South Pacific Division Asks GC to Reconsider Women’s Ordination at GC Session 2020

The South Pacific Division (SPD) began its year-end meetings on Wednesday, November 14, 2018, with a unanimously voted motion regarding women in ministry and a request that the GC “place on the GC 2020 Session agenda an action item on the ordination of women in light of the missional needs of some areas of the world church.”

In a video released by the Adventist Record, SPD President Glenn Townend recapped the day’s events, including the motion that was voted. Below is a transcript of Townend’s remarks regarding the motion:

The issue that probably took the longest was the Women in Ministry report, and there was much discussion and debate after Dr. Danijela Schubert, who leads that area, gave her report. And I just want to read you the motion:

RESOLVED to receive the Development of Women in Ministry and Leadership Report as presented by Dr. Danijela Schubert and attached to the official minutes.

And further, to note and share with the GC the high proportion of women who are employed in local church ministry and leadership positions throughout the South Pacific Division, and that the South Pacific Division has been and remains willing to work within the will and policy of the world church.

And further, to reaffirm the decision of the South Pacific Division Executive Committee Action 12.1 held on the 12th of November 2013 to affirm the Biblical Research Committee recommendations as follows:

1) The Biblical Research Committee of the South Pacific Division does not see any scriptural principle which would be an impediment to women being ordained.

2) The calling of the Holy Spirit needs to be recognized for both men and women. There is a sense of injustice that needs to be addressed.

3) The mission of the church is the primary determinant of praxis both in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and in its climax as the Holy Spirit is poured out on both men and women during the latter rain.

Further, to continue to encourage and support the empowering of women in fulfilling the gospel commission and being employed in ministry and leadership positions throughout the SPD and — there’s more furthers —

Further to continue to influence the church within the SPD and the world church to recognize and utilize women who have been called, and have accepted the call of God into the gospel ministry, and who are gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit as evidenced by their fruitfulness in ministry.

Further, to request the GC to reconsider the recommendations made last quinquennium by the divisions’ Biblical Research Committees, the TOSC committee, and to review the GC Session 1990 action referring to women’s ordination for its context and its relevance to the missional needs of the church at this time, and further, and that in the context of the above items, and specifically in relation to the Fundamental Beliefs numbers 6, 7, 14, and 17, to request the GC to place on the GC 2020 Session agenda an action item on the ordination of women in light of the missional needs of some areas of the world church.

Now that was a mouthful. But let me summarize. It really affirmed women in leadership and ministry within our division. And when we looked at some of the statistics, as a division we have a high percentage compared to the rest of the world church of women in leadership and in pastoral ministry and we can be proud of that, but we want to do better, and we still believe in women’s ordination and we want it discussed and we don’t want winners and losers. We actually want the world church to move on, and we think it can move on, and we want it to move on in a more wholesome way.

And so, the discussion was not at all threatening or antagonistic. It was really done in good spirits, a lot of interaction. And everyone stood. It was a unanimous vote, and it was a vote taken by standing, and it was just a really wonderful, wonderful time. And so that’s basically this day. God bless you.


WATCH South Pacific Division President Glenn Townend Recap Day 1 of the SPD Year-end Meetings:

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Really enjoy the video recap…it puts a “human” face and voice on things.

Hopefully, the GC will pull the cotton balls out of their ears and listen!


Thank you SPD for this recommendation. I have been wondering what the procedure would be to place an item on the agenda of the GC Session. Simply because the last session was just a question whether local entities could make their own decisions with regards to ordination. The vote basically indicated a No for that option, however it left the option open for the world church to consider it as one unit. I will pray that the GC Admin considers your recommendation favourably.


In vetting for ordination DNA is not a valid consideration. Stone Age thinking has no place in the ministry of the Gospel.


Amen, SPD! I wouldn’t change one word.


Thank you for your leadership, SPD, and your direct request for the next GC2020.

Blessings on you for your courage and leadership.


I would change half a sentence: … and that the South Pacific Division has been and remains willing to work within the will and policy of the world church. Sometimes you can’t work within policy, and you have to stand up and obey God rather than man. I’ve been told the SPD would give in if the compliance statement is voted in. Someone near to the top speaking to a noted friend. Just gossip of course, but pretty reliable gossip.


The compliance document was voted in. It doesn’t have to go to a GC session.

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Each conference and union, should have a working policy which reflects their regions laws and regulations, this will result in the church being flexible enough in a said community, yet keeping true to the word of God. A working policy doesn’t have to be spiritual, but it should explain how each department functions and what each position does. Our fundamental believes is how we execute of morality to the world and to one another.


Brother, good to see you. Maybe the B 60 policy must be amended at the GC session.

I congratulate the SPD for their willingness to work within the will and policy of the world church. At the same time the affirmation of women in ministry and the desire for their ordination is very direct and straight forward.

The SPD is to be congratulated for this resolution, and especially for the very nuanced request to have an action item placed on the GC 2020 Session agenda concerning the ordination of women in the light of the missional needs of some areas of the world field.

The couching of all of this in missional terms and the very specific elements within this request are significant and well worth noting. These requests are for:

  1. A reconsideration of the recommendatiions made by
    a) the various Division BRC’s to the TOSC process,
    b) the recommendations made by the TOSC itself,

  2. A review of the 1990 GC Session action which specifically referenced the fact that the 1990 was made concerning the inadvisability of women’s ordination at that time due to the missional needs of the church.

