Last year a document was released that quite succinctly answered some of the key questions in the present controversy over unity and the ordination of women. That document was titled Questions & Answers Regarding Current Issues of Unity Facing the Church. We reproduce this document here in hopes of lending it wider circulation. This document was subtitled, “A response by the General Conference Officers and Division Presidents” (i.e., the top 25 world leaders of the Adventist Church).

We also remind visitors to this site that CAP has made available a document summarizing developments of the past five years titled E-60 and the WO Endgame, which is also quite useful in understanding these developments. Finally, a third document addresses similar policy questions as the above and may be helpful. That document is titled Church policy, Church unity, and Women’s Ordination.

The Trans-European Division at its 2013 Year-end Meeting made several recommendations connected with the issue of Women’s Ordination. Among its recommendations to the world church: “Removing the intricate differences between various levels of ministry, such as the licensed and ordained minister, the licensed minister and the ordained local church elder, the pastor and the local church elder,” that the Church “remove all gender distinctions in its Working Policy related to the ministry,” that “unions, whose constituency meetings in session have voted approval and whose division committee has voted approval, be allowed to maintain an inclusive pastoral ministry which removes all gender distinctions within the work of the church in that union territory,” “recommend that the ritualistic and consecrational flavour of the act of ordination, its vague mixture of granting the Holy Spirit or gifts for ministry and ecclesiastical authority be radically toned done and removed from policy and practice,” recommends “that the imposition of hands be an optional part of the ceremony,” and asks that the church “separate Ordination from Election to an Organisational Office of Leadership.” An article reporting more fully can be found here:

http://www.ted-adventist.org/news/ted-executive-committee-recommends-inclusive-ministry-without-gender-distinctions

A committee in the Division has been at work on these issues for 19 months. Over the coming months TED has plans to offer well over 1,000 pages of material they hope will support these ideas and others. The TED report is by far the legthiest to be sent to the GC Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). TED is also the smallest of the 13 world divisions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, having some 84,000 members.

The following tabulation lists each of the 13 current divisions which make up the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The leftmost column indicates the basic favoring/opposing Women’s Ordination position of their biblical research committee and 2013 division Year-end Meeting vote. In reading the actual completed reports which are now becoming available, we note that in several cases the response is not purely yes/no. Our heart goes out to these Adventists from round the globe who have labored with these issues, and we cherish the thought that they will pardon us for the inevitable simplification in reducing their reports to raw yes/no answers. Every division has been asked to give input to the General Conference TOSC (Theology of Ordination Study Committee). Remember, there is no necessary direct correlation between the view of the broader membership of a division, the views of its administrators, and the vote of its study committee. There is, however, a correlation between the membership of a Division and the number of delegates that shall be sent to the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio. While this list does not include an estimate of the regular delegates to come from each division, it suggests something about the relative delegate count and of the possible direction they could be coming from when vote is taken concerning the ordination question.

WO  DIV MEMBERSHIP NAME
=====================================================
No   ECD 2,704,468  East-Central Africa Division
No   ESD   120,351  Euro-Asia Division
Indt IAD 3,612,480  Inter-American Division
Indt IED   177,902  Inter-European Division
Yes  NAD 1,135,233  North American Division
Yes  NSD   661,652  Northern Asia-Pacific Division
No   SAD 2,101,991  South American Division
No   SID 3,062,672  South Africa-Indian Ocean Division
Yes  SPD   423,891  South Pacific Division
No   SSD 1,175,324  Southern Asia-Pacific Division*
Indt SUD 1,607,108  Southern Asia Division
Yes  TED    84,093  Trans-European Division
No   WAD   866,254  West-Central Africa Division
No   = No
Yes  = Yes
Indt = Indeterminate

*This is a close call. The SSD BRC recommendation is more indeterminate, but the decided majority was “no,” often by approximately a 2 to 1 margin in the eight votes recorded by the committee at the end. In all cases, we encourage readers seeking more exact data to read the actual reports on the Adventistarchives.org website.

Last updated: 2014-01-31 06:27Z

State of the Church – Ted Wilson from GCComm on Vimeo.

BREAKING NEWS. This video was released late on the afternoon of Thursday, November 14, 2013. In it, Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, shares a “state of the church” address. The release of this message directly to the church viewership in this way is unusual. Wilson tells about the powerful movings of the Holy Spirit upon the church round the world right now, but also shares four special concerns which are weighing on his heart. Included among these is a special concern over disunity and some segments of the Church ignoring the agreed policies by which the church works together.

