The Record, the official news magazine of the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, has reported that Papua New Guinea has made history with its first commissioning of a female minister, Dr. Agnes Kola. The Record's report of the event follows in its entirety.
The Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea (PNG) commissioned its first woman minister during its 15th Business Session held last month in Lae.
A once male-dominated clergy in the Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM) has seen rapid changes in the past 10 years as women ministers continue to join up in force.
Dr. Agnes Kola, who returned to the country earlier this year after obtaining her Doctorate in Ministry at the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) in the Philippines, has became the first Adventist female minister to be commissioned in PNG.
In what was an exciting and emotional moment, delegates from all over the country attending the business session witnessed and applauded the Church for recognising the work of female ministers in the country.
Outgoing PNGUM president Dr. Leigh Rice read out the policy statement on the responsibilities of ministers and highlighted what Dr Kola would and would not do as a commissioned minister. He applauded the work of female ministers in PNGUM and said the Church appreciated the great contributions they make.
It was an emotional moment for Dr. Kola, who praised God and thanked PNGUM and the South Pacific Division leadership for the recognition and honour. She also thanked her husband and family for their support in her ministry and recent studies.
During the business session, Dr. Kola was also appointed the Women’s Ministry and Family Life director for the next five years.
Image: Dr. Agnes Kola shakes hands with South Pacific Division President Pastor Glen Townened. Courtesy Ben Turner / Record.com.au.
Nancy Lagdom furnished this report, which was first published on RECORD.net.au.
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Whatever we choose to call it “commissioning” “ordination” God calling women to pastoral ministry is evident in the fruit of these gifted and dedicated women. I believe we will see this commissioning/ordination false dichotomy fall to the wayside and replaced with the biblical term "appointment’ through out the entire world work. Eventually this false notion that God has only given men spiritual capabilities to lead, nurture and grow congregations in God’s power will be seen for what it is: male dominance and fear of losing that dominance.
It’s my understanding that women can preach, biblically speaking. But women are not called to leadership positions within the church. The Bible goes so far as to say a woman should not teach a man. I see nothing wrong with women, men, or children ministering. But only a man should lead the church. Therein lies the difficulty: some equate “preaching” with ministerial leadership. Mrs. White was very careful in her terms on this point. You will find that she never once referred to an “ordained minister” or a “minister of the gospel” as a woman. In fact, she used these terms hundreds of times, always referring to a man.
Can women preach? Yes! Should they preach? Yes! Are they called to ministry? Yes!
Ministry assumes many forms. Some are unique to women which a man cannot properly fill. The reverse is also true. Are women called to lead the church? On this question, the Bible is more clear than the WOPE supporters might wish.
I think the key to understanding here is to grasp the source of prophetic utterances. Did Mrs. White make up her own prophecies? or were they given her by God? Her own self-description as a “messenger” (a title lacking a position of authority but which gives all credit to the authority above her from whom the message is delivered) stands in contrast to what people today wish to make of her. If the messages she gave came from God, they are scripture (see 2 Peter 1:21). Their authority is equal to that of scripture–it is God’s authority, not man’s, that makes it strong. We all strongly adhere to the authority of the Bible. Why? Because males wrote it? No. Because God inspired it. The same is true of Ellen White. Her writings have value, not because of the gender of the scribe, but because of the Source of their inspiration. The gender of the penmen has absolutely nothing to do with the authority of the message, because they had absolutely no involvement in the procurement of the message. God gave His Word, and it is His authority behind it.
When Balaam’s female donkey spoke to him, did that elevate all females above all male prophets, or did that elevate donkeys above humans? Did that give us reason to ordain donkeys to leadership in our church? Did the donkey have authority over the prophet Balaam? If not, who did? Answer these questions honestly, and I think you’ll see the answers to the Ellen White question you have posed.
Tongkam, the preacher is already in a leadership position in his/her church. Even preaching alone is leading.
I am so glad that so many Adventists have realized that what happened in San Antonio was plain wrong. A clearly manipulated vote. Honest leaders would have pointed out very clearly that the basis of most anti-wo. arguments is outside of adventism, even outside christianity.
Therein lies YOUR PERSONAL difficulty: “preaching” women ARE in ministerial leadership, spiritual leadership, and are empowered by the Holy Spirit with such gifts. Women ARE leading the largest Adventist churches in the world in China with spiritual leadership skills, Tongkam.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church disagrees. Commissioning is the official, church-sanctioned method of recognizing a woman’s legitimate calling to church leadership, whether through ministry, administration or academia.
See, this is the the wrong understanding and why we need to re-educate God’s followers. God is not a respecter of persons in the call to leadership. It is an outright assault on God to handcuff God in whom he choses to lead. Women do preach, teach, and lead with God’s blessing. There is no doubt from any angle. None. Mrs. White does not factor into this equation other than to prove my point.
The voices that fight God on this point are getting tired and fewer. We are witnessing a reformation now. Women are leading, The developed world, Africa, Asia are seeing the light. The other continents will mature and grow and God will prevail. Women will lead globally as recognized by men. They all ready are under God’s appointment so it is simply up to men to mature.
I’m assuming I may respond to a WebEd, considering who posted the article.
