ANN Removes Article Indicating Movement Toward Women's Ordination Worldwide


(system) #1

The Adventist News Network (ANN) first published, then removed an article that reported increasing favorability toward women's ordination worldwide. The article noted that at the General Conference Theology of Ordination Committee (TOSC) meeting in Maryland over the past week, "At least 10 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 13 world division Biblical Research Committees say they would either recommend the ordination of women to ministry or would allow it in some world regions without the matter harming church unity." ANN is the official news outlet for the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Early Thursday morning, the article was nowhere to be seen on the ANN website. The URL for the article (http://news.adventist.org/all-news/news/go/2014-01-28/study-discussions-over-now-on-to-solutions-says-chair-of-theology-committee/) directed to a page reading "This article is not available!" However, despite the removal of the article from the ANN website, a cached version of the story was available through a basic Google search. Additionally, tweets from the ANN twitter account and articles on the ANN facebook page remained up as of this story's publication.

The cached version of the article, as it appeared Jan 29, 2014 07:01:37 GMT is reprinted in its entirety below.

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Study discussions over, now on to solutions, says chair of theology committee

[image unavailable]

Artur Stele, second from right, chairs a plenary session of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee on Wednesday, January 22 in Columbia, Maryland, United States, after the group had met in smaller discussion groups. The committee is comprised of more than 100 members from throughout the denomination, including pastors, professors, lay people and members of supporting ministries. [photo: Ansel Oliver]

More world regions would be open to women's ordination in some areas

January 28, 2014 | Columbia, Maryland, United States | ANN staff

At least 10 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 13 world division Biblical Research Committees say they would either recommend the ordination of women to ministry or would allow it in some world regions without the matter harming church unity.

The recommendations were unveiled at last week’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), which was the third study meeting of the committee.

The denomination is in the midst of a five-year process of studying the biblical foundation of the theology of ordination and how it relates to gender and its implications if women were to be ordained. The Adventist world church does not ordain women as ministers.

The five-year process was established following a pledge at the denomination’s General Conference Session in 2010 to examine ordination. Each of the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions has formed its own Biblical Research Committee and delivered its recommendation to the TOSC. The committee has previously held two week-long study sessions, and a fourth and final meeting is scheduled for June.

Last week’s meeting, from January 21 to 25 in Columbia, Maryland, featured presentations on theology and descriptions of options for moving forward in worldwide unity regarding ordination as it relates to gender. Much of the discussion focused on the issue of “headship” as is found in 1 Corinthians 11. Papers from all meetings are available to view on the website of the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research.

Artur Stele, TOSC chair and director of the denomination’s Biblical Research Institute, told delegates on Friday that the time for researching and studying of the issue had come to an end.

“From now on we’re going in a new direction. From now, including the June meeting, we’ll be looking for solutions,” Stele said.

Discussions have at times turned intense but have been conducted with respect and in a congenial manner.

“These meetings have featured frank—even very frank—descriptions of the positions on both sides of this matter,” Stele told the Adventist Review. “I believe that everyone who has participated in this process has come with a genuine desire to find out what the Word of God teaches, and how we can identify solutions that allow the church to stay focused on its worldwide mission. I’ve been gratified to see a growing sense of camaraderie and understanding as we’ve moved through this process.”

At the final TOSC meeting in June, it’s expected that the committee will make recommendations for the denomination’s Executive Committee meeting at Annual Council in October. From there, a recommendation will likely be made for the agenda of the 2015 General Conference Session.

TOSC Vice Chair Geoffrey Mbwana said regardless of what is ultimately decided, there is a sense of unity among TOSC members.

“All divisions have indicated they are willing to work with whatever is decided and to go forward with the mission of the church,” Mbwana said. “That has really comforted us.”

ANN has previously reported on several of the divisions’ Biblical Research Committee recommendations. Below is a summary of each division BRC recommendation to the TOSC last week. Each position is presented by quoting directly from their own report and is offered in thorough and concise form:

East-Central African Division: “After thorough examination of Scripture, the Writings of Ellen White, and the scholarly papers that are for the ordination of women and those that are against, there is still not light as to whether [women] may be ordained as pastors.…The committee is almost convinced that there are two possibilities: A. Both sides of the debate on women ordination do not really understand the New Testament passages which read like women ordination should not be considered; B. The whole church has not given much thought as to what women may do uniquely and be affirmed to advance the redemptive ministry and mission of God. So, before there is complete clarity about the authentic Scriptural intent about the issue, [our Biblical Research Committee] says ‘not yet’ to the ordination of women.… Our committee is convinced that the church needs to continue to ‘seek understanding’ so that the delegates to GC in [San Antonio] in 2015 may produce good results by voting intelligently.”

