North American Division Proposes Way Forward Over Women’s Ordination Issue

When last they met in February, General Conference President Ted Wilson suggested to the North American Division officers and its union conference presidents that they propose a way forward on women’s ordination, given their ongoing disagreement over the issue. The General Conference maintains that the two unions in the NAD whose constituencies have voted to ordain women are out of compliance with the General Conference, because of votes taken during General Conference sessions. The unions counter that the votes did not alter the General Conference Working Policy that designates them as the level of the church tasked with handling ordination.

North American Division President Dan Jackson prepared a letter outlining a possible way forward, after recent dialog with the NAD officers and union conference presidents, that was voted and the letter was sent to Elder Wilson.

Because there is ongoing conversation with the General Conference about the letter, it has not been officially released, according to Dan Weber, communication director for the North American Division.

However, other people who have reviewed the document say that it acknowledges that for many NAD church members women’s ordination is an important matter of conscience. But the letter also accepts that the unions are out of policy and then goes so far as to suggest possible punitive actions against the unions that the NAD might be willing to accept. Until/unless the votes taken by the two union constituencies are reversed, the letter suggests:

1. The General Conference Executive Committee members (specifically the presidents) from the CUC and PUC would not serve in leadership roles on GC subcommittees, although they would still retain voice and vote on those subcommittees and in the Executive Committee.

2. The ordinations of women from the two unions would not be recognized outside of the CUC and PUC.

3. As part of their core auditing of conferences and unions, General Conference Auditing Services (GCAS) would check for policy compliance on women’s ordination.

One possible reason these actions are included in the letter, might be because one of the General Conference participants in the February conversation reportedly said that the way forward needed to include some “painful” elements. Those who have read the letter, say that it does request that in lieu of any of these punishments there be the spirit of “godly forbearance.”

For NAD church members, the letter prompts a number of questions. Are these three modest proposals simply symbolic acquiescence by the NAD to the General Conference? Or, does the letter sell out the unions by agreeing that they are out of compliance with policy and give away the stand that the two union constituencies voted? Other questions generated by the letter might begin with whether or not any of the conferences that have ordained women were consulted? Should the document have been presented to the entire North American Division Committee, as were some earlier documents about women’s ordination in years past? How will this letter affect the conversation that the union conferences have set up for June in London? But, most significantly, will the letter be received by Elder Wilson and the General Conference with the “spirit of godly forbearance”?

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7953

This is deeply troubling in that it seems to “admit” that ordaining women to their calling by the Holy Spirit deserves punitive action.

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I’m okay with a minor battle loss in the midst of an effort to win a war.

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“The angels of glory find their joy in giving,–giving love and tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen and unholy. Heavenly beings woo the hearts of men; they bring to this dark world light from the courts above; by gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human spirit, to bring the lost into a fellowship with Christ which is even closer than they themselves can know.”

Is this not a picture of true ministry? And cannot women do this as well as men? Can you imagine angels in heaven saying they are more elite than other angels and they will be the ones who are in charge of everything?

“But turning from all lesser representations, we behold God in Jesus. Looking unto Jesus we see that it is the glory of our God to give. “I do nothing of Myself,” said Christ; “the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father.” “I seek not Mine own glory,” but the glory of Him that sent Me. John 8:28; 6:57; 8:50; 7:18. In these words is set forth the great principle which is the law of life for the universe.”

And yet we have leaders who feel they should control a part of the church, forcing their ideas against the conscience of others. It’s sad to see that those who should be servant leaders want to control who can serve God the best and how.

“In heaven itself this law was broken. Sin originated in self-seeking. Lucifer, the covering cherub, desired to be first in heaven. He sought to gain control of heavenly beings, to draw them away from their Creator, and to win their homage to himself. Therefore he misrepresented God, attributing to Him the desire for self-exaltation.”

