An Open Letter on the Ordination of Women

(Spectrumbot) #1

Dear President Ted Wilson and the General Conference Executive Committee:

Much has been said about the 1990 General Conference Session action regarding the ordination of women. What has been heretofore overlooked is the critical part of the action. When the delegates accepted the commission's report, they accepted this statement, ". . . the commission does not have a consensus as to whether or not the Scriptures and the writings of Ellen G. White explicitly advocate or deny the ordination of women to pastoral ministry . . ."1

By accepting this statement, the Session delegates officially recognized that Adventists within the Church have two doctrinally distinct views on the ordination of women. Some Adventists believe that Scripture advocates the role of women as pastors, while other Adventists believe that Scripture excludes women from the pastoral ministry. The imperative here is that the Session recognized that the Church has no official doctrinal position one way or the other.

Both sides are sincere and passionate in their beliefs, and each staunchly believes the other side is wrong. Sometime in the future, the Church might settle this matter by establishing a doctrinal position. Until that time comes, each side must recognize that those with an opposing view have the right to believe as they do, and the right to practice that belief, insofar as possible. That last line may have shocked some of you. Yes the opposing view has the right to practice their belief. This means that if a union conference refuses to ordain women to the pastoral ministry, they have that right, and no one can force them to ordain women. Likewise, if a union conference chooses to ordain women to the pastoral ministry, they have that right, and no one can force them to stop ordaining women. I say it is the union conference's decision because according to the General Conference Working Policy, ". . .decisions regarding the ordination of ministers are entrusted to the union conference/mission . . ."2

The agenda item for the 2015 General Conference Session The question currently on the Session's agenda is, "Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?"3

Just as what took place at the 1995 General Conference Session, the current agenda item is a political question, not a doctrinal one. It is an attempt to allow the majority to violate the rights of the minority by imposing its view without settling the question. What you do not seem to realize is that the attempt cannot succeed, because, if the delegates do reject the motion, it in no way abrogates the unions' authority to decide whom they can ordain. Therefore, rejecting the motion does nothing to stop the unions from ordaining women.

The fair and right course of action is to replace the current Session agenda item with the following statement, submitted for the delegates' approval:

"At the present time, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has not made a final doctrinal determination as to whether the Church can ordain pastors without respect to gender. Until this is done, the church affirms that members can believe either 1) that both men and women are qualified to serve in the pastoral ministry, or 2) that only men are qualified to serve in the pastoral ministry. The church further affirms the right of church members to practice either of these beliefs, insofar as possible. The Church recognizes that this may result in different practices in different church territories. One territory may ordain pastors without respect to gender, while another territory may restrict ordination to men."

This Church wants unity. Sometimes unity means that the two sides agree to disagree until God provides more light, and the Church can settle the matter.


John B. Heczko

Cc. Daniel R. Jackson, President NAD

________________________________ 1Adventist Review, July 13, 1990, pg. 15. 2General Conference Working Policy 2007-2008 B O5 statement 6. [This is the most recent edition of the policy I could find online.] 3

John B. Heczko, MD is a retired physician living in the Los Angeles area. He is a third generation Adventist, a graduate of Pacific Union College, and Loma Linda University School of Medicine.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #2

I appreciate Dr Heczko’s letter.

However, “Until this is done” commits the church to making a final doctrinal determination in the future. Consequently, the proposed allowance for current diversity is problematic, since the more conservative action would not result in back tracking.

Rather, we simply don’t have consensus on the matter. Leadership needs to lead by informing delegates that this is the case, & encourage voting affirmatively out of respect of both positions.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

a statement of the issue, with hash for a solution. it will never see neither a sunrise or a sunset in Texas.

(Rheticus) #4

That is NOT the reason it is the Union Conference’s decision.

This vote is being used as a ploy for the GC to get the Union’s to voluntarily agree that the GC has control over them, whereas the Union Constitutions are quite clear - it is the voluntary joining together of a group of local conferences that have control over the Union Conference that they so form.

The Union Conferences control the GC, Not the other way around. Regardless of what an GC policies or working guides say not because of them.

(Christ Follower) #5

I find that this issue has such a double standard. I know personally of at least two women who have gone to our universities with the intent for pastoral ministry. They paid a lot of money for their degree and then after taking their money, they won’t be “ALLOWED” to be a pastor. One of them is a Chaplin and our local conference office sits on the fence regarding her credentials…so it gets passed onto the union. REGULAR pastors get theirs renewed every five years…BUT…she has to get hers renewed every year. What’s with that?
Ellen G. White is a woman and we/have follow(ed) her to the letter of the law above the bible at times…but we won’t ordain. Makes no logical sense.
Then there’s the argument of what we interpret the bible to say or want it to say - of course not taking into consideration the culture of the time in which it was written. I appreciate this letter…it allows us to agree to disagree…in LOVE…and move on. Well written.

