as issues of heresy work to infiltrate a church that has stood as a bastion of conservative Biblical Christianity for over 150 years.
“The prevalence of greatest iniquity should be the time of the greatest earnestness of the people of God. As you see the love of many waxing cold, you should work to show Christ to the world.”
Sermons and Talks, volume two, pp. 92-98.