Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy Reaffirms Committment to Ordaining Women

On October 15, 2013, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Italy published on its Adventist News website an article entitled La Chiesa avventista italiana favorevole all’ordinazione delle donne pastore (The Italian Adventist Church favors the ordination of women pastors).

The article reported that “the Executive Board of the Italian Union of Christian Churches of Seventh-day Adventists voted to welcome and support a resolution, approved by the pastors on September 3, on the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry.”

The article continued, "The pastors, after examining the biblical teaching, the testimony of E. G. White and the history of the Adventist Church, considered it wise and no longer be postponed to proceed with the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry, acting, by a unanimous vote to that effect, and the action states that the executive committee will propose to the next Constituency Meeting, in February 2014, to express itself in a vote on the matter."

The article also included a short interview with Dora Bognandi, Head of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Italian Union, asking her to comment on the scope of the September 3 resolution.

Dora Bognandi: "First, it was unanimous and this fact is important because the college of ministers is composed of people from different backgrounds and geographical regions, and also of different nationalities. The resolution is the request to invite the Union to submit to the General Conference, the highest body of the world church, the request to proceed with the ordination of women to the pastoral ministry."

Bognandi continued, “Adventist women in the Church have always operated freely, but so far there has not been ordination [for them] because it is a confession that is spread all over the planet and for ordination to pastoral ministry to be valid everywhere, you need a resolution passed during a global session. But, at that level, most of the delegates come from regions and cultures that do not consider this issue a priority; some are even opposed to proceeding in this direction. The next worldwide session will take place in 2015, and the agenda will include the issue.”

The Adventist News article went on to say that the Executive Committee approved the action of the pastors, and would forward it to the next National Assembly Administration in February 2014 and, if approved, would forward the action to the General Conference.

“For Italy, as in the West,” Bognandi said, “not to have our pastor ordained is a serious problem. We have tried to remedy the situation by proceeding with a valid ordination at the local level, but that is not ideal. That is why pastors wanted to address the issue, requesting that the General Conference open ordination to women in pastoral ministry, or leave free unions free to do so if they wish.

On October 15, 2015, the Italian Union issued a statement on the website Il Messaggero Avventisa titled “UICCA. Sulla non consacrazione delle donne al Ministero pastorale ” (UICCA: Concerning the non-ordination of women to pastoral ministry).

The article read as follows (translated from Italian):

With the vote number 250, the Italian Union of Churches Conference Executive Committee in session on September 16 unanimously voted the following statement:

"CONSIDERING that the question of the ordination of women was already on the agenda of the 1950 General Conference (GC) Session;

CONSIDERING that since then many theological commissions have followed up by studying what the Bible indicates about this subject;

CONSIDERING that issue was revived in the 1990 GC Session in Indianapolis;

CONSIDERING that the debate on this issue continued throughout the next 5 years, and the topic was again placed on the agenda of the next CG Session--Utrecht in 1995--during which it was appropriately highlighted that there are no biblical impediments to ordination [of women];

CONSIDERING the outcome of the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, during which, on the basis of the question raised by the Executive Committee at Annual Council on October 13, 2014: "Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No?", the majority of the delegates responded "No," despite the technical opinion expressed by the International Commission (TOSC), that there is no biblical or theological impediment to the ordination of women;

IN LIGHT OF the unanimous opinion of the pastors, expressed at the Italian Union Pastoral Conference held from September 1- 5, 2013;

IN LIGHT OF vote number 633 its executive board took during its XXIV session of September 24-25 2013;

IN LIGHT OF vote number 45 taken in the LX session of its National Constituency on February 25, 2014;

The Italian Union of Churches Conference feels compelled to signal its respectful but strong dissent and protest to the vote of the General Conference Session in the name of unity of the Church, it violates a basic principle of freedom, overriding the religious sensibilities and cultural characteristics of different territories.

In the name of defending the dignity of women pastors operating in our territory, we can not accept that their ministry will continue to be held as not fully recognized and, therefore, discriminated against.

The UICCA will evaluate appropriate actions to express such disagreement in a tangible way with administrative actions."

