A “Functional” Analysis of Adventist Ministry

Non-Compliance over What?

During the last two Annual Council meetings little if anything at all has been said about the problematic issue of the Ordination of Women to ministry. The debate has shifted. The “problem” is now perceived as something more serious — a challenge to authority. The role of hierarchy and what is permitted and not permitted by Unions and the General Conference’s policy book is the topic of anxious concern and perceived as a threat to unity.

As we approach another Annual Council to hear a report from the Unity Oversight Committee on how to handle this “problem” it is important for the church at large to remember the core dispute that lies behind the charge of non-compliance. It is the question of who can be a minister and what we call the process when we set such individuals apart. When looked at closely from a functional perspective of what ministers do and from the perspective of what the Church Manual already allows it would seem that the Unity Oversight Committee is actually dealing with a dispute over very little indeed. In view of what the Church Manual already permits the dispute is over little more than the names we give things. Is that seriously a reason for discipline and schism?

A “Functional” Analysis of Adventist Ministry

What does a minister in the Adventist Church actually do? It was a question I was sometimes asked by the students in a scripture class I occasionally taught at the public high school near the church I pastored. I have occasionally asked the question myself of the young people in my baptismal class to get a discussion going on the doctrine of spiritual gifts. How would church members answer the question? Usually several central functions are identified that differentiate what a minister of religion does compared say to what a secondary school teacher does. The identifiers include preaching, leading out in worship and in other church meetings, conducting bible studies, baptizing people, visiting the sick and others (conducting an anointing service if called upon to do so), and of course conducting weddings and funerals. My public school students tended to see the marrying and burying functions as the most distinctive. Conducting Communion services was more often than not embraced as part of “leading out in worship.” If pressed hard, some might possibly have mentioned conducting a setting apart service for elders and deacons but I don’t recall it ever having been distinguished as that special. For most Adventist young people that too would be embraced as “leading out in worship” — considered just as one of the special spiritual ceremonies that form part of worship. For some it would possibly not be seen as widely different from the pastor during worship calling up a newly appointed husband and wife Pathfinder director team and with hands laid on shoulders offering a special prayer of blessing on them and setting them apart publicly for their work.

This general set of functions about covers the entire span of the ministerial role as understood by most church members. Unless pressed, most would not consider whether “ordained” or “commissioned” mattered in any of this.1 Does it? Under the present Church Manual, whether the hands that perform these functions in and for the church are called “ordained” or “commissioned” they do the same things.2 What then is the particular issue that gives rise to the complaint of non-compliance?

With such an important decision looming before the Annual Council this coming October over the matter of perceived non-compliance it could be helpful to focus more closely on the specific nature of the non-compliance issue. A careful analysis of ministerial functions suggests that the specific non-compliance issue is really about nomenclature — the names we use to describe the ministerial function.

Describing the Gift of Pastoral Ministry

In America, the term Adventists have traditionally used as a title for those called to full time gospel ministry has been Elder. This is an inherited usage from Methodist forbears. The first time Ellen White uses the term she is identifying the ministers who were so helpful to her during her adolescent struggles with spirituality. Elder Brown and Elder Stockman. They were circuit ministers who had been appointed by the Methodist church in Maine. Elder B was another, the minister at the Chestnut Street church in Portland, Maine who was responsible for disciplining the family when they were perceived as being schismatic and out of harmony with their fellow believers in their weekly “class meeting.” In 1846 Ellen reports that she married “Elder” James White. Ministers in the emerging Sabbatarian Adventist movement were uniformly addressed as “Elder” and the practice continues to the present.

In commonwealth countries and in most other parts of the world, the term used to describe the work of a full-time gospel minister is “Pastor” or whatever foreign language word is used to translate the term. It does not seem that there needed to be a church council to approve the use of this different nomenclature. It was just what ministers were called. To teenage colonial ears in my home country, calling a minister “Elder” sounded impressive — maybe even slightly pretentious — as if this class of minister was a cut above the locals who were just “pastors.” Perhaps the fact that “Elders” happened to be visiting officials from the General Conference contributed to this misperception. Only later did we learn that “pastor” was in fact widely used in America to describe a minister who was less in stature because still probationary and only carrying a license to preach. But in America that distinction is no longer valid. Today, to meet Internal Revenue Service requirements concerning access to the “pastoral allowance” provisions of the tax code the church has had to agree that there is no essential difference between one who carries a license and one who carries full credentials.

