North American Division Votes Response to Unity in Mission Document

If this is the price that he pays for following conscience then I know that God will still bless him and all the others who are courageously supporting the ordination of women. This has often been the case with many throughout history who decide to follow conscience instead of the faulty dictates of leadership.


Surely, the NAD have done the right thing in setting up a sub-committee to craft a thoughtful way forward.We do well not to move impulsively!

The “Unity in Mission” document has substantial merits and glaring deficiencies as were so ably pointed out by so many at the 2016 Annual Council. It needed to be rewritten before being voted. But we must deal with present reality.

The present reality is that we have seen no consequences flow from policy non-compliance with regard to the ordination of women since the 2015 GC Session. Also, it is certain that we shall see no consequences flow from this in the next 12 months either. We do well to chart a path forward.

I, for one favour a moratorium on ordination within the NAD until such times as our current conundrum is resolved!

Our current model of ordination is not preventing an almost inevitable drift toward institutionalization and clericalisation. Merely extending this model to become gender inclusive will not address this situation. The current situation has allowed the development of subtle, even sinful changes in attitudes and modes of operation which are best addressed by a studied renewal and re-formation.

In 2008, Harold Hill, a retired New Zealand Salvation Army Officer gave a lecture at the William Booth College in London, UK. It was entitled “The Language of Ordination: The Clericalising of the Salvation Army” in which he stated that “the process of institutionalisation and clericalisation in the church can be seen as a successful reconquest of the new community by the old structures of domination and power.” (p.4).

I fear that unless the global Adventist community of faith is willing to change course in its theology and practice of ordination, we too will fall into this same trap that Harold Hill has so eloquently said is happening in the Salvation Army.

While many Adventists in North America on both sides of the WO issue seem absolutely welded onto an old and brittle model of clericalising our leaders, some Adventist leaders in Europe have begun to think outside the square. These Europeans in Norway and at Friedensau, for example, have begun to create a new paradigm for our theology and practice of ordination. Such a new paradigm involves the adoption of a refined set of hermeneutical principles drawn from the Scriptures and in particular from the mission of God in our world. I refer people to the work of Bertil Wiklander, Jan Barna, Cristian Dumitrescu, Fernando Canale, Reimar Vetne and yours truly.

I believe that Adventists is some surprising places in the world field stand ready and willing to embrace this project. As far back as February 2014, I noted in a featured article on this blog site that the East-Central Africa Division Biblical Research Committee had pronounced that “[we] see no light in ordaining women under the current praxis of understanding and practicing ordination… and members are open and are urging further studies until the Church is convinced that ordaining under current modalities is biblical.” (ECD BRC to TOSC p.14).

What these scholars do not want is Adventists talking past each other in what they have described as a “dialogue of the deaf!” They have emphasized their need for more time to study and dialogue as they together with the rest of us ensure that our current modalities for ordaining are biblical. It will not do to deny them this wish by saying we have studied these issues for 45 years. Their opportunity to study these issues has only been five years in length. They flagged their request for more study and dialogue more than 18 months before the 2015 GC Session but few were listening.

I have it on good authority that some African leaders now believe that they voted incorrectly in 2015. All I say is that we should thank the Lord that we can deal constructively with the issues still unresolved, but only if we are prepared to move beyond the binary option at present on the table concerning women’s ordination.


Legend has it that on this day, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses which began the Protestant movement. Must I say anything else?

Rubicon has been crossed. May God lead us out of this mess our beloved leaders have created where instead of preaching the gospel to the world, they have embarked on preaching obedience to their word.


Sunday Christians (both males and females) will not accept a denomination where women are inferior. This will hinder the growth of the church.


I feel that if we are going to quckly recover our credibility as a church with an urgent end time message, we need to eliminate the GC or elect a female president. It seems that servant vs authoritarian leadership is a key component of our witness. Does 2 Corinthians chapter 6 speak of equality when it forbids being unequally yoked?


It is a sad, sad, day for the NAD to try to stack the deck for the WO issues. We have witnessed the strong arm authorities of black listing men of God who are witnessing through evangelism. Example of Florida Conference and Doug Batchelor. I have seen when those who do not support WO get marginalized during discussions before the vote by local conferences or union conferences. In the original situation when the issue of WO first came out, the Review and Herald article described the reaction of the women when the first vote was taken as shaking their fist in deep anger. When I read that reporter’s article, I wondered about the source of the spirit that influenced them.

