For Southeastern's Patricia Marruffo, A Local Ordination, A Global Purview

In a sense, Patricia Marruffo’s Sabbath-afternoon ordination service on March 26 was business as usual for Southeastern California Conference where she serves as Pastor for Children and Families at the Azure Hills Church. Southeastern, after all, has been ordaining qualified women to pastoral ministry since March 2012, and long before that issued the same ordained-commissioned credentials to both men and women. Southeastern was the first (and so far the only) conference in the Adventist denomination to appoint a woman president, and has for decades worked very deliberately to foster gender-inclusive pastoral ministry in its territory.

These days, ordination services for women are becoming almost as common as those for men in Southeastern. Sara-May Colón was ordained at the Garden Grove Seventh-day Adventist Church on February 27, and after more than three decades of pastoral ministry at the Loma Linda University Church, Shirley Ponder was ordained on December 19, 2015. Patty Marruffo’s ordination was one in a long line of services for highly-qualified women pastors in Southeastern California Conference. However, in another sense Marruffo’s ordination stood out.

Local Ordination, Global Purview The decor in the foyer of the Azure Hills Church was the first indication that this service had an eye on the larger picture, literally. A large world map stood in front of the doors to the sanctuary.

Pins on the map represent Adventist women in pastoral ministry.

On the map, pins represented the women who serve as Seventh-day Adventist pastors around the world. The ordination service was an intentionally global event through which Marruffo wanted to highlight and celebrate all of Adventism’s women ministers.

Nandi Fleming, a pastor in South Africa, provided a welcome and invocation via pre-recorded video at Marruffo’s request. Fleming is creator and administrator of a private Facebook group for Adventist women pastors that has hundreds of members. Through that group, Marruffo began compiling a list of Adventist women who pastor around the world. In the ordination ceremony, Marruffo paid tribute to them all.

Pastor Nandi Fleming (right) in her video welcome shares images of some of the many Adventist women pastors.

“I want to honor and recognize my sisters in ministry across the world—female Seventh-day Adventist pastors—women whose call to gospel ministry is special, meaningful and sacred.”

She honed in on the bredth of the female pastorate in Adventism: “3176 female pastors in China, 15 in Cuba, 12 in South Korea, six in Japan, and countless others. Women whom God has called and continues to call to teach, preach and lead,” she said.

“Today from our corner of the world in Southeastern California Conference, I wish to acknowledge the ministry of these beautiful ladies,” Marruffo stated.

Women played a prominent role throughout Marruffo’s ordination service. In addition to Nandi Fleming who opened the service, Marlene Ferreras, who preceded Marruffo as Children and Families Pastor at Azure Hills, and Jessica Marruffo, Patty’s daughter, a pre-nursing student at La Sierra University, provided a life sketch. Newly-appointed associate pastor at Azure Hills Danielle Foré provided a Scripture reading. Kendra Haloviak-Valentine, a professor at La Sierra University, an elder at Azure Hills, and one of the first Adventist women ever to be ordained, offered the ordination prayer. And it was Southeastern California Conference President Sandra Roberts who officially welcomed Marruffo to ordained pastoral ministry and presented Marruffo her ordained minister credentials.

From a Catholic Upbringing Patty attributes her eventual path to full-time ministry in large part to her upbringing in a devout Catholic home. (Her family converted to the Seventh-day Adventist faith after hearing radio programs on La Voz de La Esperanza and attending evangelistic meetings hosted by the media organization.)

Her first memories of church came from the Iglesia de Cristo Rey (The Church of Christ the King) in Oxnard, California in a community known as La Colonia where Cesar Chavez lived for a time. “This is where I learned about God,” she said.

Marruffo came from a family of campesinos who worked picking produce in the fields of Oxnard. She recounted some of that story in a Spectrum article, “Remembering My Struggles for Justice.”

Prior to the ordination service, I asked Marruffo to discuss the significance of ordination for her.

“Ordination has great significance for me,” she said, “because I understand it as an affirmation of what God is already doing.”

