Advocating for Women: Lourdes Morales-Gudmundsson

(system) #1

Question: You are the current president of the Association of Adventist Women. What's the job like? Was it a hard decision to accept this role?

Answer: The job has been challenging, since I am working full-time as a professor and chair of department [Chair of World Languages at La Sierra University], but I took it on because of my long-standing interest in women's issues, particularly at this time of heightened interest in the ordination of women to the gospel ministry.

The AAW Board has monthly teleconference meetings at which we plan the annual conference and deal with matters pertaining to the smooth operation of our organization.

Question: What has been the hardest or most challenging thing about serving as AAW's president? What have you enjoyed the most? What do you feel are your greatest accomplishments as the organization's president, as you prepare to step down from your two-year term?

Answer: Frankly, I feel that I've barely scratched the surface of the potential in this organization. There is much to do, now that we've straightened out some bureaucratic details that needed attention.

During my presidency I've helped to organize two annual conferences, and meeting other like-minded Adventist women has been a great pleasure for me. I've also enjoyed working with the women on the AAW Board who share my desire to see this organization become relevant to a new generation of Adventist women.

AAW has a long and distinguished history of advocating for women's rightful place in the work of the Adventist church. We have honored truly amazing women who are making a difference in their communities and across the globe. At this juncture, we're needing to draw on this noble past and reach out to the next generation of young Adventist women who are trying to understand why these issues of woman's place in the church are still a matter of such heated debate.

Question: Your background is in languages and Spanish literature. Yet you have long been an advocate for women. How are the two areas related? Are they?

Answer: I come from a culture that invented the word "machismo"! Not that "machista" attitudes are limited to Hispanic men, but the place of male above female in Spanish and Spanish-American cultures dates back to medieval Spain, a time when this European country was hammering out its identity in the context of religious wars against the Arab invaders. In a long history of peaceful coexistence as well as bloody wars with both Jews and Arabs, the "macho" was firmly established in the cultural memory of the Spanish-speaking peoples in Spain as well as in the Americas.

While this concept of the dominant male is squarely ensconced in Latino culture, so is the mother-figure associated with the cult to the Virgin Mary. This explains why, for example, Latin America has had women in leadership positions for many years, even as presidents in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Argentina, and Chile in recent history. Woman-as-mother is highly respected even by the macho. So, yes, there is a strong and logical connection between my interest in Spanish and Spanish-American literature and civilization and my passion for women's rights.

Question: Andrews University published a book you edited, Women and the Church: The Feminist Perspective in 1995. What is the thesis of that book, and what did you hope to accomplish in publishing it?

Answer: I was privileged to work with some of the leading Adventist women activists of the time in the preparation of this book. I wanted to share with the Adventist reading public the rationale for "Christian feminism" within our church.

I was quite ill at the time, but made myself get up and work on this book so it would be ready to distribute at the GC World Session in Utrecht [summer 1995]. I did learn that the book was widely distributed at that session, which made all my efforts worthwhile. I like to think that this book has contributed its tiny grain of salt to the Church's understanding of God's plan for women and their service in His cause on earth.

Question: In your professional life, you have worked both inside and outside the Adventist church. How have the experiences differed? Do you feel women are treated differently within Adventism?

Answer: I’ve found that it is assumed, outside the Adventist church, that women should be treated fairly in every realm of life. I'm not suggesting that they actually are treated fairly, but, at least the assumption is there. Inside the church I don't think that assumption is as widely held as one would wish. There are those (men as well as women) who believe that God has already settled this question: woman-as-different-from-man means that she is, in some ontological way, limited with regard to what she can and should do in the church. Therefore, it is concluded that women should not occupy positions in the church that were meant only for men nor should the church ordain them to certain positions, no matter how evident the fruits of their spiritual labors.

Adventist theologians, such as Darius Jankiewicz, have demonstrated the source of this idea in the Christian church, dating back to the early church fathers and firmly ensconced in the theology of one of the world's leading Christian churches.

That this idea is notably absent from the belief system and practices of the Adventist church from its very inception to this day only goes to show how powerful and persistent certain misreadings of Scripture are and how easily they can be grasped to support culturally-embedded concepts relating to male and female.

Question: How do you feel the world church should move forward on the issue of women's ordination?

