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the Netherlands Union of Churches, and certain conferences including the Southeastern California Conference, need to be rescinded and such ordinations repudiated by those entities to keep faith with their sister Adventist congregations.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.

On May 18, 2014, the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (a unit in the insubordinate Pacific Union) held its constituency meeting in Angwin, California. The conference of some 40,000 members was represented by hundreds of delegates. Several churches in the conference combined to bring to the delegates three items proposed for action. One item was a statement supporting the unity of the church and directly addressing the question of women’s ordination. A majority of delegates chose not to make a “yes” or “no” decision on the matter but to refer the motion to the conference executive committee. The full text of this motion was:

Resolution Supporting Unity of the Church

Whereas, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in response to conflicting practices within the church, the Apostles established church order by holding the Jerusalem Council, whose decisions were regarded as binding upon the Church everywhere;(1)

Whereas, in like manner, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was established as the highest constituted authority determining policies and procedures for the worldwide Church as reflected in the General Conference Working Policy;

Whereas, the Pacific Union has been delegated authority to represent the Seventh-day Adventist Church in its geographical region, conditioned upon the Union’s willingness to work in harmony with the working policies of the denomination as documented below;

Whereas, the General Conference Model Union Constitution and Bylaws requires sections essential to the unity of the Church worldwide, appearing in bold print, to be adopted into the Bylaws by each union conference;(2)

Whereas, the General Conference Model Constitution includes bold print mandatory language that requires all purposes, policies, and procedures of the union to be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists;(3)

Whereas, the Pacific Union Conference recognizes its role, as part of the worldwide church, as indicated by its adoption of Article III into the Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Article III incorporates required language from the Model Union Constitution of the General Conference Working Policy as follows:

“The Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is part of the North American Division which in turn is part of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a world church organization.

“All policies, purposes and procedures of this Union shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”

This Union shall pursue the purposes of the Church in harmony with the doctrines, programs, and initiatives adopted and approved by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Constituency Session.(4)

Whereas, to assure the future unity of the Church, the Article XIV of the of the Pacific Union Conference Bylaws specifically precludes the Constituency Delegation from voting changes to its Bylaws which are not in harmony with the spirit of the Model Union Constitution;(5)

Whereas, Article VII, Section 7 of the bylaws of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NCC) requires that rules and regulations of the NCC adopted by the Executive Committee shall be in compliance with the Bylaws of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (PUC);(6)

Whereas, the current edition of the General Conference Working Policy declares all appointments and responsibilities within the church to be open to persons regardless of gender, “except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry.”(7)

Therefore, be it hereby resolved by the Northern California Conference in constituent session assembled, that the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists shall refrain from pastoral ordination to the gospel ministry without respect to gender in practice, policy, rule, or regulation until such time as the Delegates of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in worldwide session approve a Bylaw, policy, rule, or regulation which allows such ordination.

1. Acts 15

2. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, D 10 05 Constitution of the Union Conferences, Page 135

3. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, D 10 05 Constitution of the Union Conferences, Page 136, Article III – Relationships

4. Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August 29, 2011, 5, Article III – Relationships

5. Bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August 29, 2011, Page 16, Article VII – Amendments

6. Bylaws of the Northern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Artcile VII, Section 7

7. 2012-2013 General Conference Working Policy, BA 60 10 p. 113

As can be seen, the proposed motion was entirely reasonable, respectful, and appropriate. It was directed to the very body of persons—Northern California delegates—who should make such decisions. It would have inculcated unity and harmony with the world church.

Unfortunately, the Pacific Union and its subentitites has increasingly and persistently demonstrated a voted pattern of insubordination toward the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Union is operating in open violation of General Conference decisions in 1990 and 1995. A unit within the Union, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, voted itself a woman president outside the agreed policies of the church in 2013 who is not recognized by the General Conference.

The motion, and the two other motions, were never read to the meeting, nor debated. They were consistently treated as a set when they were three distinct and separate motions. When their turn on the agenda arrived, almost immediately two delegates moved they be referred to executive committee. Several minutes of debate ensued, with many delegates opposing such course of action.

In the end, a slim majority of the delegates voted to defer all three items to a conferance administration that has supported the insubordinate action of the Pacific Union on women’s ordination and operated in contradiction to the world church. Northern California churches entrusted the delegates to represent them and to make decisions. Rather than vote “yes” or “no” on important issues impacting the mission of the church in their field, they punted.

