The African Church Leadership and the GC President: An Unhealthy Relationship

I was in San Antonio. How much did speak Jan Paulsen in favor of ordination? More than 4 minutes. That was unfair with the time they gave to those who spoke against. The other delegates only had 2 minutes. When Ted Wilson intervened, he did not say anything about ordination. He talked about unity. Paulsen’s strategy to win over Africans did not work for him. The African delegates did not like Paulsen addressing them. Paulsen spoke without interruption. In a free way…

1 Like

I am African and happen to live in Southern California, where our able conference president is a woman. Why there is a general conference “problem” over WO, I honestly don’t understand. If God was going to “punish” the church for ordaining women, then California is doomed. Last time I checked, we just ordained another woman yesterday!
In time, as Matthew rightly states, African Adventists, and for that matter all Adventists, will ask, “WO, what problem?”


Dr. Quartey–

Thank you for your thoughtful article. The Asante history of respect for women is often overlooked. It is truly a Western thought to pursue the sublimation of women and their role in God’s work. See reports by R. S. Rattray quoted in the Journal of Black Studies (see references).

When it comes to Women’s Ordination and certain issues, Dr. Matthew Quartey reflects the thinking of others who have either lived in West Africa or come from that part of the continent.

An Asante proverb states that “The stranger has big eyes, but doesn’t see a thing.” Leaving America for Liberia in 1963 and then moving to Ghana in 1970 and later to Sierra Leone in 1978—a span of 17 years—12 in West Africa, as an American of European descent, I no longer feel I am a stranger, but there is still so much to learn.

Addressing the issue of women, the Asante people of Ghana appear to have respect for men and women by the roles they hold. Rather than gender-specific, the roles range from child care and business leader, economic provider, to leader of towns and, in pre-colonial days, what Americans would call generals for the national army. Adopted into the Queen Mother’s family in the town of Kokofu, the location from which the nation’s queens come, I learned that women serve in many roles under which men serve.

The belief in a Creator God whose day of worship, the seventh-day of the week, is called The Day of the I Am carries over into the acceptance that both men and women were created in this God’s image.

Thank you Dr. Quartey for speaking on behalf of those who have chosen to remain silent, even while knowing that the vote against recognition of women as spiritual leaders was a vote against North America telling others outside the continent what to do and what to believe. The Adventist Church started in North America with, as Gosnel Yorke used to say, numerical democracy. Then, when numbers of members grew, there was economical democracy—America setting the guide lines. In linguistics there is a reference to prestigious languages. My feeling is that prestige democracy is about to lose the battle—truly pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).

Interesting references:

Tarikhu Farrar. The Queenmother Matriarchy and the Question of Female Political Authority in
Precolonial West African Monarchy. (Journal of Black Studies, Sage Publications Vol. 27 No. 5,
579-597, accessed from, December 12, 2015).
J. J. Nortey. Independent African Churches—Are They Genuinely Christian? (Adventist Spectrum, Vol. 20,
No. 2),
Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi, Perspective: What Will Africans Do with Women’s Ordination? (Adventist
Spectrum, 20 February 2015),
Kofi Owusu Mensa. Onyame Kwame: The Akan God of Saturday. (1990), Accra, Ghana: Advent Press.
The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana (The Coalition on the Women’s Manifesto, Ghana, 2004), Ghana,
West Africa.


Thank you! Not knowing what else to say, I say it again: Thank you!


How ironic it seems to me, a free American female, that an African Division of the Christian community would not allow females to obey the Great Commission? Their quite strict reading of Scripture, gyne meaning all mature females–not only wives–leads me to wonder if they also adhere to a strict reading of all the rest of Scripture? Does the African Division also endorse slavery? Seriously. It is quite legitimate to adhere strictly to the letter of the Word and realize that It allows for slavery. And, to me, a free American female who refuses to preach the gospel if the church leadership objects to it–to me who has been silent for over 21 years since graduating from Seminary in 1995–that is so ironic. Christ have mercy.