Answer: It is my fondest hope that there will be flexibility in this matter as there is in other socially-conditioned matters of the church. As a member of the North American Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee, I was pleased to find that the majority, including some who came to our study quite skeptical about ordaining women, concluded that there is no clear "Thus Saith the Lord" on this matter and supported the idea that each division should be free to ordain or not ordain their women.

The fears that are being expressed about threats to church unity will come true only if we are inflexible and do not allow divisions or unions to make decisions according to the religious and social preparedness of their people for such a move.

For those who still believe that ordination of women is simply and exclusively a theological matter, they should make the necessary connection between the heated debates about women's ordination and the work of the worldwide campaign sponsored by the GC Women's Ministries Department. Could it be that the shameful statistics of violence, aimed largely at women around the world, might have something to do with the resistance to women's ordination? Could it be that we should have begun the conversation about women's ordination with the topic of woman's worth in God's eyes and in our various cultures? As a world church, we should be willing to make this connection and search deep into our souls to find the true motivations behind our inability to see what God is doing through our women around the globe.

Question: You have organized the Association of Adventist Women's annual conference, which takes place at Southern Adventist University October 16 through 18. How did you choose the venue? Has the AAW conference been there before?

Answer: I don't believe we have ever had a conference on this campus, but I could be wrong. We chose it because it is one of the leading Adventist universities and because its president was actively involved in both the NAD and GC TOSC. Gordon Bietz’s even-handed treatment of the work before us, his Christian kindness and consideration at all times, even when it seemed that there were strong disagreements, blessed us all.

In addition to women's issues, I'm also a strong believer in promoting peace. Peace is not the absence of conflict; it's dealing with conflict head-on using the godly tools of respect, patience, kindness, forgiveness, and even humor. Dr. Bietz exemplified these virtues and modeled how, I believe, we must address this issue of ordaining women, if we are to safely navigate the turbulent waters of the ordination debate.

Question: How were the speakers chosen? Which speakers are you particularly looking forward to hearing this year?

Answer: We chose our theme first, i.e., "Lifting As We Climb: Women Mentoring Women." Then we looked for women leaders in various areas of endeavor who could shed light on this theme from their unique experience and perspective.

Mentors can make all the difference between success or failure in life, no matter how you define those terms. We thought this would be an inspiring and instructive topic and we believe we've made an outstanding selection of speakers.

Personally, I'm looking forward to hearing our keynote speaker, Dr. Ella Smith Simmons, and Dr. Sandy Roberts, president of the Southeastern California Conference. But, really, I think each one of these speakers will give me a fresh vision of mentoring and I'm very much looking forward to all the presentations!

Question: Can you tell us who the Women of the Year will be?

Answer: Yes, of course! We are honoring Pastor Sandy Roberts who has exemplified grace under fire and is quietly blazing a new trail of service for women in the Adventist church. We are also recognizing Frederica Harris who, together with her husband Cliff, has run one of the nation's most successful drug rehab programs.

Question: What do you think is the best thing about the conference? Is there anything you are disappointed about this year?

Answer: I think what I'm most excited about is that AAW is taking on new energy with every conference we celebrate. Last year, for the first time in the history of AAW, we held our conference on the Oakwood University campus and this year, another first, on the Southern Adventist University campus.

Next year we'll be sponsoring a booth and a reception at the GC World Session — a unique opportunity for us to reach out to women from around the world. There is a sense among us that there is still a work for AAW to do and this energizes us. In an effort to internationalize our organization, we've even discussed holding one of our next conferences outside the U.S.

Question: What will you do with your freed-up time once you step down as AAW president?

Answer: I probably will continue to support the work of AAW in some capacity, so I won't be stepping down entirely. We are in need of women to step up and take positions on our board that are being left vacant by our retirees. Young women with a vision for the future of our church and who want to make a difference. International women who can help us broaden our view of women in the Adventist world church.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Interested Friend) #2

“That this idea is notably absent from the belief system and practices of the Adventist church from its very inception to this day only goes to show how powerful and persistent certain misreadings of Scripture are and how easily they can be grasped to support culturally-embedded concepts relating to male and female.”

And the advocates of the feminist position are not partaking of the concepts of the world? The misreading of Scripture and resultant attempted actions to ordain women are the real results of the misreading of what Scripture reflects by both word and example.

