Adventist Church in Ireland and UK Affirms Women Ministers

Pastor David Neal, Irish Mission President, joined with Church leaders from across the British Isles and the Trans-European Division leadership to affirm and support the courageous women who have dedicated their lives to various forms of ministry within the Church. This is his report:

The meeting in the boardroom of the British Union office on Wednesday, 28 October, ended late afternoon with prayer. Suddenly and spontaneously Church leaders found themselves surrounded by women pastors praying for the Lord to give 'their leaders', the necessary spiritual wisdom to lead. But the meeting was set up for the very opposite purpose, as a time of affirmation and prayer for the women pastors. The surprise action reinforced the message of one pastor, "Prayer is what has brought us this far."

With more than sixty female pastors and Bible workers serving in the TED, and another thirty women serving in an administrative capacity, TED President, Pastor Raafat Kamal, had already made an immediate commitment to "support our female pastors, their constituencies and their congregations" immediately following the 'No' vote on the issue of women's ordination at the General Conference Session in San Antonio in July. This then, was the first of three TED regional meetings.

BUC women in ministry RaafatOrganised by the British Union Conference leaders, Pastors Ian Sweeney, Paul Lockham and Mr Victor Pilmoor; co-hosted with TED leaders, Pastors Raafat Kamal and Audrey Andersson; and supported by Dr John Baildam, Principal of Newbold College; it was a time for encouragement, support and affirmation. For the gathered pastors it was also their time to speak ‒ and for leaders to listen! And listen they did.

The women expressed that "We are still serving, despite all the challenges", stating "if God sent us here, let us do our best to His glory." In practical terms one stated, "The best witness for our call is ministering", while another expressed that "I have a quiet confidence that God is working through me."

Pastors Llew Edwards (BUC) and Patrick Johnson (TED) attended the meeting in their role of Ministerial Association directors. In his devotions Patrick emphasised, "Sometimes we get busy in doing things for God where we need to do things with God." That certainly came through during the day which focused not so much on disappointment regarding the 'No' vote but rather developed into a spiritual time of blessing as the women and leaders shared understanding together.

There were nevertheless open and honest challenges. "I feel lifted up personally, but lonely in communicating to members the validity of my ministry", one confessed. Another said, "We get on, support each other and cope, and very much appreciate members who are supportive and encouraging."

Pastor Maureen Rock explained that even after the 'No' vote, "I didn't feel hit in the stomach… for me it was business as usual." With an even greater determination she returned to her church to serve by immediately conducting a Revelation Seminar. She was rewarded with a capacity audience attendance.

So far, so good. But as administrators continued to listen, three serious concerns emerged. 1. Adventist youth don't like what they see! In the 'No' vote, many see discrimination, and they sense injustice. Equality is a value society holds with high importance, often a struggle for many to attain. How can it be that this is not a value the Church holds high? One pastor quoted a young person in her congregation, "I no longer feel an Adventist – how can my Church do this? I stay with reluctance." 2. There's a huge gap between what members should know about the Bible and what they do know. We need to train our members that what you hear through some sections of 'Adventist' television and internet media is not necessarily true. 3. While clearly a minority, some male pastoral colleagues are less than affirmative, with some lacking in grace. The issue appeared to be less about theology, but more about attitude. As one pastor put it, "We don't want to serve as ministers constantly looking over our shoulders. We want to work together with our male colleagues, and reduce the 'us and them'."

BUC women in ministry sittingPastor Ian Sweeney responded for all the leadership by saying that it is "horrible to have to hear of what you've been and are going through." Both Pastors Sweeney and Kamal went on to apologise for their experience. Kamal continued, "Thank you for not giving up." It was a sobering and uncomfortable moment for the administrators in the room. Forces of ungrace between colleagues? How can this be? Is this what theological disagreement does to some of us ‒ ministers of the gospel, called and chosen?

What then is the way forward? From the collective voices of those present came the plea, "We cannot do this on our own, we need you beside us ‒ not just administrators, but also fellow pastors. We need your voice. Can you help us to talk with our church about our calling to ministry? Are you willing to stand with us and say, 'These women are called?'"

And while a number of practical ideas came forward, most centred on the theme of 'Education, Education, Education' – with a call for the various administrative units to work in concert teaching an increasingly diverse membership how to grow together.

