South Pacific Division Issues Official Statement on General Conference Ordination Vote

General Conference President Elder Ted Wilson has requested that each division president of the 13 world regions, clarify the meaning of the vote taken on Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Today, the South Pacific Division has issued an official statement on the significance of the vote in its territory. That statement, first released in the Record, follows in its entirety. -Ed.

The South Pacific Division (SPD) leadership rejoices that both our women and men are responding to God’s call to the gospel ministry. As Joel 2:28-29 makes clear, it is only when young and old, male and female, are together filled with the Holy Spirit and are reaching out to our dying world, that God’s work is completed.

After careful study of Scripture and Ellen White’s writings, we believe women who serve faithfully as pastors should be eligible for ordination on the same basis as male colleagues. We are, therefore, disappointed by the vote at the General Conference Session on July 8, which prevented world divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from deciding this question within their territories.

The SPD is thankful for the women already serving as pastors in the South Pacific, and we sincerely appreciate and respect their faithful spiritual leadership. We will initiate plans to increase the numbers and the support of women in various kinds of ministry. However, the South Pacific Division intends to remain in harmony with the world Church. This includes continuing to hire, promote and commission women pastors, who are, under existing church policy, free to perform nearly all the functions of their male colleagues.

We hope that, in time, the world Church will recognise gospel equality in regard to women’s ordination. The SPD will work toward that purpose while respecting those with alternative perspectives. The evidence from General Conference Session votes over the last 25 years, shows that support for women’s ordination has increased steadily from 24 per cent to 41.3 per cent. We hope and expect that the freedom for the Church to ordain all who God calls to gospel ministry will be reality soon.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6988
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Oh, snap!

Well, based on other posts here on Spectrum, not really: It didn’t give the Divisions new powers, but also didn’t take away the Union’s existing powers to decide who to ordain.

That’s refreshing.

I think it’s already here, but not in the hands of the Divisions (and never was.)

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I think that since they will continue to have women be commissioned pastors but they will not ordain women, out of respect to the World Church’s decision, that this is an example of unity in diversity. And I applaud them for their stance.

Looking forward to the day when sex discrimination based on gender will be totally eliminated by our church and the Holy Spirit’s gifts can be affirmed for the other half of our population. Until then, praying for unity, or as Ellen White says, “equality” is what creates unity.

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Joel 2:28-29 says: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”

I understand this to mean that whether you have a title or not, or whether you are educated or not, God will pour His spirit upon you, like with the disciples and other believers in the upper room.

I also see it in the sense of prophets (prophecise), not in the pastor (priest) sense, since pastors and prophets are not the same thing as I understand it.

What do you guys think?

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Not all believers are pastors, but we are all a “royal priesthood” - every one of us belongs to that priesthood; male/female, rich/poor, old/young, free/slave, jew/greek. We do God no favors by placing limits upon these empowering words. Absolutely no ordination by man is required. So then go, everyone, preach the gospel, baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching (others) to obey everything (He) has commanded.

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[quote=“efcee, post:6, topic:9030”]
So then go, everyone, preach the gospel, baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching (others) to obey everything (He) has commanded.[/quote]

Amen. That’s also how I see it. I can reach people that perhaps you can’t and vice-versa.

In my opinion, I believe that we should each figure out how we can reach others outside the church and learn how to do so in the most effective way. How can we do this exactly? I don’t really know to be honest. But it’s a thought thats been coming up in my mind in connection with WO and other titles in general in the church.

So instead of concentrating inwards, we need to concentrate more outwards. It says Go. That means move out, move along…etc.

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This statement accomplishes many things:

  1. It respects the decision of the world church body as voted.
  2. It expresses disappointment that the vote did not go differently.
  3. It confirms the value of women in ministry.
  4. It resolves to establish women in their various callings - whatever those callings might be.
  5. It is a fine example of submission and christian forbearance within the context of a principle disagreement.
  6. It cites the trajectory of increasing favor toward the christian virtue of equality as it applies to women in ministry, encouraging everyone toward that bright future when all will embrace that virtue.
  7. It made me hopeful for the future.
  8. It increased my confidence in Division leaders that they can do their work without sacrificing conscience.

Jesus prayed for us to have unity. This statement is an answer to prayer.

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Oh goody, look at the vote change over the last 25 years. We should only need another 25 years to get to a position of equality.

He has obviously been leaned on by TW after his first statement wasn’t good enough.

How inspiring it is to be part of such a dynamic, forward thinking organisation.

