In May 2012, delegates of the United Methodist Church gathered for their General Conference Session in Tampa, Florida. A key item in the meeting was the question of whether or not to retain language in their Book of Discipline (their Church Manual) stating that homosexual practice is sin. When the main attempt to remove this language failed to pass final committee, the pro-homosexuality group turned to plan B, a compromise position. On that, the vote was… Well, you’ll know the answer if you watch this short video. The Methodist Church in General Conference voted to ordain women as pastors in 1956. Theology has consequences, and what paves the way for one practice also paves the way for future changes when cultural trends are ripe.
On May 30, 2013 the Netherlands Union Executive Committee voted to ordain female pastors, but kept this decision secret until July 5, 2013. They claim they felt their action necessary to make a point of recognizing women as equal to men. Consider this part of their statement:
In the end, this decision was the result of weighing the principle of unity against the principle of equality. Other possibilities were also discussed, including the option of not ordaining any pastors until the world church recognises equality, and the option of waiting until the upcoming session of the General Conference of the world church to reach a decision. Ultimately it was decided that from June 1st, 2013 all ordained and commissioned pastors, regardless of gender, will be considered ordained in the Netherlands” (http://www.adventist.nl/2013/07/06/netherlands-union-conference-votes-to-ordain-female-pastors/, accessed 2013-07-07).
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ordination grants the individual an authority in the church that is global in nature, not merely local. The world church—not local unions—looks to the Scriptures to determination qualifications for ordination. Because of the biblical counsel concerning spiritual leadership, one of the requirements for ordination is that an individual be male.
For 2,000 years the church has discerned that men and women are equal, yet called to different roles. No union has the authority to redefine “equality” for the world church. In addition, there is cause for concerned over any “principle of equality” that is seen to be of greater authority than the “principle of unity.” The Netherlands Union offered no explanation for the basis of their superior “principle of equality.”
Unions are entrusted to discern which male candidates meet the qualifications which the world church has set forth for those who shall be ordained. In exceeding its authority, the Netherlands Union stands in defiance of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has acted unilaterally and in disregard to previous world church actions (1990, 1995 GC sessions) refusing to grant unions the right to ordain whomever they wished. The present, high-handed action of the Netherlands Union, constitutes a current example set before church members and before the world, of disunity, rebellion and apostasy.
John Witcombe considers the plea for cousin-equality! Find it here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TO ALL SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS
NPUC Supporting Pastors
PO Box 19424
Spokane, WA 99219
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 above short video was an urgent and humble appeal by General Conference President Ted N.C. Wilson to the Columbia Union Conference NOT to proceed to vote itself into opposition to the world church (which it did afterwards). Nevertheless, as the North Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee prepares to meet February 18-20, 2013, this is important food for thought for each and every member. The NPUC Supporting Pastors urgently desire that the NPUC avoid the disunity and shame of insubordination that would result from similar independent action. We are part of a world church. We respectfully request that the NPUC decision to hold a special constituency meeting be rescinded (ed. note: The NPUC executive committee has indicated that there will indeed be a similar special constituency meeting about February 2015).
New document by Lonny Liebelt. Are we asking the Lord to do something for us that He cannot bless? Is our attitude right? Find it here.