Today’s action by delegates in the Northern California conference, emanating yet again from within the Pacific Union, is added evidence that units in this section of the church are operating independently of the world body. Rather than moving toward unity, this field is spiraling further away from the broader consensus of the world body.

Other items included a plan to change from two to five year apart constituency sessions. That plan was rejected by the delegates. Agenda items condemning the teaching of evolution and which also would have stated “unqualified disapproval” of the practice of homosexual acts, were, like the unity motion, referred to the conference executive committee. The most recent previous Northern California constituency session was held May 20, 2012.

The text of all three important motions is available here from the Northern California Conference website.

A 19 page set of footnotes supporting the Unity motion meticulously compiled was made available to delegates via the Northern California website, and is available VIA THIS LINK.

NOTE: ADvindicate.com has an article now offering more detail about the events at NCC Constituency meeting: The rest of the story: NCC constituency meeting

Mike Lambert, pastor of the Stateline, Oregon, Seventh-day Adventist Church, delivers the first of six presentations—all of which we shall post online over the next few weeks, from his series titled “A gender agenda.” In the series, Pr. Lambert addresses the cluster of texts and arguments favoring and opposing women’s ordination, with associated issues. In this first part, Elder Lambert begins to address Galatians 3:28 but also provides a quick but careful walk through the historic developments of the issue in the Seventh-day Adventist church from its beginning right up to the present. Stateline Church is located immediately south of Walla Walla/College Place, WA.

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! . . .

2013-10-31

A RESPONSE FROM THE GENERAL CONFERENCE TO RECENT ACTIONS IN NORTH AMERICA

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been called by God as an urgent, end-time voice proclaiming God’s love and last day message to the world. He has commissioned us to proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12 to people worldwide desperately looking for hope. The message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is unique and is heaven-sent. Our top priority as a church is knowing Jesus ourselves and sharing His message of redemption. Nothing is to stand in the way of this proclamation as we unite to reach every “nation, kindred, tongue and people” with the “everlasting gospel.”

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a fellowship of believers bound together by a common commitment to Christ, the truths of the Bible, a worldwide church organization and a mission to the world. Each of these elements is vitally important in preserving the unity of the church and keeping it from fracturing. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not organized as a collection of independent units. Although each Conference/Mission, Union and the General Conference (which includes the divisions) have their own constituencies, they are also united by common commitments, mutual trust and agreed upon policies. The Church, the body of Christ, is inter-related. Actions that affect one part of the body affect the whole. The Apostle Paul stated it succinctly in these words, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.”(1 Corinthians 12:12)

Working Policy, which is the recording of our agreements as to how we will work together to do the Lord’s work and mission, serves as one of the practical unifying agents that the Holy Spirit uses to bind the church together. Policy is not inflexible. It can be changed but it reflects the understanding of the collective group, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When personal convictions are placed ahead of the collective policy decisions of the worldwide church, troubling precedents are set. God works in an orderly way and wishes His church to exemplify this sanctified behavior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Humility and submission to God for the good of the church body as outlined in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy are fundamental Biblical principles for the benefit of the church.

At the 2012 Annual Council in a voted action entitled, “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures, and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination,” the world church strongly indicated that it does not recognize as ordained ministers individuals who do not meet the criteria outlined in policy. It deeply concerns the world leadership of the church that recently a local conference constituency elected as a conference president an individual who is not recognized by the world church as an ordained minister. Ordination to the ministry is one of the criteria set forth for being a conference president. General Conference administration is working with the North American Division administration as they deal with the implications of this local conference action, which is contrary to the 2012 Annual Council action.

The world church is currently working together in a Theology of Ordination Study Committee with participation by all divisions to better understand the functions of ordination as well as the role of women in relation to ordination to the gospel ministry. A careful process is functioning and reports will be given to the 2014 Annual Council with the expectation that this subject will go to the 2015 General Conference Session for a decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We have every confidence in the Lord’s leading of His precious remnant church. By God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the church will find its way through this challenging time as we move forward with the unique message and mission entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist movement. It is God’s plan that we proclaim His end-time, prophetic truth to every corner of the globe and especially the enormous metropolitan centers of the world through “Mission to the Cities” utilizing every form of comprehensive urban evangelism including comprehensive health ministry and many other methods. We urge all church members and leaders to pray that the Holy Spirit will unite us to fulfill Christ’s promise that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) United in Christ’s love, bound together in a common Biblical message, linked through a common church organization and committed to one another with mutual respect and trust through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are confident this church will triumph at last and proclaim Christ’s eternal message of truth to the ends of the earth in anticipation of Jesus’ soon second coming.