In The Grip of Truth

(Steve Mga) #3

Here is a quotation from the Greatest Woman of Seventh day Adventists.
I have edited it some.
"The Greatest Want of the World is the want of Women — Women who will NOT be bought OR sold, Women who in their inmost souls are true and honest, Women who DO NOT FEAR to Call Sin by its right name, Women whose conscience is as true to Duty as the compass needle is to the North Pole, Women who will stand for the right though the heavens fall around them. — Ellen G. White, Education, p. 57.

The Women of the Church are not taking these words seriously. If they were they would not allow themselves to continue to be abused culturally, spiritually. They would not allow the men of the Church keeping them from Serving God to their potential. They are AFRAID to call this SIN by its Right Name.
They are told to “wait”. They are told to “pray” that God will Force the Men to Allow them to serve Him with ALL their Gifts. They are told to “let the Men study it out — and the Men have been studying it out for the past 40 years.” And the Men STILL have no idea about what THEY read.

If this Adventist Women Organization is about ANYTHING, it should be the encouragement of ALL Females in the Church that it is their Right, as a Daughter of the King of the Universe, to be able to serve the King of the Universe as a Daughter, and to use all her-their gifts in service, and not believe the lie that they were an after thought in God’s plans and therefore they are not allowed to use all THEIR gifts that God endowed them with from the beginning.
If this Adventist Women Organization is about ANYTHING, it is their responsibility to call this Sin of the Church by the Men of the Church by its RIGHT Name. It is time to Speak Up, Speak Out.
Prayer HAS been offered!!!
It is TIME for the Women to Answer the Prayer of God for Him.

(jeremy) #4

how thrilling and fitting that sandra roberts will be nominated as an aaw woman of the year…

(Ann) #5

Thank you for publishing this interview. I was a member of AAW many years ago in Berrien Springs, but haven’t heard much about the organization in the years since. Perhaps Spectrum would post a listing of AAW chapters, so more Adventist women would consider joining. I’d like to reconnect.

By the way, this great comment appeared on the Adventist Review website in response to the president’s appeal for the church to study the issue of women’s ordination:

“This is not the way to make a church decision. One church leader has an (sincere) opinion and many in some regions of the church disagree. He calls a study committee of the best biblical experts at great expense (and loads the committee with his choices). The committee takes a position different than his. So he tells them their view is not final. So he asks the whole church to study the same materials, in the hope they may come to his position. Never has a church leader been so determined to have his way. In the end we will have to let each region make its own decision on this, so why stir up the ‘whole church’ in the process?” From Weary

I heartily concur! Is the church leader referred to willing to sacrifice the church because of his stubbornness? Let’s hope “Weary” has a vote at Annual Council and will stand up and be counted.

(Steve Mga) #6

And this response DOES NOT even address the physical abuse of women in the church nor the mental abuse of women by the men of the church.

(George Tichy) #7

Women in the church, especially teenagers, have to be better educated on the domestic violence issue. There Is abuse already occurring when they date, and they have no clue on what to do.
Boys also need to be educated, so they won’t engage in this type of action to establish CONTROL - which is actually the central problem in this matter.

(Elmer Cupino) #8

The father:

“The meeting chairman, former GC President Neal C. Wilson, favored the new salary structure. At the end of the day he could see that removing the salary caps for hospital leaders was not going to pass, so he called for a motion to table the matter.”

The son:

“The committee takes a position different than his. So he tells them their view is not final. So he asks the whole church to study the same materials, in the hope they may come to his position. Never has a church leader been so determined to have his way.”

The conclusion:

Who says the apple does not fall far from the tree? Potent evidence that family culture is transmitted subconsciously from one generation to another.

John 14:9 (New Living Translation): Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?

(Allen Shepherd) #9

So the A of Adv. Women is making Roberts, one elected outside GC policy the woman of the year.


But this is how liberal thinking goes, if we do not get what we want, we will do as we wish regardless. I am not impressed.

A house divided cannot stand. If the actions of the governing body are ignored, then other segments will do the same. Chaos will be the result. Sew the wind, reap the whirlwind. We just have not seen it yet. I have seen complaints about the fellow in Uganda who goes against policy in his statements on homosexuality, but in this instance it is AOK. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

(Elmer Cupino) #10

“If the actions of the governing body are ignored, then other segments will do the same. Chaos will be the result.”