Sometimes the same word in the English language can be spelled in marginally different ways. “Labour” in England is “Labor” in America, but the meaning is the same. This is true also of “neighbour/neighbor” and of “flavour/flavor” and there may be others. The spelling might be different, but the meaning is the same. The difference between Elder and Pastor is a little more than just spelling. But in another sense, the difference is just spelling. The ministerial function is the same, when we are talking about a full-time ministerial function that has been recommended by a conference committee and conferred by a Union Committee. Each term of course reflects a different etymological background and each bears a different metaphor rich in meaning, but in practical use for describing every day full-time ministerial functions they designate exactly the same role. Can the same be said for the terms “ordained” and “commissioned”? There have been strong voices in Adventism that insist there is a difference between the terms and that they reflect an inherent, qualitative theological difference because women in ministry can be described by one term but not the other.3 The reality is that they perform the same functions.

As Table I below illustrates, under present church policy as defined in the 2016 Church Manual the difference between what full-time gospel ministers routinely do, and can do, whether they are described as “ordained” or “commissioned” is minimal indeed. Where there is a difference in function it is an artificially imposed difference and is not one that is inherent to the function. In each case concerning functions k and l on the table below, a local Conference if need be or if circumstances warrant, could authorize both of the functions to be performed by “commissioned” hands and for function k that is routinely done.

Table I: Comparative Function Analysis of the Roles of Minister in the Seventh-day Adventist Church


1Permissible by specific approval of Local conference with Division approval and subject to the commissioned/licensed pastor also being appointed as a local elder (CM 75). In certain countries government approval and registration is also required. Not every Division sees a current need for women to be ordained as elders.

2Only if permission for establishment of congregation is granted by the Conference Executive Committee after consultation with the Conference President. This function is performed generally only when President is able to be present in person. (CM 36)


The frequency of chartering new congregations or uniting two congregations into one is limited. Because of the nature of their assignments many pastors are never called on to exercise function l.

Responsibility “k”: Setting Apart Deacons and Elders

In the schedule of functions of a congregational minister the role of setting apart elders and deacons by the symbolic act of laying on of hands under the terms of the Church Manual is designated to “ordained” hands and only to “commissioned” hands by special permission. Why? When the minister engages in this ceremony the minister is not conferring downwards any special grace through the “ordained” hands as if only ordained hands can ordain other hands. Adventists do not believe in a sacramental, hierarchical view of passing on of some special grace. No, the minister is in fact simply acting on behalf of the congregation which has already recognized the gift of grace in the individual through the work of the nominating committee and the vote of the congregation. In reality it is the congregation who does the setting apart. On Sabbath morning the minister acts on their behalf. That is why in some congregations members of the church family are invited on to the platform to gather around the elders or deacons being set apart and all lay hands on the individual sometimes in concentric circles. Such congregations may be seen to be acting outside of policy in a sense because the language of the Church Manual has not yet caught up with this very meaningful approach to conducting a setting apart ceremony but it is a form of ceremony that is very much in harmony with our theology. Conferences can approve “commissioned” hands to lead out in a setting apart ceremony within a congregation if some “ordained” hands are present — even if the “ordained’ hands are not actually involved but are resting on a lap in a pew some place. There is a vague reason behind this that is awkwardly linked to scope and authority.

The reasoning reflects a vestigial remain of the Roman Catholic tradition that lingers on in our practice reflecting a residual subliminal notion of sacramental authority. “Commissioned” hands are somehow different from “ordained” hands because they don’t carry authority by themselves — they did not first bear that special “ordination” grace. This is not biblical. This is not Adventist theology.