Some of our leaders preach against the mark of the beast while they exalt themselves and use their beast-like power over others. How long will God bear with these leaders? Perhaps they will soon see the handwriting on the wall…

“The earth was dark through misapprehension of God. That the gloomy shadows might be lightened, that the world might be brought back to God, Satan’s deceptive power was to be broken. This could not be done by force. The exercise of force is contrary to the principles of God’s government; He desires only the service of love; and love cannot be commanded; it cannot be won by force or authority. Only by love is love awakened.”

This is how we can know if our leaders are serving God or self.

“To know God is to love Him; His character must be manifested in contrast to the character of Satan. This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known.”

And whether they do or not, we have this hope and knowledge that no man can hold back the dawn:

"Upon the world’s dark night the Sun of Righteousness must rise, “with healing in His wings.”

All words in italics from The Desire of Ages, p. 19-22

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If we see that God has called her to minister. And she is serving, she should be ordained or commissioned. It is wrong to punish anyone who is serving in the capacity to which God has called them. That would be punishing them for serving God. And, therefore, to punish would be the opposite of what God would do. I think that Ted Wilson is misguided. To punish anyone who is following God’s plan for their life is serving Satan.
What would we do if an Ellen White is in our midst and we punish the spirit out of her. Shame on the punisher, and shame on all of us for letting it happen.

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Is it April Fools Day? I find this so unbelievable I had to ask myself if it was a joke. It is demeaning and discriminatory. If Elder Jackson is actually in favor of and supportive of this, I’m deeply disappointed and surprised. This will never lead to more unity/harmony and will only cause more serious injury to the church I love (5th generation SDA). My expectation is that it will only cause further alienation of Adventists in the Pacific Union.

Someday, should this world continue, Adventists will look back on this as one of the great tragedies and mistakes of the church. That is if the church has not split over it.

Maybe this is what will cause the church to appear as though it is about to fall. Fall over grievous human pettiness and a desire for kingly powers to seek control which is not rightly theirs.

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I) would consider it an unacceptable solution as well. None of the points are reasonable. To remove the Unions from leadership roles in subcommittees presumes that “the Pro-WO heresy” will spread if they are recognized as full contributors? Bad idea. It still operates as if this were 'rebellion, and not conscience.

  1. Non-transferable credentialing also is a bad idea. It would mean that going to another Union who chooses to ordain women would have to ordain again… Again… it’s a an attempt to “crush the pro-WO heresy.” You’d need to continue to make this a local decision, in whatever church they go too.

  2. And this GC “audit control”… What’s that all about? "You’ve been bad children, henceforth we won’t trust you in the future…?

This whole proposal “stinks” to high heavens… Much as I hate to see a denominational split… The growing healthy churches are moving forward with women in leadership. Those that are dwindling and dying… are waiting for the GC and world church to come down hard on the healthier churches.

If it came to a representative constituent vote on something like this, I would vote NO! And I would pray that our leadership has more backbone than this.

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This is making me very angry. I may do something I might reject years down the road. But my patience is growing thin with these people … especially Judas Jackson.

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Sad, but this is true.

“It is time for us to seek again the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Man’s lordship has cost us too much. Man’s intrusive will has introduced such a multiplicity of unspiritual ways and unscriptural activities as positively to threaten the life of the Church. These divert annually millions of dollars from the true work of God and waste Christian man-hours in such vast numbers as to be heartbreaking.”

  • A.W. Tozer, The Divine Conquest
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It is difficult to discuss a document that is not and is not intended to be published. Apparently the ongoing negotiations are meant to test the waters. That is a diplomatic way, appropriate for organizational systems. It doesn’t strike as very theological, nor is it intended to be - in all likelyhood.

Taking point 1 and 2 at face value suggests to me that we are moving more and more towards regional church structures, with less significance of the overarching “General Conference” - a development you will find in ALL other Christian churches - with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church. From my understanding the current positions of the North German Union Conference and Scandinavian Unions is similar - in that there is no expectation that their way of setting aside pastors is recognized outside their territory - they are looking for solutions that work for the context in which they are and do not assume any authority beyond.