I wonder whether this desire to rebel against the collective decision of the GC will not encourage others to rebel against the collective decisions of committees in various Divisions, Unions, Conferences etc. Why would I respect a decision of any committee if it goes contrary to my personal convictions? I wonder where the notion that the decision of the GC was due to Africans and whether this is not an insult to Africans, especially that the rallying cry was to “allow those Division for whom the time has arrived” (or to use a more direct description) “matured.” You conveniently forgot that this was the precise reason some African delegates shouted the former GC President down. What he was saying was disrespectful and, frankly, insulting. It verged on the notion that because Africans are behind economically, they are behind Theologically. Thus, let those Divisions who are advanced go ahead - you will catch up, when you grow up.

I thought that when a meeting votes on something it becomes the decision of all, including those who voted against it, and this is the very robustness of the Adventist governance model: decisions are not pontificated by an individual - not even the GC President - but by the people in session. Hate speech against the GC President is not the Christian way. Lying about which Divisions voted “No” when the most impassioned speeches in favour of the “No” vote came from speakers from North America is not Christian. Please stop this lie. It makes me think of the arguments of those trying to legalise gay marriage and thereby change the definition of marriage. They would have us think every progressive thinking individual on the planet is for their idea when in actual fact if every individual was given a chance to vote on the matter there would probably be not even a state in the US or other parts of the world that would change the definition of marriage. But, please, leave the servant of the Lord alone. Have respect for him and have respect for the Adventist (and I think Biblical) way of settling matters. To show contempt on this aspect of our church organisation is a denial of the fundamental doctrine that deals with the church and its mission. It is also to destroy the very fabric of our unity.

Settling disputes by voting is not the perfect way, but it is the fairest way. There’s only one way to find out what people think on the matter: ask them, in this case via a vote. If the vote is rigged that is another matter. But if the vote is fair and free and done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, then God and the people have spoken.

If this issue is not a fundamental belief then rebelling against the decision of the church over it is recklessness. For why would you sacrifice the unity of the church - which does have impact on the salvation of people within the church - over something that has nothing to do with salvation? Where is your allegiance and what is your agenda? Would you destroy your own family because things you don’t agree with are going on in it? Friends, let us seek the way of love and humility through the grace of our Lord Jesus.

1 Like

Dear Mr. Quartey,

Thank you so much for expressing your opinion on this very challenging subject, and indeed your thoughts are echoed by thousands around the world. However, I tend to fall on the side of the issue of respecting the decision of the world church in session while respecting those who disagree with me. In Acts 15 the world church met in session and made decisions relative to what standards would be required of the Gentiles, and they finally came to certain conclusions as a world church that were to be binding for all time. Thus, we have an example of the world church making a decision, that some didn’t agree with, that was to be respected and applied to ALL the churches. One of those standards was that the Gentiles were to abstain from meat offered to idols which was rather controversial. In fact, 1 Corinthians 8 suggests that even Paul didn’t really feel it necessary to abstain from meats offered to idols because he knew that idols were not real gods, but the reason he followed this standard was because of the weak conscience of new believers just removed from idol worship.
In other words, despite his own PRIVATE opinion, he respected the judgment of the world church in session, and he didn’t make the claim that the world church leaders were influenced by Peter and James to make this decision. When we accuse leaders of practicing group think in following Dr. Wilson we are doing 2 things: 1) Judging all the hearts and minds of those African leaders in spite of the fact that you (nor I) have spoken to anyone of them, 2) also, we have a essentially said that these African leaders do not think for themselves. I feel that as a relates to judging the Bible says judge not. Also, as a relates to essentially saying that these African leaders blindly followed whatever Dr. Wilson said, we are simply calling them stupid, and that is RUDE AND UNCHRISTIAN. SOME PEOPLE SINCERELY BELIEVE FROM THE BIBLE THAT WOMEN’S ORDINATION IS WRONG, AND THEY HAVE TEXTS TO UNDERGIRD THEIR BELIEFS WITHOUT TWISTING THE BIBLE TO FIT THEIR NARRATIVE. Honestly, those who are for women’s ordination have no EXPLICIT scriptures to support their position. It’s all a matter of interpreting scriptures from a historical/contextual perspective. Those against women’s ordination can cite what Paul said, the male priesthood, the all male 12 disciples of Jesus , God’s judgment regarding the desire of the woman for her husband who would “rule over” her as a consequence. Whereas, those in favor can only sight Deborah (who I must admit to those against women’s ordination did judge, but even she had Barak to lead Israel in battle and she was never made a priest), and a contextual interpretation of Paul’s writings to say that if you read Paul’s writings as is than you have to allow for slavery also.

