LETTER FROM MIKE and DEE

Hello Friends,

We have become aware of some misinformation going around concerning us, and so Dee and I want to eliminate any and all misunderstanding about why we chose not long ago to give up our leadership roles at the Spirit Lake SDA church, and to answer some questions that folks have had about our reasons for doing so.

Some folks have expressed the opinion that we left our roles because we “got mixed up with that 2520 group” and have sort of lost our way… Nothing could be further from the truth…

While it is true that we have been studying the 2520 message and learning some pretty amazing things from the early advent days, I want to assure you that the 2520 message itself had NOTHING to do with our decision to withdraw from the leadership roles we held at Spirit Lake.

The sole and entire reason we gave up our leadership roles was because of the restrictions that the Upper Columbia Conference officials and our local pastor were/are willing to place on the religious liberty of SDA church members, in particular the Lynwood church in Spokane and in the Newport church.

Without getting into the various viewpoints involved or the doctrinal correctness of the 2520 topic we were shocked and saddened to learn that UCC conference officials and the elders and church boards of the Lynwood and Newport churches, as well as several local SDA pastors, had stated in letters and during disfellowshipment/censure proceedings that church members were/are not allowed to study the 2520 material in the privacy of their own homes without risking disfellowshipment or censure themselves. Because of their refusal to stop studying the 2520 message or stop sharing it in their own homes five church members were disfellowshipped and several members were censured at the Newport church, as well as one censured & then disfellowshipped at the Lynwood church.

  1. Dee and I can understand that the UCC has the right to dismiss the 2520 message as unimportant.
  2. Dee and I understand that UCC has the right to demand that the 2520 topic not be discussed or taught at church-owned properties or on church grounds.
  3. Dee and I understand that UCC has the right to demand that DVD’s, 1843/1850 charts that were an important part of the early pioneer advent message or other materials NOT be passed out in the parking lots of church facilities.

What Dee and I cannot understand, and can never condone or accept, is the idea or concept that the UCC leadership or local pastors have the right to tell ANYONE what they can or cannot study in the privacy of their own home! That is NOT religious liberty; it is papacy at it’s worst!

Dee and I chose to give up our leadership roles at Spirit Lake SDA church because UCC president Robert Folkenberg and several local pastors, including our pastor at Spirit Lake (Dave Lounsbury), had chosen to sign the Newport church letter restricting study of the 2520 in the privacy of one’s home.

In a further conversation with Pastor Dayv about the things that had happened at the Newport church he stated to me (Mike) that he fully supported all the actions that had been taken at Newport.

We cannot in good conscience remain an active part of the leadership at a church where the pastor we would be working with feels it is appropriate and correct to restrict the religious freedom of church members within their own homes.

Our desire was to quietly tender our resignations and then avoid discussions about the reasons why so that we could avoid more controversy and upheaval within the local churches. After we resigned our pastor continued to call & email us for an explanation that he would be satisfied with. We did finally send him a letter (attached) explaining our decision further.

But now it appears that the “blame” for our resigning is being unfairly placed on the 2520 message. The reality is that the blame rests solely on the UCC conference leadership and Pastor Dayv Lounsbury because of their willingness to restrict religious freedom…

There are some things in a person’s life that they hold dear, and one of those for Dee and I both is freedom of choice, (freedom of conscience). God allows each and every one of his created beings the power of choice, how can our church think they have the right to try and abrogate something given to us by God?  When SDA leaders, by their actions, said they had the right to tell members what they could study in their own homes in private they crossed that proverbial line in the sand for Dee & I.

This country was founded on the concept of religious freedom. As a veteran I was part of a military that has fought for freedoms we all enjoy like freedom of speech, even if we disagree with the one speaking. It’s incredible to us that an even more important right like freedom of religion (particularly in our own homes) is not one that seems to hold any value for some of our leaders. I still cannot believe that the church I grew up in and love has leaders willing to toss that concept in the trash…

Please read the attached letter we previously sent to Pastor Dayv as well, we want the record set completely straight….