She explained why being ordained is different from simply doing ministry as a woman:

[The community comes] forward to say ‘We recognize, we see, it’s already evident, it’s tangible that God is doing something with you and in you and through you.’ And he does it with all of us, but when you’re in ministry someone steps up to say I recognize that. So it is significant for me. But I have to confess that it’s lost some of that significance only because I feel like it’s unfair that it happens for me but it can’t happen for [many others] in the world whom God has called to do something really specific for him.”

Marruffo, whose husband Dante is also a pastor at the Azure Hills Church, thought for many years that her calling was to assist her husband in his ministry, she told me.

“It was a passion for serving… I thought my calling was to be a pastor’s wife, but I loved hanging out with him and doing ministry together with him and being involved in everything. Church, mission, kids’ ministry...and I wondered lots of times what would it be like? I think I would really love to be a pastor.”

She enrolled in the (now discontinued) Master of Pastoral Studies at La Sierra University to equip her to be a better pastor’s wife, she said.

In the process of studying at La Sierra University and then Andrews University, she discovered a love of “digging deep into the Bible and learning about how God interacts with humanity and how she can contribute to the God movement in the world.”

Toward the end of her Master’s studies, a realization struck: “I would love to do ministry. I think God is calling me to do this.”

Reflecting on the Call Marruffo described her ordination as an act of submission, saying, “I’m humbled and deeply thankful that in my part of the world, God’s sovereign will to use men and women—their gifts and their talents in ministry—is acknowledged, valued and affirmed. However this day cannot have this deep and special meaning unless I acknowledge and underscore the call to ministry of all men and all women who hear the voice of God and respond to that call.”

She reflected on the notion among some Adventists that God calls men to be ordained but not women.

“It seems to me that we have created certain lines of demarcation that for God don’t exist. We create barriers that God, I think, never envisions. We create parameters that are not God’s parameters, and we function within those lines of demarcation and those parameters thinking that this is how it ought to be.”

Marruffo has challenged the lines of demarcation and has discovered that they are not fixed. She said it felt like a revelation that God could could equip her to have a voice—a preaching voice. “It was like ‘Wow’ because that preaching voice didn’t belong to women. It was like ‘I can own this and it’s sacred.’ My next thought was ‘Where can I go from here?’”

It’s a question with many answers.

Along with her husband, Patty is a chaplain for the Riverside County Fire Department in California. They join first responders in times of crisis to provide public pastoral care.

She is also an inspiration to the young children she serves. A few weeks before the ordination, Brian and Maria Repelin posted a photo on Marruffo’s Facebook page of their daughter with the following note, shared here with their permission.

Thank you Pastor Patty for being such a great role model for my daughter and many others. She set this up herself and said she was Pr. Patty and began her sermon. You touch the lives of even the youngest. Of course her younger sibling follows in her footsteps, the trickle down effect.”

Watch the Recording of Patty Marruffo's Ordination Below

9:30 — Welcome Video by Nandi Fleming 15:15 — Welcome on Behalf of SECC and Azure Hills by Ernie Furness 29:40 — Biographical Sketch by Jessica Marruffo and Marlene Ferreras 35:40 — Liturgical Reading / Congregational Affirmation (Examination of Ordinand) 42:25 — Homily by John Brunt 1:10:10 — Prayer of Ordination by Kendra Haloviak Valentine 1:28:20 — Welcome to Ministry, Presentation of Ordination Credentials by Sandra Roberts 1:32:40 — Response by Patty Marruffo

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Which tells us all we need to know about the attitude of the SECC toward the will of the body, as expressed at the recent GC session. For them, defiance seems to be “business as usual.”

Another sad day for the church.

To the extent that it harms church unity, and reflects an attitude of defiance and insubordiantion, yes.


Good news from Azure Hills! Blessings on Patricia and thanks to God for the annointing of her by the Holy Spirit for pastoral ministry.


Congratulations to Patricia Maruffo.

Another statement from the SECC that in our territory discrimination against women is openly repudiated and we are moving forward despite those who hold retrograde positions on the issue of discrimination of women.


Patricia Maruffo and her family deserve our best wishes and prayers.

