On November 11, 2012, the Netherlands Union constituency voted to approve the ordination of women, and the conference executive committee made that decision effective on May 30, 2013 and announced the action publically on July 5, 2013. These actions were contrary to General Conference voted policy (1995 and 2000), in reality a path of insubordination also taken by the Columbia and Pacific Unions in the US and the Northern German Union in Europe.

On September 21, the Netherlands Union unilaterally acted on their earlier decision. Union president Wim Altink charged ordination candidates to faithful service after which hands were laid on them, one being Ms. Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie. The ordination ceremony was conducted in Christus Koning church in the Hague, Netherlands.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is a world body. In the SDA church, ordination to the gospel ministry carries worldwide authority. The church of 17+ million members seeks out biblical consensus and makes key decisions collectively, including the decision of whether or not women are eligible for ordination. Since the beginning of the church it has never adopted the practice of ordaining women as ministers with global authority. A decision to change this can only be made in a General Conference session. Such meetings occur every five years, next in 2015. After prayerful study and deliberation, thousands of delegates representing every part of the Lord’s vineyard vote in a decision binding upon every part of the world church.

For union or conference officers to participate in such an ordination as happened in Netherlands is in contradiction to the practice of the world church. For a candidate to receive ordination illegally—or for other ordained ministers to offer it—is a repudiation of the call to be a faithful servant to Jesus through His body, the church.

In another action, related yet unilateral in a different way, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SECC) is recommending to its constituents that they vote Ms. Sandra Roberts as their new conference president on October 27. The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not presently accept the ordination of women as clergy. If that conference should elect Ms. Roberts, they, as Netherlands Union, will by their actions be increasing the fragmentation and disunity of the church.

Ms. Roberts, since the NAD/GC does not recognise her as an ordained minister, cannot be recognized as a conference president. This is certainly known by all parties including the SECC nominating committee.

In fact, neither of the insubordinate actions described in this post are recognized as valid by the world church. Such actions should be seen for what they are—symbolic political statements endeavoring to increase pressure on the General Conference to approve Women’s Ordination.

The General Conference has already made clear its position. A study process is in progress (Theology of Ordination Study Committee) moving toward the General Conference session in San Antonio, TX USA in 2015. The leadership of the world church has asked units of the church, in the interest of unity, not to act unilaterally.

“The 1990(3) and 1995(4) General Conference Session decisions with respect to granting ministerial ordination to women represent the current voice of the Church in this matter. The actions of certain unions indicate their desire to establish an alternative source of authority for a matter that already carries the authority of the world Church” (“An Appeal for Unity in Respect to Ministerial Ordination Practices,” http://news.adventist.org/archive/articles/2012/06/29/on-ordination-questions-adventist-leadership-appeals-for-orderly-process).

“The essence of unity in Seventh-day Adventist organizational functioning is the mutual commitment of all organizations to collective decision-making in matters affecting the whole family—and the acceptance of those decisions as the authority of the Church. The action of any union in pursuing a different course of action represents a rejection of this key value in denominational life” (Ibid.).

In this document, our Seventh-day Adventist leaders made four specific appeals to erring units:

1. That your union continues to operate in harmony with the global decisions and global decision-making processes of the Church.
2. That until such time as the Church decides otherwise, your union refrains from taking any action to implement ministerial ordination practices that are contrary to the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session actions.
3. That the union membership be informed concerning the implications for the entire Church in the event that one entity, for whatever reason, chooses a course of action in deliberate opposition to a decision of the whole Church.
4. That the union actively participates in the global discussion about the Church’s understanding and practice of ordination. The contributions of a union in this discussion can be forwarded to the Theology of Ordination Study Committee through the respective Ordination Study Committee set up by each division (Ibid.).

As seen in the Netherlands Union and potential SECC actions, these units are aggressively pursuing a course in contradiction to items 1, 2 and 3 above. The issue seems to have a power almost to charm individuals. Recently, Trans-European Divison president Bertil Wiklander, after an impassioned presentation in favor of Women’s Ordination, stated “I am converted completely to what I said tonight. I would die for it.” (“Ordination: The Ongoing Search for Understanding,” http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2013/09/13/ordination-ongoing-search-understanding, accessed 2013-09-25).

We can be sure that God is still leading His church on a worldwide basis. The church has a process in motion to resolve the questions surrounding the practice of Women’s Ordination and the spirit which has so far attended it. Heartfelt appeals have been made and still stand. We may pray that these units will return to the family they seem bent on leaving. There is still time to return.