Michael & Dee Sexsmith

 

 

 

 

July 9, 2012

 

Dear Pastor Dayv,

You have asked to know more about why we decided to step down from Mike’s role as Head Deacon and Dee as Personal Ministries leader at the Spirit Lake SDA church, so we will share the following with you…

We consider you a friend in Christ and do desire to welcome you at our home. However, you must know that your position as an SDA pastor who has taken the stand that you have taken in signing the “Newport Letter” (Newport, WA SDA church censure & disfellowshipment) has affected your flock (us) in ways that you perhaps did not realize it would when you signed it.

That letter drew a distinct line in the sand that forced us as members of the Seventh-day Adventist church to evaluate and make decisions about a number of things.  The most important issue in that letter that dominates our minds is the fact that you and the other pastors & the Upper Columbia Conference officials who signed it said that church members are not allowed to study the topic of the 2520, even in “private”.  (That same demand was made of Larry Heims at the Lynwood Church in Spokane area during his recent censure proceedings in this same conference {Larry has since been disfellowshipped}).  How can this approach be interpreted in any other way than that leadership seeks to control what the members study and do in private?  What is so alarming about this is not so much “what” is being disallowed, (study of the 2520) but that the church leaders are commanding that we do not study certain things in private without a fear of censure or disfellowshipment to surely follow. This is infringement on personal religious liberty at it’s worst, and it is indicative of the fear that the conference seems to feel when they are not fully in control of their members.

We came across a phrase recently that very much applies to this situation; “Truth Suffers Nothing From Investigation”.   If the SDA church has all the truth, and the only truth, about things like 2520 then they have nothing to fear from it’s members being good Bereans and studying it out for themselves; because the more that one investigates something that is true, the more that truth is established. On the other hand, if there is something that someone (or the church) believes to be an established truth, but is actually error, this too will be established upon closer examination. Therefore, we and/or the SDA church should never discourage anyone from investigating even those things we believe to be established as truth.

Much has been lost because our ministers and people have concluded that we have had all the truth essential for us as a people; but such a conclusion is erroneous and in harmony with the deceptions of Satan; for truth will be constantly unfolding.”  ST May 26, 1890

“Precious light is to shine forth from the word of God, and let no one presume to dictate what shall or what shall not be brought before the people in the messages of enlightenment that He shall send, and so quench the Spirit of GodWhatever may be his position of authority, no one has a right to shut away the light from the people.  When a message comes in the name of the Lord to His people, no one may excuse himself from an investigation of its claimsNo one can afford to stand back in an attitude of indifference and self-confidence, and say: “I know what is truth.  I am satisfied with my position.  I have set my stakes, and I will not be moved away from my position, whatever may come.  I will not listen to the message of this messenger; for I know that it cannot be truth.”  It is from pursuing this very course that the popular churches were left in partial darkness, and that is why the messages of heaven have not reached them.”  (Counsels on Sabbath School Work p. 28.)

 

The Holy Scriptures states “the TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE” (John 8:32).  We are saddened and very disappointed that the Upper Columbia Conference and our pastor would take the stand it has about personal liberty and conscience. I am appalled that so many church leaders, including our beloved pastor, believe that requiring this kind of “obedience” is in harmony with Scripture. It is our belief that the “Truth” this scripture refers to is freedom from the doctrines and commandments of men.  It is our belief that no one should have to sacrifice what they believe because someone else has a problem with it.

We believe we are living in an amazing time in earth’s history.  We have been told through the Scriptures and EGW prophecy that the “beast” would take our religious freedoms away and we have had that concept in our minds since we first became Adventists.  However, to recognize that our freedom is being taken away by the very church we have loved and given our allegiance to has brought dismay and heartache.   We are told that history will be repeated and we certainly see history being repeated in the church today in terms of the leaders telling the membership to not study or believe certain things because they (the leaders) are the wise ones who will tell them what is truth and what is not… That same haughty attitude was exhibited by the spiritual leaders of Jesus’s day…

You have asked us to share with you why we have made decisions regarding resigning our positions at the Spirit Lake SDA church.   The quotations above and the ones below we have chosen to share with you as a means to answer your question.  We receive these statements as from God ~ as though speaking directly to us, and we stand on them and rely on them as light that brightens our path.  We have highlighted/underlined to provide emphasis to portions that we believe God has emphasized in our understanding. We do not want to enter into debate regarding these things. We are simply responding in a respectful manor to your desire to better understand our position.

“Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”  1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

 “In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation.  The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it.  It is only as the old truths are understood that we can comprehend the new.  When Christ desired to open to His disciples the truth of His resurrection, He began “at Moses and all the prophets” and “expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”  (Luke 24:27)  But it is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of truth that glorifies the old.  He who rejects or neglects the new does not really possess the old.  For him it loses its vital power and becomes but a lifeless form.”  COL 127-128

“God is the Teacher of His people.  All who humble their hearts before Him, will be taught of God.  “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”(James 1:5)  The Lord wants every church-member to pray earnestly for wisdom; that he may know what the Lord would have HIM do.  It is the privilege of every believer to obtain an individual experience, learning to carry his cares and perplexities to God.  It is written, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.”  James 4:8 (Sp TB10 14.1)

 “When new light is presented to the church, it is perilous to shut yourselves away from it.  Refusing to hear because you are prejudiced against the message to the messenger will not make your case excusable before God.  To condemn that which you have not heard and do not understand will not exalt your wisdom in the eyes of those who are candid in their investigations of truth.  And to speak with contempt of those who God has sent with a message of truth, is folly and madness.”  Counsels on Sabbath School Work, p 32

“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of God”. Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-Swiss-U.S. scientist. (Maybe he was a genius for more than one reason?)

 

We are seekers for Truth and want to live God’s Truth out in our lives by obedience to our loving Father and His dear and precious Son.  We desire the freedom under God to know and understand Truth for ourselves ~ because it is an individual responsibility.

We are loyal to the teachings that ignited Seventh-day Adventism in 1844 and believe that as a whole the SDA church, within it’s doctrines, has a more complete concept of what God requires of believers than any other organized religion in the world. We love the SDA church, but we do not believe that the SDA church has the ONLY truth and ALL the truth that God has planned for us as a remnant people.

We are loyal also to the principle of religious freedom.  Is it better that we should obey God or man? We desire to have the freedom in Christ to study what He leads us to study and to embrace the truth as He impresses us.  We are stepping back from our positions in the church, not only for the stated reasons given in the previous general email sent to the Spirit Lake SDA church board (recent career change for Mike, new job for Dee, & home construction), but also so that we might have more freedom to attend other Sabbath-keeping churches and to give our support to the SDA churches who have leaders who do not/will not support the practice of restricting the spiritual liberty of their members by telling them what they can believe or cannot believe; or what they can study and what they cannot study in the privacy of their own home.

Lastly, we want to share a quote with you.  It speaks truth to our hearts and centers us on the principles that made our country great ~ because these principles are founded on God’s principles of freedom.

“There are two visions of America. One precedes our founding fathers and finds its roots in the harshness of our puritan past. It is very suspicious of freedom, uncomfortable with diversity, hostile to science, unfriendly to reason, contemptuous of personal autonomy. It sees America as a religious nation. It views patriotism as allegiance to God. It secretly adores coercion and conformity. Despite our constitution, despite the legacy of the Enlightenment, it appeals to millions of Americans and threatens our freedom. The other vision finds its roots in the spirit of our founding revolution and in the leaders of this nation who embraced the age of reason. It loves freedom, encourages diversity, embraces science and affirms the dignity and rights of every individual. It sees America as a moral nation, neither completely religious nor completely secular. It defines patriotism as love of country and of the people who make it strong. It defends all citizens against unjust coercion and irrational conformity. This second vision is our vision. It is the vision of a free society. We must be bold enough to proclaim it and strong enough to defend it against all its enemies.” Rabbi Sherwin Wine

In closing, it is our desire to live in harmony and peace with you and all our SDA brethren, particularly at Spirit Lake SDA church.  We are taking the steps we have with the fond hope that it makes this possible.  We pray that God would grant us, and you, His wisdom and His humility in order to be found faithful to Him in these last days of earth’s history.  May we all have eyes to see and ears to hear, . . this is our prayer.

