Exactly one year ago on February 4, 2013 the OrdinationTruth.com website went live. Much has happened this past year. Reflecting on the past orients us for the future.

The attempt to introduce women’s ordination (the practice of women and men in the Church serving interchangeably in positions of spiritual authority) has a history in our midst. The emphasis as it has developed in our lifetime has its rise in the 1960s. The ordination of women as local elders was introduced at 1986 Annual Council.

In due course, the ordination of women as pastors with full global authority was addressed at two General Conference sessions (1990 and 1995). Decisions were made at the highest level of church authority. The Church refused to take the step of ordaining women to these positions of spiritual authority. Our brothers and sisters were not convinced that the practice was reconcilable with Scripture.

By 2009, North American Division (NAD) leadership remained urgent to proceed. They targeted the Church’s E-60 policy. This world church guidance forbade women from serving in male headship positions such as conference and union president. But General Conference (GC) leadership upheld the decisions of the GC sessions (exactly what did NAD leadership expect?).

After an extended interaction between the NAD and GC, NAD leadership saw they could not prevail by following the rules; GC policy was too clear. The result? In early 2012 the NAD president wrote to the leaders of NAD Unions inciting them to action with directions such as the following:

“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” (Quoted in the E-60 link above).

The division president told them that in order to bring change they would have to make it happen at union and conference levels.

The result of this astonishing move came with speed. By midyear NAD’s Columbia and Pacific Unions had held special meetings and voted themselves their own variances, placing themselves in opposition to the world church. They denied the authority of the 1990/1995 General Conference sessions. They even acted in the face of earnest appeals by the General Conference administration which sent our current president to these meetings to plead that they not act in disunity.

It should not be passed over that these actions were undertaken even as the current GC administration was responding to the 2010 General Conference session request to revisit the question of women’s ordination by forming the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), a gathering of more than 100 scholars, laypeople, pastors, and administrators representing all 13 world Divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And yet, even as that process was beginning, these Unions exceeded their authority and began to “ordain” women.

When we in the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) learned from our union paper, Gleaner, that the NPUC had created an ad hoc committee to study these matters and that our Union would now “educate” church members concerning the basis for “ordination without regard to gender,” after which it would hold a special session as Columbia and Pacific Unions had, we knew forces were converging which might lead to the same insubordinate outcome as those Unions. It became necessary that we investigate further for ourselves, and then seek to aid our Union and if possible influence it not to join itself to the example of the other NAD Unions.

Appeals were forwarded to NPUC leadership. We pleaded that the proposed steps not be taken. We are thankful that until now the NPUC has not held a similar session.

Surveying the situation, we saw that issues were not contained to the NPUC, and heard from many from across the NAD who were as alarmed as ourselves at actions now manifesting in the North American field. Because the NPUC continued to send mixed signals, our initially chosen name (“NPUC Supporting Pastors”) made unclear what we did and did not support. Growing interest throughout the NAD and a desire from others outside our Union who wished to participate led us to change our name to the Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP). Now pastors throughout the North American Division territory could participate.

What the NAD president and Columbia and Pacific Unions had begun continued to bear its fruit. In October 2013, the Southeastern California Conference constituency, in opposition to its world church, elected Ms. Sandra Roberts to serve as its president in direct violation of E-60 and GC session decisions.

This was not all. Each Division invited to be involved in TOSC had been asked to study the issues surrounding women’s ordination. NAD leadership appointed itself a committee, too. Its committee released a 249 page report pleading that the world church permit it to ordain women.

Most astonishing of all was that—at last—the unavoidable issue of hermeneutics was placed front and center. The NAD admitted in its report that in order to neutralize the Bible evidence opposing the ordination of women, it was necessary to use a plan of biblical interpretation they called the “Principle-based, Historical-cultural” method.

This method is said to be intended only for selective use. It is to be applied especially in the interpretation of what the NAD called “difficult” New Testament “headship” texts. The NAD-proposed method exactly contradicts the longstanding Seventh-day Adventist approach to biblical interpretation called the Historical-grammatical approach, voted by Annual Council in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1986.