Adventists have already agreed that there is nothing intrinsic to these functions (no question of the holiness of the sacrament being spoiled by being administered by “commissioned” hands, for example) that prevents the holder of commissioned credentials from performing the function. It seems quite inconsistent therefore that the same “commissioned” hands that chair the Nominating Committee which recognizes gifts in deacons and elders and prayerfully invites them to serve, and then presides in leadership at the Church-wide meeting (usually during a church service), and calls for the vote to approve the nominating committees recommendations, cannot actually preside at the service of setting apart without gaining specific permission each time by the conference. It is an artificial distinction, an inconsistency that reflects the tortured history of the way the church has tried to find its way through the problem of women’s role in ministry and perhaps to be pastorally helpful to those church members who still hold to a hierarchical sacramental view. Conferences that face this problem of inconsistency often resort to extending permission to preside over such setting apart services to commissioned and licensed hands in a given local area as a standing permission — it does not need to be sought for on each and every occasion.

It is clear that the artificial distinctions in the permissions required to carry out this ministerial function concern scope — the problem of “where” but not “what.” They are not imposed because of some inherent theological reason. The functions are allowed by attaching them to a local congregation through the requirement that the commissioned or licensed minister be appointed as a local elder.4 But this is not related to the intrinsic nature of the function.

The scope of an individual’s responsibility is an important issue for organizations to consider. The areas, or limits of one’s responsibility are carefully designated in most job descriptions. The differences between a Faculty Dean and a Department Chair within the faculty, for example, have to do with scope. The difference between a Conference Secretary and a Treasurer in a Conference, or between a Pastor for Senior Visitation and a Pastor for Teen Ministry in a large church are questions of scope. But differences between an “ordained” pastor in one church and a “commissioned” pastor in the next door church of similar size and complexity are not genuine everyday practical differences of scope. If scope is thought to be the issue it is an artificially imposed difference that has nothing at all to do with the way the minister serves the congregation, or other congregations within the conference should other churches and the conference agree.5

Are the limitations of scope in the case of a mature, experienced and spirit-blessed “commissioned” minister based on some other hidden concerns? Is it that they cannot be trusted or that they are inferior because they have a different chromosomal configuration? Is it that they are subject to males and must submit or obey? Really? Our wedding rituals have surely moved on beyond this.6 To suggest this as the reason, as has frequently been pointed out, is to be out of harmony with Fundamental Belief 14. “We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children.”

Responsibility “l”: The Chartering of a New Church

The ministerial function of organizing a new church is the only function apparently that “commissioned” hands are unable to do. But it is to be noted also that even “ordained” hands are unable to do this without specific permission on every occasion being granted by the Conference. When a new church is chartered the Conference President actually has to be physically present as well. There is nothing intrinsic or inherent in the function that would prevent “commissioned” hands from working side by side with the president in undertaking this joyous task. It is also to be noted that for most ministers this is a function that is carried out rarely. Some evangelists might be involved in doing it more often but in my forty-four years of ordained ministry I have not been called upon to do it even once.

Non-compliance over Names?

It is clear then that the basic non-compliance issue to be dealt with at this Annual Council, stripped of its overlay of emotion, ultimately concerns the problem of naming. Should we describe the authorizing of the performance of the functions of a minister in the Adventist church as “ordained” or “commissioned”? For some time some conferences recognizing the overlapping or parallel terminology used to describe the ministerial functions clearly permitted under the Church Manual chose to issue a credential card with the words “Ordained-Commissioned” printed on it indicating that in practical reality, the ministerial role was the same. Afterwards the word “commissioned” was simply discontinued.

Given that under the provisions of present church policy as set out in the 2016 Church Manual a commissioned minister with appropriate approvals (approvals already allowed for) is able to function in exactly the same way as an ordained minister, should not the task of the Unity Oversight Committee, if it is needed, be focused on finding a way to adjust the language of the Church Manual to embrace and more consistently describe what is already being practiced by “commissioned” ministers?

If ministers can be called either “Elder” or “Pastor” or both, what is the need for uniformity in the use of “commissioned” or “ordained” in describing how they are appointed. Is the approach of the membership in the loyal Danish Union who have chosen to use the functional title of pastor for all ministers and to talk of them as being appointed to a pastorate really so non-compliant as to be disciplined? Are the constituencies of the loyal unions in the United States who have seen more ethical consistency in recognizing both male and female ministers as ordained really so far out of compliance with current practice where both men and women minsters are functioning side by side every day and ministering in exactly the same way as each other?

