La Sierra University Church Celebrates Ordination of Beverly Maravilla

RIVERSIDE, CA — On Saturday, June 24, La Sierra University Church and the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists confirmed the call of Beverly Maravilla to Gospel Ministry with ordination.

Born in Los Angeles, California to parents who immigrated from El Salvador, Beverly Maravilla grew up in the Catholic faith tradition, the fifth of eight children of Rosa and Oscar Maravilla. The Maravilla family converted to the Seventh-day Adventist faith when Bev was in junior high after a retired Adventist couple invited the Maravillas to a Friday evening vespers at their house.

Bev attended public high school and participated in competitive theater for more than seven years. At La Sierra University, she started as a psychology major but with direction of Sam Leonor, Lida Biswas and Steve Hemenway in La Sierra’s Spiritual Life Office, she entertained the possibility of professional ministry. Upon graduating as a religious studies student, the La Sierra University Church hired her as Pastor for Children and Family Ministries. July marks six years since she joined the La Sierra team. She continues to participate in improv acting and is an aspiring powerlifter.

Several hundred members of the La Sierra University Church community and the Southeastern California Conference joined the Maravilla family in celebrating Beverly’s ordination on Saturday afternoon.

Members of the La Sierra community including children to whom Bev ministers, her friends and family members, Southeastern California Conference administrators and La Sierra University Church staff members—Bev’s pastoral colleagues participated in the service.

The biblical passage chosen for the occasion, Jeremiah 29, moves from Israelite captivity in Babylon through the divine command to build houses and plant gardens and to a promised blessing—the divine plan for a people in exile. Bev’s La Sierra colleagues Devo Kritzinger, Vaughn Nelson and Chris Oberg wove together pieces of the passage and Bev’s experiences in an immigrant family and as a pastor in the Adventist Church.

Devo Kritzinger: Fears of exile lasting so long. New generations of adults who had been born in exile, never knowing the grandeur of home. Generation 1.5, those who had been children while immigration reinterpreted their traditions in light of their new home. Second generation immigrants, while they retained some traditions from their family of origin, began to lose markers of identity such as language, dress or music. The assimilation causes generation among the immigrant community as the older generation worried about loss of identity. Amid these tensions comes the word from God through the prophet, which is surprising: “Build houses and live in them. Plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have children. Multiply and increase. Make home in this foreign land. Dig in, make home. It is a whole new world and it will be your new home. The welfare of the captors and the exiles are bound together.

A junior high convert has made home in an Adventist home. A theater girl has made home in a religious institution. A faithful woman has made home in Adventist pastoral ministry. You have made home, Bev, and you have made it well.

Vaughn Nelson: There are other voices with other messages. For a couple of verses in the passage, Jeremiah has been involved in a prophetic preach-off with these other voices. Voices that declare a message that on the surface sounds more pious, more spiritual, more faithful: Resist Babylon. Fight or flee. Don’t build or plant or invest in this city or culture because we’re going home soon. God will get us out of here soon. Those voices are sometimes the louder or more numerous voices, but in this passage, they are not the voices that speak for God. Voices calling for living in, investing in and enjoying the here and now are often misunderstood and misrepresented. The voices can be discouraging and damaging. “You know there might be days when you find yourself sitting in a Texas-sized stadium full of voices trying to drown out your voice and to silence your message, and maybe even on those days you’ll find that, as you’ve told us, you literally can’t breathe. And yet we are gathered here on this day and in this place because you have been listening to the voice of the Spirit of God. And your heart has been captured by an alternative imagination.

Chris Oberg: Sometimes the competing voices will be louder and more numerous but they do not represent the heart of God. This is the word of God from Jeremiah. A slightly different reading of the text from the typical one: God’s imagination for you is peace, wholeness, wellness and not affliction, trouble, adversity. Those come, but not from the hand of the divine.

A God of possibility creates a community of possibility. By the grace of God, we’ve been given a leader in Pastor Beverly Maravilla who longs for brand new possibilities. It turns out a little girl from a Salvadorean immigrant family raised in the high desert chasing ducks and geese, in the Catholic faith, really can become a minister in the Seventh-day Adventist tradition. Thanks be to God.