There are indeed some points whereupon our church may have overstepped its bounds in neglecting to follow a clear “thus saith the LORD” from scripture on this point; however, that the church categorically disagrees as you might allude is called into question by the lack of official recognition she has given to the lady conference president in California. Commissioning is the present-day equivalent of licensure as it was termed in Mrs. White’s day, in which women were licensed to preach. Again, there is no scripture to prevent a woman preaching. There is simply scripture to prevent them from “teaching” (exercising authority over) a man.
For those who may not see the distinction between teaching and preaching, I might ask a simple question: Does a preacher have authority to give marks or to discipline (e.g. corporal punishment, time out, writing “I will never do this in class again” a hundred times, or any other form of discipline such as teachers and parents might give to their students)? A preacher’s responsibility is primarily to preach God’s messages to the people who are then at liberty to decide how they will react, is this not true? Is not a teacher’s authority of a different form?
Both teachers and preachers can be said to teach and to have authority; however, their forms of authority and forms of teaching are different, as any young school child relating to both teacher and preacher could attest. It is in this teacher/authority (the Bible called teachers “masters”) sense of teaching that women are not to teach men (see 1 Timothy 2:11-12). Women may preach to men, or to anyone. When everything is done “decently and in order” (see 1 Corinthians 14:40), women are not prohibited from speaking in church, as any careful Bible student should realize.
Some people do not know the scriptures, nor do they understand the power of God working for the salvation of souls through the royal priesthood (the holy nation of believers) 1 Peter 2:8-10. Those who do understand the scriptures and value the power just keep following God’ Word and fulfilling the Great Commission. Congratulations Agnes, my support and prayers for your ministry. Rene Gale
Given what you have said - I am not sure how you can maintain this consistency of “there is simply scripture to prevent them from “teaching” (exercising authority over) a man.” and still belief in Ellen White?
It appears to my simple mind you are wanting it both ways as you are referring to Ellen White earlier in the thread as an authoritative voice - but then shoot the messenger with the above quote.
For the geographically challenged and maybe showing a lack of geographical understanding, it is incorrect to call Papua New Guinea the name New Guinea. Quite a few of the inhabitants would feel insulted by the name New Guinea.
New Guinea refers to the whole island which includes Indonesian Papua and the country of Papua New Guinea.
To call Papua New Guinea simply New Guinea smells of colonialism. Perhaps that was the intent. Perhaps out wasn’t. The original article used the term Papua New Guinea. What does this editorial change imply?
Commissioning is NOT the present day equivalent of licensure, as you so confidently assert.
Though I may not entirely agree with the present Adventist system of licensing and credentials, the following system remains in operation in our global faith communion, with few exceptions!
Licensed ministers receive a license upon completion of their internship.
Those who are then considered worthy of wider responsibilities are then presented with a credential. In Adventist circles, there are two breeds of credentials.
a) Men are eligible to receive the credentials of an ordinand.
b) For certain responsibilities that do not require the ability to organize churches, ordain local elders or perform one or two other specialised tasks, men and women are given credentials as a commissioned minister. A commissioned minister’s credential is not globally transferable, as is an ordained man’s credential.
The issue of the global transferability of one’s credentials was one of the major sticking point in the minds of many at San Antonio. It was difficult for these people to see that a system where an ordained woman was kosher in one world region but not another, could operate. Such people didn’t stop to consider that such ordained women would almost certainly not be called upon to tranfer into a world region where the ordination of women was not practiced. [Though if the Southern Africa Union had called upon an ordained woman pastor to tranfer into the union from another world region, this could have been the source of conflict with it’s parent organization, the Southern Africa - Indian Ocean Division].
Do we want an ordained global clergy class anyhow? Adventist scholars such as Dr Wendy Jackson have shown how the concept of a clergy class that differs in status to the rest of the whole people of God is unbiblical and unhelpful. Why? Because such nomenclature is founded on a sacramental understanding of the church which Adventists notionally reject.
It would be far preferable to have a rite of appointment for Adventist leaders in education, pastoral, institutional, administerative and specialised resourcing ministries, deacons [both genders] and elders [both genders]. In other words, it would be a model of ministry that is not divided into a vertical hierarchy, but into a lateral differentiation of ministry. Further, when one moves from one sphere of ministry to another a rite of appointment should be conducted for the individual at that moment. The credential that the individual, regardless of gender, carries should specify their specific position description.
Until such times as a model of ministry such as this is put in place, as I am confident it will, may the commissioning of women pastors grow from a trickle to a flood.
I imagine that this history-making event was the last hurrah as Dr Leigh Rice (brother-in-law) moves from PNG to become team leader of the new South Pacific Division Discipleship Ministries.
What often goes unnoticed in these somewhat tiresome debates is the theological “fact” throughout Scripture that God is opposed to hierarchy. Even in the prophetic gift, God’s eschatological intention is that we all “dream dreams,” we all “see visions,” we all receive the prophetic gift. When we read the New Testament as insisting that only men can be in leadership, why do we ignore Joel 2:28-29? “I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; yours sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female slaves, in those days, I will pour out my spirit.” The idea that gender and leadership are connected in the New Testament, based on two very debatable passages if one studied them and their historical/cultural context, sounds frighteningly like we are reading into the Bible the patriarchy that has dominated this planet for millenia which some people will not give up: men because they have power they believe they deserve, and women because they lack power they believe they do not deserve.