The United Methodist Church (began ordaining women in 1956) is today dealing with pastors performing same-sex unions in defiance of their own denominational Book of Discipline. We included a link to a previous video about the attempt to legitimize homosexual practice at the 2012 UMC GC session. The 11 minute video above updates some developments since then. While this is not specifically a Seventh-day Adventist matter, there are similarities between the Methodist and Adventist Churches—as there are between the women’s ordination and homosexual practice advocacies (both driven by liberation theology) (See also LGBTQ theology).

UPDATE 2013-12-24: Pastor Mark Shaeffer (the subject of some of the video material above) was defrocked by the United Methodist Church on December 19, 2013 after he refused to be repentant for his actions, refused to commit himself to uphold the UMC Book of Discipline, and refused to surrender his credentials.

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.

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.

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.

UPDATED: 2013-11-05 01:51: Adventist Review Reports on the NAD TOSC Report here: http://www.adventistreview.org/article/6791/archives/issue-2013-1530/30-cn-north-america-church-leaders-receive-theology-of-ordination-report.

2013-11-04 21:59: As the North American Division Year-end Meeting draws to a close, the NAD has finally come to its Division report for the Theology of Ordination Study committee. They voted to receive the report, although 31 voted “No.” NAD has also launched a new website (NADOrdination.com) with several videos. What will surprise some is that NAD has now come out into the open with a new hermeneutical approach in contrast to the Historical-grammatical approach of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The new approach has been designated by its advocates the “Principle-based Historical-cultural” method (PBHC). Kyoshin Ahn writes positively about the new hermeneutic as a representing “a whole new movement in biblical studies. . . . The overwhelming majority of the [NAD] committee feels that these difficult passages [passages mentioned by those who oppose WO] require the modern Adventist reader to employ a principle-based approach” (North American Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee Report, pp. 23, 31). In the Minority Report, included in the NAD-TOSC Report, Edwin H. Reynolds and Clinton Wahlen ably point out the dangers of unsound interpretive approaches. Warn Reynolds and Wahlen in their minority report, “. . .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. If the latter were true, it would mean that the Bible does not set forth universal principles but only that which was perceieved by the inspire writers to be valid for the local situation at the time or, even worse, reflects then-current prejudices and misunderstandings” (Ibid., pp. 196, 197). No doubt, CAP shall publish more on these developments in due course.

2013-10-31 13:26: It appears so far that the first report below may be correct. Ms. Roberts is said to have been welcomed at the Year-end Meeting by NAD Secretary G. Alexander Bryant. Long applause is reported. The NAD, PUC, and the SECC seem to be jointly aligned in upholding actions which are in defiance of the General Conference in session.

2013-10-31 07:22: General Conference Statement “Moving Forward Together” here: http://www.adventistreview.org/article/6780/archives/issue-2013-1530/30-cn-moving-forward-together. Excerpt from the statement: “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.” (This statement appears now here: http://news.adventist.org/all-news/news/go/2013-10-31/adventist-officers-release-statement-regarding-a-local-conferences-recent-election-of-president-1/. The NAD Year-end Meeting begins on October 31 at 1:30 Eastern time.

2013-10-31 00:40: It is being reported that NAD officers and the union officers from the NAD met on October 30 and confirmed that Sandy Roberts will be given the same registration packet and badge as everyone else and will participate in the NAD Year End Meetings the same as every other elected president of a local conference.

If this is true, and if it actually comes to pass that Ms. Roberts will be a voting participant in this YEM, the North American Division will be openly aligning itself with the insubordination of the Southeastern California Conference that elected a woman in a position the world church only authorizes men to fill. If indeed this comes to pass it will mean that the NAD stands in open violation of its own Working Policy. Check E-60.

NOTE: Information in this post is to be considered only tentative until confirmed.

NOTE: This post will be updated.

Constituents of the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) voted today directly contradicting the global position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). The SDA Church does not accept Women’s Ordination or the placement of women in the conference presidency. But today, October 27, 2013, the SECC made Sandra E. Roberts its president. The vote occurred during the Quinquennial Constituency meeting held at the La Sierra University Church in Riverside, California. The SECC has been a subsection and interlocking unit of the world SDA Church.

