My thinking about Adventist ecclesial bodies resonated with so much of what Helen Pearson has written here about Clericalism, Leadership and Pastoral Care. The deficiencies and wrong modelling of Adventist ecclesial bodies is in my estimation rift throughout the Adventist world. I have felt the pain of it, personally, more than once.This was also neatly demonstrated in the British Employment Tribunal findings against the North England Conference for the unfair dismissal of two of its pastors, as referenced by Helen Pearson above.
My only question is this - Is Newbold aside from such clericalism and power hierarchies or has it acted its part in perpetuating such sins. Most of the TED leaders are products of Newbold, many in my years there. They are my friends and colleagues. Yet we all have imbibed the cool aid of clericalism and power hierarchies. The Protestant Reformers and Adventists in turn have undone some of the accretions of power and lordly authority that had over centuries accrued to the priestly/ clerical class. However, the almost inevitable drift toward institutionalisation and clericalization of Adventist ecclesial bodies, may well have created subtle, even sinful changes in attitudes and modes of operation which are best addressed by a studied renewal and reformation.
Harold Hill, a recently deceased New Zealand Salvation Army Major has written that “the process of institutionalisation and clericalization in the church can be seen as a successful reconquest of the new community by the old structures of domination and power.” Hill was part of move by some Salvation Army people to reverse the 1981 move to not only commission but also to ordain Salvation Army Officers before they were sent into the field. It may seem odd in such a hierarchical ecclesial body such as the Salvation Army but Salvation Army theology and practice until recent years was always explicitly anti-clerical. Salvation Army Officers historically were not to be confused as clergy. Nor were their people the bifurcated bottom of the whole body. Rather Salvation Army people, all together were part of the soldiery. No clergy and laity amongst them. But little by little, in a push for Salvo Officers to be recognized among their peer clergy from other faith communities, the Salvo’s forgot their historic stance and drank the cool aid.
Would that Adventists had not similarly almost wholly forgotten our own historic stance against the division of the Adventist body into clergy and laity.
Adventists at the present time have a unique opportunity to gain through a studied revival and renewal and reformation a new sense of what it means to have a dynamic and Spirit-led model of mission and ministry. The Spirit only can breath new life into our tired structures.
I fear adopting the ordination of women, thus extending its practice, while clinging to our tired and ill thought through notions of ordination. Yes, I believe in the A,B, C’s of appointing, blessing and commissioning all pastoral leaders, no matter their sex. Unfortunately much of Britain and Europe as well as America have been steeped in the “clergy/laity” bifurcated model rather than the “whole people of God” model of Adventist organization. We all have much to learn, not just the Africans and Latinos.