On October 11, 2015, at the General Conference Annual Council meeting a document was presented that appealed to unions to abide by the July 9, 2015 decision rejecting regional ordination of women to pastoral ministry. The document is titled, “Appeal and Appreciation to All Church Entities and Members From GC and Division Officers Regarding GC Session Vote on Ordination.” Text of the document here:
It was revealed today that the Pacific Union executive committee voted September 9, 2015 to reaffirm its 2012 decision to ordain women to positions of pastoral leadership in spite of the July 9 decision of the 2015 General Conference session. That decision voted by the majority of delegates of the world church strongly denied independent action to ordain women to positions of ordained pastoral ministry by Divisions, Unions, and Conferences.
According to the Pacific Union Recorder,
“The committee pledged its support for its female pastors and said it would continue to abide by the union constituency’s 2012 mandate to ‘approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.’ The committee also asked the union officers in collaboration with the union communication department, to craft a strong statement in support of women clergy and to create a comprehensive strategy for educating local church members about the practical implications of the 2012 Pacific Union and 2015 General Conference votes, as well as church structure and authority” (“Pacific Union Executive Committee Pledges Support for Women Pastors,” Pacific Union Recorder, October 2015, p. 34).
The 2012 action was in contradiction to world church policy then. Our world church president pled earnestly with those assembled at that constituency meeting to avoid acting in opposition to the world church, and humbly stated that the Union’s contemplated unilateral action could lead to grave consequences.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church requires the Constitution and Bylaws of Unions and Conferences to conform to model documents included in General Conference working policy. These documents do not permit unions or conferences to ordain women to positions of ordained minister, a role biblically and via denominational policy, reserved to spiritually qualified males. Nevertheless, the “Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee and Officers”
“views full participation and recognition of women in pastoral ministry as vitally important for Spirit-filled ministry within our territory, and we will continue to abide by the 2012 mandate of our constituency to ‘approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender’” (“A Pledge of Support for Women in Ministry,” Pacific Union Recorder, October 2015, p. 36, http://pacificunionrecorder.adventistfaith.org/issue/117/16/2294).
“The Holy Spirit gifts people of every age, gender, and ethnic background according to His purposes, and we encourage women of all ages and backgrounds who feel called to ministry to answer, ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:10). We are committed to supporting women in every aspect of ministry and church leadership, whether they are licensed, commissioned, or ordained” (Ibid.).
But the Pacific Union 2012 constituency decision exceeded the authority granted by the Seventh-day Adventist world church to that Union. Just as unions have no authority to create independent belief statements or unilaterally craft local standards for baptism, neither has the world church at any time granted unions authority to set their own qualifications for ordination to pastoral ministry. In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ministerial ordination carries worldwide authority. But the Pacific Union says it will embark upon a campaign to “educate” its members about what the executive committee wants the July 9 world church decision to mean.
Pacific Union leaders “rejoice in the opportunity to share in this great work, and we reassert our support for women in ministry in the strongest possible terms” (Pacific Union Recorder, October 2015, p. 36). But again, the Pacific Union executive committee is conflating the phrase “women in ministry” with the idea of “women’s ordination.” Women can and are serving the Lord Jesus in ministry in numerous ways all across the church, and without trespassing into roles which Scripture and thousands of years of practice have clearly reserved to spiritually qualified males.
Reaction from the Pacific Union is starting to come in. Stephen Bohr, Fresno Seventh-day Adventist Church, Central California Conference, writes
“It was with deep sadness that I saw that the PUC Executive Committee voted on September 9 to openly and defiantly rebel against God’s will as expressed by the world church in San Antonio. The fact that the PUC vote comes immediately before the October 7-14 Annual Council makes one wonder whether the PUC Executive Committee is daring the GC Executive Committee to do something about their rebellious decision. A mere verbal rebuke by the Annual Council will accomplish nothing. The question is: Will the Pacific Union’s money prevail, as it has done in the past, or will the GC Executive Committee apply the painful discipline? Let’s pray that our leaders will have the courage to apply the necessary discipline no matter the cost.”