The president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson phoned Pacific Union president Ricardo Graham Saturday evening and stated that such action, if voted, was out of policy, and that the General Conference would not recognize her as president. (SECC is part of the Pacific Union.) This information was shared with the delegates. During the meeting, several delegates spoke in opposition to the action and in support of the world church. But eventually, the majority voted to elect Roberts.

Southeastern California Conference is a part of the 18 million member Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Church has been carefully organized as an interlocking community. Local members are joined in their local church congregation; these congregations are organized together as conferences; conferences are organized together into unions; unions are organized into divisions of the General Conference. The whole in combination make up one united Seventh-day Adventist Church.

SECC’s meeting was a conference constituency level meeting; the most authoritative administrative body of the Church is the General Conference session. Delegates gather together from round the globe for General Conference sessions every five years. The most recent session was in 2010 and the next in 2015. The meeting enables Spirit-led collective decision making.

In 1990 and 1995 General Conference sessions the Church rejected proposals to permit individual divisions, unions, or conferences (like SECC) to ordain women. As a global organization connecting congregations in more than 220 nations, every subsection of the Church is committed to adhere to determinations offered in General Conference sessions. Unilateral contrary actions—such as that today voted by SECC—are disunifying in nature and prima facie evidence of direct opposition to the world church.

Voted action by 567 SECC delegates has now placed Ms. Roberts and SECC in exactly such a position.

What next? In just four days (Oct. 31) North American Division Year-end Meetings begin, where those gathered include the NAD conference presidents. But current Church Manual (p. 32) and current NAD Working Policy (E-60, p. 244) explicitly prohibit a woman from serving in this position. The North American Division will not be able to include Mrs. Roberts as a presidential participant in its meetings without joining itself to SECC in premeditated opposition toward the world church. All eyes will be on the North American Division and its president as it opens its Year-end Meeting.

The world church is watching the North American Division. After all, ultimately it was NAD’s change of Working Policy E-60 in 2010—and later recognition of its having exceeded its own authority—that led NAD President Dan Jackson to instruct NAD unions on January 31, 2012 concerning how to “move this matter forward” and “consider new approaches,”

“The North American Division and its Unions and Conferences (as local circumstances permit) must become more intentional in the development of pathways to ministry for female pastors. We must also develop intentional methods of mentoring women who can take on executive leadership positions within our conferences. . . . We must continue to move this matter forward throughout the North American Division. . .” (See E-60 Letter, Dan Jackson, http://ordinationtruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/nadletterdanjackson-e60.pdf).

In the same letter, Jackson admitted that in adding the word “commissioned,” NAD had erred and indicated that the word “commissioned” would be removed from NAD Working Policy in the 2011-2012 edition. Thus, NAD Working Policy presently states that “a conference/mission president should be an ordained minister of experience.”

Ms. Roberts does not meet this requirement. Nevertheless, the NAD now has what they wanted—a woman in an executive position of leadership.

But, as much as some NAD officers might like to, the NAD—even president Jackson—cannot with impunity include Mrs. Roberts as a voting participant in the 2013 Year-end meeting in contradiction to NAD and GC Working Policy.

The NAD, already on precarious ground, claiming to respect and stand in harmony with the Church, now has opportunity to show itself part of the world church—by upholding the authorized practices of the world church.

The crisis which has been caused by the NAD has now landed again on their own door step. The global Adventist Church will have evidence whether or not the NAD officers shall demonstrate true respect for the sisterhood of Adventist churches round the world very soon now. On October 31, NAD shall either respect the world church and disallow Ms. Roberts’ participation in the Year-end Meeting, or, they will include her, in demonstration of a spirit of opposition to the world church.

Pastor Wayne Kablanow has been observing trends, and identifies an important part of what is going on behind the drive for Women’s Ordination. Hint: It is a different form of church governance. Curious about his article? FIND IT HERE.