The biggest mistake we made before San Antonio and continue to make is forgetting who’s at the end of the change. In 2013 going on to the present, and probably for far longer than we want to admit, we were, we are, and we will be, completely unprepared to help the church transition through WO policy changes.A local ordination as “common” as it may be in Southeastern cannot be taken for granted for or by church change change leaders

The most important skill that will help you avoid a change disaster like the one we went through in an Antonio is an authentic open mind. Hardly anyone was willing to step outside of their role and put themselves in the shoes of the people impacted by change. Delegates need to hear and see pastors such as Patricia and put faces to the WO issue before they vote on this issue.


blc –
“Another sad day for the church”

I thought it was quite JOY-ous.

One of my favorite stories in the Gospels is this one.
Jesus is walking along with His 12 Cardinals. They begin complaining. There is this non-ordained guy, not of their group who is casting out devils and performing other stuff in the name of Jesus. They dont even call him by his name. They tell Jesus – Stop him!!
Jesus pronounces a Blessing on him instead.

We need to be careful about “cursing” someone who Jesus blesses.


Birder I strongly object to your judgement of my conference! Patty’s ordination service was a blessing and if you had been in attendance I strongly doubt you could reject the presence of the Holy Spirit.

You are also mistaken about what happened at the GC. Nothing changed and each Union continues to make the decision about who gets ordained. You can wish it to be “your” way all you want but even Pastor Ted Wilson is quoted as saying ‘nothing has changed by the San Antonio vote’. Your insistence that those who continue to practice what has been in place for years are in rebellion just makes you a non credible voice among many and its very tiring.


What a kill-joy. Do you honestly believe that Christ is saddened with this ordination? Do you believe angels are weeping? Is that the heart of God you worship?


I don’t understand this feeling. Ordination has nothing to do with what God is doing; it is a decision of a group of individuals on the Union and Conference level that are not privy to mind or will of God any more then you or me.

I think ordination is significant only because our church has created an image of its importance. In the RCC there are Bishops, Arch-bishops, Major Arch-Bishops, Patriarchs, Cardinals and lastly the Pope. Aside from prestige, authority and salary it is the RCC that says they are important. Ordinated Cardinals might feel their election is evidence of God’s affirmation. Should the RCC become insolvent they would carry no significance.

I am also somewhat disturbed that a woman would accept ordination while the world church has repeatedly forbidden it. Is this not insubordination? How can she function in church disciplinary action disapproving a member who holds doctrinal positions not validated by the church standards? What message does this give to others? Perhaps they will feel liberated to embrace a lifestyle regarded as sin by the church. All because they are emboldened by their woman pastor who has flaunted central church authority.

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Pat mentions “God’s Parameters” as being something she “thinks” or “feels” like God wants her to move. If you want to know the parameters of God’s intent for the Episkopos, will find that in His Word, not how you “feel”.

I would be applauding women in leadership with the rest of you if not for the sobering reference Paul makes to the order of creation and the nature of the fall. If he had only stopped at 1 Tim 2:12, I could understand that he may have been speaking only to that particular culture but Inspiration points us back to a time where there was no culture. Only a creation order and a fall.

If we dismiss the counsel of Paul on grounds of cultural shift, then shall we also ordain individuals who are cohabiting? After all, almost 70% of couples in our culture move in together as a precursor to marriage.

If I could, I would like to ask Pat why Christ only chose men to lead with him during His ministry here, and to lead His church after His ascension. He obviously chose women to spread the gospel, but not in a way that included the episkopos, authoritative leadership. The women Christ loved and respected were simply unqualified for those roles of leadership. Accepted into His Kingdom, able to do many things better than men in order to spread the gospel, but not called to be leaders.

One other concern. I have yet to meet a woman in pastor or elder role who is not openly supportive of homosexual relationships within the church. It doesn’t seem to matter to the woman in higher leadership if the couple is homosexual, as long as there is a committed relationship. Females in general tend to be more sympathetic to homosexual relationships than are men. There’s no doubt in my mind that the normalization of openly homosexual relationships within Christianity is directly related to the influence of female leadership within Christianity.

Sorry, but I can’t celebrate with ya’ll.


“One other concern. I have yet to meet a woman in pastor or elder role who is not openly supportive of homosexual relationships within the church. It doesn’t seem to matter to the woman in higher leadership if the couple is homosexual, as long as there is a committed relationship. Females in general tend to be more sympathetic to homosexual relationships than are men. There’s no doubt in my mind that the normalization of openly homosexual relationships within Christianity is directly related to the influence of female leadership within Christianity.”

