Here is the fourth of four installments of Mike Lambert’s series, A Unified Church: How the Church Stays Together—Or How it is Divided. Find it here.
Pastor John Witcombe was led to study carefully ideas presented by Pastor Dwight Nelson in Nelson’s sermon “A Second Look at Headship.” Witcombe’s reaction is found here.
Dr. Damsteegt, Theology professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA, presents concerns opposing Women’s Ordination at Utrecht in 1995. The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds a General Conference Session every five years where Seventh-day Adventist delegates gather from around the world to be led of God in deciding matters involving the global conduct of the work of the church. The following was published in the General Conference Bulletin reporting events from July 5, 1995:
NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION REQUEST–ORDINATION
The chairman, Calvin B Rock, outlined the program for this business session dedicated to the request of the North American Division regarding ordination:
The president of the North American Division, Alfred C McClure, will make a 20-minute presentation giving the background and rationale of the North American Division’s request. Then P Gerard Damsteegt from the SDA Theological Seminary of Andrews University will give a 20-minute presentation on why he cannot support this request. Raoul Dederen, also of Andrews University, will then present the opposite viewpoint of why he is in favor of the request. It is hoped that with these presentations, the delegates will have a good overview of both sides of the issue. The floor will then be opened for discussion by the delegates and at approximately 4:45 p.m., the chairman will call an end to the debate and Robert S Folkenberg, president of the General Conference, will make a few remarks prior to a secret ballot being taken.
Voted, 1. To limit the individual speeches of the delegates to two minutes if spoken in English, and three minutes if a translation is given.
2. To support the program for the afternoon business session as outlined by the chairman.
Prayer was then offered by Calvin B Rock.
Following the presentation by Alfred C McClure, Charles E Bradford, former president of the North American Division, was asked by the chairman to make a few comments. After the presentations by P Gerard Damsteegt and Raoul Dederen, the floor was opened to debate by the delegates with the chairman alternating between delegates standing at the for and against microphones.
Shortly after 5 p.m. an action was voted to cease debate of the motion and Robert S Folkenberg spoke for a few moments, closing with prayer in which he asked the Holy Spirit to be present and to guide in the decision of the delegates. The motion before the floor was read for clarity as follows:
“Voted, To refer to the 1995 General Conference Session the North American Division request that the General Conference in Session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below:
“The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committees take specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions.”
Delegates were then instructed to turn in their secret ballot cards to their division representatives. A count of the secret ballots was made with the following results:
In favor of the recommendation: 673
In opposition to the recommendation: 1,481
Total number of votes: 2,154
By this vote, the request of the North American Division was denied.
Source: General Conference Bulletin, July 11, 1995, pg. 30 (http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/GCB/GCB1995-08/index.djvu?djvuopts&page=30).
Article by retired conference president Ben J. Liebelt calls for unity. The title is, “God’s Church, Unity, and Division.” Find it here.
Here is a powerful article by Lee Roy Holmes about the crisis in the church and the biblical concepts surrounding how the church works together on disputed points. A must read! Find it here.
Today, we offer part 3 of 4, Mike Lambert addresses threats to our unity. Find it here.
Read part two of our series, ‘A Unified Church: How it stays together–how it is divided,” by Mike Lambert. 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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Here is the first of a four part series by Mike Lambert discussing unity. Extremely timely! Find it here.