Would you say this would apply to Paul the apostle in regards to circumcision? If Paul were subservient and deferring, circumcision would still be a requirement for acceptance to christianity.

But as Romans 2:29 “But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Should not our mandate be unity in spirit in proclaiming the NT gospel, not unity in action and letter?

(Interested Friend) #11

How true, how true. You know who was the first rebel was? We cannot stand united when a group of members insist on following the culture and that is exactly what the push for WO is.
“For the church as a social institution, ordination is the first item on the feminist agenda” The Tip of an Iceberg by C. Raymond Holmes." p.87. Here is a theologian converted as a Lutheran Pastor to the SDA faith acting more like a true follower of Scripture as taught by our church than some who have been around a long time.
In The Grip of Truth

(Shining) #12

Rebel = Paul
Martin Luther
John Hus
William Tyndale

(Allen Shepherd) #13

According to Peter in Acts 15:6-9, it was God who made the decision to allow Gentiles in without circumcision. It was not Paul at all, but God.

If it were Paul, then the party of the Pharisees would have had a point. It was God, not Paul.

Ah, “unity of spirit”! You could do anything you pleased if that was the principle of action. An idea to cover any action whatsoever. That is why we have policy. The guy in Uganda could claim the same. As I said, liberal thinkers are disregarding policy to do as they please regardless. I continue to be unimpressed.

(Allen Shepherd) #14


Paul: acting on Jesus call
Luther: restoring a Biblical emphasis
Hus: pointing to the humility of Christ
Tyndale: giving scripture to the masses


Association of Adventist Women: ?? Just what principle did they follow except to act as if the policy of the body could be ignored. sounds like rebellion to me.

The whirlwind is coming, Shining.

(Steve Mga) #15

Woman like Julian of Norwich was a Rebel.
Miester Eckhart was discovered by Martin Luther in 1515 which provided him cause to put his paper to the church door.
Women like Mechtild of Magdeburg, Hildegard of Bingen.
If it werent for “rebels” we would still be only hearing [not reading] the Latin Vulgate bible in services.
If it werent for “rebels” like Sojourner Truth, Harriot Tubman slaves would not have made it to freedom.
NOT ALL rebellion is evil, nor has evil consequences.

(Elmer Cupino) #16

“According to Peter in Acts 15:6-9, it was God who made the decision to allow Gentiles in without circumcision. It was not Paul at all, but God.”

Acts was not written until around 110CE. Expansion of christianity into the gentile world raised a major issue; under what conditions may gentiles become part of Christ-communities? Was circumcision needed? Must every convert become jewish in order to be a christian? According to Acts 15, the issue was resolved around the year 50CE. Which means, the christian world did not know that for about 110 years, as you mentioned “it was God who made the decision to allow gentiles in without circumcision.” Until then, if we were going by your reasoning, Paul would have been a rebel and a “liberal,” for all 110 years, all the while being in error because in hindsight "it was God who made the decision to allow gentiles in without circumcision.”

But who is to say that God may not be behind the movement of WO? The tide seems to be turning in favor of WO, at least among the developed world, and this could be the workings of the Holy Spirit.”

With TW/GC “massaging” the issue for nearly 50 years, not to mention, “yelling” at A. Rodriguez (a biblical scholar more than TW) for his report, is not impressing or becoming. If the WO were to be approved in San Antonio 2015, then the liberals would have only been in “error” for only 50 years, or better still, the fundamentals have only been “right” for 50 years. That’s 50% better than Paul’s 110 years.

And so may I quote you, “I am not impressed.”

(Elmer Cupino) #17

You forget, Jesus was the ultimate “rebel.” And for the price, He was crucified.

Are we still crucifying HIM?

(Rohan Charlton) #18

I’ve said before…But I feel I want to say again! God gave us the gift of Grace through the Cross.

Christians have been trying to give it back ever since.

When peace like a river…

(Elmer Cupino) #19

"When peace like a river…"

One of my all-time favorites, after “Jesus Saviour Pilot Me.” My father hummed this song while losing consciousess after a stroke. We eventually lost him but hold on to the eternal hope of seeing him again.

(Rohan Charlton) #20

It’s really beautiful what you wrote.

He found the loving embrace of those Everlasting Arms.

How blessed if we all learnt to


a little more.