North Pacific Union Conference Affirms Women Leaders while Canceling Ordination Constituency Meeting

News broke this afternoon that the North Pacific Union Conference voted to rescind its current plan to hold a special constituency session on women's ordination. The following release was published in the Gleaner, the NPUC's official magazine:

In its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, August 19, the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee voted 26-4 on the following motion:

“We do not believe that convening a special constituency meeting about the ordination of women as pastors would be productive at this time for the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC). Therefore, we rescind our earlier action, (agenda item #43-14).”

The previous action on November 12, 2014, had called for such a session to convene within 120 days after the fall 2015 North American Division year-end meetings. By constitutional mandate the motion to rescind required a two-thirds majority of the voting delegates present.

In this week’s action, however, the NPUC executive committee members made it clear that their decision should not be construed as a lack of support for women in pastoral ministry throughout the Northwest and beyond. An additional motion passed by the committee stresses their belief in the priesthood of all believers and a clear intention to foster increased opportunities for women in pastoral and leadership roles within the NPUC.

That motion was worded as follows:

“We wish to acknowledge that the support in the NPUC for women in professional and lay ministry is very strong and to state the following shared convictions:

-We affirm Christ as the sole Head of the church and the priesthood of all believers

-We affirm the appropriateness and value of women serving as elders in local congregations

-We affirm the appropriateness and value of women serving as pastors and in other professional leadership roles within the church

-In line with the majority of members of the recent North American Division (NAD) Ordination Study Committee and the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee, we believe that there is no biblical or theological barrier to the ordination of women for professional ministry

-We commit ourselves, in line with the current NAD strategic plan, to grow the number of women in professional ministry and to value, affirm and foster their leadership gifts. Our constituency will expect this commitment to be judged by actions and we look forward to reporting on progress at the constituency meeting scheduled for September 25, 2016.”

-The discussion of these topics filled much of the committee's afternoon agenda. There was great diversity of opinion expressed in comments by committee members. The discussion was robust yet respectful, and representative of varied concerns throughout the Northwest.

Max Torkelsen, NPUC president, says union leadership will follow this directive from the committee and seek to make measurable progress toward fostering opportunities for women leaders in all levels of church mission and ministry.

 

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7039

The tortoise won today, not the hare!

The Adventist system of appointment to leadership will be the winner!!

Adventists have yet to work with the Spirit in a studied revival and reformation movement to devise a system of appointment to Adventist leadership that is part of a more dynamic and Spirit-led model of mission and ministry. Such a model of mission and ministry will dispense explicitly with both hierarchy and headship theology. Such ideas are not biblical but they rise or fall together.

The cause of women in ministry has gained considerably in the past several months.

  1. With 41% of the GC delegates voting in favour of the proposed option to adopt a permissive policy regarding the ordination of women, it is evident that discussion concerning this matter can’t be stopped.
  2. The present GC Working Policy position regarding commissioned female pastors and ordained female elders was reaffirmed by Ted Wilson no less. Though many in the world field may misunderstand this, the current policy platform will trickle through to the grassroots.
  3. The full incorporation of women into Adventist leadership is best to arise from a grass-roots movement and such a movement will coalesce around more mature theologies of Adventist leadership and of appointment to Adventist leadership than we currently possess. This will involve consensus building, locally and globally. It is unwise to anticipate that this will happen according to some hierarchical dictat, whether from the GC or from any union.
  4. A major by product of headship theology is ecclesiastical hierarchy. The only thing that will defeat such an hierarchical tendancy toward institutionalism and clericalization among Adventists is the development of more mature theologies of Adventist leadership and of appointment to Adventist leadership.

May God grant us wisdom, discernment and the patience of the saints.

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So, there were four dissenting voters who were prepared to man up or woman up and push for what they believe in, and 26 others who folded under the pressure, under the guise of it not being productive at this time.

So, who is going to take the lead. Are they looking for another union to take the heat, and then to reap the benefits from other people’s labors.

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They have been following the guidance of their constituent delegates and continue to do so.

They may continue to ordain women as pastors or they may not. Clearly they don’t need to get any approval from any organization outside their own to do so and they apparently don’t feel there is a need for internal formal public discussion either.

It will be interesting to see what happens next.

It will be more interesting to see what happens in the other UC’s that subcontract work to the NAD of the GC.

