Pacific Union Conference Votes in Favor of Divisions Deciding Ordination Policies

(system) #1

A news release on the Pacific Union Conference website puts the union on record in favor of allowing divisions to proceed with the ordination of women. The Pacific Union Conference has long led the move toward ordination equality within the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In September of 2012, union executive committee members approved fourteen female candidates for ordination.

Union executive committee members approved a "Statement on Unity Through Diversity" that, according to union president Ricardo Graham, supports the actions voted this fall at the General Conference Annual Council and the North American Division Year End Meeting and affirms the reports of the NAD Ordination Study Committee and the GC Theology of Ordination Study Committee. The statement indicates the Pacific Union Conference's support of a vote at the 2015 General Conference Session to authorize each division of the church to develop and practice its own policies on women’s ordination.

The release quoted Elder Graham as saying, “We all need to focus on preaching the good news of salvation and serving the people in our communities. Our committee believes the best way to do that on a global basis is the way the early church did it: by endorsing different ministry methods in different parts of the world (Acts 15), and trusting church members and leaders to follow the leading of God as they develop effective ministry methods.”

The statement, as voted and approved by the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee follows in its entirety:

Statement on Unity Through Diversity

Whereas many members and leaders in the Pacific Union Conference:

Believe the Bible supports the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, while others do not.

Whereas some local conferences in the Pacific Union Conference:

Have ordained women to pastoral ministry, while others have not.

Whereas Acts 15 records that:

When faced with this kind of conflict while the apostles were still living, the church preserved unity for mission by establishing different practices for different peoples.

Whereas the North American Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee agreed that:

Seventh-day Adventists can disagree on women’s ordination and still have a “thorough commitment to the full authority of Scripture”[1] and, by implication, live together in the same church in unity.

Whereas the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee voted:

“To affirm that in spite of the differences of opinion on the subject of women’s ordination, the members of the theology of ordination study committee are committed to the message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist church, as expressed through the 28 Fundamental Beliefs.”

Whereas the 2014 GC Annual Council action [2]:

1. Indicated that the issue of women’s ordination is not an issue on which the church has been able to reach consensus and it doesn’t “directly involve fundamental beliefs,” and

2. Voted to put before the delegates in 2015 the question of whether each division should be authorized to determine its own policies on the ordination of women to ministry.

Whereas the NAD Year End Meeting voted a resolution to:

“Encourage expressions of disagreement that are honest and open, based upon a sincere desire to arrive at truth as expressed in Scripture and the Spirit of Prophecy,” but “ to avoid participating in, or being party to, all forms of unhealthy and demeaning discourse, [and] to govern our communication according to the high standards of Christian conduct ... so that God may be glorified in all we say and do.”

Whereas we are all committed to the same mission of proclaiming the three angels’ messages, and

Whereas we are unified in our commitment to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs of the church, and

Whereas Ellen White commented that:

“In the different branches of this great work, as in the branches of the vine, there is to be unity in diversity. This is God’s plan, the principle which runs through the entire universe.”[3]

Therefore: The Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee stands in support of the statements and actions voted at NAD TOSC, at GC Annual Council 2014 and at NAD Year End Meetings 2014, affirming unity in diversity. And we stand in support of a vote at General Conference Session 2015 that will authorize each Division of the church to develop and practice its own policies on women’s ordination, because we believe diversity will best preserve the unity of the worldwide church and will enable the church in each part of the world to fulfill its mission of service and evangelism.


[1] “We believe that an individual, as a Seventh-day Adventist in thorough commitment to the full authority of Scripture, may build a defensible case in favor of or in opposition to the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, although each of us views one position or the other as stronger and more compelling.”