Euro-Asia Division: “[T]aking into account the cultural context in which the church is to fulfill its service in Euro-Asia Division, and keeping in mind the church’s missiological interests, the [division] Executive Committee discourages the practice of the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry.”

Inter-American Division: “There is no explicit mandate in the Bible for the ordination of women to church leadership, yet there is no command against the same….The Inter-American Division is willing to accept the ecclesiastical decision taken by the [Seventh-day Adventist Church] in plenary session.”

Inter-European Division: “Since ordination does not contradict the teachings of the Bible and might foster the mission of the church, we think that there is room for the church to ordain women for pastoral ministry.…Whatever decision is considered, a basic unity of the worldwide church in faith and practice should be preserved."

North American Division: “In harmony with our biblical study, we recommend that ordination to gospel ministry, as an affirmation of the call of God, be conferred by the church on men and women….The committee humbly recommends that the North American Division support the authorization of each division to consider, through prayer and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, its most appropriate approach to the ordination of women to gospel ministry.”

Northern Asia-Pacific Division: We recommend that the World Church place “Mission First” as a priority and that we focus on sharing the three angels’ messages with the world. This means that we recommend that both men and women should be encouraged and recognized by the church through ordination to the pastoral ministry.... We further recommend that the implementation of ordination of women will be determined by each division taking into consideration its impact on mission and unity within its territories.

South American Division: “[W]omen should not be ordained to the pastoral ministry….“The church should further investigate the possibility of the ordination of men and women to ministries other than the pastoral ministry.”

South Pacific Division: “The Biblical Research Committee of the South Pacific Division does not see any scriptural principle which would be an impediment to women being ordained….The calling of the Holy Spirit needs to be recognized for both men and women. There is a sense of injustice that needs to be addressed….The mission of the church is a primary determinant of praxis, both in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and in its climax as the Holy Spirit is poured out on both men and women during the latter rain.”

Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division: “The Old Testament and New Testament demonstrate that no women were ordained….Since there is no biblical support for the ordination of woman pastors, then the ordination of women elders should also not be considered.

Southern Asia Division: “We recognize that there is no direct teaching in the Scriptures or the Spirit of Prophecy that either prescribes or prohibits the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry. …In the absence of direct teaching in inspired writings we accept the authority of the church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to take a decision. … We have no objection if the world church takes a decision to allow certain areas of the world to ordain women to pastoral ministry.”

Southern Asia-Pacific Division: “[The Southern Asia-Pacific Division] will follow the voice of the Spirit and the world church upon its voted decision in July 2015 at the GC Session.”

Trans-European Division: “We propose that a recommendation be brought to the General Conference Session in 2015, that it approves a revised policy in which unions, whose constituency meetings in session have voted approval and whose division committee has voted approval, be allowed to maintain an inclusive pastoral ministry which removes all gender distinctions within the work of the church in that union territory."

West-Central Africa Division: “The West-Central Africa Division by consensus does not recommend the ordination of women into ordained pastoral ministry. However, if at the General Conference Session the world church votes in favor of women’s ordination, [the division] will not threaten the unity of the church despite its disagreement to such a decision. Instead, we will consider women’s ordination as a matter of conscience, and will continue to study and pray for light on the subject brighter than there is now.”

—The full report from each division’s Biblical Research Committee will soon be available on the website of the Office of Archives, Statistics and Research.

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Update: ANN released a new story on its website that significantly downplays the idea of favorability toward women's ordination. The article, also posted at the Adventist Review, reports that "While five division BRCs reported support for women’s ordination, most of the others reported disapproval. Almost all division reports clearly stated their willingness to accept the decision that will ultimately be made by the worldwide church." This is a departure from the original story that indicated ten of the thirteen divisions signalled openness to women's ordination or willingness to allow other divisions to proceed without challenging church unity. The new article is available here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5785

(George Tichy) #2

Now, looking into the past, and knowing what really happened after that, this seems so funny! Especially the word “solutions.”


(Tongkam) #3

If there is such a movement toward women’s ordination, it seems to be in contradiction to many of our core beliefs, a number of which are outlined in this video.


(Ron Simpson) #4

Here is a list of woman ministers starting in 1884 through 1975.


