South Pacific Division Asks General Conference to Grant Same Rights to Commissioned Ministers

The executive committee of the South Pacific Division (SPD) is requesting the General Conference consider changing its policy to allow commissioned ministers to have the same entitlements as ordained ministers.

The action was voted unanimously following the annual meeting of the SPD executive committee held at the Sydney office last week.

It stated: “In harmony with our statement of fundamental beliefs #7, #14, and #17, and recognising that the General Conference has affirmed the call of God to both men and women in ministry through the conferring of both ordination and commissioned credentials, the members of the executive committee of the South Pacific Division respectfully request the General Conference that consideration be given to changing policy to allow commissioned ministers to fulfil all duties, privileges and responsibilities as those entitled to ordained ministers.”

During the annual meeting, SPD leadership gave time for attendees to raise issues of concern that were not on the agenda during a new feature to the meetings called “Question Time.” It was here that a discussion on the equality of women occurred.

The equality of genders in ministry was raised a number of other times at these meetings, showing that this matter is still an issue in the lives of people within the SPD. Other issues raised included the leadership’s role in youth retention, teen and youth Sabbath School lessons, the Church logo, signage and branding.

“It is a good day when the people of the Church have a voice and are able to share their perspectives,” SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend said. “The policies at the General Conference or any level of the Church are not like the laws of the Medes and Persians and set in concrete. This is an appropriate way to be heard and ask for change.”

Jarrod Stackelroth is Editor of Adventist Record, the official publication of the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, where this article first appeared.

Photo: Theodora Amuimuia / Adventist Record

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

This division’s request as well as the statements from NAD, CUC, and the PUC put the issue squarely back in the G.C.'s corner. How will they respond in this “Year of Grace”?


It is good to hear something coming out of the division in this part of the world, and that something being a unified voice. The Unions have been remarkably quiet - their leaders are not prepared to be a Daniel. Not a person among them prepared to stand up and spearhead the campaign for justice and mercy. Safety in numbers, and follow the crowd.

EDIT : Meanwhile, I turn up at my church this morning and find another ministerial type wanting a position at this independent church, because he can’t see himself within the organised denomination any longer. That follows on from another couple last week.


Great to see Paul’s clear message in Galatians 3:28 being understood and applied. As a Jewish man, Paul’s morning prayer prior to his conversion would have included the mandatory sentence that thanked God Thou hast not made me a Gentile, a slave or a woman. In Galatians 3:28 Paul takes that prayer and reverses it. The old distinctions are gone. All are one in Christ. There is no longer a distinction between Jew and Greek, slave or free, male or female. (Barclay)

I wonder why the headship enthusiasts accept the first two distinctions as being gone, but not the last one? The notion of consistency in Biblical reading and application would surely dictate all three distinctions are removed in Christ.

His own example in elevating the status of women in His ministry where they financially supported Him (a cultural no no), travelled with Him and were disciples with His other members (Mary sitting at Jesus feet is a disciple term not a posture term) clearly shows what Jesus would say to our church today.

Delighted to see my home Division standing up for Biblical consistency.


Thank goodness for the statement. I am not sure the Australian Union would even know how to issue one. I am not sure the average church member could even tell you what they do.


want to make myself clear
Im not here to judge or acuse pastor townsend
Also as a member I dont agree with these actions nor do I want to see townsend thrown under the bus .

Moses vs townsend
Moses went to the mount in faith no preconceptions or chisels in his backpack to ammend the ten commandments before returning

Rejecting a global GC vote
Please pastor townsend find it in your heart to step back and renounce these out of vote principles

The sad fact is pastor wilson is bound by a vote
To reject it ’ is it to reject the holy spirit ’

This statement, while commendable and encouraging, is perhaps nothing more than a symbolic gesture. Based on the manner in which the GC has dealt with the women’s ordination issue to this point, “requesting the GC consider changing its policy” is going to be about as effective as me politely asking my pet cat to “please let it go” after it catches a bird in the yard.

The statement needs to at least have some bite, such as “If you don’t change the policy, we will start ordaining women and stop remitting tithes and offerings.”

And where is the Australian Union in the whole women’s ordination debate? As the body actually responsible for selecting candidates for ordination, they have been notably missing in action.


Stopping remitting tithes and offerings is the ONLY pertinent and potent message that will resonate with the GC.

MONEY, or the lack of it, will always be persuasive.

But it is highly unlikely that unions and divisions and conferences will stop remitting tithes and offerings.

So it is up to individual church members to generously continue their liberality but to refrain from writing TITHE on the envelope. This way money will not be forwarded upwards to the hierarchy in Maryland.

If necessary, pastors can be funded at individual congregations by money donated directly to the local church.

I personally have not paid “tithe” in decades, although the per centage of my contributions has always more than adequately been in accordance with scriptural requirements. I generously give to my local congregation and to groups like Doctors Without Borders. Why would I fund ADRA after the recent fiasco with that body?