A decision only befitting on the day it came out - A reformation day.
When the first great reformation (in centuries approx.14-16th) srtarted to wane, God raised Adventist pioneers only decade or two apart from the reformation movement which rejoined the RC Church. Once again I believe God raises people withing a church to continue the reformation - not to leave it, but to guide it in fulfilling the mission we received from our Lord Jesus Christ.

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~ “. . . in fulfillment of biblical principles . . .” ~

“Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” II Corinthians 3:6

Whenever God’s people finally ‘get it’ – ‘get’ the principle, the motivation, the ‘spirit’ behind the ‘Word’ of instruction – that’s when good, ‘lively’ things have happened. In Paul’s day, in the early days of ‘Jones and Waggoner’ when they took their understanding of ‘Biblical principles’ directly to the people in the SDA pews, and now hopefully today.

Jesus repeatedly pointed out that there is a very broad line between such ‘Spirituality’ and ‘anal-retentive’ hypocrisy.

“Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” ~Moses in Deuteronomy 10:16

Exciting times !


Are we seeing a replay of the American Revolution of 1776? First letters are sent to the King asking for fair treatment. The King ignores these requests and sends in occupying troops to enforce the edicts of the King. The people revolt and declare independence. Over time this same Kingdom loses all of its territories to independence movements and retreats back to the Kingdom’s original boundaries.

How differently would the United Kingdom be today if the above scenario had played out differently? The remaining vestige of the “Sun never sets on the British Empire” is Greenwich Mean Time.

I do not see the relationship of the GC to its varying divisions playing out much differently than that of the British Empire to its territories. There will always be that stronghold of the GC with the pomp and circumstance. Those of us beyond its borders will admire the Kingdom but will no longer be its subjects. We retain the heritage, customs and language. How preposterous would it be if the UK tried to trademark the English language and prevent its use by those not subjects of the kingdom?

Within America in 1776 there were tories, loyalists to the King, selling out their fellow citizens. Within our NAD what holds us back from a united front is our equivalent of tories. Loyalists to the crown, espousing headship theology. Headship theology is the capstone of a monolithic theology that is the result of proof texting. With a rapidly growing world church membership, the NAD will increasing become victim to taxation without representation. Independence would not be the desired goal but will be the inevitable result of the continued trajectory of the policies of the GC towards the NAD and other like minded divisions.


cdat, your entire comment is, simply… brilliant! Kudos


Maddy, this is absolutely not true that those against WO were “marginalized” at our meetings. Many people spoke against WO very passionately and respectfully. They were treated very respectfully; rude or disrespectful words were not said against them. In fact this was one of the most Christ like interactions from both camps that I have ever seen. Praise God!


Peter Marks has raised challenging points. They quickly lead to a little understood facet of this whole issue. There is a powerful interaction between (a) the Church’s policies on pastoral credentials, (b) the U.S. income tax code, and © church finances. The basic reality is that Church budgets are subsidized by tax breaks given to ministers. Part of a pastors’ net after-tax compensation is realized because they receive unique tax breaks. Thus we taxpayers subsidize the pastors and the Church. If those tax breaks were to be eliminated, pastors’ salaries would have to be increased to keep them financially whole. That would obviously lead to an increase in organizational operating expenses.

The tax code specifies that ministers must be either ordained or commissioned in order to receive the preferential tax benefits. You can quickly see that the Church in the U.S. would resist doing away with ordaining/commissioning because all the tax subsidies would be lost. Either pastors’ salaries would have to be increased to make up for the lost tax benefits, or the pastors would have to experience the loss personally.

The European unions that are doing innovative things with recognizing their pastors probably do not have to deal with this dynamic. Most European countries have a value added tax scheme.

The SDA Church has had a running game of cat-and-mouse with the IRS over this issue. The most recent iteration of this game has been about the commissioned credential. The IRS says that in order for a commissioned pastor to qualify for the ministerial tax breaks, his/her responsibilities and privileges have to be essentially the same as an ordained pastor. We know the GC has sought to limit the rights of commissioned pastors so that women can’t have the same responsibilities and rights as male pastors. This desire to limit the role of women pastors runs afoul of the IRS language. The GC has finessed this variance with a Rube Goldberg scheme of NAD approval of exceptions to the rules, So there is a tenuous relationship with the IRS over meeting the qualifications for ministerial tax breaks.

