Fifteen Women's Ordination Stories that Shaped Adventist History in 2014

(Spectrumbot) #1

This has been a big year for the conversation on women’s ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. From

Annual Council votes to ordination ceremonies, here are fifteen of the biggest women’s ordination stories we reported on in 2014, placed in chronological order.

January 30. ANN Confirms Shift Toward Acceptance of Women's Ordination, but then Removes Statement from Website. In January, the Adventist News Network, the official news outlet of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, released a statement indicating that the takeaway from the January Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) was that "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." However, shortly after ANN published this statement, it was removed from their website. A cached version of the original article is available here.

June 5. Majority of TOSC Backs Women’s Ordination In June after meeting together numerous times, the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee delegates voted on the ordination of women. With a new a third option proposed allowing for the ordination of women in the denomination while affirming a biblical pattern of male leadership, the vote was complicated. However, the vote revealed that the large majority of TOSC delegates favored allowing women’s ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to proceed.

August 22. Andrews Seminary Publishes Statement on Headship. In August, the seminary at Andrew’s University released statement asserting that “male headship” in Adventist church leadership was “non-transferable,” referencing Ellen White and the Old Testament as evidence. The statement supported a democratic church government and refuted the notion that male headship became the church’s model of leadership after The Fall in the Garden of Eden. "We, the faculty of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, affirm that Christ is the only Head of the Church. Therefore, while there exists legitimate leadership in the Church, no other human being may rightfully claim a headship role in the Church," the statement said.

October 1. Why Stephen Bohr Wants Male Headship in the Adventist Church. At a four day long Women’s Ordination symposium in hosted and produced by Fresno Central Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor Stephen Bohr, Bohr spoke out strongly against ordaining women as pastors and advocated rescinding previous church actions that allow women to be ordained as elders and deacons. The symposium was organized by fifteen male headship proponents, some of whom (including Bohr) sat on the GC Theology of Ordination Study Committee. The symposium came only a few weeks before the Annual Council meetings where women’s ordination was a major topic of discussion.

October 2. Male Headship Symposium Day Two: Satan is Behind Feminism. Laurel Damsteegt, a member of TOSC, spoke on day two of the headship symposium, arguing for a link between feminism—and through it women’s ordination—to Satanism. Damsteegts introduced what she called "Spiritualism Type Two," into the vernacular, referring to covert satanic influence. Although she herself had felt drawn to the ministry, she said, Damsteegt felt her role, according to Scripture, was to support her pastor husband in his work for God.

October 8. Before Annual Council, Damsteegt Attempts to Change Seminary's Headship Statement. In the days leading up to the 2014 Annual Council, Gerard Damsteegt, a professor in the Seminary at Andrews University and husband of Laurel Damsteegt, led an attempt to revise the Andrews University Seminary's Statement on Headship. In an email to colleagues, he urged reconsideration of male headship and supported his arguments with an attached appeal, detailing his and his other colleagues’ reasoning. Seminary faculty rebutted the attempted revision a few days later.

October 12. Artur Stele: No Theological Solution to Women's Ordination. During a meeting of young adult delegates at the 2014 Annual Council, Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) chair and GC General Vice President Artur Stele stated that the issue of women's ordination has no clear theological solution. When the issue has no theological solution, administrators must solve it ecclesiastically, Stele said. Stele's comments provided a resounding answer to those who argue that the Bible makes the issue clear.

October 14. Annual Council Votes Women's Ordination Question for 2015 GC Session. At the October Annual Council session, delegates voted and approved a question concerning women's ordination to be sent to the 2015 General Conference Session; the final vote was: 243 in favor, 44 opposed, and 3 in abstention. After lengthy discussion in a tightly orchestrated business session, delegates approved a neutral question crafted by the General Conference and Division Officers.

November 14. Pacific Union Conference Votes Statement in Favor of Divisions Deciding Ordination Policies. Members of the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee called a special meeting to vote a document supporting "the statements and actions voted at NAD TOSC, at GC Annual Council 2014 and at NAD Year End Meetings 2014, affirming unity in diversity. And we stand in support of a vote at General Conference Session 2015 that will authorize each Division of the church to develop and practice its own policies on women’s ordination."