[2] “The biblical example of addressing differences that do not directly involve fundamental beliefs,”

“Whereas the unity for which Jesus prayed is vitally important to the witness of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,”

“Whereas various groups appointed by the General Conference and its divisions have carefully studied the Bible and Ellen G White writings with respect to the ordination of women and have not arrived at consensus as to whether ministerial ordination for women is unilaterally affirmed or denied,”

“After your careful consideration of what is best for the Church and the fulfillment of its mission,”

[3] EGW, Ltr. 71. 1894. 1895 General Conference Bulletin, pp. 373

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Jonathan Cook) #2

This is what I need to remind myself of when I ask why I still stay in the church. The GC does not represent the view of all…Glad I live in the Pacific Union and in the Northern California Conference!

(jeremy) #3

i don’t think it accurate to say that the gc is against wo…ted’s actions have basically said what i’ve predicted all along: he’ll side with divisional wo…

(le vieux) #4

I’m glad I don’t anymore. I would be swimming upstream all the time. Our conference isn’t perfect, but it is not in rebellion, and our pastor is solid on present truth.

(Steve Mga) #5

If TW isnt against WO, and the GC headquarters people are not against WO,
Then, where does ALL the verbal hostility arise from against the Unions that
seek to implement it? WHY does TW and the GC headquarters employees
SANCTION leaving a presidential position “Blank” in The Book?

(Joselito Coo) #6

Does it make sense for the Pacific Union Conference to support a vote for self determination by each division when truth of the matter is this union conference and subsidiary local conferences within their territorial jurisdiction have a history of independently deciding the matter of WO, regardless of the official position of their home divisional branch of the General Conference? Why not just come out in the open that each union conference per church policy have the authority to determine what ought to be practiced in their particular region?

(jeremy) #7

this is purely a procedural question…given ted’s position as president of the gc, we can hardly expect him to approve the course of unions or divisions who thumb their nose at gc rulings…but the fact that ted has essentially allowed the annual council’s pro-wo question to be posed to gc delegates essentially says his hat is in the ring of divisional implementation of wo…unless something very unexpected happens between now and san antonio, wo will pass along divisional implementation lines…

ted’s action, in combination with his non-action, says nothing about his personal views…but it is possible to read what he has done as recognition that personal scruples cannot supercede unity in the church on an issue in which such a strong biblical case can be made for the opposition…i think ted should be commended, and his political and leadership skills recognized…whatever he himself feels comfortable with on wo, it does appear he is facilitating divisional implementation of wo, which is what nad has recommended from day one…

(jeremy) #8

there is no little irony in the position of those who, in anticipating a wo victory in san antonio, are now stressing the need to fall into line with general conference rulings…where was their concern when gc delegates ruled against wo…

but if divisional implementation of wo is decided in san antonio, i think it’s a fore-gone conclusion that unions, and even local churches, will be the final arbiter…i cannot imagine a division forcing its will onto a dissenting union or congregation…

(Jonathan Cook) #9

I don’t think you’ve been paying close enough attention to this debate if you think that the GC is pro women’s ordination.

(jeremy) #10

the gc-appointed tosc, composed of people from all 13 divisions, arrived at a clear majority view in favor of some form of wo…the annual council’s question to the gc delegates in san antonio was approved by a wide margin, with ted wilson doing nothing to stop it…it may be true that divisions in africa and asia are still resolutely anti-wo, but a majority of divisions either favor wo, or favor allowing individual divisions to decide…delegates from these divisions, aware of their division’s recommendations, will be voting in san antonio…it is incorrect to say that the gc is anti-wo…what do you base this conclusion on…

(George Tichy) #11

Come on Jeremy. Ted’s actions have told us only one thing so far, that he is anti-WO. He is pretending to be on the fence, but only the naive buy into it.

(George Tichy) #12

Yes, and the TOSC ended up being what I predicted right away when it was formed: Nothing but a “pretend” and a fake committee to be posted as a façade.

(Tongkam) #13

These statements seem short-sighted. Meat-eaters, pescatarians, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and vegans can all “live together in the same church in unity” as long as the food at potluck caters to the vegans (every one of those dietaries can accept vegan food). By the same token, those churches whose members are mixed on the matter of women’s ordination can “live together…in unity” as long as the pastor(s) and elders are men.

