The Potomac Conference Executive committee voted on February 26, 2019 to submit the name of Therezinha Barbalho for approval for ordination to the gospel ministry. Barbalho, a woman, serves as pastor in the Silver Spring, MD church. Union approval is required before a conference proceeds with an ordination. The target date for Barbalho’s ordination is June 2019.

The world church voted in General Conference Session 2015 not to permit Divisions to decide unilaterally whether to ordain women to the gospel ministry. Disregard for that decision led the General Conference Executive Committee to create and vote a special compliance process in 2018.

The highest human authority in the church is the General Conference Session held every five years. Between GC Sessions, the General Conference Executive Committee handles necessary business items. The GC in session is analogous to a church business meeting, and the GC executive committee to the church board meeting. In the case of the General Conference, these meetings have global authority. Divisions, unions, and conferences in their turn, are all under the authority of the next higher level of organization. The Church Manual, p. 27, reminds us, “In the Seventh-day Adventist Church structure, no organization determines its own status, nor does it function as if it had no obligations to the Church family beyond its boundaries.”

Because the world church has not approved the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, neither Potomac Conference nor Columbia Union, subsidiary entities that they are, have not been delegated authority \to conduct such an ordination. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the ordained minister is recognized by the Church as having authority to minister on behalf of the church globally. For this reason, no sub-entity can act unilaterally; ordination grants authority across the entire organization.

It is ironic that the Conference and the Union are following the lines of authority to approve such an ordination at the lower levels when they clearly lack the authority at the higher levels. When conferences and unions act unilaterally and in contradiction to the decisions of the world church, they are engaging in a form of congregationalism. They are disrespecting the decision-making process of the very entities which have delegated to them the authority they are misusing. They are sowing disunity in the Church.

3 thoughts on “Potomac Conference to Ordain Woman in June

  1. The major problem rests with the World Church Leadership. The Church in session has spoken and denied this privilege to the field. It is now time to stop kicking the can down the road and take a decided stand. Call it what it is and take action. This blatant refusal to follow the World Church action on the part of the Division, Union and Conference must end. I was on the rostrum with the Potomac President in February (Prior to their decision) and he presented a powerful message on Christ. All the while he was preaching, I felt an uneasiness in my soul that troubled me. How can I support what I believe to be rebellion against God’s Remnant Church and her authority? What would happen if a local Church decided that the tithe can be kept and distributed as the Church sees fit? We would be told to come into line or they would come and lock our doors. This has gone too far! The General Conference needs to act now!

    Reply
    • Jim Cox is right. The GC must act. Calling more meetings and pontificating policy will never produce any viable results.

      The responsibility of discipline lies with the GC. They must use properly ordained authority to do what is necessary for the right results to be attained.

      Reply

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