I support the public affirmation, blessing and consecration of Adventist women in leadership roles, within the Adventist movement, wherever world divisions freely choose this for themselves. This is what may be called the A, B, C’s of Adventist leadership. Each of the world Divisions is at a different place concerning the ordination of women. In many regions of the world it would greatly assist the mission and ministry of believers. In others it would not.
The “Consensus Statement on an Adventist Theology of Ordination” suggests nothing that would prohibit the appointment of Adventist women as pastoral leaders. Further, it explicitly states the fact that “while ordination contributes to church order, it neither conveys special qualities to the persons ordained nor introduces a kingly hierarchy within the faith community.”
On the contrary, headship theology as it is currently advanced in Adventist circles, seeks to impart special qualities to the ordained. This may be acceptable in other faith communities that adhere to a sacramental theology.
In such faith communities ordained persons are regarded as a reverend clergy class, distinct from the people of God. Some in this clergy class even wear a ring symbolizing the fact that they are husbands and heads of the bride of Christ.
Adventists, on the other hand, acknowledge only one bridegroom and head, Christ, with only one body. We are not divided between the so-called clergy and the rest – the laity. We all are part of the “laos,” though some are gifted with leadership gifts to lead.
Appointing people as Adventist leaders is not about a “woman’s right” to serve in pastoral leadership. Nor is it about a “man’s right” to be head of a whole congregation - whatever that may mean! Rather it is about “God’s right” to gift whoever he wishes for leadership. And if God’s calling is enfolded in his gifting who are we to resist His will in this regard.
Places as diverse as Africa, Asia and Europe have explicitly and pointedly called on Adventists to recognize the need for cultural sensitivity as we design and implement rites created to publicly affirm, bless, and consecrate Adventist leaders of both genders.
Let us then, all move creatively and boldly into God’s future, empowered by his Spirit.
My support for the affirmation, blessing and consecration of Adventist leaders, whoever they be, is firstly about “God’s right” to gift whoever He wishes for leadership. It is not about a “woman’s right” to lead, or indeed about a “man’s right” to be head of a congregation or an ecclesial organization – such things being not being anywhere near the full picture.
We thus easily become muddleheaded when equity, justice and discrimination are top of mind as we consider these issues. The issues are first and foremost missional and charismatic in nature.
May God grant leaders within the Advent movement the gift of discernment to discern God’s will for the whole people of God!!