BREAKING: North Pacific Union Votes to Cancel Ordination Constituency Session

The North Pacific Union (NPUC) has voted to cancel a previously-planned special constituency session aimed at discussing ordaining women.

The decision not to hold the special session came at the end of today's NPUC Executive Committee Meeting, and was announced on Twitter just after 4:00pm Pacific Time.

Exec comm votes 26-4 to rescind current plan for spec constituency session on ordination & grow opportunities for women in ministry. #NPUCWO

— North Pacific Union (@npuc) August 19, 2015

The NPUC received tremendous pressure to cancel the planned session, including from General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson, who sent a message to NPUC President Max Torkelson through the office of North American Division President Daniel R. Jackson. Wilson sent his message the day before the Executive Committee Meeting. Through the office of the General Conference Secretariat, Wilson sent a lengthy document that asserted that unions do not have the ability to establish criteria for ordination, and that they exercise "delegated authority" that derives from the General Conference.

Wilson wrote the following message, addressed simply to "Colleagues":

Dear Colleagues:

Greetings to each of you. I hope you are doing well and have settled into your important and great task of mission activities and outreach for the Lord after attending the General Conference Session. What a privilege to encourage every member to be part of this great, heaven-entrusted mission to the world as the Holy Spirit opens the way.

At the General Conference, we have been busy with many items that require attention for the preparation of Annual Council and a new quinquennium including mission focus, personnel assignments, committee reconfigurations, planning for meetings, organizing schedules, etc. I know you have been involved in similar activities. What a privilege to serve the Lord and His Advent movement during these last days of earth’s history!

Attached you will find a document from General Conference Secretariat, which has supervisory responsibility for the General Conference Working Policy (GC WP), entitled “Unions and Ordination to the Gospel Ministry—Comprehensive Working Policy Explanation.” In the document, you will also find a smaller section at the beginning for a quick review of the subject entitled “Brief Summary” which is derived from the larger and fuller “Comprehensive Working Policy Explanation” which follows. The document is provided since there have been some who have proposed the idea that unions have the full prerogative to decide about all aspects of ordination including criteria. As the GC Secretariat document shows, the authority for the unions to make decisions about the approval process for ordination candidates is delegated by the GC Executive Committee and is limited to that review and approval process. The authority for setting the criteria for ordination is not delegated since that is the purview of the world church as outlined in GC WP L 35 and voted on by world representation at Annual Council.

This fully-researched policy and historical review document by GC Secretariat is being sent to you to assist where GC WP is not being correctly understood or interpreted in its entirety. It can also be instructive for all fields in relation to the need for careful understanding of all General Conference Working Policy which is voted by Annual Councils with representation from around the globe. Division presidents, we request that today, or latest by tomorrow, that you send the attached GC Secretariat document to your fellow division officers and to all union presidents. You may wish to share it with others who may need the information for a full understanding of the worldwide policies covering the entire church as contained in the GC WP. The union presidents can then immediately share the GC Secretariat document with the local conference/mission presidents.

If it is deemed necessary in the future, the General Conference may additionally distribute the document to church membership through various distribution networks such as ANN and AR Online. However, at this time, this material is being provided to you and the church administrative structure for your use and distribution. If needed, you may also wish to distribute this document to membership through union papers or other news release formats.

Let us pray that this carefully-researched document from GC Secretariat will help in the full understanding of GC WP as well as the intent of GC WP and GC Session actions which all are to uphold as administrators according to GC WP. Thank you for your kind assistance with this matter. May the Holy Spirit guide us in this and many other activities to help the church press together in mission unity and pursue the Lord’s important mission task entrusted to us—lifting up Christ and His righteousness as we proclaim the three angels’ messages in anticipation of Christ’s soon coming. Let us lean completely on the Lord as we encourage and engage everyone—men, women and children—in “Total Member Involvement” as His prophetic movement proclaiming a prophetic message on a prophetic mission.

Regards,

Ted.