Learning from History

When on October 2, 2018 the Presidential Advisory gathers in Battle Creek in preparation for this year’s annual council they will be looking back to days of yore and trying to recapture the spirit of our pioneers. They may not notice it but they will be meeting just three days after the occasion of another day of quiet looking back. The last day of September this year commemorates an important moment in American history. The presidential advisory should pause to notice the occasion for they could profitably be informed by it.

One hundred years ago this coming fall, on September 30, 1918, President Woodrow Wilson finished typing up his speech on his typewriter, signed an accompanying letter and with some ceremony took them from the White House to Capitol Hill where he read his famous speech to the Senate.7 The letter formally indicated that he would now support the adoption of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution and his speech explained why. The historic 19th amendment would finally enable women to fully exercise their role as citizens of the United States by recognizing and counting the votes that they would cast in federal elections. Some women had been trying to vote in elections since 1873 and the first, Susan B. Anthony with a few others, the cousin of Adventist pioneer, John N. Andrews, among them, had been prosecuted for doing so. Now in the fall of 1918 the president was taking steps to recognize their participation in voting. Such voting participation would no longer be regarded as non-compliant. Women could vote and their votes would be counted.

By 1918, already in many different countries of the world women’s participation in voting had been recognized and there had been blessing in the extension of temperance principles and good governance. There were of course some countries both south and north of the equator which would not be willing to follow the pattern of the United States just then nor for many years to come — just as America was itself well behind other countries that had taken the step earlier. Not all agreed with Wilson that 1918 day inside the Senate chamber. But Wilson pressed on because he had been persuaded it was now necessary for the unity of the nation.

President Wilson had previously not thought such a step important and for four years had resisted giving such approval. In September of 1918 he had changed his mind as he had slowly come to see how fully involved women already were in every aspect of national life and how they had fully supported the great struggle the nation had been engaged in. Women had been fully engaged with the challenge of finishing the work and the goal of bringing an end to the War that had engulfed Europe. The war had ended and the troops were coming home even as he spoke.

Is it too much to hope that this October 2018, the Unity Oversight Committee will advise the General Conference’s President Wilson to take a recommendation to the Executive Committee that now is the time to find language to recognize in our Church Manual and in other policy manuals the work that God is already doing among us? Such language would not establish any new order. It would not bestow any new strange or out-of-order status upon women as this article has pointed out. It would not exalt them “beyond” their calling. It would simply describe and recognize the gifts God has already given and the way they are already working in the church — in the same way and with the same function as men engaged in extending the Kingdom of God and heralding the Advent. As noted, such functions are awkwardly described and permitted under the present Church Manual. New adjustments to the language of the manual would simply recognize those gifts and those ministerial functions in more faithful and more consistent ethical terms.

Notes & References:

1. The term “commissioned” was first used as a credential for males involved in certain categories of church work such as treasury, college presidency, or other institutional leadership. Since 1990 it is a term used for the credential given to women ministers, although not exclusively. In some conferences the credential is still given to male pastors who have a moral conviction that they should be treated equally with their spirit-gifted female colleagues in ministry.

3. Alberto Timm provides an excellent review of the history of the role of women in ministry in the Adventist Church and identifies the voices on each side of the conversation. “Seventh-day Adventists on Women’s Ordination: A Brief Historical Overview,” Theology of Ordination Study Committee, January 21-25, 2014. https://www.adventistarchives.org/seventh-day-adventists-on-womens-ordination-a-brief-historical-overview.pdf

4. In 1990 the General Conference in session approved a revised statement on “Ordination of Local Elders” to be included in the Church Manual allowing elders to conduct baptisms and marriages. Such local Church eldership was open to women. The editors of Adventist Today highlight the context and the background understanding which this action implied and also point out helpfully that in 1990 the new Church Manual also adopted gender-neutral language. Earlier editions used “he” in referring to local elders, while the new language said simply, “the elder” and does not specify sex. General Conference Bulletin (1990) p. 911. See “Has a General Conference Session Approved Female Church Elders?” Adventist Today, June 13, 2018. https://atoday.org/has-a-general-conference-session-approved-female-church-elders/

5. The Church Manual permits a local Elder at one church to be able to serve at another church even if the elder does not hold membership there if the churches agree and have taken counsel with the conference. Though not the intention of the policy, in theory could such a “commissioned” minister be accepted by independent vote of all the churches in a conference and therefore within policy have a de facto base for being a president of such a conference with just “commissioned” credentials?