Following the homily, the three pastors invited all those gathered to join in the laying on of hands for the prayer of ordination.

Nelson began the with an affirmation and thanks for Beverly’s calling “to be a minister of the Gospel in our church and in our world.” There followed a litany of thanks, including, “For Bev’s commitment and her courage and her willingness to keep on rather than abandon even when the very body she serves has done her harm, we give you thanks. For all that your Spirit has done in and through pastor Beverly, we give you thanks.”

Oberg continued: “With our hands of blessing and our words, God, we set Beverly aside for consecration. We signify that this community is ready for the power of the Spirit whatever else is up ahead. We recognize the calling on Beverly’s life and we ask for more of that. So we set her aside for a purpose. To lead us with show us a better and better incarnation of the Seventh-day Adventist faith.”

Kritzinger concluded: “We pray for you beloved La Sierra University Church; we consecrate you and set you apart to be a community of grace and forgiveness, of peace and justice. We pray that you, church, would become incarnated glimpses of God’s Kingdom of Kindness, to work in synch with the Spirit like Bev has, to bring about a world where love rules over all, where enemies embrace, where all are welcome, where light shines in the darkness.”

Following a ministerial charge from SECC Executive Secretary Jonathan Park, SECC President Sandy Roberts officially welcomed Beverly Maravilla to ordained pastoral ministry in the Adventist Church.

So Elder Beverly Maravilla, I get to continue welcoming you. Not really to ministry—you’ve been in ministry so faithfully and so well. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing today is because we recognize that. But I get to welcome you officially as an ordained minister of the Gospel in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. On behalf of your church, your colleagues, the World Church, thank you for faithfully answering your call. And I am really proud to have you as a pastor in the Southeastern California Conference. Beverly, not just at this church but in our conference does bring much joy. In addition to the joy there’s a depth and a commitment to being authentic and faithful. Thank you for what you bring to our pastoral team in this conference.

Roberts made three presentations on behalf of the Southeastern California Conference leadership team. First, a Ministerial Credential with the following words: “This is to certify that Beverly N. Maravilla is an ordained minister in regular standing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and is authorized to perform the duties of said office.” Signed by the officers of the Southeastern California Conference.

Next, a Certificate of Ordination, which stated: “To all who read these words, Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Be it known that Beverly N. Maravilla, having given satisfactory evidence of her calling to, and having accepted the sacred work of the Gospel Ministry, was ordained by the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on June 24, 2017 in Riverside, California. Signed by Conference officers and many members of the La Sierra University Church community.

Finally, Roberts presented a Bible with Beverly’s name engraved on it.

Beverly Maravilla responded with a reflection on her journey to ministry and her time thus far as a pastor.

“It does seem impossible to express the love the gratitude and the appreciation I have for this community for extending me an invitation to join you six years ago. I will take a few minutes to reflect on the goodness that I have witnessed in this community in your care.”

“Pastoring was not something in my plan or on my list for my life. In one of my Freshmen English classes Yesenia Andrade shared with me that she was studying to be a pastor. I remember I looked at her really confused and slightly amused, and with no self control or compassion I blurted out ‘Well that’s so dumb. Do what you want, but women can’t be pastors...can they?’ I had seen women working in the church before, but I had never seen them in this capacity. She thought about becoming a psychologist for people like Yesenia, “but it turns out the joke was on me,” she said.

Speaking to the exile in Jeremiah’s writings, she said “For many years it was difficult for me to accept this as a blessing or a calling from God. It strikes me that we too are in exile. All in the world is not well. All in the church is not well. And even so these verses are here. Despite disappointing moments both in the world and in the church, the La Sierra community allowed her to hear the words in the Jeremiah passage “as an invitation to imagine. “Unpacking for service amid a life in exile seems silly, but we are here,” she said.

Jared Wright is Southern California Correspondent for

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Congratulations, Beverly Maravilla. May God bless your ministry.