This story is in progress, and will be updated as more details become available.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7038
1 Like

This is a sad, but expected development. In light of this action, NPU has no other choice if it truly wants to treat all ministers equally and value them equally than to end its practcie of ordination to the gospel ministry and instead only offer commissions to its ministers. Likewise, all current ordained ministers should turn in their ordination certificates and accept commissioned credentials instead.

“The greatest want of the world is the want of men [& women] - men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”

Ellen G. White

Apparently, there were only 4 at the NPU Exeuctive Committee.

8 Likes

Come again is this The Holy Spirit Leading?
Missionary outreach? would it not be criminal to talk people into becoming members of a war mongering outfit?
I thought Wilson was a peacemaker for Christ .

This is so sad for an organisation who claims to be Christian to behave in an opposite manner to Christ…sad , so sad…members of the SDA Church must be deeply ashamed…

5 Likes

Wise decision, NPUC. You’d have been skirting on thin ice if you went ahead. Stay united.

3 Likes

Deep sadness in my heart.

3 Likes

SAD!!! Weeping in heaven!!!

4 Likes

“Because we say so,” letter sent the DAY before this meeting? The convienent timing reeks of manipulation. Why was this information not provided LONG AGO? Could it be that the powers that be have engineered a methodical takeover of this issue, and apparently much, much more?

6 Likes

My head is still spinning. The WP is correct because the WP is consistent with the WP?

5 Likes

I like it! Seems like a nice way to send the GC a message. But, doesn’t really solve the issue that Ted and company seem to want to regress into the 19th century.

No, it isn’t. I see it at best as misguided human frailty, or worse just political maneuvering.

Yes, me as well. Seems like about the worst possible chain of events is happening, thanks to Ted.

Absolutely. The passive-aggressive behavior of the GC is unforgivable. Instead of pushing a progressive agenda, theirs is regressive. The GC could be leading the world church to move forward, pushing for human rights and equality, but instead is pulling everyone backward into the 1800’s.

Well put. I think this may be the crux of the issue for me as well.

Yes, that’s very true.

Yes, ironic and sad at the same time. Do you think they just can’t see how awful they appear to be acting, or that they don’t care?

Yes, you can almost hear him say , “let’s pray about it together.”

5 Likes

The General Conference does not have the legal or administrative power to prevent Union Conferences from ordaining women, but it does have considerable social and cultural pressure. They have decided to bring all of that power to bear, and, unfortunately, the NPUC appears to have decided to, at least for now, submit.

This is why the most important quality is leaders now is courage; the pressure has been intense, and it will take extraordinary courage and strength to stand up to it. To be clear, it may be that the honest judgement of legitimate decision makers in the NPUC would be to not allow women to be ordained - I would think this a horrible mistake, but I recognize they would be within their rights to make that mistake. But what the GC is trying to do here is to exercise illegitimate control through the threatened used of raw power. One short term for that is bullying. There are still opportunities for the NPUC to confront the bully, and I will be praying they do. In the mean time, conferences in Unions which have already approved the ordination of women should start ordaining qualified women candidates as soon as possible, which may provide strength to Unions still wrestling with their fears to at least meet, debate and vote.

One more thing - I know it is popular now to call for simply turning away from ordination entirely. I respect the male pastors who have refused ordination, and can see how this might be a strategy in some situations. But it is not the solution. As long as advancement in leadership is still influenced by ordination, then denying ordination to women makes our church community complicit in unjust (therefore sinful) discrimination, and harms the entire body.

10 Likes

all in good time…there’s no need for a confrontation with the general conference now, so soon after san antonio, before feelings have had a chance to subside…

i’m really interested in any netherlands union conference response…the final delegate speaker before the july 8 san antonio vote suggested her union would be on the wrong side of danish law in the wake of a no vote…how are things settling for nuc now…

creepy is definitely the right word…there’s no reason for ted to act on anything now that he didn’t act on before san antonio…

2 Likes

[quote=“rohantocharles, post:12, topic:9292”]
It’s just sooo creepy how the flexing of political muscle is couched in such flowery ‘spiritual’ language.
[/quote]“Creepy” is the sensation my spidey senses pick up.