6. If it ever did, the Seventh-day Adventist Minister’s Manual (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1992) no longer requires the commitment for wives to “obey” their husbands, even in the “traditional” version of the vows. p. 92. Wedding vows are completely mutual. The church has long become comfortable with women exercising real authority in the church and its institutions (most evident in hospitals, schools, and colleges when men take direction from women every day).

7. The story is related in Jon Meacham, The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels, (New York: Random House, 2018) pp. 99, 100.

Gilbert M. Valentine lives and writes in Riverside, California. He is author of a scholarly biography on W. W. Prescott (2005), a history of the White Estate titled The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage (2006), a study of the political influence of Ellen White in The Prophet and the Presidents (2011), and coedited, with Woodrow Whidden, a Festschrift for George Knight entitled Adventist Maverick (2014).

Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8877

Good call Gil! So true.


It is ironic in the 21st century those same religious controls and intimidations are again in play within the Christian, protestant religious communities and more closely within the Adventist church through autocratic rule, hierarchical administration demanding coerced uniformity, loyalty pledges for conformity; rather than unity through servant leadership; administrators that threaten punishment and sanctions, rather that showing leadership through flexibility allowing different parts our world church to have the autonomy to freely interpret and implement policy within their own territories to meet the cultural norms of their local societies’ under the umbrella of love. The love exhibited by Jesus ultimately embraces unity; E Pluribus Unum (out of many one) was embraced by the founding fathers of the United States of America. This type of unity supports a church that was originally envisioned and structured by our forefathers as being a bottom-up rather than top-down. True biblical leadership is servant-led, who are not threatened by independence of thought, who embraces and welcomes input by membership and is not intimidated. An administration that has the improvisational, adaptable abilities, skills, discipline and experience to flexibly interpret and apply written policy, not become a slave to it, and not use it as a whip. Do we make mistakes, yes? Is it a smooth process, no? We are humans saved by the grace of God, and it can get messy. But with God on our sides we can be victorious. An orchestra seldom gets it right on the first practice, but by the performance, what beautiful music.

The reverse appears to happening today in religious organizations across the board as they become more institutionalized. Our Church is no exception and in need of:
• Administrators who are aware of policy but can hear the voice of the people; who are loyal to doctrine; who use standards and policy as achievable goals, not weapons for guilt. Leadership who are able to meet people where they are and grow together.
• Administrators who can allow independence of thought and not be threatened.
• Administrators who will not allow the traditions of ‘headship’ stand in the way of recognizing the gifts and abilities of both genders without limitation.
• Administrators whose approach is to the understanding of, and allowance for, local interpretation of policy as a guide as long as it does not violate doctrine, rather than threaten by discipline, sanction, and punishment.
• Administrators who do not build their own egos by the limiting of others.

We need to pause a moment and make a distinction between command and demand. As an example, command comes from a position of authority, i.e. the U.S. military, and demand does not. Commands in a military setting come from a position of authority with a ‘chain of command’ down through the ranks that are answerable at each level. Demands are often driven by passionate or strong requests but lacking the power or authority of a command. I maintain in spite of our current church administration the membership remains in that position of that authority, delegating to our administrators, even though it appears to be in the reverse at this time. A review of the history of the formation of our church structure confirms this. It is incumbent upon membership to reclaim that authority and exercise it by commanding answers and action at each level of administration. Especially when administrators assume umbrage, and indignation when theirs positions are questioned or challenged. I am sure some current administrators do not want membership to reminded and educated of the history of this church’s foundation. This is not a power grab but a right supported by our own constitution and bylaws. Know your history and the structure of your church and exercise that right with wisdom and boldness.
When we accept Jesus Christ in the SDA Church, acceptance into membership is thru baptism. As part of the baptism process we agree to a set of baptism vows. Vows 9 and 13 address membership into the ‘body of Christ’ and fellowship. The question is how well members understand what that means. Are they given sufficient orientation about the structure and function of the church and membership role, responsibility, and privilege? The church is very intentional in orienting toward tithe and offering responsibilities but how well do we orient about structure, and operational aspects of the church – how it works. Is there emphasis on the importance of membership knowledge and participation? What is the base level of information for effective participation? Should a basic level of information be part of membership preparation and orientation? Priorities are important but do we promote some at the expense of others. What impact does that have over time? Does leadership at times exploit the lack of member knowledge? How important is transparency? A lot depends on leadership at any given time. History is often times enlightening.

