South Pacific Division President Glenn Townend Issues Statement on Annual Council Vote

Editor’s Note: On October 16, 2018, following the Annual Council vote, South Pacific Division President Glenn Townend issued a statement on his public Facebook page, which follows in its entirety:

Yesterday afternoon’s Annual Council meeting on the Compliance document went from 2-7 pm and was conducted in a very fair manner. Most people who chose to share their perspective in 2 minutes spoke against the document, but the vote was 185 in favour, 124 against with 2 abstentions. Votes in issues that we as a world Church have differences of opinion on are usually in this 60-40 range. That has certainly been the case since I have been a member of the GC Executive Committee and gone to GC Sessions — this vote was no different.

My read of the meeting was that most people wanted compliance and consequence to non-compliance. I have no issue with that. My concern was the way in which non-compliance was to be dealt with. This did not seem to matter. We as a Church have moved away from the voted representative body, the Executive Committee, dealing with non-compliant issues to delegate this to ADCOM, which do not have executive power and are not a voted representative body. However, despite many people noting this point, it did not seem to register on those who voted. From my perspective this is a significant shift in how we do Church business.

Some have questioned why SPD personnel did not speak up in the discussion. I cannot speak for the others from SPD, but I did not speak because the points I was going to make had already been made by many others — I have learnt that you don’t win votes by the number of words. I can also assure you though that the SPD members of the GC Executive Committee were united in their concerns on the document — we met together at the request of the GC president and shared openly the night before the discussion.

We cannot vote unity — the vote showed that again. I know the issue of compliance will not go away. The issue behind the consequences for non-compliance is still very current. Women’s ordination is a conscience issue and no one can shut down a person’s conscience.

In the SPD we have people with many different opinions and can and will continue to share openly. We will also continue to support women in ministry, work with those entities who are non-compliant and above all focus on God’s Mission to take His last-day message of good news to the world.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Thank you for your statements.

To the readers I think there are two simple questions that cut to the heart of the issue and exposes the level of thinking by many in the church:

Does the Holy Spirit call who He deems fit for service to God?
Y__ or N__

Does the SDA church have the authority to create a policy that over rules the Holy Spirit choice of spiritual gift distribution to believers?
Y__ or N__

Ordination is a human construct and by definition used to publicly recognize one called by God to His service in ministry. What spirit are we following when we create policies that say we will not recognize the ones God calls and at the same time establish compliance committees to enforce it under the thin guise ensuring unity?


It seems like it is a ploy to have committees which have no moral standing, because it was not elected by the process stipulated. That is illegal, and that is in non compliance,and maybe that lawyer who was so “brave” should think twice about challenging the church. Maybe the best way to challenge the " high priests" is to reveal how they have broken the very same regulations they pretend to keep and protect. Also, I think that many of us, who don’t have access to our conference and unions constitution, should demand to see them, and realize that it has been altered, changed, without the consent of the constitutency. So that is why some voted in favour, because they are hiding the changes, and don’t want anyone or body challenging them.


This is another beautiful statement that seems vague and nothing but “conciliatory.” My comment on it is,

  1. Many of those who appear to have chickened out at the AC are now coming up with all sorts of excuses for not let their voices to be known before the fatal vote.
  2. Why did they meet the night before with Ted Wilson? Who called this meeting? What was actually the content of the meeting (please show up with the minutes!)
  3. What does “support women in ministry” actually mean?
  4. Is there ANY female pastor already ordained at the SPD? Do they support ordination of women?
  5. The statement from the SPD is completely pale when compared to the statement from the TED!

Hi George, good point.
Unfortunately, divisions are extensions of the GC, so presidents are lame ducks, with really limited clout. That’s why the Unions are a stumbling block to the GC, unions can challenge the GC, because unions are not elected or chosen by GC, but a constitutency.
Now, in some parts of the world, some of the division workers are very dubious personalities, when they work for conference and union, so eventually a bunch of questionable people put together, can only result in what we have today.



Your vapid , bland, insipid statement did not address the “elephant in the room”—- the “compliance issue” was just a subterfuge code word / euphemism for WOMENS ORDINATION.

Let us shout it out loud and clear!

When will the SOUTH PACIFIC DIVISION enter the mainstream modern world by refusing to reserve your male bastion for white male privileged entitlement.?

You barricade your fortress tower of male hierarchy with an efficient glass ceiling that forever prevents women from attaining higher office.

Is the concept of female conference and union conference presidents threatening to you??