1 Like

What an ironic statement to open his missive with while using every means to totally destroy opportunities for gifted women to be Spiritual leaders and participate in the mission of the church when the Holy Spirit gifts them with pastoral leadership.

3 Likes

This was a wise and deft move. No need to poke the eye of this storm. The stand-still still stands between the “no” vote and those unions that have voted and have ordained women pastors. It is clear with the disregard of TOSC (attempt at finding theological concensus) that the GC administration has sought the ecclessiastical route to contain any further union efforts regarding women pastoral ordination. Now where do we go from here?

It seems we are left with addressing a WP that is incongruent, quasi-theologially supported, and internally inconsistent (says no gender discimination, but won’t ordain women, yet will ordain women elders). The WP needs attention, clarification and congruency. With this decision by NPUC we have the chance to try and fix the WP. How that happens is another milliion dollar question.

If you ordain deaconesses and women elders and place them in a position of spiritual/ecclesiastical authority in the local church and you add women pastors who also function in like manner with added responsibilities and authority, and you don’t ordain those ladies, this is confusing, at best, and unethical, at worst. There are no degrees of laying on of hands (ordination) in Scriptures. Ordination is either reserved for the male species only (deacons, elders, and pastors), or all females occupying any of those positions. No “if’s” or “but’s”, or whatever else. Sadly, Unions who insist on, and persist in, WO practise are clearly on a collision course with GC leadership/policy. The first shot of the countdown to the showdown has been fired by TW’s Presidential letter to the leadership of the World church, albeit in measured spiritual tones.

Can anyone provide me with the text of the GC secretariat document?

What about the “carefully-researched” TOSC documents which demonstrated that there’s no biblical argument against women’s ordination as pastors? Is it OK to ignore those?

3 Likes

In reality, the General Conference has all the administrative power and legal authority it needs to dissolve Unions for things like theological apostasy or ecclesiastical rebellion:

B 95 DISCONTINUATION OF ORGANIZATIONS BY VOLUNTARY OR INVOLUNTARY DISSOLUTION

B 95 05 Discontinuation of Conferences, Missions, Fields, Unions, and Unions of Churches by Dissolution and/or Expulsion—If a situation arises where it is determined by the higher organization that the majority of members of a conference, a mission, a field, a union, or a union of churches are in apostasy, or that the organization refuses to operate in harmony with denominational policies and constitutional requirements, and is in rebellion, the higher organization has a responsibility to act for the protection of its loyal members, and the good name of the Church. Every effort should be made to avert the need for dissolution by counseling with the leadership and members, seeking to bring healing and reconciliation, and to preserve the organization as a witness for God and His saving truth. If conciliatory efforts fail and discontinuation appears to be the only solution, the higher organization shall have authority to act as set out under B 90 10, B 90 15, and B 90 20.

4 Likes

There is a lot of anger on this thread, and one can readily see that the hurt some people felt from the results of the recent W/O vote in San Antonio still festers… There are some who apparently hold to the view that Unions are sovereign Kingdoms in the world of Adventism and are therefore accountable to no one but their constituents. This is a new view which has gained currency only since 2010 consequent on legal advice received by the North American Division. It is not a view that should be encouraged.
Unions, Conferences and Missions are subsidiary organizations to the General Conference and are only created by or with its approval. The General Conference in Session or its Executive Committee out of Session constitutes the highest authority under God in the church. Its decisions will not please everyone, and perhaps has never pleased everyone. But they should be accepted until changed . If not, anarchy will prevail.
The General Conference paper “Unions and Ordination to the Gospel Ministry—Comprehensive Working Policy Explanation.” is timely and necessary at this time. Lets hope that good sense will prevail.

5 Likes

If a woman wants to work for the Lord then ordination isn’t required. Current women Pastors and Elders, etc. will keep their positions. I think that a lot of the bottom line is that there should be equal pay for equal work. This is only fair. Hopefully, those in power will see this. If women are reimbursed accordingly, then I feel that there will be less emphasis on ordination. In Biblical times, ordination of women wasn’t required or in Ellen White’s day either. My question is, why should we depart from the Biblical plan.