There is LSUC, in SoCal, leading AGAIN!
Step by step, baby steps, toward the elimination of discrimination of women in the Adventist Denomination. Past due by far!

Congratulations Bev! Congratulations LSU Church. Congratulations PUC, and North American Division.


I’m all for Women’s ordination and was very bothered by the vote
at the GC in 2015. But even though I speak openly against the
GC decision at my church and with my friends, I’m bothered that
we are having someone push the issue like this. There are times
to push ahead for sure but I was hoping for more of a consensus
move by the entire North American division. I hope that is going to happen.


The General Conference vote pertained to divisions. Unions have had and continue to have jurisdiction over ordination. This ordination was in line with Southeastern California Conference’s voted policy and in accordance with the Pacific Union Conference, which approved the conference’s request. The GC vote has no particular bearing on this.


All you say is true. Thanks. My hope then is that it turns into a movement
in all Unions.


Brother Jared.

Unions have jurisdiction over whom to chose among those WHO are qualified to be ordained.
Global Church Divisions have jurisdiction in decision-making of WHAT IT TAKES to be qualified to be ordained.

Global Church has voted three times (1990, 1995 and 2015) that only the most spiritual and trusted MEN are biblically qualified to serve in the capacity of highest ecclesiastical authority in the Church (ordained pastors, conference, union and division presidents)

All that the Unions can decide is WHOM to chose among those who are deemed qualified for such type of ordination by the Divisions.


What a beautiful service to set apart and bless the ministry of this devoted woman!

Women often bring imaginative new viewpoints and understandings to ministry. It is a blessing to add their role to that of men in ministry.


The Seventh-day Adventist Church is currently engaged in a one-year process of reconciliation over the question of what entities will speak for the world church. Before that process has been completed, the Southeastern California Conference has chosen to move forward against the current policies of the world church. How can this action be seen as anything but rebellion against the full body of believers? This ordination at La Sierra is not a time for rejoicing, but a time for sadness as we look ahead.

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“This ordination at La Sierra is not a time for rejoicing, but a time for sadness as we look ahead.”

“look ahead”…things can never go back to what they were before no matter what the manipulated GC vote was. It is impossible to tell the First Worlds that what they believe is not moral nor convince the Second and Third Worlds that they should not dictate morality or conscience to others. Hence, the Adventist church has arrived at the fork in the road where many other Christian denominations have been before. If denomination schism occurs then some will declare that it is “prophecy” unfolding…if it does not, then “propecy” was still fulfilled. The true loss is mostly financial should there be a permanent fissure which is most likely the reason that “Grave Consequences” have not already occurred.

A heart felt congratulations to you, Beverly Maravilla…may God richly bless your ministry!


The entitiy that will speak for the world church is the Holy Spirit through each disciple, independent of some “world church” hierarchy. I became a seventh day Adventist because of the freedom of ideas and the fact that I didn’t have to recite and believe a creed as a pre-condition of fellowship. Also, and more importantly, because of the SDA view of the character of God and our denunciation of the precept of eternal concious torment for non believers. If we all have to concede to the GC and have it “speak” for us and be the measure of what a good SDA is, then I don’t want to be a member.


I am sorry, but there is nothing in Scriptue to suggest that a woman can not function in ministry as a pastor.
Ordination as we practice it also does not exist in Scripture. If Ordination is to mean "fully recognized by the members to whom one ministers as their Pastor and said individual (male or female) is doctrinally orthodox, then it no one else’s business telling God the Holy Spirit that He made a wrong choice!!!


I’m sure Beverly is a very competent ministerial practitioner in her chosen field of family and children ministries. Many times an important part of anyone’s ministerial formation is using one’s gifts in a variety of contexts. The early years of my ministry in both of the home unions of the South Pacific Division were spent in public evangelism, suburban pastoral ministry, institutional pastoral ministry and as pastor of multi-church congregations, often long distances from each other. Most nights of the week were spent away from my wife and young family.

