On September 20, 2015, the executive committee of the Norway Union voted unilaterally to discontinue the practice of ordination. They claim that the churches longstanding practice of ordaining spiritually qualified males is discriminatory and unbiblical. A new practice distinct to the Norwegian Union was announced:

From now on, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway will have a simple dedicatory prayer for a person embarking on pastoral internship. Similarly, there will be a dedicatory prayer for those who take the step from pastoral internship to regular pastoral service. The Norwegian Union will operate with only two categories of pastoral employees from now on. 1) Pastors in regular service, and 2) Pastoral interns. The Norwegian Union will not report pastoral employees to the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook until the General Conference has established pastoral categories that are not discriminatory (http://www.adventist.no/Adventist/Hjem/Nyheter/2015/September-2015/Adventistkirken-slutter-aa-ordinere#.VgBa4rShbfa, accessed 2015-09-21).

The Norwegian Union, it seems, has judged the practice of the world church and found it wanting. The Union has voted to embark on an entirely different practice than the world church. Effectively, they have not merely declared but enacted an unauthorized regional policy. They have rejected the decision of the General Conference in session on July 8, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. In that decision, a substantial majority of delegates voted not to permit regional decisions on the question of pastoral spiritual leadership—the very thing Norway Union has now enacted.

The Norwegian Union is not an autonomous regional church. It does not have an inherent authority separated from the world church. Its authority is derived from the General Conference. The authority that it does have is limited. The Seventh-day Adventist Church considers ordination to be a global, not a regional matter.

The Norwegian Union isn’t fooling anyone with its claims to want to be in harmony with the world church. It has acted exactly contradictory to the San Antonio decision. The Union has exceeded its authority. Nor is it alone. Immediately to the south, the Netherlands Union of Churches is also engaged in forging an independent pathway on the ordination question. That Union is also operating unilaterally with its positive policy on homosexuality, embracing the cultural tide of immorality. (To revisit the action of Netherlands Union on the homosexuality question, see “Homosexuality or Christianity? Netherlands Union again places itself in opposition to the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” at http://ordinationtruth.com/featured/homosexuality-or-christianity/, accessed 2015-09-21).

In hardly two weeks Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders will meet in Annual Council. At that time it is imperative that church leadership act to correct the action of errant unions including Columbia Union, Pacific Union, Norwegian Union and Netherlands Union of Churches, along with other insubordinate entities. The world church has decided that women’s ordination—the question of spiritual leadership—is not to be determined on a regional pattern. We collectively are all part of a world church organization. The Council of Adventist Pastors believes that our leaders will be acting with the best spiritual interest of the church at heart in taking whatever action necessary to maintain the unity of the world church and prevent fragmentation by rebel units—including the Norwegian Union.

On August 19, 2015 the executive committee of the North Pacific Union voted 26 to 4 to rescind its November 12, 2014 action. The committee had stated that if the world church refused to permit the regional ordination of women, the NPUC would hold a special constituency session and consider “going ahead” to ordain women. The committee action today aligns the NPUC position with the July 8, 2015 General Conference session rejection of regionally independent ordination. Seventh-day Adventist practice has been unified in following a biblical pattern since the 1800s, ordaining qualified male spiritual leaders serving as pastors leading congregations, conferences, unions, and divisions.

Previous to the August 19 meeting, North Pacific Union president Max Torkelson III received an eight page document from the General Conference Secretariat detailing the authority of unions in relation to the world church. The official document states that

“Unions do not have the right to set their own criteria for ordination and are operating outside the parameters of Church structure if they do, just as if a local church decided to establish its own set of beliefs then it would no longer be a Seventh-day Adventist church” (“Unions and Ordination to the Gospel Ministry,” General Conference Secretariat, August 2015, p. 3).

Thus units that have unilaterally voted to ordain women are “operating outside the parameters of Church structure.” Such entities stand on the fringes of the Church. The North Pacific Union today demonstrated its commitment to operate within the parameters set by the world body. The Council of Adventist Pastors sees the committee’s action to rescind today as positive.