Bravo! and Bravissimo!!
Church administration, like the art of politics, is often the art of the possible! However, I have two big concerns.

Pr David Ripley, a delegate to the 2015 San Antonio General Conference Session from the North Asia Pacific Division, correctly observed in the aftermath of the ordination vote that the lack of consensus among Adventists concerning the ordination of women has a root cause. The root cause is simply that Adventists use two different sets of hermeneutics, that is, we have two different methods of interpretation. Christians in pre-civil war America had the same problem. Many had a plain reading of the Bible on the subject of slave trading and slave ownership. They concluded that slavery was not spoken against in the Bible. Rather it was compassionately regulated there. Other Christians of that era like John Newton, William Wilberforce and many others in America read the Bible according to a principle - based approach. They noted that while the Bible doesn’t speak against slavery in as many words, it does establish rock solid biblical and ethical principles that speak against it in thunder-tones. Perhaps a solution to the fraught subject of the ordination of women may be found by examining our Adventist methods of interpretation. It would be useful if Adventists were to outline an interpretative framework within which to reach consensus concerning the ordination of women. Further, Adventists must not shy away from dealing with the matter of the impact of culture on one’s hermeneutics.

Secondly, talk of gender equity in leadership misses the real point, if it clouds the following facts. The Bible doesn’t teach that men are to be heads of congregations and church organizations. We in our congregations have only one true head and bridegroom and that is Christ. (Our pastors thankfully are not married to the church. Neither do they have a ring to prove it. Some other Christian churches teach that). Nor does the Bible assert the right of women to be leaders in our congregations simply because it is what society is doing around us.

Rather, the Bible teaches and we believe that God has the right to decide who will be the leaders in our congregations. This is much better than clinging to the male right to lead. It is even better than asserting a woman’s right to lead in our churches. God calls who He wills. His calling is enfolded in his gifts to individuals. And it is for responsible bodies within the church to discern whom God has gifted and thereby called to lead. In simple terms ordination is neither an issue involving men’s rights or indeed of women’s rights. Instead, it is about God’s right to call whoever He may, and the church’s responsibility to discern the Lord’s will in these matters.


on balance, i think an expansion of the commissioned ministry is probably the preferred approach for pro-WO interests, if keeping the world church together is a goal…a sitting GC session has never voted on the commissioned ministry, which means there is no standing vote that is being set aside that can be interpreted as rebellion…and seeking a change, or possibly an exemption, from annual council obviates all possibility of the charge of unilateral action, which was the big thing the secretariat’s “A Study of Church Governance and Unity” railed against, leading into the oct 11 compliance vote…in addition, not to be overlooked is the fact that a separate but equal track for women, compared to men, removes any legitimate objection by headship advocates that distinctive gender roles are being blurred, which they are on record as insisting would be the natural consequence of WO, along with the inevitable result of gender confusion in our youth (if doug batchelor on the floor of san antonio is to be believed), never mind the fact that these same youth are seeing women heads of state, governors, company presidents,college presidents, doctors, lawyers, judges, school principals, police officers, construction workers and bus drivers each and every day of their lives…

i would say that if annual council cannot bring itself to accede to this well-considered initiative by SPD, it means it has a settled intention to maintain gender apartheid in the church at all costs, and regardless of expert biblical opinion, in which case there is no point for anyone with pro-WO convictions to work with this GC…in this event, and given the fact that lawsuits launched and lost by the GC against kinship international in 1987 and 1991, on using the seventh-day adventist name and trademark infringement, respectively, mean that NAD, or anyone with any belief system, can legally incorporate the phrase, “seventh-day adventist”, into its name, a separation from the GC would be the next logical step, although kicking the can down the road until indianapolis 2020 and the possibility of a new GC will likely be appealing to many…

but assuming a separation, i don’t think it strains the imagination to view NAD, SPD, EUD and TED as a natural fit…if a separation were arranged expertly and expeditiously, and with minimum collateral damage, it is possible that the average adventist choosing NAD adventism wouldn’t notice any disruption…in fact, and taking into account a conservative flight out of NAD into GC adventism, NAD adventism would likely experience a surge in enthusiasm and active participation by progressives who remained, especially younger progressives, who would feel energized over the fact that their church is relevant to their lives, and in their hands…an amicable separation between NAD and the GC would have the further advantage of adding new meaning to an egw prophecy that “two parties” will be developed in the church…

You are correct, however many will disagree with you as to which hermeneutic is the correct one. The hermeneutic that gets you WO also delivers evolution and acceptance of homosexuality.