We commend current NAD leadership for their lucid admission that this change in interpretive methodology is required to make possible the achievement of their purpose. But is the church ready to lay aside the Historical-grammatical approach that Scripture interprets Scripture? Is it ready to discard the one methodical approach to the Bible which has led to our unity on a worldwide basis in embracing the seventh day Sabbath, and our adherence to the literal, physical, visible, audible Second Coming of Jesus with kindred truths?

We believe that every church member within the North American Divisions would be blessed by the NAD’s Minority report.

Another development of interest coming from TOSC has been that some in our world divisions have called for a return to biblical fidelity on the issue of women elders, that the practice be discontinued.

“There is a lack of biblical precedence for the appointment of female elders…. there is no biblical support for the ordination of woman pastors. The ordination of women elders should also not be considered. That implies that as from the action date, women shall no longer serve as elders” (Summary of the South Africa-Indian Ocean Division Biblical Research Committee on the Ordination of Women, pp. 1, 3, at
http://www.adventistarchives.org/brc-southern-africa-indian-ocean-division-presentation.pdf, accessed 2014-02-04).

Other Divisions have also found the desire to ordain women as pastors having global authority biblically unsustainable. For example, consider these notes from fellow believers in the South American Division:

In the New Testament, the preeminence of male spiritual leadership is seen in the role of the husband at home (Eph 5:22-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Cor 11:3), in the leadership of the apostles, the elders and the deacons in the Church (Acts 6:1-6; 17 14:23; 15:6, 22; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 2:20; 4:11; 1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9), and in the ministry of the prophets, the pastors-teachers, and the evangelists (Acts 13:1; 21:8; 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11). . . . The New Testament plainly presents the qualifications required for someone to become a bishop/presbyter/pastor (1 Tim 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9). According to these texts, the pastoral ministry seems to belong to a distinctive area of male spiritual leadership in the Church. Faithfulness to biblical teaching predicates the need to follow this orientation. There is no clear biblical basis, therefore, to ordain women to the pastoral ministry” (South American Division Summary and Report on its Study and Proposal on the Ordination of Women to the Pastoral Ministry, pp. 3, 4, http://www.adventistarchives.org/brc-south-american-division-presentation.pdf, accessed 2014-02-04).

We find ourselves much in agreement with these initiatives which would help restore consistency and unity and help revitalize as a global people our faithfulness to the Bible.

Looking to developments anticipated between now and 2015, we remain alert. Columbia and Pacific union leadership remain in place, and those Unions are presently “ordaining” women in opposition to the General Conference session determined position of the world church. Those Unions are presently operating in flagrant defiance of the world church. They have substituted their authority for the authority of the General Conference.

Another trend we already see is pro-WO advocates urging that the General Conference is illegitimately gathering power to itself, centralizing its authority. We anticipate that these unfounded charges will be broadcast ever more loudly by those who insist on acting in contradiction to the appeals for unity which have been offered on behalf of the world church.

TOSC is set to complete its study process this year and forward its report to 2014 GC Annual Council. The NAD’s proposed “Principle-based, Historical-cultural” method is now public knowledge and Adventists are only just beginning to process the implications that would follow its adoption. Shall the Seventh-day Adventist Church endorse the ordination of females to male headship roles? Possibly. But if so, it is clear now that it will be at the cost of the most primitive, basic issue of all—how we interpret Scripture.

It is urgent that we count the cost now before we buy the product in 2015. If we are going to charge women’s ordination on the Seventh-day Adventist hermeneutical credit card, we must first consider what it will cost in the long term.

Although we have had an enormous response to our continuing study and website, many Seventh-day Adventists—even some pastors—remain unaware of this website or of the existence of the Council of Adventist Pastors. We encourage all readers to share this blog post link with fellow Adventists and especially with your pastors who, in this one post, will have a sample of links and materials the scores of pastors who are CAP have shared. Maybe your pastor would like to participate?

And now: Let OrdinationTruth.com year two BEGIN! . . .