Get over it— we are now in the twenty first century, not in the papal medieval era.

When will egalitarianism prevail?
When will your female employees attain FULL STATUS with their male colleagues??


All those questions are the only thing that matters. If they do not respond to that, their statement is completely worthless.


I would like to know whether the SPD has provided any support or cover to its unions, specifically the Australian Union Conference and the New Zealand Pacific Union Conference, to make decisions about the ordination of women.

The lack of position taking or action by those unions has been deafening. The closest we have is a recent union president finding his voice when transferred to a new role.

As for the local conferences, there are plenty of them, and none appear to have stuck their heads above the parapets. The lack of leadership in this part of the world is appalling. The risk of losing ones position over this issue must be low. The men out there need to grow a pair.




I am a retired pastor and university lecturer from Australia. I know and respect Glenn Townend and those closest to him in the SPD. Within the last 24 hours I spoke to one of his closest confidantes. When I suggested that Glenn was rather relaxed about what had transpired in Battle Creek, his close confidante strongly disagreed.

I don’t claim to understand why the SPD are using the particular strategies they are using to flag their concerns to the GC leadership and its Executive Committee. I don’t believe I need to. I have observed Glenn’s actions within the SPD on these matters and believe him when he states that the SPD will continue to support women in ministry.

I also trust that he and/or the fellow members of the GCDO spoke out when this potential agenda item was being debated for possible inclusion on the agenda.

Response to George

You comment that the statement is beautiful, seemingly vague and nothing but conciliatory. Please read it again. Glenn has clearly outlined his greatest concerns with the document.

So I respond to each of your 5 comments as follows:

  1. I do not believe it to be an excuse to suggest that since others had very clearly represented his concerns he did not need to repeat them. In recent days someone suggested, rightly I believe, that even if the vote had been taken before anyone spoke on that Sunday afternoon, the vote would still have been the same.
  2. George, I believe you have misunderstood the circumstances of the meeting with the SPD caucus of the GCEC.
    My reading of Glenn’s words are that Elder Wilson requested each Division caucus to meet together. I regard this as a poor move because it allowed for the grandest sort of collusion concerning the vote that may be conceived.

It would appear to have legitimised the strategy of gathering Division caucuses together before the vote to provide specific direction on how to vote. This would appear to be contrary to the Church Manual.

  1. I understand the actions of the SPD in their support of women in ministry as follows:
    a. The SPD have welcomed committed and qualified women into pastoral, chaplaincy, departmental and administrative roles, especially in the last 20 years. Women currently fill the roles of SPD Associate Executive Secretary; a Conference Executive Secretary; a Conference Youth Director; a Conference Health Director plus many front line positions. I have just named a few that are on the top of my mind. (In past years we had a woman serving as a Union Executive Secretary. She has since retired).
    b. SPD Working Policy has been adjusted to better reflect the inclusion of women in such roles as mentioned above and cover their needs. Our SPD, Unions, Conferences and Missions have established many pro-active strategies for the cultivation of women in leadership.
    c. News items and stories of women in ministerial roles are prominent in SPD official media channels.
    d. In Adventist fora on the global stage, SPD leaders continue to assert their belief that nothing in the Scriptures prevents the full participation of women in leadership.
    e. In other words we are continuing to build the necessary infrastructure to facilitate a wider role for women leaders within the SPD.
    NB Most Adventists in the SPD are much less inclined to be political activists for ‘women’s rights’ than our brothers and sisters in NAD or in Europe. There is a different ethos here. We appear to be much more relaxed about these matters.
  2. Most but no all pastors and Adventist leaders within the SPD were very disappointed that the San Antonio vote came out the way it did. Barry Oliver, the previous SPD President until 2015, authored an important pro-WO statement in the concluding movements of the TOSC process. The SPD very much wants to see some more definitive resolution to the matter of WO but it is content to let things play out as they will, knowing that there is much to be done in the meanwhile.
    5. So I conclude that the SPD statement is anything but pale!

Response to Robin

Your very direct activism on behalf of ‘women’s rights’ is just not the style chosen by the SPD leadership.

You misrepresent the stance of the SPD leadership big time. Cool down, please!!

Response to Billman

The answers we give are determined by the questions we ask, as Don Lemon, GC VP recently observed.

It just may be that given all I have said to George, you are asking the wrong question.

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Thank you Peter for your remarks. I see great effort to reveal that the SPD is actually supporting women’s involvement with ministry and other positions. Which I of course applaud.

One more detail, though, that could actually give us a better view of the SPD: How many ordained women pastors does the SPD have in its whole territory?