November 21. Columbia Union Conference Recommends 'Yes' Vote on GC Ordination Question. In anticipation of the 2015 General Conference session in Texas, the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee released a statement in support of the regional bodies of the Seventh-day Adventist Church the authority to decide how and when to handle the delicate question of women’s ordination. Columbia Union Conference President Dave Weigley believed a vote towards women’s ordination would lend to strengthening church unity and mission work around the world.

November 21. Adventist Society for Religious Studies Votes Support for 'Yes' Vote on GC Ordination Question. Members of the Adventist Society for Religious Studies meeting in San Diego, California voted to support a "YES" vote on the Women’s Ordination motion that will be considered at the 2015 General Conference Session. The group includes many of the Adventist Church's top scholars, theologians and administrators.

December 5. Viewpoint: Why Unions Should Assert Their Right to Decide Women's Ordination Retired Seventh-day Adventist university administrator and theologian Sakae Kubo argued in a guest column that unions and conferences should assert their right to decide the question of ordination within their territories. Kubo contended that women’s ordination is a regional issue that should be determined locally, and should not be decided at the General Conference. In the event that the GC votes "NO," it would be much more difficult to make claims that legitimize ordinations, he warned.

December 15. Potomac Conference Ordains Pranitha Fielder, a First for Indian Adventist Women. The Potomac Conference of Seventh-day Adventists demonstrated that there will be no turning back on ordaining women. Conference President Bill Miller presided over the ordination of Pranitha Fielder, an associate pastor at the Sligo Church. It was the first ordination of an Indian-American woman in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

December 17. How the Humble Ampersand Became a Powerful Symbol for Women's Ordination. Virginia Davidson, an artist living in Washington State, created an icon that became the symbol for the grassroots movement to ordain women. Davidson, a member of a Facebook group supportive of ordaining women, created a logo out of the ampersand character, representing God's calling of women & men to gospel ministry. The significance of the story, like the ampersand icon itself, was the symbolic power of a ground-up movement finding its voice and literally making its mark.

December 23. Netherlands Union Lists Job Opening for Female or Male Pastors. The Netherlands Union Conference, part of the Trans-European Division, listed a vacancy for a pastor, and called for female candidates to apply. In and of itself, the act was not noteworthy, except that it demonstrated on union's intentionality in recruiting more women pastors. NUC was the first union in Europe to ordain a woman, and has signalled a clear intent to continue bringing women into ministry.

Rachel Logan is a writing intern for Spectrum Magazine.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


If the Adventist denomination does not begin to make a stand against the sophistries of feminism, theistic evolution, naturalism, and the Abelardian atonement theories which deny the substitutionary vicarious atonement of Christ on the cross, it will become a mere shell of what this movement was ordained of God to be. In a very short while it will become a sister movement to the Unitarianism into which the liberal Protestant churches are morphing and have already morphed into through the ecumenical movement. But God’s word will not be thwarted from His intended purposes. His truth will call His people out of the lies of liberalism and He will have a people who are prepared and eagerly waiting for Him to come in the clouds of heaven. When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth? Not among the SDA denomination if the popular trend is not stopped in its tracks and starts to disfellowship the ministers, administrators, and educators, who are drinking from the polluted waters of humanism.

(Carolyn Parsons) #3

Good to know that only conservatives will be in heaven. I hope you all enjoy it.

(David Read) #4

Here, here, Bill! The disfellowshiping and censuring that is going on today is liberals disciplining conservatives. It isn’t happening in the other direction, because the pastorate and conference administrators are predominantly liberal, and especially viciously hostile to anyone who believes in overcoming sin.

(Tihomir Odorcic) #5

Since Jesus was the greatest humanist in history (He delightfully named Himself the Son of Man), no Christian can be more humanist than He was. Inasmuch as the humanism is oriented towards the needs, abilities and interests of the humans it is compatible with the original christianity taught by Jesus Himself: “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do to others what you want them to do to you.” The only attractive christianity is following the example of Christ: peace with all human kind, justice for all, equality of all human kind and sacrificing love. That’s why I’m convinced that humanism in its Christian context is good and must not be overruled by religious dogmatism.

