In response to the July vote of the General Conference session, denying divisions the right to decide whether or not to ordain women to the pastoral ministry, nine professors at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary of Andrews University have requested to have their ordination credentials replaced with commissioned ministers’ credentials, the same credential given to women, according to Jiri Moskala, dean of the Seminary.
He said that individually, each professor wrote to G.T. Ng, the secretary of the General Conference making this request. Andrews University is a General Conference Institution, so the credentials for its employees are handled by the General Conference. Current credentials expire at the end of December 2015, and the professors have requested that the credentialing committee issue them the commissioned credentials at that time.
The reasons given in their letters are varied and reflect the many facets of this long and protracted discussion in the Church, Moskala noted. Some professors object to ordination being perceived as a step within a hierarchical church structure based on male headship, calling headship a false doctrine that undermines collegial and community decision-making processes in the church.
While the professors have informed the Dean of their actions, he is not identifying their names. He says the professors perceive the current practice of ordination as a form of sacramental empowerment that requires male gender, rather than the blessing for gender-inclusive spiritual gifting that Adventism has always taught.
Some note that biblical texts used to oppose women’s ordination were never used by Ellen White to restrict women serving in ministry. Others point out that ordination is a church policy, not a fundamental belief of the Church, as it seems to have become. For them, this request is a matter of conscience and integrity and arises out of a deep sense of injustice and unfairness done to women colleagues who also serve in ministry.
Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.
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