In fact, @juanmontegoflorida the German model suggests repeated blessing on the basis of new positions and assignments - quite intentionally. This is a model that to me reflects New Testament practice more than the status providing, once and for all ordination ceremony. (But yes - that is why the discussion is not about women only, but about our understanding of ordination - for lack of a better word).

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‘Revival’ and ‘Reformation’. Perhaps the Revival and Reformation along with the ‘Former’ and ‘Latter Rain’ are ongoing focuses of the SDA church considered among our primary commissions as ‘New Light’ concepts which the ‘church’ so frequently refers to but, in my opinion, seldom clearly defines for this time is really at bottom line liberation; liberty for this generation, removing the ‘shackles from the mind’ of the limiting traditions of the past. Maybe the ‘New’ Light is not at all new but a call to reflect carefully on the abuses of the past.
A universal reality from creation is that all ‘humanity’ is ‘gendered’, (with some at times questioning and changing or are attempting to change). Humanities original fall (sin, separation from God) caused not only the separation between Divinity and Humanity but a division within gendered humanity causing a hierarchy, producing misguided inequality resulting in patriarchal societies that have abused and exploited gender inequality down through all generations of earth’s history.

Because of the historical, antediluvian biblical narrative, we have always assigned the masculine gender to the Godhead. The bible tells us we were created in ‘GOD’S‘-‘HIS’- ‘THEIR’ image; male and female, created ‘THEY’, them. As the Godhead is ‘ONE’, humanity-male and female in intimate union is declared by God as ‘one’ or ‘whole’- ‘complete’. If male and female are created in the ‘image of God which of the Godhead is feminine; one of them; all three, or as God, (plural), are they capable of morphing; both? We are created in ‘THEIR’ image. Are the members of the Godhead in a hierarchy or are the co-equals?
GOD THE FATHER - GOD THE MOTHER
GOD THE SON- GOD THE DAUGHTER
God set parameters for Adam and Eve following their fall, but was God declaration of ‘Adam’s ruling over Eve’ only for them or for all of humanities gendered relations? We surely have interrupted down through the ages it to mean all of humanity. Have we gotten it wrong all these years? Maybe it is our responsibility in the enlightened 21st Century to get it right.

I have stated this before and I’ll state it again, maybe, just maybe this is one of the things our Heavenly Father and our Lord and Savior in consultation with the Holy Spirit is waiting for us to get right before He/She/They decides to send His Son to bring us all home. From their perspective, I believe They may be thinking there is not a bigger issue for us as humans to overcome than gender inequality which we have continued to exploit throughout earth’s history. Our focus has been so riveted on certain identified categories of individual ‘sins’ that we neglect larger, universal justice responsibilities, of which gender inequality and exploitation falls under and that is a sin of both society and of the church. Yes the issue of women’s ordination comes back to this fundamental flaw and continued exploitation in spite of all attempts at justification.
‘MALE HEADSHIP’ with all its historical, religious, and cultural, ramifications is dead. It’s time to give patriarchy a well-deserved burial. It lived a long life but was old, tired, set-in- it’s-ways, cranky, obnoxious, irritating, limiting, and abusive, suffering from Alzheimer’s, and fraught with a malignant debilitating terminal cancer with no cure. It has no productive use in a 21st Century world. We have all been exposed to it, but one has choices. We can choose to ignore the symptoms and let it infect us and be buried with it, or choose the corrective vaccinations/surgery/treatments of progressive thought and action to cure, live, and grow.

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That’s making an assumption that it is the Holy Spirit which calls someone to defy the will of the body, rather than another spirit.

I sure that what Ron intended to say was “hopefully the NAD and the rebellious unions will yet repent.” For it’s not the GC which is out of harmony with the will of the body, but certain rebellious entities, mainly in North America and Europe.

