CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE GENERAL CONFERENCE DOCUMENT: Unions and Ordination to the Gospel Ministry


Prior to the August 19 North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Executive Committee meeting, the General Conference Secretariat released a document entitled, “Unions and the Ordination to the Gospel Ministry: Brief Summary and Comprehensive Working Policy Explanation.” General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson wrote to division presidents to explain its purpose.

In his accompanying letter, he states, “The document is provided since there have been some who have proposed the idea that unions have the full prerogative to decide about all aspects of ordination including criteria. As the GC Secretariat document shows, the authority for the unions to make decisions about the approval process for ordination candidates is delegated by the GC Executive Committee and is limited to that review and approval process. The authority for setting the criteria for ordination is not delegated since that is the purview of the world church as outlined in GC WP L 35 and voted on by world representation at Annual Council.”

The letter’s tone is clear and positive. Each division president is requested to forward the material promptly to their respective division officers and to all union presidents. We are grateful to God for the work of responsible leadership at our General Conference to correct a misunderstanding regarding the authority of unions that has created confusion and disunity.

The Secretariat document is a reminder of the principle of delegated authority. Workers across the global field operate under this plan. Members from every part of the world are represented at the GC Session, and this authority is delegated to the elected GC Executive Committee. One of the responsibilities of the GC President as Executive Committee Chair is to help the various units of the church to work together harmoniously according to the authority vested in them by the world body.

We appreciate the work of the Secretariat and the leadership of Elder Wilson and all of our leaders at the GC in producing this wise and well researched policy and historical review document to bring clarification, correction and encouragement to the Church. The clarification should aid units of the church which have erred to make immediate substantive changes so as to come into harmony with the divinely-led vote July 8 in San Antonio. At the General Conference Session in San Antonio, the Church in session agreed with the longstanding Seventh-day Adventist practice of appointing only qualified male spiritual leaders as ordained clergy and as presidents of conferences, unions, and divisions.

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

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.