Ted is modeling his presidency after his father. the problem is–WO is not Dan 8:14! Onecanburn the same ground only once. Tom Z


In response to Pago –
WHY and WHERE and HOW do persons like Pago get that Equality of Ordination [the recognition of the call of the Holy Spirit not based on Gender]
Say that this is anyway connected to Issues In Creation, or Issues of Sexual Orientation and Gender?

We have been hearing THIS for Months on Spectrum, on AToday, on Fulcrum7, elsewhere.
It is almost a re-play of Adolphe Hitler — Say something often enough people [church members] will soon begin to take it for The Truth.
Even though it is a Lie.

Ordained/Commissioned. We cannot have 2 terms used. The World Wide SDA Denomination is going to have to settle on one or the other, Select the one and never use the other again for Pastors.
I see no problem with using Ordained as the terminology [even though it came through out Catholic brethren]. It is a term the whole of Christianity understands and respects.

Michael Wortman – There is NOTHING about the Discontinuing of Discrimination that CAN be face saving. Maintaining the Ordained/Commissioned is what we HAVE Already.
One OR the Other needs to be chosen as the Position Title of Pastor – Male AND Female.
Either one is a Pastor or one is NOT a Pastor.
If NOT a Pastor, then one is a Pastor-in-Training. Be honest about it, and say that a Female will ALWAYS be a Pastor-in-Training and give her this title.
DO Not give her the responsibility of a Pastor, and then tell her she is something else. That is deceitful. Or say, You can be in charge of a community of believers, but IF you need someone baptized or married, you HAVE to ask the Conference to send a MAN to baptize or Marry the couple.
This is Totally Wrong!


“We cannot have 2 terms used. The World Wide SDA Denomination is going to have to settle on one or the other…”

I disagree. Both terms could be used during this administration as a face saving device, then during the next administration one term could be agreed upon.

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Ladies and Gentlemen,
This discussion is wonderful and encouraging. At last the Australian mob are awakening! ( a small %however) Tom is correct about the impact that Ted’s father has had. We lost 200+ of our brightest and best ministers as a result of the first Wilson’s activities in Australia and N.Z.
Why cannot our administrators be honest enough to listen to their own expert committees? 20 years ago the GC formed a committee to advise the church on the problems of hermanutics but this report was totally ignored at the last G C. Why are those in leadership not held to account? It is plain dishonest.
That issues of interpretation are at the root of all the major problems that we face.It amazes me that we allow admin experts to pronounce on issues spiritual. It is like getting a plumber to do a heart operation.I think really that our only hope is in the second coming. Bring it on! Jim


Why should we not believe that the church administration which claim to be the “storehouse” and regularly designates the percentages of tithes to its choosing, taught the members that the “storehouse” is the administrative branch and that is where the tithe is meant to go.

If administration were informed that the tithe is being deposited in a bank to be forwarded to the G.C. on the day women are officially ordained, what would be the response, if there were sufficient numbers of participants?

Yet, members can continue to pay a faithful tithe but decide on their own (just as administration) where tithe should be sent. Like others here, I have always paid tithe faithfully, but after many years to the SDA church, there are many more worthy causes, IMHO, such as Doctors without Borders, and local groups who feed and help clothe the neediest in my own area. That is spreading the Gospel with shoes, not preaching in words. A hungry man needs no sermon, but bread.

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Peter fell. Then later when he grew as a true leader: 1 Pet 5:1 The “elders” who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder (servant) and a witness of the sufferings of Christ. He became a “fellow elder” when he grew as Christ’s true rock not into headship. He did not view himself as Peter the Pontiff or Peter the Pope.

Let me reverse the “fundamentally flawed” comment back to you. Your fundamental flaw is assuming that God would not call a woman to ministry. Let’s ignore the “basic human rights” angle and focus on God’s calling. I believe you put God in a box of your own making when you assume God will not call women to ministry as ordained pastor. I believe He will and does. How do you know that when a woman experiences the same sense of God’s calling as a man, when a woman’s gifts are recognized by the church the same as a man’s, when her spiritual leadership and inspiration are as clear to her parishioners as a man’s, how do you know God is calling the man but not the woman? Again, I believe you put God in a box of your making just because you believe a certain way. Well, God is not bound by your beliefs. He is not bound by precedents set in the New Testament. In my view, God is flexible within the moral boundaries He has set to call whomever He believes will bring people to Jesus and build their faith.

What frightens me is that God is calling women, but the Church of Certainty is blocking His calling. How arrogant!

Of course, these thoughts are at odds with your neatly constructed theory which, by the way, smacks of Headship Theology, which is not part of the Adventist belief system.


“You are correct, however many will disagree with you as to which hermeneutic is the correct one.”

And this type of either/or approach within Adventism has led it to the place of unrest and possible church schism which isn’t laudable either.


This is exactly the point. It’s the Holy Spirit that does the deciding, not man. Who are mere humans to dictate to God whom He can and cannot call to ministry? Arrogance, indeed!