The Status of Women's Ordination Ahead of Annual Council

(system) #1

Seventh-day Adventist leaders from around the world are on their way to Silver Spring, Maryland for the 2014 Annual Council. The meetings span six days, from October 9 to 15. Women's ordination will come up on Tuesday, October 14. On that day, delegates will consider recommendations from divisional Biblical Research Committees and the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), and will in turn make their own recommendation for the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas.

The discussion at Annual Council will be a comma, not a period, in a debate that has already spanned four decades in earnest. Kit Watts, a former assistant editor of the Adventist Review and founder of La Sierra University's Women's Resource Center put together a nearly exhaustive women's ordination timeline stretching back into the 19th Century and forward to 1995 when Adventist women were concurrently ordained as pastors on both coasts of the United States. However, women were officially serving as ministers as early as 1973, forty-one years ago, in Maryland, California and Germany.

Despite the Church's having studied ordination for many decades, Annual Council will not settle the topic. Neither will San Antonio, despite growing expectations that delegates there will vote on women's ordination. The reason is that now, as for the past four decades, there is no consensus and votes will not create it.

The thirteen Division studies have demonstrated ideological division.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #2

By my count the current stage of the debate is past the halfway mark into its fifth decade.

1968, April 8: Officers discuss Northern European Division request for counsel on ordaining women. "The Northern European Division has requested counsel regarding ordination of women. The question has arisen in Finland. Historically, Seventh-day Adventists have not ordained women. Yet it is believed that the subject should be listed for the 1968 Council agenda. It was "Agreed, to list on the agenda for the 1968 Autumn Council the subject of ordination of women."—Minutes of GC Officers Meeting, April 8, 1968. 1968, September 30: GC officers appoint committee to study ordination. "The Home and Overseas Officers briefly discussed the desirability of a study on the theology of ordination of women." Committee appointed: H. W. Lowe, Raoul Dederen, M. K. Eckenroth. 1970, June 5: GC officers discuss role of women. GC officers agreed to appoint "an adequate committee to consider this large topic . . . and to submit a report for consideration at the 1970 Autumn Council."—Minutes, GC Officers Meeting, June 5, 1970.

Much earlier is this action:

1950, May 3: General Conference Officers discuss ordination. "A. V. Olson explained. . . A statement from the pen of Sister White, as found in the Review and Herald of July 9, 1895, has been understood by some to provide for the ordination of certain sisters in church service. After some discussion, it was "Agreed, To recommend to the General Conference Committee following the session that a small committee be appointed to study and report on this question."—Minutes, GC Officers Meeting, May 3, 1950.

But, the truth is that we’ve been kicking this can down the road since 1881.

1881, December 5: General Conference Session motion to ordain women. At the 1881 General Conference (GC) session a motion is made to ordain women to gospel ministry. "Resolved, That females possessing the necessary qualifications to fill that position, may, with perfect propriety, be set apart by ordination to the work of the Christian ministry." Reported in Review and Herald, Dec. 20, 1881. Item referred to the General Conference Committee.

(Bille) #3

Thank you, spectrumbot, whoever you are, for giving the location where Kit Watts, “women’s ordination timeline” can be acessed. I’d like to point out that it has been 20 years since the last item on this list was added… and urge that EVERYONE show respect for women… not only the women who are mentioned on this list … but ALL Adventist women who have participated in or been recipients of ministry of any kind in our church… by reading the entire document, one line at a time, from beginning to end.

I’ll also make the url more noticeable here than in the opening statement…

When you are finished, please note that there are navigation selections on the bottom line. Click on the one which says “Women In Ministry” to be taken to the menu page where there are a number of other materials that add substance to the brief entries on this “Women’s Ordination Timeline”.

These also are woefully out of date… but still important, especially for this generation who have no first hand knowledge of the discussions and actions that have taken place over the past century and a half in our church.

I would also like to ask Spectrum administration to bring us the urls of other historical documents, especially, if one exists, of the events and significant actions of the last 20 years since this list was last updated.

It would be an excellent aid for those who desire to follow Ted Wilson’s admonition for everyone to study for themselves if the various urls could be brought together all in one blog essay with only brief descriptions of what may be found at each url. Let’s make it easy for all to see what an immense amount of information is available and to have easy access from one place without having to try and find everything through google.

This should, of course, include materials on all sides of the issues involved… an annotated bibliography. A lot of work to compile it? Of course. But surely there are places where there are already lists of such material available.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #4

WebEd, since this article has been updated & the link to this version removed, can the comments here be moved to the current one?

(Not that I know how to do. Sorry. - website editor)