Editorial: A Draft Speech for the President of the General Conference

There are several possible directions Elder Ted Wilson can take in anticipation of the discussion and vote on July 8 regarding ordination. I have taken the liberty of drafting one plausible speech he could give while remaining consistent with his previously revealed priorities.

Fellow Delegates:

As we turn to voting on this consequential matter, let me reiterate what I said in a recent interview with the Review, “I see that the end of time is upon us.... God is working in an unusual way, and the latter rain is about to fall.” Over the last three years as the Theology of Ordination Study Committee did its work I have been careful to refrain from saying much because I have been mindful of Sister White's admonition toward the end of her life that “The president of a conference must not consider that his individual judgment is to control the judgment of all.” (9T277) This is why I said in the interview that “My viewpoint on any matter, however strongly I hold it, must ultimately be yielded to the greater purposes God has for His end-time people.”

Now that the Committee has completed its work and the time for prayerful individual study has concluded, I feel constrained by the leadership you have entrusted me with to say a few words that I would humbly ask you to consider in your upcoming vote. In reality all of us here are leaders in whatever sphere it may be. But Christ is the only true Head of the Church. (Ephesians 5:23) And what is the animating core of such headship? Again let me refer to Sister White's words: “ It will be seen that the glory shining in the face of Jesus is the glory of self-sacrificing love.” (DA20)

The Study Committee, which was made up of a wide range of members from different backgrounds, regions and pre-existing positions, after much work, prayer and study created and approved a Consensus Statement on Ordination. By definition this means that this document is what all or nearly all the Committee members agreed with. While the entire document is barely more than a page, let me read three sentences that struck me with unusual force. “Over the course of Christian history the term ordination has acquired meanings beyond what these words originally implied. Against such a backdrop, Seventh-day Adventists understand ordination, in a biblical sense, as the action of the Church in publicly recognizing those whom the Lord has called and equipped for local and global Church ministry.***While ordination contributes to Church order, it neither conveys special qualities to the persons ordained nor introduces a kingly hierarchy within the faith community.”

The Committee did not similarly agree on a singular recommendation for this body to consider. Consequently, last year's Annual Council formulated the question now before you. I am aware that there has been much effort expended by many in urging their views upon all of us. While this can be helpful it can also at times introduce confusion and perhaps inadvertent misrepresentations. Therefore, let me seek to make certain we are all clear on one thing. The question placed before you for a vote today is NOT whether any division, union or conference should be required to ordain women. No division should be under any incorrect impression that a Yes vote will require them to ordain women. While some may wish for this, be assured this is not what is up for a vote today.

As I have heard of and seen the sharp disagreements which are attending this issue I am reminded of some of my travels. I have been to the great cities of the world as well as the great fields where our greatest harvests for the Lord are taking place. I can easily believe that in many places the ordination of a woman could well make our evangelism efforts much more difficult and controversial. In other locales the secular population would find the lack of ordained women a similar stumbling block for our mission among them. My mind has been restless as I have pondered my responsibilities on this issue should I be re-elected. I have wrestled in prayer seeking for guidance and clarity.

My attention has been directed to an Old Testament prophecy that is made all the more relevant in light of my conviction that the end of time is upon us. God, through the prophet Joel, tells us “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even upon the menservants and maidservants in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” (Joel 2:28,29) I long for that day. I pray for that day. My entire life has been dedicated to hastening that day through service to this remnant church.

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord. I have come to a conclusion which gives me peace and may be helpful for your consideration. If in these last days God will pour out His Spirit on men and women alike, and if ordination is simply the church's recognition of those God has called and equipped for ministry, then we certainly do not want to be blind like those in Laodicea and fail in our recognition of God at work. Thus, while I did not start here, I am convicted that our divisions, as they discern God calling and equipping women for ministry as Joel foretells, should be able to make provision for such recognition. Here I stand, I can do no other.

My conviction may not be yours and in no way should you feel that I am telling you how you must vote on this issue. I fully agree with Ellen White when she said: “The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God's government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority.” (DA22) I can, however, tell you this as your servant: while I will continue until my dying breath to support the mission of this church and the message of Christ our righteousness in public and private evangelism, I must regretfully resign as president if my beloved church now retreats from enthusiastically recognizing and welcoming God's Latter Rain.

