On December 19, 2015, the Southeastern California Conference (SECC), Pacific Union (PUC), and Loma Linda University Church (LLUC) ordained a woman pastor, an action opposite the vote of the world church this summer in San Antonio, Texas.
After years of study the world church had considered a motion to permit division committees to act unilaterally in approving the ordination of women to pastoral ministry. Delegates assembled from around the world. The July 8, 2015 vote was 1381 No and 977 Yes.(1) And yet incredibly, the illegitimately appointed leader of the SECC told the person upon whom hands of ordination were laid that “Today, I’m not welcoming you to ministry but I am welcoming you on behalf of your colleagues in ministry, on behalf of the conference, on behalf of the worldwide church, as an ordained minister of the gospel.”
How has God’s church traveleld to this surreal moment? With San Antonio immediately in the rear view mirror, the SECC executive committee proceeded to seek the ordination of Shirley Ponder. Those presently leading the Conference forwarded their request to the Pacific Union. On November 22, the Union approved the requested action.(2)
The “ordination” held at Loma Linda University Church on December 19 contradicts the Bible-based practice of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Church considers pastoral ministry leading a congregation as a task specially assigned to elders. The office of elder is in the Bible limited to spiritually qualified males (1 Timothy 2:12, 13; 3:2; Titus 1:6; 1 Corinthians 11:2, 3). The Seventh-day Adventist Church from its beginnings has placed called elders as leaders of congregations and conferences and unions, the administrative bodies of the church.(3)(4)
Instability was introduced in Adventist practice in North America by actions taken in the 1970s and 1980s which (contrary to Scripture) permitted women to serve as elders. That decision, however, has never been brought before the church to be directly addressed in a General Conference session; it was taken at an Annual Council.(5)
That innovation stands near the root of the disunity that has plagued the church since that time. It has even led the North American Division to introduce a new way of interpreting Scripture in an attempt to support the new practice!(6) The persistent pressure for women’s ordination, which has continued after the General Conference session, shows that turmoil will continue until the issue of woman elders is resolved.
These units have exceeded the authority delegated to them by the world body and violated the trust of the world church. Since the Loma Linda “ordination” occurred on December 19, a time of year when many are visiting their families, no immediate action is anticipated from the General Conference (GC). However, the GC which is tasked with carrying forward the decisions of the world church sought to preempt such a mistake. Note the following excerpt from an August 2015 statement set forth by the GC Secretariat following the San Antonio world church decision:
“The authority given to the unions is not only delegated, but also limited. Unions have the power to select those to be ordained from among candidates proposed by conferences who meet the criteria set by the World Church. Authority to determine the criteria has never been delegated from the General Conference to any other organization—it does not belong to the work of the union but rather the criteria were voted by the World Church and are part of the GC Working Policy in the ‘L’ section entitled ‘The Ministry and Ministerial Training.’ In particular, the L 35 section outlines specifically the ‘Qualifications for Ordination to the Ministry’ which have been voted by the World Church during Annual Council.
“The church’s policies and practice do not permit women to be ordained, since section L, which governs ordination, is the only section in GC WP with language that is masculine gender-specific. All other sections of GC WP use gender-neutral or inclusive language, but Section L consistently refers only to men being ordained or on track for ordination. In addition, the section in GC WP BA 60 10 (pages 118-119), which refers to the church’s official position regarding discrimination, specifically states that ‘Neither shall these positions be limited by gender (except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry’).
Therefore, no union or any other entity can ordain women to the gospel ministry”(7).
In this light, the actions of the Southeastern California Conference, the Pacific Union Conference, and of the pastor of the Loma Linda University Church along with all others who laid hands of ordination on Shirley Ponder, including the illegitimate leader of the SECC(8), are invalid. The world church, of which these all are part, has not approved the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.
The current president of the NAD has not acted faithfully to inhibit the series of events which have led to the Dec. 19 act of opposition toward the world church.(9) Notwithstanding its claims to the contrary, the Pacific Union has challenged the authority of the world church(10) and has now acted out its challenge.
The trust of the world church has been betrayed.
5. Dr. Mario Veloso, “Women Elders: How the error was accomplished.” SEE TIMESTAMP 46:56 – 52:16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Y1OFLJ_biA
7. “UNIONS AND ORDINATION TO THE GOSPEL MINISTRY” BRIEF SUMMARY
AND COMPREHENSIVE WORKING POLICY EXPLANATION GENERAL CONFERENCE
SECRETARIAT AUGUST 2015). Full document: http://ordinationtruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/UnionsAndOrdinationToTheGospelMinistry.pdf