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If indeed the “general conference in session is the voice of God on earth” then this push for female ordination is rebellion against God Himself. It is time Elder Wilson cleanses the Church.
If those in rebellion against the Holy Spirit do not have the decency to leave and take their heretical views and conduct elsewhere then they should be removed( by force if necessary)

If one understands Scripture correctly one knows just as Christ is subordinate to the Father so also is the woman to the man.

What we have unfolding in the SDA church today and in other denominations as well is the ultimate fruits of the heresey of Trinitarianism.

Ralph T

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Here is a brutal blatant fact:

The United Methodist Church voted to ordain women pastors in 1956.

In the interim they have converted huge numbers of African members who would block this move if it came to a vote today.

We have the same problem in Adventism!

The Trans European Divison of Adventism comprises twenty two countries.
The vast majority of these countries have elected a female head of state, either a prime minister or president. Some of these countries have had women heads of state several times over.

There are FIFTY FOUR nations on the African continent.
You can count on the fingers of one hand, those who have had an African woman as the head of state, and often she has been an " interum " or acting "
head of state.

Please do not label me a racist when I draw the obvious conclusion:
Europeans are much more comfortable than Africans with female authority figures.

Ted Wilson does not need to coax, cajole, nor coerce African Adventists into supporting his heinous, heretical “headship” dogma, they are already in his camp, due to their cultural heritage!

The African members will always block women’s ordination, not on a biblical basis, but on a cultural heritage basis.

So the Western divisions, NAD, Trans European, Australian Divison need to move forward separately on this issue.

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I am astonished, appalled and dismayed. I feel betrayed. Has there not been substantial validated evidence showing the unions are not out of policy? (Gary Patterson documents, etc) How is it then that this purported letter from Elder Jackson “accepts that the unions are out of policy?” Why does there need to be “some ‘painful’ elements” if there is no violation of policy? Does Elder Jackson now believe that policy has been violate? Why? There is something abjectly and morally wrong in offering up some token punishment in an effort to appease the powers that be when there has been no true violation of policy.

If the ordination issue is a matter of conscience how can the unions who voted their conscience continue membership in an organization that dismisses their conscience-driven conclusions as deserving of punishment? How can women who have been called-of-God-and-not-man remain in such an organization? How can those whose conscience is violated continue to support such an organization with their tithes?

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The games men play! Let each congregation ordain its own. Keep the tithe and do its own benevolence. Send its own missionaries and be done with it. The church now has a manwhofights over recent and gender. Christ established Hi s Church to. Proclaim His finishe d work and coming Kingdom. even the rocks woul d cry out.

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You said it. Thanks. There’s more to come.

Can we trust the men in charge (and they are all men) to make the right decision with regard to ordinational equality?

The church members in the NAD long for excellence but the leadership is reduced to being boring and milquetoast and afraid to take risks because their pensions must vest Not something people want to be a part of. The definition of the Laodicean condition.

At the judgment Christ will tell them, “Well done. You participated to some degree of the church life and managed to keep your job until you retired. You didn’t do much, but I didn’t expect anything more.”

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The three suggested actions are almost comical. They basically suggest that the rebellious unions and conferences simply be left alone. Like a child suggesting what punishment they should receive. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

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Brethren , Let us pray for our church and it’s leadership. I hear the voice of the enemy ,urging upon us to split the church. Some so strong willed , want their way even if it causes a split . That is not the Spirit of Christ .We can talk around the issue , or talk directly to the issue. We are not Congregationalist . We are Denominationalist .The success of our church is because of this organizational structure. Otherwise, at every split, people would remove their property and money from the church and move down the street and open up another church. Yes , Decision have been made that some are unhappy with , but the spirit with which we are attempting to address this issue is far from that of Christ . Calling our leaders names is un called for. Insinuating motives to peoples actions , is also not right . In the fullness of time, God sent forth His son. So there is a time for this matter to be address .It would be a great lost if PUC and CUC pulled away from NAD.I want you to stay , but if you must go ,we will pray for your soon return. 2015, The Church spoke on this issue. This issue will come to a head. God is not sleeping. Just wondering ,what side will you be standing on when the ground opens up ?

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