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. On July 10, North American Division President Daniel Jackson issued a Clarification of Roles on Women in Ministry and Trans-European Division President Raafat Kamal issued a letter addressed to women in ministry. The following statement was issued in the South Pacific Division's magazine, the Record on July 11. -Ed.
“We want to affirm our women in ministry,” said Pastor Glenn Townend, incoming president of the South Pacific Division, at a Friday morning meeting of the SPD delegates at the 60th General Conference Session. “We also need to think about how to move forward. This includes how we speak to those who don’t understand the diverse cultures comprising our world church.”
“I am fully in support of women in ministry,” continued Pastor Townend. “And from my understanding from Scripture and the writings of Ellen White, there is no reason they should not be ordained. We don’t all agree and I respect that, too. Every time the church has addressed this issue, it is getting closer to yes. I’m disappointed. And I know some people are really disappointed.”
Pastor Townend then initiated a prayer session to support all women in pastoral ministry, women ministry more broadly, and women feeling the call to ministry. The delegates gathered into five groups and prayed for God’s blessing, His leading and His healing.
“I feel really good now,” said Pastor Townend after the session of prayer. “Because we’ve been in the presence of our God. And there is such a spirit of unity. I hope this support will be communicated to all our women in ministry, not just those here in San Antonio.”
Townend also recorded a video in which he spoke to women in ministry following the vote saying,
We support you. We know that God has called you. Be faithful to God--to that call, and serve, because without you doing your job as God has called you, we are the weaker.
There is a famous and often-told story about Taiichi Ohno visiting the Toyota factory of a supplier. As he walked the shop floor, Ohno noticed a worker who was standing in front of a machine. When Ohno asked the worker what he was doing, the reply was, “I am watching the machine in case there is a problem.” “How often does a problem happen?” asked Ohno. “Never,” replied the worker. Taiichi Ohno thought to himself, “What a terrible waste of humanity.”
What Taiichi Ohno understood is that every team member comes to work with a desire to add value to the best of their ability, with a desire to do their job in a way that satisfies customers and contributes to the overall mission and success of the company. The same thing should occur in a church. Particularly when 67% of the membership is composed of women. There is a sad tragedy to the way a former GC president and a present conference president have been treated by church leaders and representatives. The tragedy is compounded now with the anti-ordination vote and it’s aftermath. In the name of “unity” persons who hold deep ideas and beliefs about gender equality in ministry are being asked to put them aside for “the greater good”.
We must respect each other. In order to do that, we must start by thinking or ourselves as a team. A team with lots of diversity and respect. Team members must learn and grow and get better, each and every day. Pastoral and Administrative leaders who respect their team members need to ensure that they are providing a work environment that enables people to learn and grow constantly so that they can make a greater contribution tomorrow than they did today. Developing people on a daily basis is what effective leaders do to “show respect.” Isn’t it about time we started to “show respect”? If we don’t respect our differences how will we ever respect each other?
What a terrible waste of humanity that would be.
I have former high school students who are now in leadership position in and around the great continent of Australia.
They give high praise for now President Townend, and they are looking forward to his long “reign”.
But, there are times when “teams” are torn apart by differences of opinion or belief that are “core” to their conflicting identities. Those differences cannot be papered over by a simple call to “respect” each other, if that means one side always gets their way. Any team would function better if its members and/or groups could have the freedom to do as they believed they should–especially when they see an issue as both a moral and religious imperative.
this really is the crux of the question, isn’t it…culture is insidious…its influence is almost impossible to recognize…i was born into a devout misogynist adventist culture, and even though two of my uncles regularly beat their wives, there was never a feeling that women were being mistreated, least of all from women themselves…they accepted, as a matter of natural order, that it was their place to be beautiful, helpless and hopeless in mechanical and athletic things, excellent in the kitchen and in the home, generally, and that they would marry, defer all decisions to their husbands and bring up children in the church…none of them thought to question whether they had gifts outside these areas, even though a few, like my mother, completed an undergrad degree…
now that i’m removed from that culture - and have traveled in many more cultures - i can see these things…but at the time, it was the only reality i knew…to suggest that god would indicate something outside of colored south african society was unthinkable…but the point is, abraham left his culture behind, and all of us, to some extent, need to be children of abraham and do the same…the vote in san antonio shows that finding ways to teach these things effectively, without a backlash due to unwise methods, is now the responsibility of nad, ted and spd…
the case of ultra-conservative adventists in first world countries is probably the most challenging…they have the benefit of familiarity with modern egalitarian culture, and do access various benefits stemming from it…but they have also fused inspired directives to stay separate from the lusts of the world with antipathy towards everything to do with cultural developments, good and bad…and self-righteous momentum is difficult to perceive, and check…
What has happened is a clear example of how belief and tradition trumps information and logic. As a church, we clobber members of other faiths with Biblical “information” as we try to direct their membership to our church, claiming we follow clear Bible teachings. We zigzag through the Bible coupling and dividing texts and calculating numbers; but it all amounts to our trying to somehow prove what is already practiced and believed.