—The General Conference Executive Officers

Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick has investigated in particular the history of the past five years that have brought so much disunity to the world church. He tells the tragic backstory of these developments in “E-60 and the WO Endgame.”

First, download (the accompanying chart) that will help the reader understand the sequence of developments and print it out. Then FIND THE PDF VERSION HERE or the standard HTML/mobile version HERE.

UPDATED: 2013-11-05 01:51: Adventist Review Reports on the NAD TOSC Report here: http://www.adventistreview.org/article/6791/archives/issue-2013-1530/30-cn-north-america-church-leaders-receive-theology-of-ordination-report.

2013-11-04 21:59: As the North American Division Year-end Meeting draws to a close, the NAD has finally come to its Division report for the Theology of Ordination Study committee. They voted to receive the report, although 31 voted “No.” NAD has also launched a new website (NADOrdination.com) with several videos. What will surprise some is that NAD has now come out into the open with a new hermeneutical approach in contrast to the Historical-grammatical approach of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The new approach has been designated by its advocates the “Principle-based Historical-cultural” method (PBHC). Kyoshin Ahn writes positively about the new hermeneutic as a representing “a whole new movement in biblical studies. . . . The overwhelming majority of the [NAD] committee feels that these difficult passages [passages mentioned by those who oppose WO] require the modern Adventist reader to employ a principle-based approach” (North American Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee Report, pp. 23, 31). In the Minority Report, included in the NAD-TOSC Report, Edwin H. Reynolds and Clinton Wahlen ably point out the dangers of unsound interpretive approaches. Warn Reynolds and Wahlen in their minority report, “. . .it is one thing to study the historical-cultural backgrounds to enlighten our understanding of the setting in which the text was written.; it is another thing altogether to suggest that the text was culturally conditioned and that, therefore, a trajectory beyond the text must be constructed for our current more enlightened age. If the latter were true, it would mean that the Bible does not set forth universal principles but only that which was perceieved by the inspire writers to be valid for the local situation at the time or, even worse, reflects then-current prejudices and misunderstandings” (Ibid., pp. 196, 197). No doubt, CAP shall publish more on these developments in due course.

2013-10-31 13:26: It appears so far that the first report below may be correct. Ms. Roberts is said to have been welcomed at the Year-end Meeting by NAD Secretary G. Alexander Bryant. Long applause is reported. The NAD, PUC, and the SECC seem to be jointly aligned in upholding actions which are in defiance of the General Conference in session.

2013-10-31 07:22: General Conference Statement “Moving Forward Together” here: http://www.adventistreview.org/article/6780/archives/issue-2013-1530/30-cn-moving-forward-together. Excerpt from the statement: “Working Policy, which is the recording of our agreements as to how we will work together to do the Lord’s work and mission, serves as one of the practical unifying agents that the Holy Spirit uses to bind the church together. Policy is not inflexible. It can be changed but it reflects the understanding of the collective group, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When personal convictions are placed ahead of the collective policy decisions of the worldwide church, troubling precedents are set. God works in an orderly way and wishes His church to exemplify this sanctified behavior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Humility and submission to God for the good of the church body as outlined in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy are fundamental Biblical principles for the benefit of the church.

“At the 2012 Annual Council in a voted action entitled, “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures, and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination,” the world church strongly indicated that it does not recognize as ordained ministers individuals who do not meet the criteria outlined in policy. It deeply concerns the world leadership of the church that recently a local conference constituency elected as a conference president an individual who is not recognized by the world church as an ordained minister. Ordination to the ministry is one of the criteria set forth for being a conference president. General Conference administration is working with the North American Division administration as they deal with the implications of this local conference action, which is contrary to the 2012 Annual Council action.” (This statement appears now here: http://news.adventist.org/all-news/news/go/2013-10-31/adventist-officers-release-statement-regarding-a-local-conferences-recent-election-of-president-1/. The NAD Year-end Meeting begins on October 31 at 1:30 Eastern time.