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP)
PO Box 19424
Spokane, WA 99219

OrdinationTruth.com
cap-contact@runbox.com

NPUC, October 25, 2013: Seventh-day Adventist Church members, especially within the North American Division (NAD) territory, continue to be subjected to a misguided and disunifying drive for the ordination of women to pastoral and administrative headship positions. Actions continue to be taken by conferences, unions, and the Division itself attempting to force this change. Consider briefly recent developments demonstrating what appears an attitude of rebellion toward the General Conference.

One decisive step came on January 31, 2012, when the North American Division president wrote to officers, telling them that

“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).

Action was swift after NAD president Jackson’s encouragement that NAD Unions be more “intentional.” Just 36 days later, the Mid-America Union Conference Executive Committee voted to ordain “without regard to gender.” Attempt was made to move the NPUC “forward” similarly (but delayed in this Union’s case by the creation of an ad hoc study committee).

Nevertheless, by summer, constituency sessions of the Columbia Union Conference on July 29, 2012 and the Pacific Union Conference on August 19, 2012 engaged in actions clearly defying General Conference session actions. These Unions voted to ordain persons to the gospel ministry “without regard to gender.” They voted to place women in positions biblical principle has reserved to males.

In contrast, another group of pastors, church officers, and laity within the territory of the North American Division, insist that unity be maintained with the world church. Seventh-day Adventists said “No” to women in men’s roles initiatives in 1990 and 1995 General Conference sessions. No unit is independent. All church members and organizational units are bound to respect those decisions until the General Conference in world session votes a change in policy.

But the spirit of independence has continued and is intensifying. On October 27, 2013, the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) constituency may vote a woman president of that conference. Therefore, the church workers who operate OrdinationTruth.com have been led to promote unification with the world church and discourage insubordination and disunifying activities in the NAD and its unions.

The “North Pacific Union Conference Supporting Pastors” (NPUC-SP) came into being in December 2012 and launched the website OrdinationTruth.com on February 4, 2013 after the NPUC Executive Committee had announced that they would “educate” church members in respect to “ordination without regard to gender,” then, as Columbia and Pacific Unions, hold a special constituency meeting centered on the topic.

NPUC pastors have been contacted by those who take a similar anti-insubordination position in other unions within the North American field. The pastors are ready to work with others wishing to organize. This news release announces their new identity collectively as the “Council of Adventist Pastors” (CAP).

Sections may further organize themselves by Union territories into union-region based “chapters.” The name “Council of Adventist Pastors” (CAP) now becomes the main designation for this group and potential subgroups crossing the North American Division.

A conscious decision has been made that OrdinationTruth.com not limit itself to issues in the North Pacific Union Conference only but also to address questions being asked throughout the Division. Because the Union monthly magazines (Recorder, Gleaner, Messenger, Outlook, etc.) have been presenting only one side of the question, OrdinationTruth.com exists to provide a different perspective—especially from the excluded voices of Seventh-day Adventist Pastors and members opposing WO. CAP participants state that all sides of a question should be made available, and that the presentation only of a pro-Women’s Ordination position is unsatisfactory; the Church deserves better.

To this end, the group has, since the launch of OrdinationTruth.com on February 4, 2013, published numerous pages of opinion, analysis, news, theology, and commentary on Women’s Ordination, Unity, and kindred topics. Henceforth, the name of NPUC-SP is changed to “Council of Adventist Pastors, NPUC Chapter.” OrdinationTruth.com is operated on behalf of all CAP and shall continue to function in consultation with other CAP chapters.

CAP invites interested church members worldwide to peruse the materials published on OrdinationTruth.com. Those materials are presented in support of the perspective widely held by church members and many workers throughout the NAD and the world church, insisting the Church search out God’s design in these matters together as a body, and stand united together in practice. For the sake then of the membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide, the Council of Adventist Pastors takes up this mantle.
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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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The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Executive Committee met this week and the Union paper, the Gleaner, has issued the following report:

NPUC Updates Its Ordination Plan.

NPUC Supporting Pastors respond to this development.