NOTE: The translations from Italian to English may imprecisely convey some expressions and idiom contained in the original documents, and the English translations should be compared against the Italian originals. Those documents are here and here, respectively.

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/7137
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Thanks once again to our European brothers and sisters for leading the way with courage and conviction.

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Leadership having ignored TOSC in favor of another vote is finding its blunder coming back to roost. As has been consistently and accurately expressed, the SA vote solved nothing. Though the vote wasn’t about theology of ordination of women, the fact that there is no accepted consensus of theology in the SDA Church “theology” is nevertheless fuctioning outside the vote. That is, the theology of no “impediments” (as the Italian statement puts it) against women being ordained into the gospel ministry (let alone the fact there is no clear cut basis for ordination in the Bible or for that matter ordination of men only), and it seems more votes of this nature are forthcoming.

I wonder if leadership is getting this fact or will ever get this fact.

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Bognandi said “requesting that the General Conference open ordination to women, or leave unions free to do so if they wish”…

For over 100 years SDA policy, at the recommendation of EGW, has placed authority for ordination decisions with the unions. There has been no change in that policy, and there is no validity in the assertion that the decision in San Antonio changed the policy. Anyone who asserts that it did is being dishonest.

The Italian Union will be in full compliance with current SDA policy to implement this decision.

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These certainly are exciting times in the history of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. I believe we are witnessing the Domino Effect of which many have predicted!

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I know this is my second post, but I want to note that Ms. Bognandi was, in 2014, the PARL leader, but has since retired.

Correct. Unions are (still) free to deal with the ordination issue as they see fit. I am wondering if this issue was even noticed at the GC. The vote, (the text which was voted upon), does not affect it, as far as I can tell. Someone might enlighten me. But the fact of the matter is, some unions are ignoring the GC vote anyway. So we have a de facto continuation of the old/present SDA policy:unions decide on this matter, not the GC or the Divisions.

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It is noteworthy that Italy is part of a different European Division than Scandinavia. Italy is part of the Inter European Division (EUD) which unanimously vote for WO in their BRC document requested before / for TOSC.

The NorthGerman Union (also EUD) - the first union ever to vote for WO during their regular conference session, has not acted on their vote yet, but neither am I aware that the decision has been rescinded. Still waiting to see how that one will work out.

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very proud of you Italians!!!

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the issue isn’t merely WO, It is where does the power lie? The money flows from the pew to the G C. Thus the power is with the pew not the G. C. seems TW is learning the hard way. Tom Z

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So am I allowed to ask if there is a certain irony in view here? Namely, that Dan 2.43 in traditional Adventist interpretations, predicts that Europe will never be united under one ruler during the time of iron and clay. It seems that might be true in ways we could not have remotely imagined :blush:

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It is totally unnecessary for any union to “request” to ordain women as it has always been the union’s prerogative to ordain those they see fit.
The unions should only inform the G.C., as some have done, that they intend to ordain regardless of gender. The G.C. is now informed and on notice that these unions are perfectly correct to do so.

But these unions who wish to ordain women should proceed without too much delay as the Working Policy may be revised when this becomes an avalanche of freedom loving Adventists.

It cannot be ignored that the democratic nations are all for equality; but it is those countries that have never experienced true democracy and largely dictatorial and paternalistic cultures that are content with men in charge and keeping women “in their place.” To give them control and decision for the entire world is the height of arrogance, aided and abetted by the church’s leadership.

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The words shaking and sifting come to mind. Not so much for the content, but rather for the divisiveness occurring within the church. The church is splitting and not one seems to care. As long as one gets their way in the end, that is all that is important. I tire of this incessant arguing over this subject. The Lord is coming soon. It is time to quit the petty bickering and move on to the important job of spreading the gospel!

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BRAVO ITALY!
In the seat of the papacy, with its intransigent veto of equality in the catholic priesthood, Italian Adventists gallantly advocate fairness and equal opportunity for women pastors. May the dominoes,comtinue to topple.