Do I need to find a quote from White stating that woman need to know their place and get off the stage. LOL Why do I think it is funny that we quote White on this matter. Maybe we should use White as an example on this matter.

The video above ties women-ministers to all that can go wrong. (slightly over stated) Look at the country with the highest percentage of women-ministers. China.


(jeremy) #5

this is as good a summary of male headship i’ve seen, tongkam…unfortunately it doesn’t answer the question of whether male headship is culturally driven or not…that is, we don’t ever see male headship instituted by god through a prophet in a feminized society, which is what we would need to see to be able to say definitively that it isn’t culturally driven…even in pre-fall eden, we have clear statements from egw that eve was not subordinate to adam, which means the pre-fall evidence cited in this video is meaningless…


(Tongkam) #6

What does a list of current church actions prove? It only proves current church actions. It says nothing about what God wants for His church.

Remember, Mrs. White did not receive all of the light, and she said herself that the church should continue to receive light up to the end of time. She may not have corrected our understanding on everything, even as God did not, through Martin Luther, correct every understanding for the people of his time. If God had desired to reveal the full truth to Luther, why not reveal the Sabbath truth to him? Does the protestant tradition of Sunday keeping a truth make? Hardly. Should we keep Sunday because Luther never spoke against such? No, indeed.

Tradition is only that–tradition. Biblical truth must be sought above any “list” of practices any church, including ours, may have followed.

I bolded the salient point in your statement above. Would you consider Ellen White to be a prophet in a “feminized society”?


(Ron Simpson) #7

So it was wrong for White to be ordained?
It was wrong for the 1881 General Conference session voted to ordain women?
Wrong for White to call for ordination of women in 1895?
Probably wrong for the prophetesses Miriam, Deborah, and Huldah to exercised leadership roles over men.
Might be wrong but I thought that Junia (Romans 16:7), and Phoebe (Romans 16:1, 2) were female minister.

Some men will get together and vote on this and that will settle that. Then gays will not come to church and women will not have abortions.


(Tongkam) #8

She wasn’t ordained, except by God, of course. She was given an honorary certificate of ordination in order for the church to pay her as a minister would be paid. The church had no designated pay for a prophet, and this was the route chosen to make exception for her case.

Again, you must have received some misinformation. The 1881 session didn’t vote to ordain women.

She didn’t ever once call for women to be ordained as ministers of the gospel. Someone has twisted the truth to make it appeal to some popular sentiments of today’s society.

They never did exercise leadership over men. To prophesy and to lead are separate things. Deborah, you may recall, told Barak that God called him to lead the army to victory. Miriam, you may recall, was struck with leprosy for criticizing the leader, her younger brother, whom God had placed in authority. Huldah, you may recall, was not the king, but simply gave God’s message to him. It was then in the king’s power to lead as God had established his authority.

Junia is an unknown case, and a subject of debate among scholars. No one can even be sure if Junia/Junius was a man or a woman. Phoebe was a servant (deacon/diakonos) of the church. Deacons are not the same as ordained ministers, though certainly to “minister” is “to serve,” just what deacons do, we hope. All of us are called to serve God. So in the broadest sense of the term, every Christian should be a minister. But the broad sense and the special sense of “ordained minister” are still distinct and separate, akin to the distinction we make between “General Conference” and “General Conference in Session” (General Conference) which are entirely different levels of authority in our church today.

If an ecclesiastical ruling on a disputed matter like this would end all sinful practices, we should clamor for more and more such rulings until the sin problem is ended forever.


(George Tichy) #9

You forgot to finish with,

In The Grip of WMD!

(Women Massive Discrimination)


(Ron Simpson) #10

Thank you for clearly stating Gods position on women. You are not alone.

I was volunteering in a school when the principal, in front of children, said women should not teach above the eight grade level because God did not give them brains to understand complex subjects. His actions spoke louder than his words.

My grandmother was involved in the fight for equal pay for women. Back then a woman nurse with maximum experiance was payed less than a male nurse with no experiance. The church got out the bible to prove the they did not have to follow the law. Then the church wanted the nurses to sign a paper saying they were getting equal pay, when not.

I went to school with a pastor. When he came to town there were women with ‘leadership jobs’. If he would have just fired them I would have respected him. (some) Adventist don’t do that. First you must destroy some one with rumors.

What upsets me is the things that men do, to keep women in their ‘God given place’.