/Bevin

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Whether this decision has a positive impact on the NPUC and its women in ministry remains to be seen. But, in the meantime, the delay will continue for frustrate and disappoint women ministering in the NPUC - whether they are in training, ending their careers, or somewhere in between. While the organization “wanders in the wilderness” God will continue to call women in ministry, and the blessings will be seen in the work they do in their congregations and communities - in their teaching, preaching, baptizing, marrying, burying, playing, loving, and pastoring. It is for these reasons that the push for equal ministry will continue.

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I am sorry for that leadership (??) at NPUC. Now they are behaving like little kids who don’t know what to choose. They can either affirm women, or dis-affirm them. But they cannot have it both ways.

However, they are telling us that they do have it both ways.
I call it backbonelessness and hypocrisy.

The best we can do now is to focus on our local churches and help them to advance. It is now more than evident that the GC’s major focus is on politics, power, and control. It’s mind boggling that they do not realize how irrelevant that agency actually is to any local church. But they will do whatever is possible to make sure that the money keeps pouring upstairs…

It is so sad that our Denomination will keep classified as “discriminatory, not yet punished by society or by the law.” Not yet!

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One more blow for women in ministry. Who cares how they feel? Who’s ministering to them? Who’s counterbalancing the darts of “you are not acceptable” and the acrimonious sting of hate speech toward women they heard from the floor of the GC in San Antonio. They are stunned with the UNbrotherly love from some calloused people. Who is ministering to these women just now?

I get the sense that the President of the very organization they work for considers them a heavy yoke around the neck.

This is a good week to show appreciation to our women pastors. You don’t hear them complaining or saying a word. But they are hurting. Pray for our women pastors everywhere.

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The worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church has become irrelevant as never before. The power struggles forced unto the unions by the GC with theologically and administratively weak arguments are continuing to do their destructive work. The only space remaining to spread the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit appears to be the local church. And even there … you certainly wish nobody would google “Seventh-day Adventist”.
While I have full understanding for the NPUC’s decision, and it may even be a wise move, it simply confirms that the SDA church is transforming more and more into a papal system. For an Adventist in the protestant heritage this is alarming, to say the least … or simply irrelevant.

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You forget that the GC is above the unions in both representation and authority. Legal structures matter not so much as the Biblical principles. Decisions made at a GC session involve representatives from all over the world. The GC is only enforcing the decisions made by the “World Church”. It is manoeuvering by the Unions, the NAD and in general proponents of WO who are using legal loopholes and any other method to push their way through. Not dissimilar to the push for same-sex marriage in Australia at the moment. It’s doubtful if the majority want it but those in power are going to push it onto everyone anyway. Democratically if possible, undemocratically if need be.

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If there is one constant in Adventist denominational leadership in America, it is that they will almost always take the path of least resistance. From my experience, the majority are simply waiting for their retirement plans to kick in.

You can tell this is the case here, where the only reason given for not having the meeting is because it “wouldn’t be productive at this time.” The rest of the statement seems to affirm women in ministry.

This was not a decision borne of courage but rather of cowardice. Women won’t be ordained but the NPUC will give them a nice pat on the head.

The Pacific Union will follow suit as the leadership there is even less motivated and courageous to take on the GC.

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I don’t recall Jesus being too concerned with authoritarian figures or organisational structures nor EGW for that matter.

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another toward Congregationalist. Let each church decide WO and tithe. certainly there is more that enough need locally to use offerings and tithe. cash flow is clearly understood even among men of the cloth. Tom Z

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“You forget that the GC is above the unions in both representation and authority”

I’m not sure your statement is correct. Here is the way I understand the structure of the Adventist Church.

The union is more representative of the church members in their jurisdiction.
We are a grassroots church. We have presented ourselves this way in numerous books, pamphlets and videos
. The local church delegates elect their local conference leaders, the local conference members elect their union administrators.
The GC administrators are elected by all of the members of all of the unions.
The Divisions are branches of the GC.
If the local church in which a church administrator has his membership were to decide to disfellowship him or her, that administrator would be done, el fin!

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We are witnessing a Protestant Reformation within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. North Pacific Union Conference has driven by figurative nail its theses onto the front door of the GC building in Silver Spring. I do not know if Paul III felt the sting of Martin Luther’s rebuke. I do not know if Ted Wilson feels the sting of NPUC’s rebuke.

As Elder Wilson made clear in his statement in San Antonio, we all know what he believes. His theology has provoked NPUC to declare in protest that Christ is the “sole Head of the church.” His theology has elicited NPUC to affirm in protest “the priesthood of all believers.” All of us must protest that Elder Wilson and his like-minded colleagues have embraced an Antichrist theology–male headship theology–which expressly diminishes Jesus as God, Creator, Lord, Savior, High Priest, and Head of the church.