Sorry about this arcana. But our ordination practices in the U.S. have always been impacted by tax law. This is not only about theology. It is also an economic issue. Both pastors and Church receive financial benefits from compliance with tax code. It tends to limits our options on credentialing our pastors if we wish to retain the tax subsidies.

We’ll just have to bring about a change in Church policy!


Well done essay. From the start the General Conference Officers made a “management” and "policy"decision to require WORLD CHURCH support for a divisional request, a mistake since Neal Wilson’s leadership that now haunts us profoundly. Unbelievable.


I would be very careful, my friend, to use any “Rome” references, because the only reference to “Rome” would be to call something a “unity” from top down. When you put “biblical principles as expressed in the Fundamental Beliefs, voted actions, or working policies of the church” on the same level, then the Bible is no longer the highest authority, but it’s GC and its policies, like, for example, dividing blacks and whites. I would like to to remind you, that we are a protestant church and we have a right to protest every time we see something that’s put on the same level as the Bible or even above the Bible.


“we wish to once again publicly affirm our unwavering support and steadfast intent to realize the full equality of women in ministry, in fulfillment of biblical principles”

Well said!

Some posters here have suggested enough already and that those unions who think the GC is in error regarding WO just ought to leave and create a new SDA denomination that they feel erases those errors. That the NAD is making a mistake in forming a committee, taking more time, etc.

I disagree for the following reasons:

  1. Leaving the GC and forming a new SDA denomination would be extremely hard and damaging to the body of believers. For example, you can be a North America SDA and believe the GC is in error but also not support leaving the Church as it exists today. Divorces are always ugly with unintended consequences.

  2. Even if you do that, you’ll still need to determine what you (the new SDA denomination) supports. For example, it would obviously support women’s ordination. Would it support gay marriage? How about gay pastors? How about Biblical hermeneutics, or how we interpret discrepancies within the scripture? What role does Ellen White play into any new SDA Denomination? How would this church interpret any conflict with current science versus interpretation of the Bible in the creation story? Etc, etc. Can you imagine the arguments within a new SDA Denomination over these things? The point is that the new SDA denomination would have many more issues to grapple with, issues that are controversial with diverse opinions that would create serious conflict and the possibility of failure of the new denomination.

  3. One of the purposes of a committee is to grant time and space for thinking to coalesce. The vote in San Antonio did not go the way that the pro-WO folks wanted. But it was much closer than it was before. This vote by the NAD was 80% in favor in support of women’s rights. It would not have been that way 5 or 10 years ago. What happens over the next 12 months? Maybe the NAD, European, Australian, Chinese Divisions, etc., will go from 80% support to 95%. Maybe this will influence our brethren in South America and Africa to reconsider - maybe their wives will help them reconsider :slight_smile:. The point is that there is value in taking some time, a form of passive resistance that allows for turning the other cheek without responding in anger, but also in maintaining strength and solidarity for what is believed to be right and just.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Prov. 15:1


in 1529, in speyer, germany, and at what came to be known as the diet of spires, one of the most magnificent protests against religious power, known as the “protest of the princes”, took place…this protest is sometimes described as “the very essence of protestantism”, D’Aubigne, b.13, ch.6, in that it established the principle that “in matters of conscience the majority has no power”, Ibid., b.13, ch.5…this principle is one of the pillars of the american constitution, and is glowingly endorsed by our prophet, GC:197-210…

i feel so proud of NAD that they have united around principle, and successfully discerned the error of the san antonio vote, namely, that it failed to follow the “twin-track approach” modeled by our apostolic fore-bearers in the council of jerusalem, A Study of Church Governance and Unity:13…this moment is a truly bright spot in what has been a very dark time for our church…


