Adventist Pastor Forced To Resign Over Step-Daughter’s Wedding

by Dave Ferguson

Recently, Brett Hadley, a Bible teacher, pastor and drama coach at Highland View Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Maryland, was forced to resign. The reason: he participated in the wedding of his step-daughter, who entered into a same-sex marriage.

When the family planned this event as a family dinner, no one guessed it would result in this beloved teacher losing his job.

The wedding was planned as a family get-together with members of both families and a simple civil ceremony, but someone had to sign the document. When Pastor Hadley signed his step-daughter’s marriage certificate, his involvement was reported to his superiors.

It is my understanding that Pastor Hadley’s theological convictions about same-sex relationships do not differ from the official Adventist position. While I’m sure some will see it differently, it appears that the conflict here is between a father’s love, based on his understanding of Adventist family values, and making sure that all employees adhere to the current church position regarding homosexuality.

By participating in his step-daughter’s wedding, Pastor Hadley was being a father, even if he did not fully agree with his step-daughter. His participation was a simple act of unconditional love.

This kind of unconditional love is exactly how Jesus said Christians would be known.

In his leadership, Jesus was continually expanding our human understanding of God’s love and grace, especially in the face of the religious authorities of His day who had deemed certain groups of people as “outsiders” and “unworthy.”

In John 13:35, Jesus offers his disciples a new commandment: “ By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

As a fully affirming organization, Seventh-day Adventist Kinship International works to extend this unconditional love to LGBT people who are current and former Adventists and their families. Kinship provides a “city of refuge” by ministering to the spiritual, emotional, social, and physical well-being of LGBT people who have been made to feel unwelcome in their churches and schools.

Although not being viewed favorably by the Church, Kinship feels a strong sense of mission to follow the example of Jesus in ministering to those who have been marginalized because of a sexual orientation they did not choose, and we appreciate the family members who support them as allies.

I hope and pray that someday soon my Church will be willing to have a conversation with God’s children who have a different orientation or gender identity.

While some continue to question my faith and loyalty to the Church simply because of my sexual orientation, I do not question that school officials seek to do what is best. But I do hope that the lives of the young people at Highland View Academy will continue to have a higher priority than political pressure and denominational fears of being “too easy on sin.”

As a former pastor, I have seen an increasing number of our members leave the Church, especially young adults, because they believe it is more interested in upholding a position than in caring for and extending unconditional love to members of the church family.

This is reinforced when such harsh actions are taken against beloved pastors and spiritual leaders like Pastor Hadley, whose only transgression was extending unconditional love to his step-daughter.

Showing up to love each other unconditionally seems like the very epitome of what Jesus said we’d be known for.

It would be wonderful if that was the goal for every pastor and church administrator.

Adapted from a letter posted by SDA Kinship; Image via flickr user Sarah Shelmidine

Comments (10)


I believe love is in lifting
I believe love is in lifting the sinner up and praying for the Holy Spirits conviction of sinful behavior. Not endorsing the behavior with a signature that says I approve. People are having to decide between God and self. Satan is not trying to get the children… but their parents and loved ones as well. Pray for the condition of believers today asking that God’s will be done and that we would come to know and love and obey our heavenly father.

Jaynee Jackson

It’s abhorrent the way that
It’s abhorrent the way that SDA leadership treats those who do not meet their ideals. Very nearly, every time I open up about my SDA upbringing, I meet someone else who was mistreated by the establishment and who has left as a result. There are lots of deep wounds being inflicted by the Seventh Day Adventist church, it is not okay.


Yes he was showing
Yes he was showing unconditional love. But, when you take money (salary) from an organization, if you diverge so far from their stated beliefs, you no longer represent them. Why would you expect to keep taking their money if you don’t agree with them? If you agree, don’t act in conflict; if you don’t agree with them, leave and don’t take their money.


My thoughts exactly, Jeanie.
My thoughts exactly, Jeanie. Just go join another church, for Pete’s sake!


Dave Ferguson, I am very
Dave Ferguson, I am very surprised at this blog by you. You are implying that Jesus would have went to this wedding as well. That is absolutely false. Jesus loves the sinner but would never endorse any form of sinful behavior. If you didn’t know the bible is very clear that any one practice homosexuality, lesbianism when he comes will NOT enter into the kingdom of God. This is not unconditional love as you state. This is not standing your ground for what is right. This mindset that you share has unfortunately entered into the church. But I guess this is prophecy. I hope The Lord will touch your heart and open up your eyes to right and wrong so we can share the gospel the right way. God bless.

Patricia Fox

I would challenge you to cite
I would challenge you to cite one single word attributed to Jesus declaring same sex relationships sinful. Instead, he admonished us to “love one another” and there was no “except.” That need to love our neighbor and to love our God were the essence of the ministry of Jesus. You might also recall a bit of advice on judging others.

just a guy

it is written – For they
it is written – For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

this is not even a matter up for debate, the bible is clear on this.


What I don’t understand about
What I don’t understand about ministers who perform same-sex marriages which violate their churches’ teachings is why don’t they just quit those intolerant churches and join a church which is more accepting? It seems pretty hypocritical to me to continue to belong to a church (or any other organization, for that matter) which has tenants with which one does not agree.

just a guy

there is no other church that
there is no other church that teaches the sanctuary doctrine… so no he can’t join another church. if you don’t know what this is maybe you should investigate it. It is the basis of the SDA church, and indeed it should be the basis of every christian life on this earth.

I recommend a sermon by Ivor Meyers called “The Blueprint”

just a guy

By signing the document, he
By signing the document, he as a pastor in the SDA church is attributing to that document that the SDA church supports that marriage. It does not, and thus for his actions he was let go of his Job.
Jesus loves sinners! He died for us while we were yet still in sin! But he did not tell the woman caught in adultery to go back to the man and finish what she started… by no means! Jesus said go, and sin no more. Same sex marriage is not supported in the bible, and it never will be.
If some one wants to have a same sex marriage, by all means go ahead! I will not stop you, and anyone who does try to stop you based on moral grounds is doing the work of Satan. You can not force your personal morality onto someone else. It is demonic in nature to do so.

Is the church forcing their morality on this individual pastor? No. the man is a pastor in the SDA church! He wanted to be a pastor in this church organization thus he took on the morality of the organization when he was ordained. Would the situation be different if he had sex with a teacher? The trust between the organization and this pastor was broken, thus the relationship has ended.

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