(Rohan Charlton) #6

We need more men like Putin in SDA administration eh Bill?


Dear Tihomir: Our Lord was not a humanist. By definition there really is no such thing as a “Christian Humanist” Maybe you are confusing humanist with humanitarian. If you mean that the Lord was a humanitarian then this term would certainly apply to Him as one who works to make other people’s lives better or a person promoting human welfare and social reform.

Humanism: a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion. Any belief, method, or philosophy that has a central emphasis on the human realm. The term is most commonly applied to the cultural movement in Renaissance Europe characterized by a revival of Classical letters, an individualistic and critical spirit, and a shift of emphasis from religious to secular concerns. This movement dates to the 13th century and the work of the Florentine scholar-statesman Brunetto Latini. Its diffusion was facilitated by the publication of Classical ideas, both in the vernacular and in Latin.

Humanitarian: a person who works to make other people’s lives better or a person promoting human welfare and social reform.

Liberalism and humanism are always willing to over-ride religious Biblical doctrine in favor of the social “gospel” which if carried to its logical conclusion ultimately ends in secularism and socialist utopianism. This is where Ecumenism would take the world if left unopposed by true apostolic Christian doctrine. The warning of Paul to Timothy certainly apply in the false teachings that are being agitated in Adventism today like feminism, Darwinism, and humanism. There is no bigger “fable” than the sophistry of Darwinism and all of its attending errors of so-called humanism. “Christian” humanism? This is an incongruent dialectic if there ever was one.

2 Timothy 4:1-4 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

(jeremy) #8

with all these wo stories happening in 2014, it’s hard to believe the gc will vote against wo in 2015…that will be the big story in 2015, if it happens…

(Carolyn Parsons) #9

Really, so you decided this and made it a factual dictum? Biblical doctrine is not one thing, it is a product of interpretation.


This is the oft parroted mantra of the liberals like Karl Barth, Albert Schweitzer, the Jesus Seminar and other ecumentist for the last 100 years. It’s been very successful and has been the cancer that destroyed the once hallowed halls of great institutes of Biblical learning like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. When they compromised on biblical creationism and adopted higher criticism the seeds of destruction were planted and brought forth a harvest that ultimately swept them into the tsunami of liberalism, higher criticism, secularism, humanism, and modernism. The Lord raised up the Adventist movement from among the “Nazareth” of the Millerite fiasco to become the final message of biblical hope for a dying world. This time however the iceberg will not sink this ship as it has the other segments of Protestantism. The daughters of Babylon will fall once and for all and true spiritual Israel which has the oil of truth in her lamp will enter Canaan. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth and a calling to the rocks and the mountains to fall upon those who trusted in “knowledge” falsely so called.

(Carolyn Parsons) #12

I submit that you, Bill, are interpreting scripture and that your approach is not accepted universally and even not among Adventist theologians. I just want you to know that I am not buying your florid and stylized rhetoric because at the root you are telling everyone that does not agree with you that they are the enemy.

(Robert Sonter) #13

2014 has been an interesting year indeed, in so far as the women’s ordination debate is concerned. My overall impression is of the General Conference being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century. I’m not sure why they are resisting this so vigorously, given we’re now 14 years into the 21st century…

(Jared Wright) #14

*Hear, hear, Bill.

(Jared Wright) #15


Your input is welcome so long as it is respectful, even of (perhaps especially of) those with whom you disagree. We do not tolerate demonization of people on this site. Please bear that in mind as you formulate your comments.

Many thanks!

(Bille) #16

I haven’t read anything from him yet that is not disrespectful… not only to individuals, but to large groups of individuals… and much of what he says could appropriately be termed “demonization”. It is well that the web Eds are such patient people… but just “how long, Oh Lord” do we have to endure his vitriol?