Ken Peterson is a member of the Spectrum / Adventist Forum Board of Directors.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6933
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Elder Wilson is most likely familiar with the church manual where it gives the following special authorities to ordained ministers:

  1. Performance of baptisms
  2. Planting of churches
  3. Performance of the duties of certain administrative positions

So, though it would be “nice” if we all, including Elder Wilson, were to understand the practice of ordination as an “acknowledgment of calling” and a “setting apart for service”, this doesn’t seem to be the official church understanding of the practice according to the church manual. Therefore, it is highly doubtful that ANY GC president, let alone Elder Wilson, would be able to make this fantasy speech. This is why I am opposed to the practice of ordination overall. Equality is a broader issue than gender. ALL are called to disciple, teach, and to baptize.

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well, i was kind of thinking this letter was in the realm of very optimistic possibility - until the last sentence, that is…i don’t see ted wilson resigning under any circumstances…

in terms of the anti-wo perspective, what i gather headship advocates want to see is a ted wilson whipping up headship fervor right before the vote…the thinking is that many delegates will vote according to what they know their president believes in personally…

i think it’s more likely that ted will remind the delegates that they’re all brothers and sisters in christ, and that christ is in control of the church, which is the apple of his eye…he may slip in code phrases for headship here and there - “our responsibility is to be true to scripture, not culture”, etc - but i don’t expect him to issue an explicit call for male headship in the adventist church…

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These ARE the purposes of the Inclusion of ALL into ALL the Work of the church.

  1. Performance of baptisms.
  2. The planting of churches.
  3. The Ability to Perform ALL the duties of Administrative Positions.

ALL mean ALL!!!

The Rite of Baptism. Where a person has accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Personal Saviour.
WHO has a right to baptize this person? WHEN should the baptism take place.
Does Baptism HAVE TO INVOLVE being baptized into a Specific Denomination?
OR, can the Choosing of a Denomination to join [a local church] come AFTER the Baptism?

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“Christ is in control of the church . . .” is not a biblical teaching. Christ the “head” of the church is. Or are you using the phrase in a way differently than I take it?

i think you’re correct, actually…i’m using control in the sense i’ve seen a number of headship advocates use it, which, in their perfect world, is men controlling everything in society…to exercise headship is to be manly, step up to the plate, and take control…

perhaps i’ve read too many of their comments lately…

To access the Beyond Beliefs report “Millennial young adults and their responses to the Ordination of women,” see: www.beyond-beliefs.com/reports

I sincerely hope he has the grace to make this clear before the vote!

And I would be delighted if he explained this, also.

Other than that, the speech would be wonderful, but impossible for TW to make

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Good luck to those who expect TW to lean toward WO in any way.
Read my lips: Ain’t going to happen!!!
@elmer_cupino @hopeful @ageis711Oxyain

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This draft speech reminds me of the IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL RIDE at Disneyland. You feel good while indulging in an ideal of unity and understanding that doesn’t exist. It may be good for the Disney utopia theme but it is a sad illusion for Adventists in San Antonio. It is pure fantasy and somewhat delusional to expect anything like this to occur. In the real world we will leave this debate with disappointment and hope for real change. In another meeting in the not too distant future what TW thought about WO will not matter and will be a distant memory…hopefully!

I never said the Draft Speech was probable, only that I tried to show that there was a plausible way where President Wilson could fully live up to his recent comments and support a Yes vote. His own speech prior to the vote (not the one after) was fairly masterful in what it did not say and was full of ambiguity in my opinion. He still never explicitly stated his view.

You turn out to be right on the money on this one, George. The vote, however, was certainly not a landslide in spite of your observations.

The morning after the WO vote it feels like a bad dream. Going to prayer meeting last night really felt strange for the first time. This issue of ordaining women goes far beyond the final vote in San Antonio. It feels like someone has asked you to go back in time and play let’s pretend. Let’s pretend that God’s revelation and work in this world is confined and defined by your gender (it is not!). Let’s pretend that the men in this church are doing just fine and we really don’t need ordained women as full participants (we do need women in ministry!) Let’s pretend that we are “united in our diversity”, inclusive and responsive to the needs of all (we are not). Let’s pretend that in a room where there is unequal representation (overwhelming number of male delegates), Ted Wilson’s strong lobbying, and a multiplicity of cultures, a majority of delegates are paid employees of the status quo of the church, that in that room you can get over 40% of the vote for such a dramatic change, it is in itself extraordinary!
Let’s pretend it did not happen…

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