The Southeastern California Conference (SECC) has nominated Sandra Roberts to serve as president of that conference (http://seccsession.org/nominating-committee-report, accessed 2013-09-18). The nominating committee recommendation to delegates is that the constituency session to be held on October 27, 2013 vote to appoint Ms. Roberts to this position. Roberts is currently executive secretary of SECC. However, the Seventh-day Adentist Church, in harmony with biblical principle, throughout its history has ordained only males to this leadership role. The current edition of the Church Manual, states that:

“The conference president should be an ordained pastor of experience and good report. He stands at the head of the gospel ministry in the conference and is the chief elder, or overseer, of all the churches” (Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 2010 ed., p. 32).

The position of conference president is one of male headship. The Adventist Church has nothing against any particular “she,” but the church has indicated that this is a “he” position. The pastor who functions as president “stands at the head of the gospel ministry in the conference.” The apostle Paul stated the authority principle clearly in 2 Timothy 2:12:

“I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (ESV).

The highest position involving the exercise of authority in a conference is that of its president. No unit which is part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has authority to appoint a female person to this male-specific office. Two General Conference sessions (1990, 1995) forbade any such innovation. If, on October 27 constituents vote as their nominating committee recommends, by this act they shall place Southeastern California Conference in an unambiguous position of voted rebellion against the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick takes a look at findings prepared by Robert Yarbrough and makes a “surprise” discovery: theological studies supporting Womens’ Ordination published in Theological Journals suddenly change direction in 1969. Who would have imagined that? FIND IT HERE.

The papers which have so far been presented at the General Conference’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee have been posted online now for all to read. Here are the links:

http://www.adventistarchives.org/january-2013-papers-presented#.UgAcV9-B1M0.

http://www.adventistarchives.org/july-2013-papers-presented#.UgAcnd-B1M0.

http://www.adventistarchives.org/papers-revised-and-resubmitted#.UgAcst-B1M0.

By OrdinationTruth.com staff

Last week the General Conference’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) met in its second substantial meeting and voted 86-8 to approve a consensus statement concerning ordination. We are interested in the developing thought of the committee seen in the areas touched by this document.

In the first of five paragraphs, all members of the church are included in a “royal priesthood.” Believers are called by God and engage in the God-appointed mission of the body. They serve according to the gifts God bestows.

The next paragraph makes clear that beside this general ministry, there are more particularized kinds. There is ministry in terms of “specific leadership positions.” These are on the basis of particular “biblical qualifications,” among them, those sex-specific items found in 1 Timothy 3:1-12 and Titus 5-9. Persons are called to serve in these “offices” for “local and global church ministry.” This is amplified by recognition in the document that “some leaders were itinerant and supervised greater territory with multiple congregations” (third paragraph).

One argument that has been urgent to some of those favoring either the ordination of women or a significant overhaul of the Adventist understanding of it, has been that ordination, as it has been practiced by Adventists, is little more than an error emanating from a Roman Catholic tradition that we have copied unwittingly.

This idea is seen, for example, in the 1998 volume, Women in Ministry (WIM). Daniel Augsberger’s chapter “Clerical Authority and Ordination in the Early Christian Church,” closed arguing that

By mid-fourth century the bishops had taken over the power to preach and the authority to judge Christians. . . Clericalism had triumphed. . . . Adventist ordination that is valid worldwide reflects a later,
Augustinian concept of ordination (p. 96).

The idea represented here has been that anything approaching ordination as Seventh-day Adventists have understood it is wrong. Especially here, the new consensus statement is of special interest. The statement rejects this idea found both in WIM and in more recent discussions. The committee concludes rather that the basic Adventist approach is
consonant with Scripture; it is valid. This, then, is an important point of clarification: there is an identifiable biblical approach to this question, and the present Adventist Church position is confirmed.

More might be said. But as we look on and consider the development of this consensus, we see a position whose shapers have sought to develop in a manner biblically defensible. Interestingly, the statement as voted has room for both a baseline equality of men and women, even while honoring distinct, differentiated, creation-assigned sex-roles.

As earlier mentioned, here already is a trend away from the position of the chapter in WIM and toward a more biblical one. Not only has the world church never indicated progress toward the position of the WIM book, but here is seen movement away from that position. We concur that there is a kind of biblically consistent ordination, there is a royal priesthood in which we as believers participate, and at the same time, there are roles which are Scripturally mediated by specific qualifications.

We encourage church members to continue to lift up TOSC participants in prayer. We have added the TOSC consensus statement to our growing list of resources available on OrdinationTruth.com. Download it here:

TOSC-Theology of Ordination Consensus Statement.

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO ALL SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS

NPUC Supporting Pastors
PO Box 19424
Spokane, WA 99219

OrdinationTruth.com
contact@ordinationtruth.com

North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC), North American Division, February 24, 2013: The NPUC Executive Committee (Ex Com) on February 20 reconsidered their previous decision to call a special constituency session to address Women’s Ordination. A majority of the Executive Committee chose not to rescind their November 14, 2013 decision but voted to confirm their previous decision. The Ex Com vote completely disregarded the concerns expressed by the NPUC Supporting Pastors in their January 30, 2013 letter to the presidents.