My fellow SDA brothers and sisters, there are many members in the NAD such as myself that do not a prove of woman’s ordination.
What does the Bible say about woman preaching? There are many who desire woman to be pastors lately. There is even a push for it, a determined agenda to have woman pastors. Where does this agenda come from? Is this a bible truth (new light) that God is bringing from His word? Is it our culture and the times we live in? Is it a push for woman’s rights and equality? Which is it? God opened up the scriptures to the reformers and brought many present truths from the bible to His church that were lost during the Papal rule of the dark ages. Justification by faith, baptism by immersion, the bible and the bible alone without church tradition,Christ soon second coming, the sancuary, the 7th day sabbath, state of the dead. So is woman’s ordination present truth or something some of the brethren want? Here is want the Bible says about the woman in the church setting. 1 Timothy 2:12-14 KJV [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

Verse 12 The first argument, why it is not lawful for women to teach in the congregation, because by this means they would be placed above men, for they would be their masters: and this is against God’s ordinance. -Geneva Bible reformers notes.

Verse 14 The preceding verse showed why a woman should not " usurp authority over the man." this shows why she ought not " to teach." She is more easily deceived, and more easily deceives. - John Weasley’s Explanatory Notes

God through His servant Paul sets up church order, and gives the reason why a woman is not allowed to teach. Which would omit the authority to preach. This is not talking about teaching sabbath school to children, or even being a school teacher or witnessing. This is talking about a woman teaching grown men in the church meeting. A woman can pray or prophecy in the church. 1 Corinthians 11:5 KJV [5] But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. Which would biblically allow for a woman prophet to preach.(only because of the prophetic gift).

Ellen White said,
The people who obey God’s commandments are now the light of the world, the preserver of the Word of God in its purity, and they are elevating and exalting the law of God,—the only true, infallible standard of character in our world,—therefore every man and woman whom Heaven has intrusted with this most sacred truth are required to be active instruments to diffuse the light to others. The church who obeys God’s law is to send forth her sons as missionaries and preachers, and her daughters as teachers. PrT November 4, 1886 Par. 10}

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I am now taking a position of an outside observer, as if everything is new and I am just learning about it right now, right here. It is painful to read the exchanges, because it is painful to read a content that reminds me the Middle ages, or the Obscurantism. Sometimes I even think of the “stone age.”

I am seriously considering to call this issue a matter MENTAL HEALTH. Those who discriminate against women should verily have their heads examined. This is not a spiritual or Biblical issue. This is a PERSONALITY issue, an EGO trap, a malaise affecting way to many men in the Church.

I mean, people discussing about the value of women as if women were mere objects in the men’s hands. How low is this? And people in Church, people who should be spiritually sensitive and enlightened, people who should be examples to the “world” (whatever that means…) and a model in morality. But so many men just abandon all those values in favor of their own sick egos and distorted human values. This is just disgusting.

Waiting this article to be posted in the LOUNGE for further, deeper, serious discussion!
@elmer_cupino @andreas @ageis711Oxyain @harrpa @timteichman


The problem with NAD is a culture of political correctness sweeping across North America. Political correctness has become more important that the word of God and even merit (in the circular world). Since homosexually has become politically acceptable in North America, it is not unlikely that within a decade NAD will start fighting for gay rights.

The best way forward is for the world body to consider doing 2 things:

  1. Try not to elect any NAD person, president of the GC
  2. Consider the obvious and painful step of separation

In NAD the church is no longer setting the standard for the world but following. Even in trivial things like worship styles, you are more likely to see the church copying other denominations. If the church body does not solve this issue now, soon the Adventist church as we know it may no longer exist.

Another problem in NAD is a culture of lack of marriage and fatherlessness. Those who grew up fatherless and have only known motherly leadership, are likely to regard male leadership as obscene.


quote=“layperson, post:57, topic:12303”]
The day of worship was changed from Saturday to Sunday so that the church could easily convert certain people.

Check religious history of the first four centuries and more. The Christians began celebrating on the day of the Resurrection not long after the Jerusalem church and the non-Jewish ones separated. There was no need to change a worship day to convert people but by the end of the first century it became the day of worship for all Christians and had nothing to do with easy conversions. Even Adventist theologians have written of the early Christians meeting on the first day of the week, NOT on the seventh, which gradually became tradition (C. Mervyn Maxwell, Kenneth Strand).

Not until Constantine in the early fourth century accepted Christianity did it become the universal day for the entire church, which by that time was observed by all of Christianity. Following the temple’s destruction (70 A.D.) the Jerusalem church is lost to history. The gentile Christians were never instructed on any day for worship (Col. 2:16).