Elder Wilson’s conduct has been consistent with the role he has chosen to play in this drama. He sought to compel NPUC to act against its personal conscience, to act contrary to its interpretation of the Word of God. Despite NPUC’s sincerely-held belief that “there is no biblical or theological barrier to the ordination of women for professional ministry,” Elder Wilson in essence ordered NPUC to fully surrender to the authority of what he perceives to be Seventh-day Adventist Church law. NPUC is to be applauded for maintaining its sovereignty regarding the issue of ordination, as indicated by the reason articulated for not proceeding with the special constituency meeting.

History records that the Protestant Reformation lasted for about 200 years. But in reality the Protestant Reformation has never come to an end. The Seventh-day Adventist Church has not quite fully extricated itself from the theology and ecclesiastical practices of its mother. Toward that end we should persevere.

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@phil
I “like” this. Can’t click heart for some reason.

I know that sometimes Jesus refrained from doing good things because it would cut short His ministry. On the other hand we need to walk the walk we talk. As James says, So speak and so DO as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. Friends it is time to liberate our whole team to do the work God has called each of us to do.

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Considering Jackson’s hands have been only momentarily untied in order to nail GC documents throughout his North American Division, sounds like the Great Adventist Reformation might have just found its best Luther.

It’s perhaps helpful to recall that Luther didn’t “reform” the Catholic church.

He left it.

Was it possible to reform the authoritarian Catholic church then?

Is it possible to reform the authoritarian Adventist church now?

Does anyone think it is a realistic possibility to change the authoritarian genetic substrate laid down in Adventism by Ellen G. White, aka, “The Spirit of Prophecy,” and especially now that Adventism has demonstrably fallen prey to outside influence which reinforces that authoritarian predisposition?

Remember the Vietnam-era rationalization, “We had to destroy the village to save it.”

Ordination Truth:

In subsequent generations, following this divine design of headship, husbands occupied similar leadership roles.

Ellen White writes, “In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own family, and he exercised authority over his children. . . . His descendants were taught to look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters."

The importance of this statement should not be underestimated.

Here she designates the father of the family as the “head in both religious and secular matters,” which forms the basis for the New Testament model of the male spiritual leader in the church, the spiritual family.

Abraham, representative of God’s truth and father of true believers, followed this divine pattern.

Ellen White adds, “This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of God.”

Stressing the divine origin of this system, she continues, “It was a wise arrangement, which God Himself had made, to cut off His people, so far as possible, from connection with the heathen.”

From this quotation, one can conclude that the system of patriarchy as implemented by Abraham, the father of believers, was not a curse as many today want us to believe, but was intended to be a blessing that would protect God’s people against idolatry and apostasy so that “the true faith might be preserved in its purity by his descendants from generation to generation.”

On the historical development of headship/leadership Ellen White comments, “In the beginning the head of each family was considered ruler and priest of his own household.

Afterward, as the race multiplied upon the earth, men of divine appointment performed this solemn worship of sacrifice for the people.”

http://ordinationtruth.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/appeal_re_unique_Headship_of_Christ_doc-Final.pdf

I hope you all truly appreciate what you’re up against here.

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Cassie,

Thanks for this post. The struggle over WO was just gearing up 30 years ago when I left the church. Male headship was more or less an accepted fact, and I remember well the quotes used to justify it.

Society has made significant strides in the last 30 years in regards to women’s rights and equality. The SDA church, as an institution has barely budged. I attribute the seemingly new emphasis on male headship being due in some part to outside influences such as tne extremely conservative fundamentalism we currently see driving the far right wing of the republican party, but if we are honest, it has always been there in the church.

This will only change when and if the leadership of the church moves away from the 19th century worldview of its founder and erstwhile prophet, EGW. I see schism happening long before that. Good luck.

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I agree with Brian. I am 50 and grew up in large, “liberal” SDA churches so I was sheltered from the more extreme part of Adventism. Still, male headship was certainly a part of my upbringing, even if a debated one. I remember attending a college class and hearing how of course the husband is the head of the wife and seeing heads nodding all around me.

I find it interesting that even now the problems brought up when discussing male headship theology are about the status of Christ, not the status of the husband. When people on here were celebrating the statement put out by the seminary regarding WO, they seemed to overlook the statement affirming headship in the family.

SDAs might not have bought into the full headship package as marketed by neo-Calvinists, but the idea that men and women have different spiritual roles decided solely by gender and that the husband is the head of the household is very much a part of SDA theology in my experience. I think this makes it easier for pro-headship people to justify headship in the church as well.

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