The inappropriate actions and illegitimate, out of policy credentials granted by Pacific Union, Columbia Union, the Netherlands Union of Churches, and certain conferences including the Southeastern California Conference, need to be rescinded and such ordinations repudiated by those entities to keep faith with their sister Adventist congregations. As one Adventist from Netherlands stated in an online comment: “I am a member of the world church, for my membership is accepted all over the world. But not so if my Union is an SDA offshoot.” The Seventh-day Adventist Church as a world body seeks to adhere to the teachings of Scripture for optimum male and female service to God and His church.

Pr. Larry Kirkpatrick has the take-away from the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference session held in San Antonio Texas, July 2-11. Kirkpatrick explains why the session as a whole was the world church confirming the longstanding Seventh-day Adventist hermeneutic sustaining the plain reading of the Bible.

Many are saying that San Antonio doesn’t matter. They wish. We encourage readers to review the article here and see if the idea that San Antonio doesn’t matter is valid or not.

There are impacts in both the short and long term. There is an impact on mission. And it is all good.

Click here and find out! http://ordinationtruth.com/featured/san-antonio-adventist-hermeneutic-confirmed/.

Voting in favor of the motion: 977
Voting in opposition to the motion: 1381
Abstain: 5

The motion is defeated.

This morning Pr. Ted Wilson, president of the General conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church outlined the process that would be followed and plead for a sweet spirit to prevail. After summaries of the TOSC finding groups 1, 2 and 3 were given, debate began. Persons spoke in favor and in opposition to the motion. Eventually the group stopped for lunch.

Debate resumed. The debate was dominated by Africa and IAD and NAD. Jay Gallimore spoke plainly against. Numerous NAD delegates speaking in favor, offering weak, pragmatic, culture-based arguments.

Eventually, Pr. Jan Paulson (former GC president) addressed the group from the floor pleading in favor of the motion, claiming still to have the spirit of leadership. Claiming he “loved Africa,” he said that if the Africans trusted their leaders, they should vote yes. Paulson’s condescending remarks perturbed the African contingent. Several complained to the chair. Paulson’s sad speech led to great unrest. The assembled delegates were led to pause for prayer. Natasha Nebblett, a NAD delegate and lay leader of GYC, spoke strongly in opposition to the motion, mentioning 1000s of NAD Adventists who disagreed with women’s ordination and actions of NAD leadership.

Eventually, the current GC president, pastor Ted Wilson spoke briefly from the floor offering clear, thoughtful, godly remarks. Many emotionally and culturally-based arguments had been presented by NAD and TED delegates, but those from other divisions called for unity and working together. They did not agree with letting each division determine women’s ordination independently for itself.

The vote was taken in due course with the above final result. Pr. Wilson addressed the group at the conclusion of the meeting. He shared the well known statement from Ellen White’s writings in Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 261, “When assembled in session, the General Conference shall have authority.” “Now is the time to unify under the bloodstained banner of Jesus Christ and His power, not our own power.”

FYI the motion:

REQUEST TO THE 2015 GENERAL CONFERENCE SESSION

WHEREAS, The unity for which Jesus prayed is vitally important to the witness of Seventh-day Adventist Church, and;
WHEREAS, The Seventh-day Adventist Church seeks to engage every member in its worldwide mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ among people from every nation, culture and ethnicity, and;
WHEREAS, Various groups appointed by the General Conference and its divisions have carefully studied the Bible and Ellen G White writings with respect to the ordination of women and have not arrived at consensus as to whether ministerial ordination for women is unilaterally affirmed or denied, and;
WHEREAS, The Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms that “God has ordained that the representatives of His Church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference Session, shall have authority”,
THEREFORE, The General Conference Executive Committee requests delegates in their sacred responsibility to God at the 2015 General Conference Session to respond to the following question:

After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G White, and the reports of the study commissions, and;
After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission,

Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No

CAP pastor Doug Batchelor presented the above at Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church on Sabbath, May 30, 2015. Granite Bay Church is located at 3785 Placer Corporate Dr., Suite 600, Rocklin, CA 95765.

With the approach of the General Conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Antonio, Texas in 2015, advocates of women’s ordination in the church have begun to launch new articles, videos, and websites promoting their views. Some sixty days out from the beginning of the session, six retired church leaders launched a site with video and text doing this very thing. Their site identifies them as “elder statesmen” of the church.

They argue that it is now time for the church to embrace women’s ordination on a per-division basis. They also speak of fracture in the church if women’s ordination is not permitted by the upcoming vote in San Antonio.

The Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP) have viewed the site and video and the arguments of the “elder statesmen.” In the document linked to this post, CAP considers this material and reacts to the ideas and arguments presented by the retired leaders. The Council of Adventist Pastors invites delegates and readers to consider our response in reference to these serious matters.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO READ THE ARTICLE

Secrets Unsealed ministry has released a video featuring CAP Pastor Stephen Bohr, addressing the recent one-sided actions of the North American Division and of Adventist World magazine promoting women’s ordination.

nad-wo-qa-brochure-cap-responseIn February 2015 the North American Division mailed to Adventist Churches in its territory thousands of brochures posing carefully phrased questions and advocating women’s ordination. Very little Scripture support is offered in the document. The link below reproduces the “answers” as included in the NAD mailing. The Council of Adventist Pastors interacts with this material.

The COUNCIL OF ADVENTIST PASTORS responds to NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION Q&A Theology of Ordination: answers to common questions.

Note. Document version updated on March 8.

This week at Annual Council (AC), delegates voted to send to the 2015 General Conference session the following question:

After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the reports of the study commissions, and; After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission, Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No.

In voting this recommendation, Annual Council has not left the question to stand only at “Shall separate divisions be permitted to make the women’s ordination decision for themselves as they see fit,” but rather, on the basis of the inspired writings of the Bible and of Ellen G. White, they have asked does the church consider it appropriate for division executive committees to make provision for women’s ordination? Thus, the decision is placed squarely at the question, What do the inspired writings say?

Present at AC was Ms. Sandy Roberts from the Southeastern California Conference. Last Fall, against the teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, members there voted Roberts “president” of that conference. However, because her placement in that office is contrary to the practice of the world church, her name does not appear in the SDA Yearbook as president for SECC. Conference presidents in the division in which an Annual Council meeting are held are invitees to AC meetings and are permitted to function as delegates with voting privileges. Thus, this year the NAD conference presidents participated but Ms. Roberts attended only as a guest. (This paragraph has been corrected from an earlier version.)

The core of the Adventist approach is to seek out the divinely revealed will and adhere to it. We don’t ask people to become Adventists because a committee likes the idea of the Sabbath, but because the Bible by divine authority teaches the observance of the seventh day.

Should the 2015 GC session in San Antonio vote “Yes” on the AC-approved motion, Imagine how damaging it would be to evangelistic outreach when we ask that people embrace the Sabbath on the basis of biblical authority, but when it comes to other questions we permit each section of the church to decide based on local cultural preferences!

The North American Division sent out a report on AC including this statement:

A vote on women’s ordination could put an end to—or further prolong—a decades-old debate that has threatened to divide the denomination, according to those on both sides of the issue (NAD NewsPoints, October 15, 2014).

Here the NAD indicates that should the world church refuse to accede to NAD’s insistence on women’s ordination, the Division might reject that “No” answer, prolonging the debate.

The fact is that whatever the world church decides, Yes or No, on women’s ordination, its decision is the last word. The Council of Adventist Pastors rejects any notion that after the GC in session has spoken, units will be at liberty to proceed independently of the world church.

Furthermore, the headline title of the NAD NewsPoints article was misleading. By titling the article, “Annual Council Asks Session to Consider Letting Divisions Decide on Ordination,” the NAD is making it sound as if the Annual Council is asking the GC Session to approve a request from the Annual Council that divisions be allowed to decide. That is false of course (please reread the motion quotation at the top of this article). Headline titles do not change the facts on the ground.

We remain confident that the process now under way will lead to a final resolution of the question in San Antonio. Members should study the questions surrounding women’s ordination as the world church has directed: with special reference to what is revealed in the Bible and writings of Ellen G. White. Advocates of women’s ordination, with renewed energy no doubt, will insist their arguments for WO are Scripturally sound. Such claims should be closely tested, as no other denominational group has yet successfully canvassed them. We are a Bible people. God has these matters in hand.


VIDEO SPECIAL! In this video several participants from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) share their responses to current questions about women’s ordination and the future of the church. Includes interviews with Laurel Damsteegt, Don Mackintosh, Kevin D. Paulson, Eugene Prewitt, David Read, Daniel Scarone, Ingo Sorke. LENGTH: One hour, 21 minutes.