In Adventist Today James Breauer, wrote an article entitled, “Christian Leadership and Spiritual Abuse. He States in part:
“…The behavior of current leadership at the top of our denominational hierarchy constitutes spiritual abuse. The battles for control, the “God talk,” the attempts to discover who is in rebellion on non-Biblical issues—all are classic cases of spiritual abuse.
Abuse takes place when an individual crosses another’s boundaries [2] and attempts to manipulate or control them. Spiritual abuse is similar: it is when an individual or organization crosses another’s boundaries and attempts to manipulate them by use of “God talk,” doctrine, or withholding salvation. Spiritual abuse is an addiction to power, position, being “right,” and allowing only the approved kind of people around you.[3]”
There are several actions I am proposing that membership rally behind in holding our administrator accountable for the coming Annual Counsels and General Conference. Again this is coming in the form of a command from the membership and not just a demand or request. Requests have often fallen on deft ears, placated, mollified, minimized. These are responsibilities delegated
by membership and require action by administration. Membership is taking back their constituted rights to require, command action by administration. We have in recent years acquiesced to the dictates of autocratic administration and it is time for membership to halt the downward spiral. Membership loves this church as much as our administrators and have equally as much invested in it as they do and are not naïve as to the inner workings of the church. It is time we step up. This is what I am proposing:
• Empower the Constitution and Bylaws Committee to act independently in drafting constitutional revisions that are gender inclusive.

• Equal with this is the analysis of term limits.

• Remove from the constitution, bylaws, and working policy all criteria referencing male exclusivity along with ministerial license and ordination as qualifications for certain office positions, leaving the only qualifications membership in good and regular standing.

• By modifying the constitution, bylaws, and working policy it opens up the possibilities for taping talent from a broad spectrum of education, experience from any number of disciplines that will meet the needs of a 21st century church for new beginnings and fresh perspective, transparency utilizing technology the benefit of all.

• The nominating committee has a large responsibility in vetting choices for General Conference Officers and specifically the GC president. Typically, one name is recommended to the body. It is suggested that 2 or more names be brought to the floor with full disclosure of backgrounds and vetting process to include a minimum of one female. If two are brought one must be female. If three are brought one must be female, etc. Yes, we trust the committee but I believe our duly elected representatives should have more of a choice. This fosters transparency as well as responsibility.

• The incumbent president is not to be part of the nominating committees work. The previous president’s name can be considered but he should not be part of the deliberations for the office of the president.

• In this process review of the structure of the church in conjunction with the Constitution and Bylaws Committees for the needs of today with the idea of structuring for efficiency.

• If we are seeking revival/change/growth pouring new wine into old wine skins will not work.

• This will require thinking outside the box; openness to new ways of thinking.

• In using this we will be utilizing the best minds across disciplines, taping the best resources within and outside the denomination for consulting purposes.

• We are talking about the management of a world church we have talked about this for years but now is a reality in the 21st Century. Continuing to manage today’s organization from a 19th and 20th century is a formula for disaster. It has had its time and served us; not always as well as anticipated but to continue without change does a disservice to the membership and the larger community we are commissioned to serve.

• Balance of representation between membership and laity at all levels of administrations.

• Develop means of communication that stimulates member involvement engaging in meaningful dialogue using all media forums available.

• If unity is our goal this is going a long way toward fostering it as opposed to forced conformity through loyalty oaths and various forms of strong armed intimidation.

• Timeliness is important to give committees sufficient time to pursue their respective jobs and submit recommendations for study in preparation for future Annual Counsels and the 2020 General conference.