There is a logical divide between having differing views and differing practices, especially where the practices are mutually incompatible.


I’m beginning to think more and more that not only will Position 3 succeed, but that it may be the right one to go with. I’m basing this on Acts chapter 15 (the Jerusalem Council). The only evidence Paul gave for gentiles to not be forced into circumcision, was not one of theology, but rather the fruits that he noticed being developed. Because when Paul speaks, he only gives evidence of how God has done great things through them and the gentiles “and they reported all things that God had done with them.” (Acts 15:4b). No Scripture with clear cut texts were provided.

Interestingly, it was the Pharisees who were using scripture, not even Barnabas or James used any. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” (v5)

And even more interesting is what James finally says: “Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, (v19); “it seemed good to us (v25a); “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us.” (v28a)

Here we see that James & the apostles made the judgement with the help of the Holy Spirit, and not one single text which gave clear evidence to go one way or the other. Therefore, can we (the Church) too, make such judgement’s, where the evidence is not so clear, with the help of the Holy Spirit? Unless I’ve missed something, I believe we have evidence of Position 3 being exercised here, in acts chapter 15. The gentiles we left alone, not forced into being circumcised, and I’m sure the Jewish Christians continued to be circumcised.

Whoa!..I just noticed something I’d never really looked into before. After the council, after everything went well, Satan would of been furious that he lost that battle, that I’m sure of. And the chapter ends with division. Paul and Barnabas go (thankfully only for the time being) their separate ways…hmm, maybe nothing, maybe some food for thought.

For me, the moral of the story is: even when God wins out, Satan still tends to find a way to bring division. But we should not allow our shortsightedness make us forget that Paul and Barnabas and! even Mark where reunited, and most likely more united that ever.

I’m going to hold onto that as my defense, to remind me not to over worry if something goes bad next year after the vote. I’ve read the last chapter of the Bible…Jesus wins :smiley:

(Rohan Charlton) #15

Off topic but…too bad. System won’t let me PM yet.

Jeremy heard a wonderful piece for violin called ‘The Lark Ascending’ by Vaughn Williams.

Can you play it? It’s so beautiful.

(Peter Marks) #16

The Pacific Union Conference are entitled to vote in favour of the process to be followed in the next year.

However, their position on this issue would carry far more weight and moral authority, if as well as showing respect for the actions of the NAD, TOSC and the Annual Council of the GC, they had also desisted from their unilateral action in moving forward to ordain women prior to the 2015 vote.

I for one, have trumpted my position in favour of the full embrace of women in leadership among Adventists. Yet I happen to believe that vigorous sharing of all options with regard to WO on all quarters of the world is not only helpful but necessary. May God grant that each delegate will vote intelligently in this matter, having been convicted of the way forward by his own conscience.

(jeremy) #17

the lark is definitely a well-loved piece…i’ve learned it and worked on it, but have never performed it…

at this point my solo playing is kind of in limbo due to massive amounts of teaching - i run the largest violin studio in calgary - and adjudicating in competitions and festivals all over the country…i’ve been asked to play in the 1st violin section of the kootenay symphony this year, but of course, orchestra music is much more basic than solo music…my string quartet plays for numerous weddings and other events, but again, this isn’t the same challenge that solo playing presents…for me to return to form, i’d have to quit teaching, which would mean giving up my house and bmw - not likely…

(Rohan Charlton) #18

Isn’t it so uplifting?I’ve been considering taking parts of it and trying to play a neoclassical metal version in my guitar. Getting the tone to do it justice would be difficult though.

(When will we be able to PM Web ed?)

(jeremy) #19

lol…i would think all the 32nd notes would be the bigger challenge…

(Rohan Charlton) #20

Challenge sure…But I’m used to playing with blast beats and double kick…Also math‐core. Gets complicated! I’m more worried about the tone…Feeling and tone is always the hardest aspect of metal guitar. Slower is harder as well.