2013-10-31 00:40: It is being reported that NAD officers and the union officers from the NAD met on October 30 and confirmed that Sandy Roberts will be given the same registration packet and badge as everyone else and will participate in the NAD Year End Meetings the same as every other elected president of a local conference.

If this is true, and if it actually comes to pass that Ms. Roberts will be a voting participant in this YEM, the North American Division will be openly aligning itself with the insubordination of the Southeastern California Conference that elected a woman in a position the world church only authorizes men to fill. If indeed this comes to pass it will mean that the NAD stands in open violation of its own Working Policy. Check E-60.

NOTE: Information in this post is to be considered only tentative until confirmed.

NOTE: This post will be updated.

Constituents of the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) voted today directly contradicting the global position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA). The SDA Church does not accept Women’s Ordination or the placement of women in the conference presidency. But today, October 27, 2013, the SECC made Sandra E. Roberts its president. The vote occurred during the Quinquennial Constituency meeting held at the La Sierra University Church in Riverside, California. The SECC has been a subsection and interlocking unit of the world SDA Church.

The president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson phoned Pacific Union president Ricardo Graham Saturday evening and stated that such action, if voted, was out of policy, and that the General Conference would not recognize her as president. (SECC is part of the Pacific Union.) This information was shared with the delegates. During the meeting, several delegates spoke in opposition to the action and in support of the world church. But eventually, the majority voted to elect Roberts.

Southeastern California Conference is a part of the 18 million member Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Church has been carefully organized as an interlocking community. Local members are joined in their local church congregation; these congregations are organized together as conferences; conferences are organized together into unions; unions are organized into divisions of the General Conference. The whole in combination make up one united Seventh-day Adventist Church.

SECC’s meeting was a conference constituency level meeting; the most authoritative administrative body of the Church is the General Conference session. Delegates gather together from round the globe for General Conference sessions every five years. The most recent session was in 2010 and the next in 2015. The meeting enables Spirit-led collective decision making.

In 1990 and 1995 General Conference sessions the Church rejected proposals to permit individual divisions, unions, or conferences (like SECC) to ordain women. As a global organization connecting congregations in more than 220 nations, every subsection of the Church is committed to adhere to determinations offered in General Conference sessions. Unilateral contrary actions—such as that today voted by SECC—are disunifying in nature and prima facie evidence of direct opposition to the world church.

Voted action by 567 SECC delegates has now placed Ms. Roberts and SECC in exactly such a position.

What next? In just four days (Oct. 31) North American Division Year-end Meetings begin, where those gathered include the NAD conference presidents. But current Church Manual (p. 32) and current NAD Working Policy (E-60, p. 244) explicitly prohibit a woman from serving in this position. The North American Division will not be able to include Mrs. Roberts as a presidential participant in its meetings without joining itself to SECC in premeditated opposition toward the world church. All eyes will be on the North American Division and its president as it opens its Year-end Meeting.

The world church is watching the North American Division. After all, ultimately it was NAD’s change of Working Policy E-60 in 2010—and later recognition of its having exceeded its own authority—that led NAD President Dan Jackson to instruct NAD unions on January 31, 2012 concerning how to “move this matter forward” and “consider new approaches,”

“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).

In the same letter, Jackson admitted that in adding the word “commissioned,” NAD had erred and indicated that the word “commissioned” would be removed from NAD Working Policy in the 2011-2012 edition. Thus, NAD Working Policy presently states that “a conference/mission president should be an ordained minister of experience.”

Ms. Roberts does not meet this requirement. Nevertheless, the NAD now has what they wanted—a woman in an executive position of leadership.

But, as much as some NAD officers might like to, the NAD—even president Jackson—cannot with impunity include Mrs. Roberts as a voting participant in the 2013 Year-end meeting in contradiction to NAD and GC Working Policy.

The NAD, already on precarious ground, claiming to respect and stand in harmony with the Church, now has opportunity to show itself part of the world church—by upholding the authorized practices of the world church.

The crisis which has been caused by the NAD has now landed again on their own door step. The global Adventist Church will have evidence whether or not the NAD officers shall demonstrate true respect for the sisterhood of Adventist churches round the world very soon now. On October 31, NAD shall either respect the world church and disallow Ms. Roberts’ participation in the Year-end Meeting, or, they will include her, in demonstration of a spirit of opposition to the world church.