(jeremy) #11

no, i would not…victorian america was definitely not feminized…as you may recall, egw’s own brother begged her not to take to the pulpit and disgrace the family name, which tells you what that age thought of women speakers…but recall also that egw was against involvement in the women’s rights mvt which had already begun in her day, not because she wanted to see women discriminated against, but because the whole process of effecting legislative change brought out the worst in people, which made it difficult for the three angels’ messages to be presented…for similar reasons, she was against black-white assimilation, even though she believed the races were equal before god…

according to both egw and paul, our role is to present the truth in the context we find ourselves in…we are restricted to addressing the hearts of people…we aren’t called to make a heaven on earth through the world’s courts and legislative assemblies, because jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, and the gospel can be presented effectively in any social context…

the problem with making the case for male headship from the bible is that in bible times, the whole world was built around male headship…it is impossible to show that directions from god that reflected male headship contained intrinsic truth, and not adaptive value…the problem with making the case for male headship from egw is that egw herself lived and operated in complete disregard for paul’s counsels to women, a fact which necessarily means paul’s counsel for women is adaptive, having no intrinsic, trans-cultural value, if we accept that egw was inspired by god…

what egw’s 70-yr example really teaches us is that male headship outside marriage must be settled in the context of the culture, so as to bring as little social disruption as possible, which divisional implementation of wo is clearly designed to do…but she is also teaching that a woman with a real message cannot hold herself subservient to a male headship culture and extinguish that message…


(Tongkam) #12

She says we should “demand” a “thus saith the LORD” in answer to our beliefs. She never said we should follow culture.

But God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority–not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain “Thus saith the Lord” in its support. {GC 595.1}


(k_Lutz) #13

And since there is no clear Thus saith the Lord on this or so many other speculations within Adventism, then it must be recognisable as orthopraxis. No argument considered. IOW, dividing the community is clearly verboten by God.

Trust The Process.


(Tongkam) #14

You’re exactly right. Since there isn’t, then there is, of necessity, no need to “reform” on this point. We should stand firm for the long-established position we have held.


(k_Lutz) #15

When it is admitted that Aunt Ellen, clearly a female, was ordained by God, then that ‘tradition of men’ has been abrogated. And the prophecy of Joel, in the new covenant of the Spirit, is the thus saith the Lord that is present truth today. To presume otherwise is to fight against God.

Trust God.


(jeremy) #16

and this is why we can’t follow our own conservative culture, if that is our culture, or even bible culture…we must separate truth from culture and follow truth, not culture…

this is also why women’s ordination cannot be elevated to doctrinal status…that is, there is no plain “thus saith the LORD” for either side…we don’t see a text anywhere that says “thou shalt only ordain men”, or “thou shalt never ordain women”, or “thou shalt ordain both men and women”…the most male headship outside marriage has going for it is 1 timothy 3:2, from which male headship advocates infer that because a bishop must be the husband of one wife, he must be a man…what women’s ordination has going for it is the fact that the wisest prophet of all time was egw, a woman ordained by god himself, and who has wielded, and is wielding, unbelievable influence in every aspect of our church…we believe egw is god’s express medium through which we receive a correct understanding of scripture…this incredible pinnacle is so far above anything an ordained minister can possibly be called to do, it really begs the question why women’s ordination has taken so long to materialize in adventism, of all religions on earth…

but in terms of culture, it is incorrect to say that egw doesn’t teach yielding to culture…if you read testimonies 9:199-224, you’ll see her entire counsel to blacks in her day is that they respect the culture of racist whites, for the sake of spreading the gospel…this was paul’s approach, as well: “i am made all things to all men, that i might by all means save some”, 1 corinthians 9:22…he didn’t advocate that slaves rebel, and run away…and he didn’t advocate that women in his day overstep the boundaries of their culture…

what is really ironic, tongkam, is the fact that male headship advocates elevate their own, or the bible’s, culture to doctrinal status, but at the same time insist that biblical hermeneutics cannot legitimately factor in anything having to do with culture…what will you do when hillary becomes president of the u.s…i don’t thing fleeing america and joining isis is an option…it’s best to adapt where we are, unless a real biblical doctrine is at stake…


(Tongkam) #17

Can a husband of one wife be a woman? Why is this not a very plain thus saith the Lord? If it is not plain to you, it is plain to me, and I’m not alone in understanding it to be plain. A child would know that a husband must be a man.


(Ron Simpson) #18

Yes…but we chase those kind out of the church.


(Tongkam) #19

You have articulated the epitome of the argument by those against women’s ordination that the homosexual agenda is part and parcel of the women’s ordination agenda.


(k_Lutz) #20

I believe Tongkam you are a sucker for fear.

Trust God.