We concur with Pr. Bohr. In San Antonio the church spoke. But these September 2015 actions of the Pacific Union are congregationalism writ large.
Is the Pacific Union its own independent church?
The current North American Division president, Dan Jackson, has not succeeded in bringing the Pacific or Columbia Unions into alignment with the world church. Leadership is needed in the top officers of the North American Division and in the Pacific Union and its executive committee that will operate in harmony with the world church.
Other Unions and units, including Columbia Union, Norwegian Union, Swedish Union, Netherlands Union, Northern California Conference, and Southeastern California Conference presently stand in opposition to the Working Policy of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, some on questions of ordination, others at the question of homosexual practice. The Council of Adventist Pastors encourages church members to much prayer for the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at this time. We encourage those called to leadership to engage in decided action at this 2015 Annual Council session to fully meet the crisis created by not only the Pacific Union’s voted action of overt rebellion, but the voted actions of these other bodies.
Leadership must meet this challenge at this time. Pastors and workers who have supported the General Conference vote are on the point of being marginalized and could face removal from employ. Members who have supported the General conference decision now face a choice between local rebellion or fidelity to the mission of the world church. The crisis is come. Nevertheless, the promise is “The church may appear as about to fall, but it does not fall. It remains, while the sinners in Zion will be sifted out—the chaff separated from the precious wheat. This is a terrible ordeal, but nevertheless it must take place” (Selected Messages, vol. 2, p. 380).
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.
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/.
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.
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.
Prs. Wayne Kablanow and Jim Brackett discuss women’s ordination. Is WO as we have seen its proponents attempting to introduce it to the church today, actually congregationalism just at a larger scale? Is letting each division decide independently in essence the same as letting each congregation decide independently? Kablanow and Brackett work their way into the topic carefully in this extended study. Unity in diversity is discussed. The core biblical components of unity are uncovered. 32 minutes. Pr. Kablanow is a successful church planter, presently serving West Plains in Airway Heights and also the Spokane North View churches.
Prs. Larry Kirkpatrick and Mike Lambert discuss the theological movement of denominations which approve women’s ordination and their inevitable drift into approval of same-sex unions. They consider how one and only one denomination so far has turned back from this—by reestablishing a historical-grammatical interpretive plan at their seminary. Discussion turns, with some regret, to the current situation of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary located in Berrien Springs, MI. The women’s ordination-favoring theological approach of the current dean is investigated, the core presupposition identified. 13 minutes.
TOSC committee member Eugene Prewitt Carefully considers the biblical requirement that elders be the “husand of one wife.”
Dear Seventh-day Adventist worldwide family,
I wish to somehow send my voice to you, that you may know that I am one among many within the North American Division who do not agree with the consensus from the few at the top who are pushing women to be pastors and elders. I am a Seventh-day Adventist, 33 year-old woman, and it is clear to me from the Bible, our firm foundation, that God has not chosen women to be pastors or elders. I feel that I am not being represented correctly by the current Seventh-day Adventist leadership in North America. As you are in a position of responsibility in the church and with the potential to be among those who will vote on serious issues at the next General Conference session, I am writing this letter to encourage you to be faithful to the word of God. I am saddened to witness the politics and rebellious spirit here in the Pacific Union and the North American Division at large behind the movement for women to be ordained as pastors and elders. It is my plea for you to not be moved by the unseemly politicking in the church, to not be moved by the current culture of this corrupt world, to not be moved by threats or fears alike, but please, please, please, be moved by the Bible.
I can’t help but see the chilling similarity of this current power struggle to the one given us as an example in the word of God – the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The fearful consequences of their push for the leadership unassigned to them ended in tragedy, and I pray that tragedy is not also our end in the Seventh-day Adventist church over the same issue. If this issue of women’s ordination is unclear to us, it is because our hermeneutics have evolved into that which can erode any of the pillars of our faith, including the truth about the Sabbath. The same hermeneutical principles that have allowed some to embrace women’s ordination will lead to embracing Sunday sacredness as well.
The discourse in “Prove All Things, A Response to Women in Ministry” thoroughly points to the clear Biblical evidence of God’s will to have women very much involved in ministry, but not in the roles of pastor and elder. In a much abbreviated summary, the subsequent Biblical evidence seems more than enough to make this matter clear.