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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On November 11, 2012, the Netherlands Union constituency voted to approve the ordination of women, and the conference executive committee made that decision effective on May 30, 2013 and announced the action publically on July 5, 2013. These actions were contrary to General Conference voted policy (1995 and 2000), in reality a path of insubordination also taken by the Columbia and Pacific Unions in the US and the Northern German Union in Europe.

On September 21, the Netherlands Union unilaterally acted on their earlier decision. Union president Wim Altink charged ordination candidates to faithful service after which hands were laid on them, one being Ms. Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie. The ordination ceremony was conducted in Christus Koning church in the Hague, Netherlands.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is a world body. In the SDA church, ordination to the gospel ministry carries worldwide authority. The church of 17+ million members seeks out biblical consensus and makes key decisions collectively, including the decision of whether or not women are eligible for ordination. Since the beginning of the church it has never adopted the practice of ordaining women as ministers with global authority. A decision to change this can only be made in a General Conference session. Such meetings occur every five years, next in 2015. After prayerful study and deliberation, thousands of delegates representing every part of the Lord’s vineyard vote in a decision binding upon every part of the world church.

For union or conference officers to participate in such an ordination as happened in Netherlands is in contradiction to the practice of the world church. For a candidate to receive ordination illegally—or for other ordained ministers to offer it—is a repudiation of the call to be a faithful servant to Jesus through His body, the church.

In another action, related yet unilateral in a different way, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SECC) is recommending to its constituents that they vote Ms. Sandra Roberts as their new conference president on October 27. The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not presently accept the ordination of women as clergy. If that conference should elect Ms. Roberts, they, as Netherlands Union, will by their actions be increasing the fragmentation and disunity of the church.

Ms. Roberts, since the NAD/GC does not recognise her as an ordained minister, cannot be recognized as a conference president. This is certainly known by all parties including the SECC nominating committee.

In fact, neither of the insubordinate actions described in this post are recognized as valid by the world church. Such actions should be seen for what they are—symbolic political statements endeavoring to increase pressure on the General Conference to approve Women’s Ordination.

The General Conference has already made clear its position. A study process is in progress (Theology of Ordination Study Committee) moving toward the General Conference session in San Antonio, TX USA in 2015. The leadership of the world church has asked units of the church, in the interest of unity, not to act unilaterally.

“The 1990(3) and 1995(4) General Conference Session decisions with respect to granting ministerial ordination to women represent the current voice of the Church in this matter. The actions of certain unions indicate their desire to establish an alternative source of authority for a matter that already carries the authority of the world Church” (“An Appeal for Unity in Respect to Ministerial Ordination Practices,” http://news.adventist.org/archive/articles/2012/06/29/on-ordination-questions-adventist-leadership-appeals-for-orderly-process).

“The essence of unity in Seventh-day Adventist organizational functioning is the mutual commitment of all organizations to collective decision-making in matters affecting the whole family—and the acceptance of those decisions as the authority of the Church. The action of any union in pursuing a different course of action represents a rejection of this key value in denominational life” (Ibid.).

In this document, our Seventh-day Adventist leaders made four specific appeals to erring units:

1. That your union continues to operate in harmony with the global decisions and global decision-making processes of the Church.
2. That until such time as the Church decides otherwise, your union refrains from taking any action to implement ministerial ordination practices that are contrary to the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session actions.
3. That the union membership be informed concerning the implications for the entire Church in the event that one entity, for whatever reason, chooses a course of action in deliberate opposition to a decision of the whole Church.
4. That the union actively participates in the global discussion about the Church’s understanding and practice of ordination. The contributions of a union in this discussion can be forwarded to the Theology of Ordination Study Committee through the respective Ordination Study Committee set up by each division (Ibid.).

As seen in the Netherlands Union and potential SECC actions, these units are aggressively pursuing a course in contradiction to items 1, 2 and 3 above. The issue seems to have a power almost to charm individuals. Recently, Trans-European Divison president Bertil Wiklander, after an impassioned presentation in favor of Women’s Ordination, stated “I am converted completely to what I said tonight. I would die for it.” (“Ordination: The Ongoing Search for Understanding,” http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2013/09/13/ordination-ongoing-search-understanding, accessed 2013-09-25).

We can be sure that God is still leading His church on a worldwide basis. The church has a process in motion to resolve the questions surrounding the practice of Women’s Ordination and the spirit which has so far attended it. Heartfelt appeals have been made and still stand. We may pray that these units will return to the family they seem bent on leaving. There is still time to return.