Fact: All the study grouping and probing has determined that there is no directive about ordination, male or female. We can make it up as we go. So we fall back on cultural biases and call it God’s will - because we prayed.
Fact: There are clear descriptions in the NT about the role of women in the church - “they are not to teach men” - I Timothy. We ignore this directive because it wouldn’t fly in the 21 st Century; and it could call EGW into question.
Fact: Women are to cover their heads in church. We totally ignore this directive, I don’t know why except it may be too “Catholic” like displaying a cross on the church building.
So, in light of what has just NOT happened, I have a proposal. Let’s take all the teachings of the Bible literally and start applying them to our church family. If we have to take a six day creation literally, then surely we need to take the rest.
My “Indecent Proposal”, and not such a swift idea.
Divide the church into three distinct sections for ease of operation. The front rows reserved for males 21 and over - about 1/6 of the pews; the next 1/6 should be reserved for families; the last 1/2 of the pews for women 21 and over, which includes single women and widows. Visitors can be directed to the proper sections.
The back 1/2 of the rows should have note pads placed next to the tithe envelopes; and the single women can write down any questions they might have about the sermon and the SS lesson. These questions will be answered by a male committee during the following week. The married women will have their husbands explain and interpret them, of course.
In addition, tidy little caps need to be provided the women as they enter the sanctuary, to be discarded at the door upon exit. These could be tastefully colored or in pure white. There may even be some red caps as Ellen White recommended every woman should wear something red.
There should be study groups set up to see what Old Testament practices, that don’t breach any civil laws, can be added to our worship services and our families as we endeavor to ''finish the work" - somehow.
If we are to follow the “not-so-clear word” in one respect, then let’s at least try to follow the very clear directives in the Bible; and not try explaining them away based on cultural changes in society. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.
It seems TW’s call for clarification is backfiring. None who have answered have said they are going to stop ordaining woemen (if they have been) or de ordain or remove from a Conf president’s chair. Further proof that this latest vote was NOT the mechanism to address this issue. It solved absolutely nothing.
And we should definitely bring back the gloves, I remember my grandmother wouldn’t go to Church without them.
(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13)
Call me discouraged, but I don’t think any of this matters. Information doesn’t matter. Theology doesn’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Believers in Christian patriarchy think it should be spelled out as Adventist doctrine & that enforcing it is what God wants church leaders to do. We can emphasize the non-credal Protestant meaning of ordination six ways to Sunday, but it will be disregarded because ordination is the last bastion for the gospel of male spiritual hierarchy.
Ah… but feeling discouraged or not… your name is still Hopeful!
Take a deep breath… walk outdoors… rain, sun, stars, clouds… God is above them all. In His great plan evil has to have its space to work out its own destruction. Our task, in our space, is to follow where He leads and shine whatever light we have in the darkness.
What is a person who was planning for a YES vote on WO to do and say after they return to their home church now that San Antonio GC is over? Particularly if your church is being pastored by an ordained female pastor? What if your church has members who choose to gloat over the outcome? How does a woman doing ministry in an Adventist church as a pastor view their career path after this negative vote? Some have begun to feel the emotional toxic level of exclusion and negativity as a result of the anti-ordination vote.
Toxic environments are not limited to chemical plants, corporate climates or political back rooms. The Adventist church can be toxic as well. A church environment becomes toxic when the system is closed, power is abused, consent to sin is mistaken for loyalty and telling the truth is forbidden. It happens when a needy, unhealthy leaders with weak boundaries and no accountability become a vessel for the power of God. Toxicity, when experienced for long enough periods and at high enough levels, is lethal. And the modern church is killing far too many women who come to it for sanctuary. In a word, the local Adventist church in the 21st century MAY BE an unsafe place to be.
Pastoral care has come to mean care of the pastor with no guarantees of care by the pastor. Hence in some circles (though not all) the congregational environment presumes permission to exploit the mental, financial and spiritual health of women and minority people, who once looked to the church for direction and sanctuary from their negative life experiences.
Find a non-toxic local congregation. I will pray for and wish the women pastors in our church God’s protection and special blessing from this point forward in our journey. I pray for forgiveness for any- one who did not study, deliberate and consider this issue of ordination carefully and went ahead and voted.