• To remain a responsible a church it becomes the responsibility of membership to hold administration accountable and that responsibility to hold administration comes as a command not a request, understanding who works for whom. The structure exists for us to accomplish this. Failure to implement these recommendations by administration requires responsible membership to move forward in the absence of that leadership. In the 21st century lack of action is a decision will trigger a reaction the church may want to avoid.

• We are at a crossroads with choices and opportunities. Lord help us to make informed choices for a finished work.

• This church will not remain relevant for these changing times on it current trajectory. The world is passing it by as we question our effectiveness. This is not unique to the SDA Church. All institutionalized religions are facing similar growing pains form the tug of war from its founding principles and adaptation to an ever increasing and rapidly changing society in the 21st Century. How we adapt to and manage these changes will determine our effectiveness for the future. As the words of the song says, written by Barnard Ignor, “Everything Must Change, Noting Stays the Same”.


There is no misinterpretation of the church manual…the OC should not have been formed…the Manual is clear without ambiguity…discipline should follow the actions of those out of harmony with the 2015 GC decisions not to ordain…

Great article, though sadly this situation no longer seems to be about thoughtful, well-reasoned analysis. Wilson and colleagues stopped listening to that a long time ago. So what’s a church to do? Interestingly, even those mainline denominations that have been ordaining women for forty or fifty years now are still producing reports on the inequality and abuse of women within their ministry ranks. So a note to our progressive selves: let’s see this for what it is–a deeply misogynistic streak that will not come out in the ordination debate wash. We could easily win that battle and still lose the war. It’s not so much about what women can or can’t do, or what credential they do or don’t have (although this is not unimportant). Primarily, it is about the experiences of women who are leading in ministry right now, and what we can do to pave the way for their acceptance and flourishing within our denominational and congregational cultures. To Valentine’s “functional analysis” we ought to add a “qualitative analysis” of what is actually going on at ground level and ask ourselves, “What can we do to increase levels of acceptance, understanding, and respect for women leaders of all types within our churches?” My suspicion is that the ordination debate is a shallow proxy for a much deeper and more pervasive problem that will still be there once women are finally ordained.


Do you know the price that the “world church” will pay for that strict, hair-splitting discipline? Is being “right” more important to you than harmony in the church? The consequences of such “discipline” are a much greater danger to the church than the small differences Dr. Valentine has carefully explained. Have you ever heard of the idea of being “dead right”? Is being “right” more important to you than avoiding harm to our church?


So we just do what we want as entities despite world church decisions? The health of our church has worked better before our current culture of feminism…under modern socialist values our church is declining…gone are the glory days of the patriarchy…the danger to our church is socialism and diversity culture…under which feminism thrives…and eats like a cancer our church foundations…

Thank you Gil for a cogent and articulate article.
It strikes at the heart of much obfuscation.
(BTW - ‘The GC’s way, or the highway’, is NOT
Jesus’ way.)


Really? Perhaps you should read this article in it’s entirety.


Semantics Larry…point me to proof the manual has been misinterpreted in the article or elsewhere?

“he who is not with me is against me” - Jesus.

The question is not whether according to current roles of ordained, commissioned and licenced minister women should be ordained or not. The question is whether the commissioned status should exist at all, and whether biblically women should be in positions of spiritual leadership.

Like all who write such articles and promote their brand of view when up against church positions, this author uses the tactic, of searching for a word or words here and there that he finds ambiguous enough that he can utilize for his campaign. Sad, but this has been the practice of multitudes over the years. Also unfortunately, the Church Manual is one such document that lends itself to this reasoning.

If the manual says ordained and commissioned, it is seized upon as though the entire statement meant they are on the same level, even though the sentence or paragraph does not even allude to that premise. It is taken for granted by the “reading glasses” the interpreter has on. In the secular world a “cleaner” can do the same work as a “janitor” yet though their work description is slightly differing, we do not hear them clamoring for the same status. But what we have here for consideration is far more serious, as it has salvational implications. Are we happy to work in the Lord’s service where He has a place for us. If not, are we not breaking commandment numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, (without much thought) in the spiritual sphere?