Sincerely,

Michael & Dee Sexsmith

Blanchard, Idaho

 

“Peace if possible, but truth at any rate.”

Martin Luther (1483-1546) German priest and scholar.

“The greatest friend of Truth is Time, her greatest enemy is Prejudice, and her constant companion is Humility.” Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832) British clergyman,

 

6 Responses to LETTER FROM MIKE and DEE

  1. Connard Grant Rasmussen Jr., SDA Missionaries' son.,PUC '68, History Major says:

    May God richly bless you Mike and Dee! If you ever come to visit here on Sabbath – in Coos Bay/ North Bend Oregon area, would like to fellowship with you. There is a Historic SDA church that meets in Coos Bay – who’s members got excommunicated by the conference some years ago. Attending with Historic Adventists is like attending the SDA church I was baptized into as a teen. I can not accept followers of Christ – taking other followers to civil court over the use of any variation of “Seventh Day Adventists” etc. Have visited the steps in Rome where Martin Luther reportedly experienced his awakening. Don’t give up your freedom of conscience! Cordially, Connard

  2. Peggy Nixon says:

    Praise God for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear and who have the courage to take their stand for Truth. The battle will grow more fierce as the anger of the enemies of Truth grows hotter, but the enemy of Truth is already a defeated foe! May the grace of God strengthen each one enlisted in the battle for Truth to press on toward the mark for the prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus!

  3. Jeff Ruetz says:

    Thank you Mike and Dee for your grace in the midst of restriction of religious freedom in our own homes! ?. I’m sadden and angry at the UCC conference
    for saying that we are not allowed to be Bereans? This church that pioneered
    religious liberty is restricting religious liberty , I’m speechless. But we shouldn’t be surprised at this because of any true reformatory movement it was always met with opposition. If the devil can’t stop it one way then he will resort to threatenings, and if that don’t work, the last resort is persecution. In years past i couldn’t see how some of ”the greatest lights would go out” according to inspiration. But i can see how that can happen now, and more and more as we come closer to Christs return. But inspiration also says that some of these that stepped off the foundation will step back on it. We just want to pray for our leaders that they step back on the foundation.

  4. Jeff Ruetz says:

    I understand that it was John Stanton that used to be on 3ABN,
    that said they could not study our foundational truths in their own home.
    If it was Him, Im shocked. He seemed like a respectful person that would just
    simply agree to disagree. But that’s not the case, He’s a fierce opponent against
    our foundational truth’s, to go into someone house and tell them that they are not
    allowed to study for them selves on what he disagrees with? The devil hates truth
    and the people that reject it will become more and more intolerant as get the closer to the sunday law. Remember, it was Christ’s own people, the pharisees that crucified Him and some of the worst enemies of truth will be right here in our
    church. I appeal to John Stanton to think and really pray about his action
    to see if that was of God or not. Evan Steve Wohlberg didn’t stoop to that level
    The communists in Russia used to go into the people houses and tell them not
    to read the bible in their own homes. How can John Stanton justify his actions??
    All i can say is get ready for a rough ride, stay close to Jesus and stay away from anything that doesn’t glorify God, speaking of worldly things and always defend the truth in season and out of season.

  5. Jeff Ruetz says:

    I mentioned above that it was John Stanton who told that couple
    that they are not to study our foundational truth’s in their own homes . This is not true at all. it was someone else. I guess we got to be careful of what we hear and make sure that it is true before we make a judgement call on what we hear. John told me in a e-mail it wase’nt him and that’s good enough for me. I don’t think we should
    pay much attention to names that float around, just the situation. from now on Im going to the source before i name names , and i encourage everyone to do the same.
    Evan the situation that we hear about, we need to be very careful and make sure that
    someone don’t have an agenda that maybe is based on hurt feelings rather than genuine concern.

  6. Jeff Ruetz says:

    Hi Connard.

    I got a question. What was the issue of the disfellowship of those memebers.
    There is a lot of reasons why members are disfellowshiped so this is why i have to ask.

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