Ex Com actually plans to hold a special constituency session of the NPUC between November 2014 and February 2015, a full four months before the July 2015 General Conference session. This, in a Union in which no consensus exists within the constituency in favor of Women’s Ordination.

The published report of the latest Ex Com action in the February 21, 2013 Gleaner article, “NPUC Updates its Ordination Plan,” predicts action beyond even that taken by the Columbia and Pacific Unions. It indicates that if the GC does not recommend and vote the ordination of women at the GC World Quinquennial Session of July, 2015, “the NPUC has resolved to then move ahead on its own.” The NPUC—months before the GC session—may unilaterally dismiss July 2015 Quinquennial Session action by the world church. Such action could place at risk the existence of the North Pacific Union as a unit of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The General Conference is engaged in a substantial study process through the Theology of Ordination Study Committee. But NPUC Ex Com has reactivated its Ad Hoc Committee on Women in Leadership to prepare additional “educative” materials and to develop a timeline for action. What “action”? The Gleaner describes an intentionality to plan for Women’s Ordination independently of the world church.

The Union paper continues to operate with a clear bias favoring the ordination of women to headship positions.

The NPUC Supporting Pastors stated that they shall continue to offer their views in contrast. OrdinationTruth.com is an alternative source for information regarding views on Women’s Ordination not published in NAD union papers. The Supporting Pastors reissued their call for that manifestation of the type of Biblical unity illustrated, taught and practiced by the Seventh-day Adventist Church from its beginning until now according to the Scriptural model of Acts 15:1-24. This unity could be expressed by rescinding the February 20, 2013 action to hold a special constituency meeting before the 2015 General Conference session.

The Supporting Pastors recognize the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and its voted directives at duly called General Conference sessions as the ultimate human expression of ecclesiastical authority in Seventh-day Adventist Church polity. Unilateral actions by unions, including North Pacific Union, are invalid. The Supporting Pastors stated that they are continuing to pray for divine guidance for Union Leadership concerning this issue.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO ALL SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS

NPUC Supporting Pastors
PO Box 19424
Spokane, WA 99219

OrdinationTruth.com
contact@ordinationtruth.com


North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC), North American Division, February 4, 2013: Today the NPUC Supporting Pastors launched the OrdinationTruth.com website. At launch, twenty-eight ministers formally lent their support, choosing to be named and listed as Supporting Pastors. As more pastors learn of this encouragement toward unity, it is anticipated the list will speedily grow.

Those within the Union advocating in favor of Women’s Ordination are preparing for a special constituency meeting of the Union where NPUC could move ahead of the world church. The Supporting Pastors came together to respond to this emergency. They respectfully ask that the NPUC Executive Committee rescind its November 2012 decision and that no special constituency meeting to act on Women’s Ordination be held before the 2015 General Conference session.

In 2012, two of nine North American Division union constituencies voted to act independently of the world Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). Those two unions moved unilaterally to ordain women as pastors. The SDA Church rejected similar initatives in 1990 and 1995 General Conference sessions. In Adventist polity, an ordained minister carries authority to function across the world field. Union conferences do not have authority to determine whether women shall be ordained within their territories; this decision rests with the combined Church represented by the General Conference. A group within the NPUC also launched a union-wide initiative intended to lead to a special meeting. But such action at this time could align the North Pacific Union with other insubordinate unions.

OrdinationTruth.com is intended as a fresh venue where information can be shared highlighting Christian teachings about unity, order, and gender in the Church. The site also exists to help assure that the conversation about Women’s Ordination in the Union is balanced. The Union paper has carried only one side of the question. Immediately, and in weeks and months to come, OrdinationTruth.com will carry news, articles, and studies addressing questions of unity and Women’s Ordination, especially within the territory of the NPUC. There is also an e-mail list where interested persons can participate as the situation unfolds. For these materials, more detailed positions, and participation options, persons are directed to http://www.OrdinationTruth.com.

Initially published documents include an overview document as well as, “Ordination: God’s Purpose versus Satan’s Designs,” found in the FEATURES section of the site.

The NPUC Supporting Pastors seek to work in harmony with the NPUC and invite prayer for Union leadership and support for the world church in this difficult hour.

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The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination of 17 million members operating in 230 nations. The NPUC (North Pacific Union) Supporting Pastors are Seventh-day Adventist ministers called to serve in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Upper Columbia, Idaho, and Montana conferences. In particular, they are led to give voice to the understanding of Seventh-day Adventists who (1) seek to work in harmony with the world church as represented by the General Conference, and/or (2) who cannot conscientiously support as an appropriate practice Women’s Ordination in the present situation. NPUC Supporting Pastors recognize the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church located in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA as the ultimate organizational authority within SDA polity.