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I see it as you do, George. Ted Wilson’s legacy will be to preside over the most divisive period in our church’s history in many decades. His call for unity has had the opposite effect, and the dominoes will continue to fall. If the tithes and offerings shortfall persists or worsens (currently something like $15 million), as it is likely to be exacerbated by the SA decision, he may eventually lose the support of those who have put him into office. Perhaps he will be shaken out in the shaking he is trying to create.

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I am proud to be contributing to that shortfall, by not contributing at all to the church in any way that will result in even one red cent of my money trickling up to the GC.

Assuming an annual income of $50K, and a resulting suggested tithes and offerings of $5 - 7K, just 2,150 of us make another $15M going to the church (in part rolling up to the GC.) I say we can vote with our pocketbooks and wallets and make a huge impact on the GC. Just give the money to some other cause, perhaps one that is not discriminatory and not dictatorial.

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there just seems to be a constant drip drip associated with this matter of wo…every time i log onto spectrum i seem to see yet another drip…

obviously, the general conference has lost its relevance as far as much of our world church is concerned…i can’t say i wonder why…that is, because the general conference in session is now effectively the voice of the global south, and not the world church, it is nothing less than an exhibition of the exercise of kingly power on the part of only one region of the world…therefore it cannot now be considered the voice of god…

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Gifts to the Church. Tim and Jeff, my bible says only to bring one’s gifts “into the storehouse.” Back then they did not have the accounting methods like we do. We have the opportunity to allocate to the church where we want our gifts to go and what we want to support. One can give to Local church expense, Local school expense, one could provide the pastor a monthly funded Credit Card to use for gas, etc. Or, one could even use that 3 to 5K$ to fund a personal project that would be of value for the Local Church to engage in. One just needs to be pro-active in Financial Creativity.
Maybe fund the creation of a “float” advertising the church during community parades, fairs, carnivals. Or a Health Fair at these events.

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For Brother Wilson and those that continue to support gender discrimination in the Adventist church, there is an Italian saying that emphasizes the vote of the Italian SDA Union:

“Tanto va la gatta al lardo che ci lascia lo zampino.”

This Italian particular pearl of wisdom translates literally as:
"The cat goes so often to the bacon that she loses her paw".

In other words, if you keep on doing the same bad thing over and over again, you’ll get caught.

Disrespecting women in ministry, is a no win strategy.

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@historic
This is true, there is a division being promoted. It seems that the only one who doesn’t see it is Ted Wilson, the one who has been promoting the division. If he only respected the policy in place, that gives Unions the right to make the decisions on ordinations, there wouldn’t be any turmoil going on now.

But since the beginning of his mandate Ted Wilson has tried to hijack the Unions’ established authority, and even threatening them with “grave consequences” if they didn’t bow down to his dictatorship. Thank God there are strong people leading many Unions, those who will not bow down to Ted Wilson’s dictatorship!

Yes, the domino effect is taking place, and we should expect more Unions standing up for their established rights.

To the Italians, BRAVO, BRAVISSIMO!!! Thanks for demonstrating respect for your women and for taking a stand against discrimination of women in your territory!
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@ProfessorKent
In 2010, right after his inauguration, the first speech TW delivered was at the ASI (I wonder why…). In those days I predicted that this man would either resign before the end of his mandate or he would split the Church. It’s easy to see which one has happened! (And counting!!!)
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@timteichman
Just designating the money for some specific project being pursued by the local church will do the trick!
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To All:

Why don’t you guys post your comment also in the LOUNGE as well, where the same articles are posted too,. but we have a continuous open discussion of the issues. Just go and check it out:

http://conversation.spectrummagazine.org/c/lounge

If for any reason you don’t have access to the LOUNGE, just post a request to @JaredWright right here, and he will make sure that the “shut door” :wink: to the lounge is permanently opened to you!

PS - People who don’t like discussions should never visit the lounge… :slight_smile:

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Apparently someone flagged 3 of my posts above, after I had deleted them myself since only one post is allowed here and I made a mistake thinking that I was in the lounge. There was nothing wrong with their content, as can be seen in this post where I posted their content all together. Hopefully the @WebEd will be so kind in removing those 3 posts above when possible. Thanks.

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