It may appear to the world church that the North American Division is immovably united in favor of Women’s Ordination. This is far from the case. Many Adventists in the small towns surrounding our universities in North America do favor Women’s Ordination. There are a few geographical locations like Southern California, Western Oregon, and parts of Ohio, where this is also the case. However, it is probably still true that the majority of Adventists in North America are not committed to Women’s Ordination. Many oppose it on serious biblical grounds.

Many NAD administrators and scholars seem in favor. But not all. For example, Edwin E. Reynolds teaches in the religion department at Southern Adventist University. Clinton Wahlen is an associate director of the Biblical Research Institute. Both are members in the North American Division and were among those selected to engage in study on behalf of the North American Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee. They have prepared a powerful study in which they dissent from the Majority report. This material is included as part of the NAD Report released on November 2, 2013. We have made available in the following link the full North American Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee Minority Report.

http://ordinationtruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/nad-ordination-14-minority.pdf

In the report, Reynolds and Wahlen point in particular to the central issue of interpretive method. “The current divergence in views on the subject of women’s ordination is due in part to different understandings of the nature of Scripture and how it should be interpreted. . . Some advocate an approach that takes into account the ‘trajectory’ of Scripture. . . extrapolated so that the trajectory beyond and outside of Scripture can be seen. . . such an approach, even though it might broadly affirm the Bible’s inspiration, nevertheless undermines it by characterizing selected portions of Scripture as time- and culture-bound and, therefore, tinged with the author’s prejudicial views on such topics, rather than God’s thoughts which are valid for all places and all time” (p. 195). The authors are concerned about this approach, and warn, “it is one thing to study the historical-cultural backgrounds to enlighten our understanding of the setting in which the text was written; it is another thing altogether to suggest that the text was culturally conditioned and that, therefore, a trajectory beyond the text must be constructed for our current, more enlightened age” (pp. 196, 197).

Reynolds and Wahlen look closely at passages like Genesis two, Deborah in Judges, 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11, among others. They conclude that “ordaining women represents a significant departure from the biblical model” (p. 207). And, they warn that “To follow the Bible model on the issue of women’s ordination will require courage like that of our pioneers. Nevertheless, it is the only basis on which we can expect to maintain global unity, receive God’s continued blessing, and, most importantly, anticipate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to finish His work” (p. 208).

Among the varied studies produced on Women’s Ordination in the past five years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, few illuminate so much in so compact a space as this document. The Council of Adventist Pastors encourages all to read the NAD Theology of Ordination Study Committee Report Minority Report.

With Year-end Meetings occurring in the 13 divisions across the world field, the reports of each division are being received by those divisions in preparation to be passed to the GC Theology of Ordination Study Committee. These reports are scheduled to be presented to TOSC in January 2014.

The South Pacific Division, which includes Australia and many other units in the South Pacific region, has received its Biblical Research Committee report favoring Women’s Ordination. More information, as well as a six-page summary of their work, can be found here:

http://record.net.au/items/spd-recommends-womens-ordination.

The report that follows was made public today (November 12, 2013) by the Inter-European Division. While we do not concur with the decision of their study committee, we share their news release here as pertinent to the the chief topic we have been investigating.

Madrid, Spain [Corrado Cozzi]. The Inter-European Division will recommend to the Seventh-day Adventist world church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee that there is room for the church to ordain women to pastoral ministry.

The recommendation follows study of the papers presented at the division’s Biblical Research Committee [BRC] as well as those prepared for the Theology of Ordination Study Committee this year from January 15 to 17 and July 22 to 24.

The process is part of the world church’s ongoing study of the theology of ordination, which was first established at the denomination’s General Conference Session in 2010. Each of the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions is preparing its own report, and world church officials have promised to bring back a compiled report to the 2015 General Conference Session.

The Inter-European Division’s recommendation stems from several points:

  1. The Bible does not specifically define what ordination for
    pastoral ministry is.
  2. There are no direct statements in the Bible either commanding or
    prohibiting women’s ordination.
  3. As the church felt free to develop its organizational structure
    to further its mission based on biblical principles, division BRC
    members consider ordination not as a doctrinal or biblical issue, but something that must be handled at an administrative level.
  4. There are no clear biblical principles that would require or
    guide the application of the principle of headship in the family or the church.
  5. The Old Testament priesthood has its fulfillment in the unique
    priesthood of Christ, which is the basis for the priesthood of all
    believers.
  6. BRC members were unclear over why ordination requires a
    differentiation between genders that doesn’t exist in other levels of ministry or service, such as teachers, deacons, prophets and leaders.