I’m simply stating that this notion that Dr. Wilson was the mastermind of some plot to keep women’s ordination from happening is patently wrong, and personally I believe the devil is behind such an insinuation to undermine confidence in God’s ordained leaders for this time in the church. My question would be: if you have such a problem with the decision of the world church than WHY DON’T YOU FOLLOW YOUR SUPPOSED CONVICTIONS AND LEAVE THE SDA CHURCH AND START YOUR OWN.

1 Like

I appreciate Spectrum’s varied topics and opinions.The great majority of comments on this thread express condescending attitudes toward those who might disagree with their mission of women’s ordination,they suggest that the patriarchs of the church in Africa are out of touch and blindly following.Could it be that they are following their conscience and study of scripture?To demean your opposition greatly weakens your arguments.The obvious vitriol for Ted Wilson is palpable in most of the comments,have we been lowered to hate for those that oppose us?Statements such as "the vote if you want to insult politics and call it that"insults ALL those who took part ,if the losing side had garnered 51% would you have made that statement?I know who the Captain of the ship is and no matter the storm this ship is going into the. harbor.

1 Like

I do not think you appreciate either the significance of the council in Jerusalem, the nature of biblical support for the male priesthood or the nature of what was voted at GC15

1] The church has come together and considered the question of ordination and male headship and rejected it as lacking biblical support in the GC convened TOSC. To pretend that opponents of the conclusion of TOSC

is to spurn the conclusion of the church at biblical study and is disrespectful of the process from the voice of God on earth

2] The council at Jerusalem concluded the there should be different standards for conduct between gentiles and Jewish Christians. The way the GC voted is precisely contrary to this and would suggest that there should be no distinction between Jewish and Gentile believers and all should be forced to behave in exactly the same way.

3] It is naive to pretend that the way a question is asked has no influence on the outcome. The GC decided what people would vote on. The question was, having grudgingly accepted that the ordination of woman was not a biblical issue in the TOSC, should ordination be practised exactly the same everywhere. Even in countries where gender discrimination is subject to civil law. Unfortunately too many are interpreting this vote as a vote against equality and women ordination rather than seeing it for what it is a vote for centralized power and decision making.

4] As you know Paul Ratsara resigned as president of the SID after the GC vote and after it came to light he fraudulently obtained a PhD. Do you question that such a lack of moral compass allowed him to coerse a block vote from members of his division? Any secular government or political body would see this as reason to discount the validity of the vote. It is shameful that we as followers of Christ do not. In this we are not far from the morality of Arnaud Amalric with his zealous statement “kill them all God will know his own”

I woiuld offer a couple of responses
1] this argument from the status quo was used to justify slavery. We see this in retrospect as lacking Christian moral justification.
2] It was the decision of the TOSC that the bible is silent on the issue of womens ordination. You are going against the GC to suggest that this GC initiative was in fact incorrect.