Its almost like the old joke we used to hear years ago of how to interpret the Bible correctly is now a sick reality. The story was about putting two texts together in their correct or incorrect context. It was stated that we don’t go around putting around one passage that says Judas hanged himself, and couple that with another that says, go thou and do likewise. This is what the author has done here, only in a more subtle manner. The devil is not the only one who can do that, please note.

The juxtaposing of the two “Wilsons” is a somewhat clever (maybe even sly) means of accomplishing this endeavor. You are not supposed to wake up to the fact that these two leaders are not engaged in a war that has any similarities or comparisons. The one was, and is, not any form of justification for the other to “change his mind” on an issue that has its foundation in the Bible, many of us still believe has the divine mandate we call a “thus saith the Lord.”

Whether the author wants to admit it, this is the reason for our faith. The Church Manual is not that divine mandate, but is policy and subject to interpretation by people who will that the account of one hanging themselves and then placing a go thou and do likewise in conjunction with it.

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Pastor Gilbert’s piece is a Masterpiece.
HOWEVER – It is going to fall on DEAF EARS. Even DEAF ears of some
North American Union officials.
There is TOO MUCH at stake for Men to ALLOW women into this Men’s Club.
And, there is NO WAY to disband the current Men’s Club and begin fresh and new.
ALL of this Must make the Holy Spirit cry every day.

What Pastor Gilbert has written here has been discussed over and over by readers
and commenters here on Spectrum for a long time now.
We have expressed for a long time now that a lot of what SDAs do is CARRY OVER
from OUR Catholic Church Roots. [but nobody will Admit to This.]
The Catholic Church is our Great-Grandmother, and in some cases, our Grandmother.
The Sunday Churches are our COUSINS.
Jesus is quoted as saying – Persons [Churches] outside of “the chosen church” are
MUCH WISER than those inside “the chosen church”. We see this today in regards to
Sunday Church Denominations recognizing the gift of Ministry given equally to ALL
Humans – men AND women. They are MUCH WISER than Seventh-day Adventists
who PROFESS to have “The Gift Of Prophecy”!!


What would be worse, to be the one who allowed people to make freely the choice not to be saved, or be the stumbling block which included people not to be saved. It is easy to say, we all make our own choices in life, and if one makes a choice it is their my free will, but I ask again, how much do we influence people’s choices. How do we mould children and teenagers, who according to some have not develop properly their a ability to make reasonable and logic choices because they lack maturity of age. Could we create the environment we God is their stumbling block because of our influence over them. So, if we permit women to be regard equal in this organization, and do their part, their Influence will be felt, but I we prohibit woman to be equal in this organization, we limit our ability to connect with women. Now get this straight, history nobody remembers, even the children of Israel, so if one thinks this will stop at women ordination, we are wrong, because many think that killing the enemy will kill the lie, and that when women know their place in society, then men in their purity will hasten the second coming. We think this can never happen, but fear will drive people to do extreme things, like separating kids from their parents, and then not knowing after which kids were taken from parents. We have to fight the lie as Jesus Christ of God fought it, in humility and dignity, being an inclusive God, which created male and female in Thier image.


Why does the church give women the role of teaching children in their most formative ages? Let deny them the role to interact with mature minds? What is therebeyond Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so? How to respond to that love, Is the sticky part. most men have no clue, advanced degrees not with standing. the laying on of hands has no virtue in that respect. Certainly Ted’s doctorate offers no help. He seems to understand frequent flyers awards.


So…GC = Jesus’s Way? Therefore, Ted Wilson = ?


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I think that poor Ellen (if resurrected) would be ready for the grave again if she saw the current state of the SDA church and its leadership. I doubt that she could have conceived that the Second Coming would not have come over 100 years later after her death.

Yes, Adventism could take some pointers from some of the Sunday keeping churches but I doubt that they do.

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Saw this next to the text. Talk about software tagging editorial content for appropriate ads…!



Certainly the commissioned status is just slop. Women is Pauls day were not schooled. Take a good look at Ted’s credentials A doctorate in planting health institutions in which his instructors were primarily women. Gonads are not part of proper vetting for the ministry. [quote=“Jimmy, post:13, topic:16299”]