Based on the report of the Biblical Research Committee, the Executive Committee of the Inter-European Division recommends the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, taking into consideration the possibility of applying it according to the needs of the fields (http://eud.adventist.org/news/detail/date/2013/11/12/inter-european-division-will-recommend-that-there-is-room-for-womens-ordination/, accessed 2013-11-12).

The decision was made at the Division’s 2013 Year-end Meeting. The Inter-European Division is one of 13 Divisions which make up the world-wide Seventh-day Adventist Church. There are nearly 18 million members of the church. Inter-European Division has approximately 178,000 members. It is composed of the Austrian, Bulgarian, Czecho-Slovakian, Franco-Belgian, Italian, North German, Portuguese, Romanian, South German, Spanish, and Swiss Unions.

Kevin D. Paulson takes a look at the authority of the General Conference. He responds to charges presently being published on other websites that the General Conference, in asking that Unions not ordain women, has exceeded its authority. Gary Patterson offers such ideas. Paulson checks them against the Working Policy. FIND IT HERE.

2013-10-31

A RESPONSE FROM THE GENERAL CONFERENCE TO RECENT ACTIONS IN NORTH AMERICA

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been called by God as an urgent, end-time voice proclaiming God’s love and last day message to the world. He has commissioned us to proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12 to people worldwide desperately looking for hope. The message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is unique and is heaven-sent. Our top priority as a church is knowing Jesus ourselves and sharing His message of redemption. Nothing is to stand in the way of this proclamation as we unite to reach every “nation, kindred, tongue and people” with the “everlasting gospel.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a fellowship of believers bound together by a common commitment to Christ, the truths of the Bible, a worldwide church organization and a mission to the world. Each of these elements is vitally important in preserving the unity of the church and keeping it from fracturing. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not organized as a collection of independent units. Although each Conference/Mission, Union and the General Conference (which includes the divisions) have their own constituencies, they are also united by common commitments, mutual trust and agreed upon policies. The Church, the body of Christ, is inter-related. Actions that affect one part of the body affect the whole. The Apostle Paul stated it succinctly in these words, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”(1 Corinthians 12:12)

Working Policy, which is the recording of our agreements as to how we will work together to do the Lord’s work and mission, serves as one of the practical unifying agents that the Holy Spirit uses to bind the church together. Policy is not inflexible. It can be changed but it reflects the understanding of the collective group, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When personal convictions are placed ahead of the collective policy decisions of the worldwide church, troubling precedents are set. God works in an orderly way and wishes His church to exemplify this sanctified behavior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Humility and submission to God for the good of the church body as outlined in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy are fundamental Biblical principles for the benefit of the church.

At the 2012 Annual Council in a voted action entitled, “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures, and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination,” the world church strongly indicated that it does not recognize as ordained ministers individuals who do not meet the criteria outlined in policy. It deeply concerns the world leadership of the church that recently a local conference constituency elected as a conference president an individual who is not recognized by the world church as an ordained minister. Ordination to the ministry is one of the criteria set forth for being a conference president. General Conference administration is working with the North American Division administration as they deal with the implications of this local conference action, which is contrary to the 2012 Annual Council action.

The world church is currently working together in a Theology of Ordination Study Committee with participation by all divisions to better understand the functions of ordination as well as the role of women in relation to ordination to the gospel ministry. A careful process is functioning and reports will be given to the 2014 Annual Council with the expectation that this subject will go to the 2015 General Conference Session for a decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We have every confidence in the Lord’s leading of His precious remnant church. By God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the church will find its way through this challenging time as we move forward with the unique message and mission entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist movement. It is God’s plan that we proclaim His end-time, prophetic truth to every corner of the globe and especially the enormous metropolitan centers of the world through “Mission to the Cities” utilizing every form of comprehensive urban evangelism including comprehensive health ministry and many other methods. We urge all church members and leaders to pray that the Holy Spirit will unite us to fulfill Christ’s promise that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) United in Christ’s love, bound together in a common Biblical message, linked through a common church organization and committed to one another with mutual respect and trust through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are confident this church will triumph at last and proclaim Christ’s eternal message of truth to the ends of the earth in anticipation of Jesus’ soon second coming.

—The General Conference Executive Officers

Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick has investigated in particular the history of the past five years that have brought so much disunity to the world church. He tells the tragic backstory of these developments in “E-60 and the WO Endgame.”

First, download (the accompanying chart) that will help the reader understand the sequence of developments and print it out. Then FIND THE PDF VERSION HERE or the standard HTML/mobile version HERE.