  3. A review of the meaning of Fundamental Beliefs # 6,7, 14 and 17 in relationship to the ordination of women in light of the various missional needs of the world field.

Thus in light of all of the above we may place an action item on the GC 2020 Session agenda, more confident of a positive outcome in relation to women’s ordination.

This should be all tremendously helpful if each of these specific elements are investigated.

However, I do believe that there are other elements that must be included if this new more comprehensive strategy to achieve WO once and for all is to be achieved. Additional elements that should be included here need not detain us for a long period. They are:

  1. A biblical vision and theology of the whole people of God as servants of God [a theology of the laity] arising from the whole of the Scriptures such as Bertil Wiklander has outlined.
  2. This theology of the laity should be followed by a theology of leadership. One is built on the other.
  3. A full explanation of the difference between a clerical paradigm and a charismatic paradigm of pastoral leadership and a comprehensive outlining of the nature of ordination, what it is and what it is not - affirmations and denials.
  4. Intentional cross cultural communication between people and leaders in various regions of the world on the issue of the ordination of women, led by specialists in the field.
  5. A statement rejecting primary emphasis on either a man’s right to lead the people of God [male headship theology] or a woman’s right to lead the people of God [ a feminist agenda]. Instead, there should be an embracing of God’s right to gift people of both genders to lead and therefore of the responsibility of the people of God to discern whom God has chosen. (And the calling of God to lead the people of God is enfolded within their gifting to lead).
  6. A statement rejecting any association with either a feminist agenda and a gay rights agenda in the church. If number 5. above is accepted, such an affirmation should be easy to understand and make.

Each of these elements may become their own agenda item on the GC 2020 Session agenda.


It seems to me, by some of these recommendations for Far Future consideration,
that we are planning to keep the Trinity God – Father, Jesus Christ, Holy Spirit –
in the Ante Room, Waiting Room for an indeterminate time.
And that we of the SDA church have lost the view of the Gospel to All the World in
this Generation, which was one slogan, if I recall correctly, when I was a little kid.

It looks like we will have to depend on our Christian Cousins to do the job that we
decided in 1863 was ours. THEY are willing to allow the Spirit to work with anyone,
regardless of Gender, and to support the work of the Spirit in reaching the World.

When I was a kid in the early 50’s I recall an 11x14 or so picture that was in the room
where the church had MV meeting early Sabbath evenings. It was a picture of both a
man AND A woman. Next to them was “Jesus” with one arm stretched out and finger
pointing forward. Indicating “GO”. Both were looking in the direction Jesus was pointing.
Perhaps there is a REASON why this picture no longer hangs in churches.


Why keep calling for a vote when you know the answer will be a resounding “No”? Why call for a vote when you won’t live with the result? Every GC session has voted No as have the fall councils. If you keep asking the question the likelihood increases that you’ll have to accept the answer.

Stop begging permission and just ordain. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Otherwise you’re tacitly admitting that every argument you have made about church authority to ordain being local is nonsense.

Yes, it sounds heroic to ask for another vote, but it is an assinine idea when you know what the result will be.


What is the difference? There is no point of ordaining women when we are already commissioning them. If their functions are the same, what kind of rights are women fighting for? Equality? If equality seems to the the underlying issue, I do not see women are being undermined of the roles they perform in the ministry. There is a sense of equal playing field in the mission-field. Both women and men shoulder the responsibilities equally. What kind of recognition do they want? Why is our Division (SPD) pushing the agenda too much?

Ask Sandra Roberts that question. If your suggestion is that both men and women be “commissioned” and both be given the opportunity to lead congregations and other church entities, then I agree with you.


The SPD are requesting that the GC review the helpful recommendations of the various Division BIblical Research Committee documents as well those TOSC documents themselves and also the spirit in which the 1990 GC session voted no “at this time”.

I reviewed the very helpful set of recommendations made by the East Central Africa Division BRC on this blog site early in 2014 and found much to be applauded there. Their continued opposition to WO was based on the fact that they found no compelling reason to extend a broken ordination paradigm and an unhelpful theology of ordination to women. They pled that these things be adjusted according to biblical principles before ordination is rolled out for women. This of course is a very worthy objective.

If the GC in Session were to do all that this SPD action anticipated in a thorough manner there is little question that many delegates may well be impelled to recondider their opposition to the ordination of women.


I always applaud when I see an courageous effort toward the elimination of discrimination of women. but I have to agree 100% with your statement. Especially considering that Ted Wilson may well get a 3rd term, so the politicking will continue absolutely the same.

After so many years, this is time for action not for more talking. Especially when the talking is done with people who will always stick to discrimination of the women in our church.

Those people will never change because they have a psychological need to feel in control of women. It’s not a spiritual/religious issue, it’s a mental/psychological issue. Sure it can be treated with proper therapy, but, why would they look for any treatment if they’re getting absolute satisfaction for their emotional needs by practicing discrimination against women? If being in control of women is a quasi-orgasmic experience, why should they change anything??? @elmer_cupino @cincerity

Exactly: "Stop begging permission and just ordain."
Stop talking about it, just DO it.


They’re not the same. The church grants some tasks only to ordained ministers while excluding commissioned ministers. And it officially offers most advancement opportunities to ordained ministers only - baring commissioned ministers.

That’s the point of the current push by many - striving for equality.


“Quasi-orgasmic” in addition to spiritual validation. Priceless! A touch of heaven on earth.

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I wish to add two items for 2020.

  1. Move GC to Africz.
  2. Make ADCOM fully representative of membership.r