Jared, you are practicing an amazing example of a double standard. Have you seen the ad hominem personal attacks upon the members of the BRI committee and Ted Wilson? I would appreciate it if you would copy and paste my comments lately which you find demonizing specific individuals rather than thought paradigms and send them to me so that I can get an idea of where I over stepped my rhetoric. I admit that I over stated the bounds of fair debate in my comment to the psychiatrist and regret that. However, I realize that most of the participants in Spectrum lack any desire to hear a true “spectrum” of opinion and are becoming exasperated when they find opinion expressed which exposes the true direction of their views within the SDA movement. If you as the editor would prefer that I no longer post I will bow out and leave the field to the majority voice who represent the left wing of the SDA denomination. Thanks

(Rohan Charlton) #18

I admit that I over stated the bounds of fair debate in my comment to the psychiatrist and regret that.

‘Stepped outside the bounds of fair debate’ is too pretty.

It was outright insulting. As a former mental health clinician I was offended by what you wrote. How easy it is to write about a whole lotta theological concepts, how much much harder is it to be clinically responsible and accountable for peoples’ wellbeing day in day out.

Be careful criticizing people on the front line.


Ok, now I have gone through all of my posts and see where you have put a line through what I have written. I was not aware that this had been done or else I would have replied to you immediately. I notice that you put a line through my comment regarding Mahatma Gandhi’s sleeping with so many women and you state that my statement is untrue. It is indeed true as most of the recent documentaries on his life have revealed.
(Jared did not do that. He is chief editor of the website but the so-called webed role is different and is the responsibility of that part of the web team who monitors the comments on a daily basis. That function reports to Jared and I am the one on duty today so I am responding to your understandable error. - webEd)
Also I see that you have objected most often about my evaluation of feminism and its goals. I fail to see where that constitutes any kind of personal attack on anyone. To attack one’s philosophy is not to make a personal attack even when someone who is of that philosophy is personally offended. I feel personally offended when someone strenuously differs with my world view but that does not constitute an unfair method of debate. I deal with and minister to persons daily and feel that my ministry is demeaned when I hear liberals attack my world view but I don’t get all bent out of shape about it like some on the Spectrum forum do. I expect to be criticised and ridiculed by liberals as I have been on the Spectrum blog but that is part of nature of debate. I notice that “Bille” states that she has not read anything from me yet that is not disrespectful not only to individuals but to large groups of individuals and calls this “demonizing”. Yet the liberal’s comments about Ted Wilson and the BRI members are not considered to be disrespectful and demonizing??? Well I could go over each of your warnings to me but I think that I get the clear message that it is the direction of my world view that is the real thing that is being objected to. Like I have already stated I regret the personal attack on George Tishy but the other stuff is legitimate critical discourse in my opinion. But you have the final say on what you want to hear on your blog and it is obvious that you want to hear mostly a liberal point of view even when it makes personal attacks on the conservative president of the denomination and the BRI regarding women’s ordination and homosevuallity and theistic evolution.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #20

there is about one chance in 50 that President Ted Wilson will be re-elected. thus there is about 49 chances that WO will become a divisional choice.
More critical is the church’s stand on it unique understanding of prophecy and the final generation. let the Church take a fresh look at the gospel of John, the letter to the Hebrews, The letter to the Church at Rome, and the letter to the churches in Galacia. Let the church become free at last from it self justification. The big story of this age is the Angel flying in the midst of heaven having the Everlasting Gospel! Let the contest begin on the real issue,not an endless attempt at self justification over a mistake in numerology. Tom Z


Thanks TomZ for an excellent suggestion!!! I don’t have Blog privileges to start a topic but you probably do. Why not start one and see where it leads. Could be a fascinating excursion into hermeneutics, theology, and historic Christianity. Very controversial to say the least. I was Dr. Doug Waterhouse’s reader when I took theology at Andrews in the early 1970s and graded all of the students papers and tests for his class in Daniel and Revelation and would enjoy hearing all of the points of view among SDAs today. I know that my views on eschatology have changed a great deal since then. I am still in contact with Doug (he is retired and in his late 80s now) and he is rather uncomfortable with my views on eschatology which are more christocentric than historic traditional Adventist eschatology tends to be.