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The orchestrated chaos of the last five years will only get worse. The New Testament doesn’t authorize hierarchical denominations. We should notice that James didn’t merely tell the Christians in the Diaspora that they were free from the law. After describing a consensus, he assured them that the apostles and elders in Jerusalem would henceforth “trouble them not”, i.e., no more inter-regional interference.

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Not a surprising statement given what was shared earlier by the SPD president. That is for the division. What if a union in that division decides to go the route of the four others that have voted to ordain women? He is technically correct about divisions, but it is the unions that have the power to address ordination. He is also expressing “in harmony” with a different interpretation than the unions that have opted for WO. The unions that have gone with gender neutral ordination feel “in harmony” still applies considering the unclear, or at least conflicting, working policy on who can be ordained. I am wondering if more unions will take that step. Time will tell.

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if they did take that step, they would not be out of harmony with the vote in san antonio…

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Well if Jesus needed to pray on our behalf we must have a technical problem upstairs in the control room.

This sounds like headship theology taking us back to our anti-trinitarian roots.

Never underestimate the human capacity to see what ever we want to see in any given situation.

Some have confused WO as a demand for an arrogant or “high” title. Nothing could be further from the truth. Humble women of God, blessed and commissioned by His call to service have been preaching and teaching and using their Spirit-given talents for decades in this church. This idea that Adventist women are lusting for title and recognition is totally false.

If you read the Acts of the Apostles Chapters 4 - 5, you will see how the Holy Spirit filled those gathered, both men and women, with the Spirit to preach the gospel with power. In our church, ordination is the act of recognizing that humility and the bestowal of spiritual power. The gifts are not exclusive or gender discriminatory. We know this because of Joel 2. The riveting narrative is not finished. Both men and women, humble and Spirit filled, answer the commission to take the Gospel of Jesus to the entire world.

The silliness of arguing over who can give bread to the starving, as was pointed out at GC, is so pointless. Let God be God and empower whomever He will.

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He as obviously been leaned on… While I can’t make that assumption to be fair, if I continue to believe that the overarching direction post San Antonio is that of unity by conformity then this statement fits the M.O.
WO is not the only targeted issue on the horizon. The argument has been made, and rightly so, that this is a Union and not Divison decision. However, pressure will be brought to bear general to major to… private. That is the way to get conformity. Not trying to get into George’s area, I predict that before the next GC convention we will see a major split in the Church. And that makes me sad because it really shouldn’t happen

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Divisionally, yes. It is a good statement. I am thankful for it. Union jurisdictions are left out of the loop, though, since the statement voted it left them out, which is really the basis of the “crises” in the WO debate. Unions are left free to stay “in harmony” if they vote to have ordained women pastors. Time will tell if more unions take the step.

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How so? I’m seriously curious because this Division president just submitted to the days-ago General Conference no-vote, stating unambiguously, “the South Pacific Division intends to remain in harmony with the world Church.” To “remain” in harmony with denominational bylaws sounds an awful lot like things getting better for the global body, not worse, specifically because no Union or Conference under the SPD will ever get to officially ordain females. Or were you somehow under the assumption that female ordination—and its multi-hermeneutics, anti-mission implications—will again reach a GC Session for next-generation Adventists?

Not me. I will not pretend to know the intentions of anyone’s heart as to why they want the title or ordaination or wherever other human given recognition.

All I’m saying is:

“So then GO, everyone, preach the gospel, baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching (others) to obey everything (He) has commanded.”

This message tells us individually to go and preach God’s Word whether or not you have man’s approval, according to my understanding of this verse.

If that is truly what we want to do as a people, nothing will keep us from doing so. So let’s get out there and do it. PERIOD. No excuses.

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It really is much more than title and ordination versus commission. Within the church policy, the compensation and benefits of an ordained employee is greater than that of a commission employee, despite both having similar responsibilities, qualifications and seniority. Now how does that grab your attention and sense of fairness?

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Also what are the exact duties of a comissioned employee and an ordained employee? What are the church’s reasons behind paying one more than the other? Why are there different titles? All these questions also need to be considered and the church needs to answer them so we can really see what’s the deal.

Aside from that, I’d have to side on Paul’s experience on this one. He went from place to place, making tents as a living. If I really wanted to be a pastor and I could only be commissioned and I was struggling since they make less than ordained pastors then I’d have to find another way of sustaining myself as Paul and I’m sure the others did as well in the Bible.

On this Earth nothing is fair. And there are plenty of examples of that outside of titles or any other human recognition given in the church.

Perhaps this is given as a test to commissioned employees to know whether they will continue onward with their commission/calling despite unfairness or leave their calling because unfairness. Who knows?