The difference between Beverly’s highly specialized ministry in a large well-oiled congregation and my ministry in a wide variety of settings and sometimes to tiny, scattered congregations and communities highlights the fact that the nature of ministry in various parts of the world differs so widely.

Perhaps for this reason alone, Adventists pastors around the globe should never be dealt with as if a one size fits all approach to “ordination” works.

Other concerns weigh on my mind, as I read this story!

Recently, at the London Unity Conference Dr Lowell Cooper outlined a suggested and exemplary policy concerning the commissioning of all Adventist leaders who have given evidence that God has first called and commissioned them. Both the Trans-European Division in 2015 and the South Pacific Division in 2016 have called for the GC to investigate the workability and desireability of such a policy. Several Unions in the Trans-European Division have already moved toward the adoption of similar policies.

At least in the case of the Trans-European Division and its Unions these moves seem to be driven by the desire to adopt a renewed anti-clerical paradigm that is quite different from the present Adventist ordination paradigm. In addition, the South Pacific Division Biblical Research Committee TOSC papers push for the creation of a similar anti-clerical paradigm. (I wrote one of these papers).

On the other hand, the NAD and particularly two of its Unions appear to have pushed for a revamping of a very orthodox Protestant clerical paradigm and its extension to both genders, rather than just one.

This state of affairs has gone on for too long. Why don’t the NAD and all of its UNIONS join Lowell Cooper, Adventist policy guru extraordaire and the TED and the SPD and form a growing critical mass urging the GC to give serious consideration to the adoption of this renewed anti-clerical paradigm.

Such a renewed paradigm has the pleasing result of putting the stress on the ministry of all believers, not just on the priesthood of the ordained Adventist clergymen. It would provide the greatest impetus to the Total Member Involvement initiative launch by the GC.

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The issue of women’s ordination is an intensely personal reality to me. As the offspring of missionary parents, my friend held a decidedly larger world view. In her path after graduation from an SDA college, she felt called to the gospel ministry. It seemed a very logical step in her spiritual journey. She was a brilliant and erudite communicator. She had the ability to make even dry passages of scripture spring to life. But at every turn in her journey/calling, she was thwarted in a male dominated hierarchy. The patronizing replies: “Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Why not consider training for education that would enable you to teach at one of our schools or be a lay minister And keep in mind that pastoral duties might not agree with motherhood.” (She wasn’t even engaged at the time.) In her mind that was not her calling. Then one day after a rather toxic meeting with a Union Conference president, her discouragement overwhelmed her. She committed suicide as a statement. The president was fingered in her last known letter, cited as the loudest but not only voice of “counsel”. That was in 1983. Except for those close to her, this final and fatal action has possibly been largely forgotten. We will never know if she might have been the voice that could have made a difference had she chosen life. (This has been extremely hard for me to write and until now have only shared the story with a well-known SDA pastor shortly before 2015 GC. My friend died for this cause that ultimately took her life. And at this point, if this story is recognized and you know the person, I would ask that you not use her real name in any replies for now.)


Reading about Pastor Maravilla’s ordination and the mostly positive reactions from Spectrum readers has given me a deeper appreciation of what joy the act of inclusiveness and acceptance can bring. I spent an afternoon talking with a great Bible Worker named Mary Walsh several years ago. She had spent time teaching me how to give Bible Studies and giving me great pastoral ideas on Christian Counseling. At that time she told me that ordination for women would never happen because too many men opposed the idea and were scared to “open the floodgates” for women to possibly “replace them”. I asked her about what ordination would mean to her personally. After some time and the standard disclaimer about not needing ordination or waiting for it, she paused and said: “Ordination to pastoral ministry would mean full and true acceptance and respect by my peers and colleagues. Acceptance as an ordained minister would feel good very good to me.” Mary Walsh was never ordained as an Adventist minister.

Forty years later I have to ask If acceptance feels so good, then why does it seem so rare in our church? Without acceptance, our hearts become protected and we lose ourselves. When our hearts are protected, it is near impossible to feel and express the love we have within us. Often, we protect ourselves to escape feeling pain. Unfortunately, when we disconnect from our own pain we also disconnect from our deepest core: our authentic, real self. The ordination of Beverly Maravilla gives us another reason to accept the joy of fairness and equality for all.