You have tied WO with homosexuality which has nothing at all to do with this wonderful article about the ordination of Patricia Marruffo.

I have known women elders, etc., who do not support both…I don’t know who you know but it isn’t the whole world. And it is okay if you don’t “celebrate” with us because it is for the glory of God- not us.


Read Pastor Ted Wilson’s lips “nothing has changed by the vote”! Unions were and are making the ordination choices and the vote affirmed that they will continue to do so!


Truth of the matter is the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), that includes China, South Korea and Japan in its territory, lists on their roster just over a thousand ordained ministers plus 200 licensed (equivalent of "commissioned) ministers.

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I was privileged to attend the ordination service of Sara-May Colon in February. Having both heard the story of her ministry so far, the work she has done for Christ, and knowing her personally, I can attest she is called by God to ministry.

To Birder, I would suggest that perhaps you get to know some of these amazing women pastors before you condemn them out of hand. It might cause you to at least wonder if perhaps your interpretation of scripture is coloring your perspective. I would urge you to consider their fruits.

To Kristan Yeaton: “The women Christ loved and respected were simply unqualified for those roles of leadership”. Sorry, but that is an opinion and not a statement of fact. Unless you were with them in that place and time you have no idea what they were or were not qualified for.

I’ll also sharply disagree with your comments regarding women pastors, women in general and homosexuality.


Kristen-yeaton, I am in sharp disagreement with you on Paul’s misogynist statements about women.

Did Paul not openly condone slavery, and were his unequivocal endorsements of slavery, not used for centuries by slave traders and slave owners to validate their egregious acts?

Paul with his misogynist statements has validated the subjugation of women for the last two millenia, encouraging spousal abuse, both physical and emotional and shabby treatment of women generally.

The attitudes you express explain why spousal abuse is ENDEMIC in Adventist congregations!

And yes, Paul also made homophobic statements resulting in gay bashing, gay bullying, gay murder and other vicious anti gay acts over the last two millenia.

IMO Paul has created more MISERY than Hitler and Stalin combined. At least these two despots only impacted their own generations. Paul impacted multiple generations.

Should Paul make it to heaven,( he does not deserve to be there) he will be rightfully accosted by MILLIONS of slaves, abused women, and persecuted gays, demanding:
“What were you thinking Paul? You were DIRECTLY responsible for the MISERY inflicted on us!”

KUDOS to the South Eastern Conference, and Pastor Patricia Marruffo, for demonstrating a LOVING INCLUSIVE NON DISCRIMINATING message, the one Christ demonstrated to the “woman at the well” and the woman who “touched his garment”, and the women who “anointed his feet” --a loving inclusiveness, so remote from Paul’s hateful misogyny!


I think your post represents a lot of your fellow commentators here at Spectrum.

I wonder if Pat would agree with you too.

Disobedience to God is not dependent on how you feel or what are the so called good results of the action. Saul spared the king and a few choice animals to sacrifice to God.

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I love all the accolades given to the SECC for rightfully telling the GC to shove it, but it is only halfway. Obviously the GC isn’t going to do anything about it and it will continue with the quiet tacit support of the NAD and the majority of the laity.

What needs to happen is not complete until the church fully embraces same-sex marriage and Ordination of LGBT individuals. The SECC has made a great pathway for this and must not stop halfway. If the GC hasn’t done anything about women being ordained, they won’t have the moral authority to stop the full development of the priesthood of ALL believers.

Equality now!


I have no problem with a woman being ordained as a gospel minister; to me San Antonio was anomalous; and the result of the anomaly will continue to appear like rebellion in the eyes of the voters against women ordination. No matter how silent the GC remains, this trend is bound to continue because San Antonio will never be binding since it was not based on sound Scriptural bases.

However, I am deeply disturbed by the LGBTQ overtones associated with women ordination in some of the comments. I dare say, to me, the “Women Ordination will remain an eternal issue in the Seventh-day Adventist Church” until it is separated totally from LGBTQ concerns in the minds of Seventh-day Adventists members and their leaders.

We should not be influenced by a person’s face. The Bible and the Bible only is all we need with the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we try to gain an understanding of what we are reading.