Post 71, Women’s Ordination: Are we reaching a tipping point?

The following paragraphs are cited from the ADVENTIST TODAY newsletter that is usually available on my computer each Sabbath morning when I wake up. This report seems so crucial for my readers that I will cite several sections of it, but I encourage you all to go to the original source for a wealth of related information.

“Delegates from the local conferences of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in five western states will convene Sunday in a special session. It was called specifically to consider a recommendation from the Pacific Union Conference executive committee to end the practice of refusing ordination for women serving in pastoral ministry.”

“If the delegates approve the recommendation, it will be the third union conference around the world to take this step. The North German Union and the Columbia Union have already voted the same action. The Adventist Church in China has been ordaining women pastors since the 1980s.”

The report next points out that the” recommendation was approved by a vote of 42 to 2 by the union conference executive committee on May 9,” that listed six reasons for the action.” We need to be aware that “if the recommendation is voted, the Pacific Union Conference will not change any procedures. It has for the last ten years processed approvals for both ordained and commissioned ministers together in one list and it will continue to do so. Local conferences will have the choice of ordaining approved women, and at least one of the conferences has already taken the step of issuing Ordained Minister credentials to the women who were commissioned in the past.”

However, “The General Conference (GC) officers have issued two documents arguing that the delegates should vote against the recommendation. They give three reasons: (1) The GC Session voted in 1990 not to go ahead with the ordination of women to the gospel ministry although the study commission did not find any biblical reasons for not doing so. (2) At the 2010 GC Session the current GC president announced another study of ordination which was later authorized by the GC executive committee and is to result in a report to the 2015 GC Session. (3) If the union conference goes ahead of the current study it will break the unity of the denomination and result in ‘grave consequences’.”

We Adventist who live in distant parts of the world need to clearly appraise the arguments, pro and con. “Some Adventists argue the ‘male headship’ doctrine which is taught by the Southern Baptist Convention, but the Adventist denomination has consistently taken a position against this doctrine as the Baptists have developed it over the last three or four decades and even conservative Adventist Bible scholars oppose it. Some even resort to the same arguments used by the papacy to defend an all-male clergy in the Catholic church.”

“Spectrum, the journal of the largest organization of Adventist academics, has published a list of three web sites that oppose the Pacific Union recommendation.” One entitled “Christ or Culture” asserts that ordaining women “presents a serious crisis that threatens to fragment our beloved church, create confusion in our homes, and cripple the progress of the three angels’ messages.”

“Those who oppose the ordination of women have used the words ‘rebellion’ and ‘mutiny’ in recent weeks in response to the vote of the Columbia Union Conference constituency delegates by a four to one margin to end gender discrimination. Last week GC President Ted Wilson appealed for ‘unity’ in an interview on the independent television channel, Three Angels Broadcasting.”

“Because the Pacific Union Conference includes an amendment to its bylaws on the agenda Sunday as part of the package of recommendations, that item will require a two-thirds majority vote. This opens the possibility of a mixed outcome in which the majority votes in favor of ordaining women but the bylaws amendment fails to get a sufficiently large majority to pass.”

“The General Conference made a specific request to Adventist Today for us to publish the latest and most detailed statement from the GC officers on this topic:  http://www.adventistreview.org/artcle/5601/archives/issue-2012-1522/questions-and-answers-regarding-issues-of-unity.”

So there you have available arguments from both sides of this important issue. I hope ADVENTIST TODAY will forgive me for quoting its report at such length. Do log on to the ADVENTIST TODAY and SPECTRUM sites, and keep reading ADVENTIST REVIEW.

Arthur Patrick, posted 18 August 2012

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About adventiststudies

Arthur Nelson Patrick, DMin, PhD, is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Avondale College of Higher Education, New South Wales, Australia
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