My hope is that all of us will feel more open, more accepting, more positive, happier and more loving. The ordination of Pastor Maravilla could make it easier for us to do the emotional work we must do on our own to heal these heart wounds from the respect and acceptance that has been withheld. Eliminating gender bias in our church is not inconsequential it is an imperative. We need to accept the blessing of God on our church policies and administrative decisions. Be prepared to watch the magic happen, and open up to the relief, and joy of acceptance.


i agree that it’s difficult to see how this particular ordination, coming when it does, wouldn’t be perceived as a brazen flouting of what was the obvious intent of the san antonio vote…it’s also difficult to see how sandra roberts, chris oberg and beverly maravilla, herself, wouldn’t be aware of this perception…

on the one hand, i do get the virtue of standing up for one’s principles, come what may…but in this instance, i have to say, i think paul’s counsel in Rom 13:13-14: 21 and 1Cor 10:23-33 should have received greater weight…while it may be lawful and right for me to say and do certain things, there is also the important consideration of the effect of my choices on others to factor in…whatever the intent, the optics of this ordination can only say to african delegates, and others who voted no in san antonio, that their scruples and concerns - their value - counts for nothing, and that only my own feelings and agenda matter…but is this at all part of the christ we all know, who gave all he had, and after giving all he had, gave himself for those who had no thought that they needed anything he had to offer…this kind of message, so thoroughly tone deaf, doesn’t invite thoughts of commonality and unity…it in fact invites feelings of discord and disunity…

there can be no question that women’s ordination is right, and that it is an obvious tool the holy spirit is calling for as we gear up for the latter rain…but is controversy and a distinct disdain for others the package it is meant to be presented in…is the end-time role of women, god’s crowning act of creation, meant to be mired in hopeless division and perpetual strife…i don’t think so…i think our best course, in view of the san antonio vote, is to tread softly, and to yield to our brothers and sisters who aren’t where we are yet…we should see their darkness and ignorance as our opportunity to serve and enlighten…and rather than grasping for what is lawfully ours, we should give god a chance to sort all of this out in his own time and way…but by acting proactively in a way we must know is provocative, are we giving god a chance to work in a way that brings the whole church on board…are we not sabotaging what for all we know could be an incredible, unprecedented and world-wide awakening, the signs for which we don’t yet see, but can feel on the edges of our collective consciousness…

i agree that this ordination isn’t a time for rejoicing, but of sadness as we look ahead…this celebration feels wrong…

It’s interesting that those who condone the ordination of women believe that now in this modern era the Holy Spirit will speak contrary to what He has already spoken through the Holy Scriptures. He is the Spirit of the God that changes not, and He has spoken to the church through the scriptures, the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints. This rebellion is nothing short of a continued full frontal attack on the authority of the scriptures. The scriptures do not allow women to be in positions of authority in the church, and yes a pastor has that authority.

Hi Spectrum, Any reason why my comment was taken down ?

Hi Jeremy,

I understand your perspective, but do not feel that Pr. Bev’s (she is children’s pastor to my daughters) ordination is intended to make any particular statement vis-a-vis women’s ordination in the wake of San Antonio. Rather, her ordination took place after an amount of time in ministry just as with any other pastor in the conference. I do not find it grasping, provocative, or tone deaf; it is merely a continuation of what has been the status quo in Southeastern California for many years.

We are not flouting our values to the exclusion of other’s concerns, but rather living our values to the best of our collective ability. What would be the proper actions to avoid being a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters who, as you say, “aren’t where we are yet”? Avoid ordaining women pastors? Perhaps elders too? Even un-ordaining those we already have? While we should always consider the feelings and scruples of others, they cannot be the determining factor when deciding local and regional courses of action. Those in northern latitudes, who feel that suit and tie is the proper attire for church attendance, should not dictate clothing standards for those in the tropics!



It is so wonderful to see that there is so much unity promoted in the SECC

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