If the Seventh-Day Adventist church has grown to over 19 millions in over 150 years; then why change success if our elders has been following the Holy Bible? Where was there no “seer” to predict this global success or any event for that matter. Holy women who served God in the SDA were successful for over a century without the need for women ordination. Therefore, the real question should be: Why is there a need now for Women Ordination; and why are you letting the worldly culture drive the affairs of the church. How is this Biblical; if so many Holy Scriptures disagree with women ordination. Please provide the solid ground proof through Scriptures, for all to see and discuss openly.

in reply to: “But we didn’t need a seer to predict that the North American and European Unions who had voted to ordain women before San Antonio would not rescind their actions. Fighting against WO is inherently unwinnable.”

4th Day: 2017.8.30 17:35

God will conclude one day Mathew

Job 42:7 After the LORD had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, "I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.

i have a question on WO

“Is there any word from the LORD?” Mathew???

I’ll join that camp. I feel very superior to those who would denigrate women by putting them in a 2nd class unable to be ordained to minister.

Not if they honestly read the bible and take heed to what it most clearly states, that we are all one under Jesus’ grace.

Oh, no, there’s no hate here. But if Africa won’t join the 21st century and if the church continues to cow tow to tyranny of the majority vote instead of growing a backbone and pushing the correct Christian teachings as they should, I’ll be leaving. I don’t want to continue to be associated with a chauvinistic establishment.

I’d have continued to state that putting rights and theology up to a general vote is terrible. Such things should be determined by a council of educated scholars that represent a cross section of the church, and that leaves behind cultural norms as much as possible to determine the true meaning of the scriptures.

I don’t think anyone here has any idea what that means.


Seems quite sad to me, that you have been silent for so many years. My cousin went down a different course and I’m so glad she did.

Here she is baptizing a child:

After the year of grace then the fall of mace!

1 Like

Hi, Fred (Chowa16).
Please do not read “convictions” but “conscience”. It’s 500 years after reformation. Luther said when on trial in Worms that doing something “against conscience is neither right nor safe”.

Secondly I regret not to have been in San Antonio. So I didn’t catch personally what Jan Paulsen said that you interpreted as disrespectful and insulting. I’m partly living in his home country and have been a member of several churches he worked with as a pastor. I do not recognize him in these characterizations.

When WO or the opposition to it isn’t a fundamental belief why then do you consider it a rebellion to have a different view and why is there need for a massive repression? Why do women not have the right to preach the gospel (and earn a living by doing)?

Women have always been on the front of our mission. My wife has been the leader of women’s ministry in Northern Germany (while not being a pastor). Their soul-winning activity has been more effective than that of other departments.

My family has been Adventist over one hundred years and I’m surrounded of pastors in each generation. I don’t want to die as an Adventist Catholic.

As Matthew told, there is no way back in the US and Europe. May God prevent a schism because of assertiveness and ignorance.


It will be interesting to see you all try to obstruct the Great Commission!

1 Like

Many of us have seen the video footage. Paulsen spoke eloquently; the crowd behaved atrociously.


Sister Sandra, You are right! You are so right!

Sister NanaYaa72, I never felt discriminated against as a girl when I grew up in Ashanti. We girls were always proud of ourselves. We were different from guys, but a good difference. Eye pi ma me kra. Power is not always where it appears to be, thank Goodness! And a good argument will win out (and one hopes win over objectors), whether male or female. (A fair, open, honest discussion, perhaps with appeal to cultural or human precedents or proverbs, and definitely making the case, is what is needed first, though.)

Respect is always important, especially for the wise and more experienced or the aged, or those in authoritative positions. My father who grayed prematurely (silvered by his thirties) found his white hair an advantage in Africa, for he was allowed respect beyond his years.–Did he operate under false pretenses? But who would object to respect! And he certainly respected the African cultures he worked in, so it was mutual; and he taught my brother and me how to be respectful even before we arrived, and how much more while we lived there in Bekwai for six years. Besides, we saw respect demonstrated by other children, who always listened to their elders and were quiet, when our family had the pleasure and privilege of making a leisurely Sabbath afternoon visit (at the much more human tempo in Africa) to another family such as the Boatengs or to Pastor Agboka’s home (my favorite). My parents later served another six years in Rwanda; and they had the honor of having African children given the Christian name “Jordan,” after them as a lasting legacy–before Jordan became a popular appellation here.