As our time together drew to a close, Pastor Kamal echoing the words of Ellen White, reminded us that we have much to learn and much to unlearn. As the Church continues to grow together, those words still ring true.

David Neal is President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ireland.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

“κῦδος” to all those courageous people who are taking the right Christian position about our sisters who serve the Church.

The “domino effect” is spreading around the world. Women have been affirmed as 100% human beings in several places, as several sectors of the Church have decided to stop the discrimination of women promoted by other sectors of the same Church.

This time I don’t think that President Ted is happy with the TED President…

The Unions in the US are way too quiet on this issue. What is happening, did fear of the guys upstairs dominate the camp? It seems that this time others parts of the world, not America, are leading the process of eliminating discrimination of women from their midst!!

Those interested in further discussing this issue, please go to the Lounge, where this article should be posted soon.

The Lounge:

Marianne, @marianne_faust

Keeping education at a low key is one of the tactics the cultic movements utilize, because then it’s much easier to manipulate the crowds.

I don’t think it’s too late. The new generation is not buying into those cultic ideas that easily as we (I speak for myself) did when we were young, long time ago (again speaking for myself… :wink: )

We believed, we trusted, we followed, we thought we were told not only the truth but ALL the truth. We were honest and confident. And we know what happened, right?

But today’s youth are different, and they have the info available, all that we didn’t have then. And they are not naive.

Ken @kennlutz,

Do not cherish false expectations in this regard.
What we can expect though is people with common sense, good Christians, people who want to eliminate discrimination of women from our midst, to do what so many are already doing in many regions of the civilized world.

Who will be next? Any other Union in the US, or will we be left behind by the Europeans???


Yet again, those who stand for God and who refuse to discriminate against woman. Thank-you, brothers and sisters in Ireland and UK!


I agree that education plays a key role here…but that might be already too late. The loudest voices against WO. seem also to be those with the least understanding of Christian essentials. They don’t feel the need for education. They are quite sure to have some very influential people behind them. And they have. And we, the rest, we realized way too late what happens if we let people like Veith and Batchelor and Schreven etc. do their thing without any resistance. Very few people, even today, realize the different gospel they have been preaching.


This is probably the most accurate statement I have heard from any SDA leader. Please, please, remedy this!

The GC needs to hear LOUDLY that the SS Lessons are constrained to Living the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to Discipleship, to “following the Lamb wherever he goes.” Have we not had enough apologetic for our assumed exclusiveness, enough justification for legalism, enough insistence on ‘proper’ belief? The Lord’s Church only grows by the influence Holy Spirit upon each and every member therein, whereby they can point to the Light of the World as their Savior, and not by the egotistic desires of a few good men. TMI?

Trust God.


I’m sure they appreciate being listened to and affirmed. I’m sure they would feel even more affirmed if their union came up with some creative way to treat them and their male colleagues similarly. Being listened to and affirmed is nice, but so is equality.


Thank you UK and Ireland! Having lived near London a while ago I was very confident that the UK would affirm women Pastors!


So glad to see the UK and Ireland leading the way.


Many other unions have also “affirmed” women, but only a few have actually put it into action by ordaining then. Words are easy and may be soothing, but without actually accepting those “affirmed” women as fully equal in all respects to their male colleagues, their words are empty and mean little or nothing.

By the time the church begins ordaining women, the young women and men who feel that discrimination does not follow Christ’s example, there may be no young ministers of either sex to replace the retirees.


It would appear to me that, although affirmations are lovely and necessary, somehow they have stopped short of taking a stand against widely accepted and promoted gender discrimination. I can’t understand how a church that professes the desire to retain and increase membership could think that this is acceptable. The two concepts will never converge.


I agree Elaine. This is gesture politics. I don’t see any meaningful action here. Until the unions in the UK come out with policy like Norway etc, it is meaningless. There is no bravery here.


I have similar notions. The anti WO camp affirm women.


Let the Europeans lead!

USA is not the leader in everything and doesn’t need to be.

We are an international church.

Learn from others.

When the fruit iripens first n another orchard, then eat if from there.


This kind of listening to Adventist feminine pastoral and organization leaders was promised by my friend Rafat Kamal in the hours after the San Antonio vote.

There is little need to complain that more creative policies concerning women in leadership need to be in place. I’m sure this will happen also!

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