In the creation account alone—before the fall—there is abundant evidence that God put man as the leader and head. God created Adam first (with which God denotes headship – Exodus 22:29, Numbers 3:12), He created woman out of man, He created woman for man to be his “helper,” and Adam named Eve before and after the fall (“woman” and then “Eve”). One wonders, why didn’t God make Adam and Eve at the same time? Man’s headship is directly affirmed in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 11:3, 8, 9, “…the head of the woman is the man… for the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” God gives us the order and manner of the (pre-fall) creation of man and woman as the reason that “the head of the woman is the man.” To reject the New Testament interpretation of Genesis 2 is not taking precept upon precept and line upon line, but it is in fact rejecting the internal witness of the Bible.
God even cemented role distinctions into our very physical being at creation. It is absolutely impossible to carry on the human race without recognizing role distinctions God has created in us, as a woman cannot reproduce without a man and a man cannot bear the child. Our very physical nature reflects role differentiations.
After the fall, although it was Eve who sinned first and led Adam into sin, God holds Adam responsible. Why would He do that if Adam was not the leader of both? God reaffirms and adds to man’s headship by telling the woman that “he shall rule over thee” (Genesis 3:16). God rejected woman’s attempt to take on the leadership role at the fall. Man’s headship is also reaffirmed in the New Testament in Romans 5:12, “Sin came into the world through one man.” Why doesn’t it say “sin came into the world through one woman”?
We are also familiar with the texts in 1 Timothy 2 that describe women professing godliness—women that are in “subjection,” women who do not “usurp authority over the man.” And what are the reasons given? The order of creation, and the account of the fall. “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 2:13, 14).
How can a woman meet the Scriptural requirements for congregational leadership as listed in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, that an elder must be “the husband of one wife”? Certainly Paul could have been generic here in regard to gender had he been inspired to by the Holy Spirit. And, although the New Testament church is described as “a royal priesthood” in 1 Peter 2:9, God’s Old Testament church was also described as the same in Exodus 19:6, “a kingdom of priests,” yet God still had men, not women, in leadership of the congregation. All believers are to work for the salvation of others, but not all are to lead in this work.
A question with no logical answer is begged, how can a woman “submit” herself (as it says in Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18) to her husband at home, but then as soon as they walk into church on Sabbath morning, he is to submit to her leadership? Is she not his wife at church also?
Even just these few Scriptures are more than sufficient to thoroughly convince me that ordaining women as pastors and elders is wrong and not in God’s order; for to come to the opposite conclusion would mean to deny these direct and clear texts. And, in further study throughout the rest of the Bible, in studying the spirit of prophecy and Adventist history, it is affirmed again that ordaining women as pastors and elders is wrong and not in God’s order.
This issue is bigger than we may think, for the same hermeneutics that twist these plain texts of Scripture to ordain women as pastors and elders are the same hermeneutics that will lead us right out of the church in embracing Sunday as sacred. Please, let us not follow the example of Satan who aspired to a position higher than he was assigned by God. Please, let us not follow the example of Eve who, “like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 59). Please, let us not follow the example of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram who were dissatisfied with the roles God had given them and sought the priesthood also.
I am one voice among the many in the North American Division who disagree with the few that are misrepresenting us. I feel that I am not being represented correctly. With the many others who are being misrepresented by the pro-women’s ordination push, I believe there would not have been such a consensus among the North American Division leadership and other Union and Conference leadership were it not for the politics and unfairness practiced in making these decisions. Please know that there are many Seventh-day Adventists in the North American Division who do not agree with the rebellion manifested in the manner the issue of women’s ordination is being pursued, nor with the very movement itself to ordain women to the office of pastor and elder.
Complete obedience to following anything the Scriptures command is the key to understanding them (John 7:17). Are we willing to be obedient? Please don’t make your decision on this issue as a political decision, nor by the corrupt culture of this world, nor employ the consequential reasoning that leads to compromise, but let your decision be based on the word of God, our firm foundation.
With love and respect,
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