Ah, the Sabbaths we enjoyed, in visiting or taking nature walks in the rain forest, on the road to the nearby village of Asanso! (a Sabbath day’s journey away). Sabbath was a happy day (Omeda ye niji da, me do Omeda biara); and in church we would sing Yesu Kristo reba bio. (Please pardon misspellings or the running together of words. I was only six or seven when Dad taught me to sing out of the Twi hymnal. I didn’t always know what I was singing, but he helped me learn to pronounce it reading in IPA. I must be allowed some clemency for my mistakes, as that was six decades ago. Surely I too am venerable by now!)

The most popular title on the transportation lorries was Nyame bechere, God will provide. We took a school lorry on field trips to Kokofu, and to the gold mine at Obuasi. There was one girl, Vida, among a whole fifth-form (I think) class of boys then, and I was impressed how the young gentlemen would give her a hand to help her down from the lorry.–My Mother, who taught them in secondary school, would speak up for the (then) unreceived idea of educating girls beyond primary school. She would win out by saying, "But educate a girl, and you educate a family!"
I would not trade my African girlhood for gold. As the French say, it was my formation (early education).

I envy you, Jeannette, for being adopted by the Kokofu Queen Mother! I once sat on the Asantehene’s lap, but I cannot boast of being adopted. When I colored in my Sabbath coloring book, though, during church, I made the Bible characters brown, not “flesh!!!” color. They were of color, after all, I knew. And wasn’t everybody else who was important in my world?

The exception was the other missionaries. My Mum said that she felt washed out in a line-up of women for a picture with the Ghanaian Secretary of Education, who was a woman and was the speaker and guest of honor at one graduation. (I’ll bet my Mum had something to do with influencing the Principal of the Teacher Training College, who was always an advocate of equality and of women–wasn’t he married to the loveliest and most gifted one? to invite Madam Secretary, for the school girls could then see what was possible for them.)

My Dad was also a proponent of another notion, unpopular in the Union and the Division at the time, of educating and advancing to high positions, positions of responsibility, the African workers.that God was calling. He also had the privilege of mentoring several himself. But old ways of thinking can die hard. No wonder why, on our campus at Bekwai, in Ghana, the first sub-Saharan nation to gain its independence–and we arrived there at that exact moment, in 1957–among themselves students inveighed against “Colonialism, Capitalism, and Imperialism!” “What are those big words, Mama? and why spoken with such passion?” Abraham Lincoln stated, my child, that we cannot escape history.

Besides a few families from the U. S., the missionaries on the staff of the school (for there were also African teachers) were composed of nationals from various countries in the Northern European Division. All except for Doc Jones–the pet chimpanzee of a black American couple, who was on one humorous occasion at a committee session jokingly named to a vacant faculty position!

Among the missionaries was a young (adult) Pastor Jan Paulsen. Being from the “Old World” he teased me with his gentle sense of humor about coming from the “New-nited States.” I never could set him straight on that! I looked up to his beautiful blonde wife, and thought the world of this godly couple. I still do. We must beware (I do not mean to put this too harshly, nor was I in attendance to hear what was said in this instance–but I think that the text applies more broadly here, too) not to “cause a person to be indicted by a word…and defraud the one in the right with meaningless arguments.” (Is.29:21)’

I must apologize to those who think that I have taken their time simply reminiscing of happier days when I grew up in Africa. There is no substitute in understanding for living in another culture, in learning to respect and to appreciate how others think and speak and act. I came by this blessing merely because my parents went to Ghana to teach and to lead out as administrators and to bring there the benefits of world-class education and of the knowledge of God. (At the time as high as three-fourths of the student body at Bekwai were non-Adventist.) They knew that soon the work would be in the hands of the capable Africans themselves, and they rejoiced to see that day in prospect.