The SPD follows GC Working Policy.

Women are commissioned as credentialed ministers. We are very happy to do this in the same rite as ordination. But we don’t see any great virtue in ordaining women contrary to GC Working Policy.

In doing this the SPD is no different than the bulk of unions in the NAD.

As I have suggested, I look forward to the day when some more satisfying resolution for this matter is arrived at. I will continue to lend my support for this happening. It just may be that this more satisfying resolution is something other than Women’s Ordination or Men’s Ordination, for that matter.

I think that Scandinavia has arrived at a viable third option.

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“Is not the style of the SPD“

May I put a label on the style evidenced by the SPD .?

It a miserable, misogynistic, medieval mindset style!

There you go— I said it!

Maybe I expect more of the SPD since unlike the NAD,
AUSTRALIA has had a woman prime minister 2010-2013
NEW ZEALAND is on its THIRD female prime minister.
The Aussies and Kiwis are clearly not threatened by female authority figures
(except that is for the Adventist male hierarchy in your region!)

You state that I misrepresent the stance of the SPD.


How many ordained women pastors in the SPD ?

Please respond with a number so we can adequately evaluate their ethical level of democracy and fairness!


Thanks for the clarification.

I want to say it kindly, and hoping it will not offend anybody. But, in my opinion, any institution (Conference, Union, Division, GC) that practices discrimination of women by not ordaining them equally to men, is supporting the insane ideology of discrimination. No matter how many beautiful statements they write, or how many explanations, etc.

Words have great value, but they can be invalidated by actions that are opposite to them.What is the value of making a statement of support for women’s ministry and at the same time refusing to ordain them for the ministry when they have the same ability as men do? For me it is hypocritical.


Hey Robin, slow down, you may have a heart attack on this - not worth it!

I am sure you are all excited to hear how many women have been ordained at the SPD. Well, I will tell you right now: “0” - ZERO.

Peter Marks was not able to answer my question. He had to go around. I know that you don’t like this kind of response, neither do I. But, we can easily infer from his answer, it’s ZERO.

Therefore, the statement issued by the SPD has the same value as those “thoughts & prayers” that politicians send to victims of tragedy. ZERO value as well!


George! I did answer your question. The SPD sees no great virtue in working outside GC policy while at the same time working for greater resolution of the matter.

In part of the world, “my conference” has put up a plaque which displays the values of the SDA church in this region. Can someone tell me what equity means, because I found these, maybe I am wrong, so please correct my misunderstanding :

nombre femenino

Cualidad que consiste en dar a cada uno lo que se merece en función de sus méritos o condiciones.

“es un país de desigualdades donde no hay equidad en la distribución de riqueza y cultura”

Cualidad que consiste en no favorecer en el trato a una persona perjudicando a otra.

That was the Spanish version, now a shorter English version,



the quality of being fair and impartial.

“equity of treatment”

synonyms: fairness, justness, impartiality, egalitarianism; More

the value of the shares issued by a company.

“he owns 62% of the group’s equity”

synonyms: value, worth;

I attach a image of said plaque.

Peter, Thank you for providing insight that we otherwise would not have.

More than anything the root issue, that troubles and raises the rally cry of conscience, is that the current level of thinking by leadership is usurping the role of the Holy Spirit.

We know that spiritual gifts including ministry are the exclusive domain of God’s choice through the Holy Spirit. These gifts are not described as having gender qualification or the addition of class status based on gender. In actual practice though the church has structured the means by which to have gender/class associated with ministry as policy and through a vote . So it should not surprise you or others you know that actions like this would evoke such a strong response.

If I were to get 3 minutes with leaders I would ask these simple questions that cut to the heart of the issue to expose what we have done:

Does the Holy Spirit call who He deems fit for service to God?
Y__ or N__

Does the SDA church have the authority to create a policy that over rules the Holy Spirit choice of spiritual gift distribution to believers on the basis of gender or create sub-classes based on gender?
Y__ or N__

Ordination is a human construct and by definition used to publicly recognize one called by God to His service in ministry. What spirit are we following when we create policies that say we will not recognize the ones God calls or do the same by creating sub classes based on gender?


I think you’ve been reading my posts for too long.


Sounds lame to me: If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.


In the larger scheme of things the SPD will have a box seat in assisting the world field toward a viable resolution of the matter.

We must not deceive ourselves into believing that the only resolution possible is a continuation of the broken ordination paradigm.

It is time we gave attention to third options.