(Sophia ) #6

Is this really about women Ordination or Subordination?


Such an uncertain dualism does nothing good for this issue. The GC must take a stance, either YES or NO. What is unfolding before us is a mess. It really means that our theological approach is without praxis or translation. It was the church that Christ gave power to bind and to loose. Our church has lost that authority by her failure to give the clear blueprints at this time. We are acting like Pilate, who thought that majority decision against his conscience can be comforted by washing hands with water. The Theology of Ordination Committee should have given us a unanimous stance. If we claim that the issue is Biblical or theological, then it’s possible for the Church to come to a standpoint. Isn’t it ridiculous that we need majority decision to decide what is truth (or whatever I don’t know) for us? We are only exposing our nakedness, blindness, wretchedness and poverty to public ridicule. How many of the delegates coming have spent enough time to research on this issue? How many of them understands the problem at hand? They are just coming to raise their hands for or against based on that old sentiments. I wish this whole vote be cancelled in order for the church to give herself more time to come to one point. The GC must first give her voice YES or NO…the the Divisions can take it from there.

(Elaine Nelson) #8

The original and early church did NOT have a united position for all its members. There was clearly separate and distinct difference allowed for the Jewish and gentile Christians. We, as a church claim to use the Bible as our guide, but in this instance it appears to be ignored. The church then, because of differences did not demand uniformity. Why, some 2,000 years later should the church try to imitate the Jewish Christians in enforcing its wishes on everyone?

(George Tichy) #9

Good luck on this one…

If I were in their (GC) shoes, with their agenda and their brains, I would probably laugh at your proposal. Proper, broad, and clear information is the last thing that could possibly flow in cases like this.

The less you inform the more you control!

(George Tichy) #10

There will never be an unanimous stance on this Issue. We have to be happy with “majority.”

The TOSC gave a fair stance, but it simply was not what the GC wanted since the beginning. They made a mistake of inviting less anti-WO members to participate than they should have in order to get the results they wanted. Therefore, it just backfired on them.

This is why they trashed the whole TOSC thing and created what I call the “_ _ famous question.” Which will backfire on them again either way it goes in SA.


Sure of (sic)? :wink: Anyway, if we claim it’s biblical, it must be possible else we shall release, maybe, Barnabas…

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #13

That’s manipulation, not leadership.

(Allen Shepherd) #14

There is a certain sense that since the Unions accepted the first statement and did not ordain women, it would be disingenuous to suddenly assert the right to do so after so many years have passed. Yes, i know of the wording, but it has not been followed until now, when some folk feel they can go ahead regardless of the vote. Another disingenuous idea. Let the church vote the present motion and accept the results.

And besides, the suggested wording could mean that if a church felt they could ordain women, they could. Why not if the members believe they should be able to? Or do the Unions have a right over “conscious”? Could result in real chaos.

(Allen Shepherd) #15

the only information i have received from the NAD on this has been proWO. And they have been pretty forceful. So if there is any manipulation going on, it is on the proWO side. At least as far as I can tell.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #16

Please read the entire conversation. How have NAD leaders lacked clarity as George says is against the GC leaders’ intention? You don’t like the information they’ve shared, but they are open & providing leadership for the only vote that won’t exacerbate & extend the divisiveness.


We are already, not in chaos, but in wide disagreement on this issue. Church officials have not helped to resolve this through the shaping of the question to be voted at GC. The question to be voted at GC in San Antonio seems an attempt to keep the Church divided rather than to end divisiveness.

(Gordon Reid) #18


Is it possible that God is in support of both approaches and that is why the Theology of Ordination Committee did not give a “unanimous stance” one way or the other? If God is supportive of both approaches, why should the church not be able to unite behind having both approaches implemented within the church body?

(Andrew) #19

I think this is ultimately about ones inner makeup. Our core subconscious belief system is our unseen spectacles from which we interpret everything.

Scripture is interpreted through this prism. This inner core is all about our socialisation from birth.

This is why it is very difficult to change a person’s viewpoint simply by debating or sharing knowledge.

Change can only happen when our core is ‘shaken’ into a new paradigm.

For example, those who believe adamantly that homosexuals are an abomination will probably only change their view if they encounter it at a personal level. This can happen if they have children who turn out to be gay for instance.

(jeremy) #20

i think this article is quite kind to the anti-wo side…male headship outside of marriage isn’t defensible from either the bible or egw…people who think it is are simply reading into the text, not only what isn’t there, but what forces contradiction between inspired sources…in reality, male headship represents a cultural inability to see the big picture…this doesn’t bode well for our church, considering what lies ahead for the church in the future - perhaps in our lifetime…


More accurately, the materials you have received are the objective, voted conclusions of the NAD TOSC Committee in a brochure format for direct communication on the issue. It is not anti-, propaganda, or forceful. It’s “just the facts” as voted by the committee tasked with the work.

Your biases are showing.