In fact Mother and Dad lived long enough to see Ghanaians and Rwandans come to the U.S. as missionaries and serve here and elsewhere, abroad from their own home countries. The Jordans’ 60th wedding anniversary, as well as their memorials were honored by the attendance or well wishes of numerous illustrious former students, not a few now living in the States, who went on to achieve M.A.s, M.D.s, and Ph.Ds, and who spoke of themselves as “fruits” of Mom’s and Dad’s labors in the Lord. These Africans were the stars of the occasions, and the envy of other guests in their eloquent speeches.

Few among us have such satisfaction of seeing things come full circle in life. Though Mom and Dad were not highly recognized here in their work upon return to America, and Dad’s full retirement was denied by the G.C. since they did not count his service in WWII because of a lapse of more than a year when, after Mom and Dad married, Mother conscientiously insisted in working a second year at Broadway Academy (the first year was a throw-away, it was felt in those days, given really to on-the-job experience), still the reality of seeing the advancement of God’s work in our church and, more to the point, the special pleasure in seeing former students from Africa achieve such heights was more than enough honor for a lifetime.

And now the family history and my own take on WO:

My Mother Jeanne, upon coming back to the Andrews community was active in AAW, and when the AAW booth at GCNewOrleans1985 was summarily shut down by a wife of one of the powers-that-be at that time, I’m not sure who, Mother and Dad (Richard Jordan) personally took it upon themselves to hunt down the hotel room numbers of the delegates and to place at each of their doors the packets prepared by the AAW and others interested in fair and equal treatment of women pastors. This was in the service of acquainting everyone with this line of reasoning and helping all the delegates make informed decisions.

My own thinking with regard to (not only) gender and race equality is best reflected in a couple of well known hymns–for Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage:

“New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth” (“Once to every man and nation”, SDAH 606).

In adaptation by Dr. Ottilie Stafford, whose impressive presentation on renewal of liturgy I once was privileged to attend at Andrews–SDAH 615:

"Rise up, O men of God! His kingdom tarries long Bring in the day of brotherhood (sisterhood–my addition, but of course it wouldn’t scan this way), and end the night of wrong.

"Let women all rise up! Have done with lesser things. Give heart and soul and mind and strength to serve the King of Kings.

“Rise up courageous youth! The church for you doth wait, her strength unequal to her task.
Rise up and make her great!..”

I would want it to be known that women have done so for ages, and it just needs to be recognized; and the future belongs to our zealous and wise younger generations, who have done what they could while patiently bearing long with their elders.

When will we bring our King, the Son of David, back? (I say even at the risk of sounding like or identifying with LGT, a term I only just now have acquainted myself with, having been out-of-touch from devoting in large part the last few years to easing and brightening my parents’ final earthly days.) After all, like the Hebrews in regard to bringing King David back over the Jordan, we do have something to say about the matter! LET’S DO IT! Sleepers, wake!

Afia Candace Jordan

1 Like

This isnt Elder Wilson’s making as the author implies. This is the result of reactionaries who refuse to accept the world decision on WO.

1 Like

Do you also counsel that black people shouldn’t have been defiant through slavery?

Or do you regard it as biblical?

There is no NT model for “defiance.” Calm resolution is what we see with the apostles. They did not defy the authorities, but simply followed God’s law when it contradicted man’s laws. Paul gave counsel on how slaves were to conduct themselves. Their Christian witness under oppression would do far more to win souls for Christ than defiance would. Christian principles were responsible for eventuality eradicating slavery among Christians, since it was not in harmony with the Golden Rule–although it too much longer than it should have.

As for slavery being Biblical; God never instituted slavery. It was an established institution by the time He gave His laws to Moses. He put in place laws that were designed to mitigate the hardship caused by slavery. Slavery among the Israelites was much less onerous than slavery in the US. Why God did not ban slavery among the Israelites is a mystery. Perhaps He is much more patient than we are. You’l have to ask Him some day.