Trans-European Division President Sends Letter to Women in Ministry

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. That same day, Trans-European Division President Raafat Kamal issued the following letter addressed to women in ministry. We have been forwarded a copy of the letter, which is provided in full below. -Ed.

Dear Colleagues, Women in Ministry,

There comes a time in the affairs of our people, when we are called to defend the integrity of our faith, its purpose and its calling.

There are times when we are invited to dance with the opportunities that emerge from disappointment.

There are times when our collegial unity is tested through irreconcilable inequalities, which we are called to transcend in love and concern.

There are times when we need the abiding assurance of our liberty and freedom, and the embracing warmth of Christ Jesus.

There are times when the expression of appreciation, confidence and commitment must not be left unspoken.

At this time, as leaders of the Trans-European Division, we unite in affirming our appreciation for your calling. We had every expectation that the affirmation conferred on pastoral workers in the Seventh-day Adventist Church would be designed to express parity of ministerial scope in our region of the world. It is with shared sadness that the gap between textual and narrative approaches to biblical interpretation was not bridged among us. This, coupled with cultural variances in approach, means that the world Church is not able to recognise leadership where trans-national follower-ship cannot be relied upon.

In this regard, we apologise for our part in creating expectations that have not been met and, to borrow the Gallic sentiment of Pastor Bruno Vertallier, 'we want you to know that we love you'. We want you to know that within our lands, our esteem for your service and its authority is not diminished. We want you to know that we regard Women in Ministry as essential to the furtherance of the Gospel.

Beyond these expressions of care we are determined to act as follows:

i) A retreat will be convened in the coming months for the purpose of reflection, solidarity and healing. ii) We will continue to encourage and engage women, who feel so inspired, to prepare for Gospel service. iii) We will confirm our confidence in the ministry and giftedness of women in every office of the local church, in the Conference, and in pastoral leadership. This will be done by word of mouth, through written word and expressed in our actions. iv) You can expect us to be protective in the face of those who would undermine your giftedness. v) We will persist in bringing application and meaning to the biblical assertion that 'we are all one in Christ'. vi) We will encourage and train you toward excellence, to offer the world field unequivocal witness of your worthiness.

For the sake of the Gospel, in this pain-racked world, we commit ourselves to be united with our sisters and brothers while being beacons for freedom, liberty, equity and hope.

Thank you for your friendship, professionalism, commitment and loyalty to 'the One' who has promised to pour out His Spirit on His daughters and sons in these last times.

With all sincerity,

Raafat Kamal President of the Trans-European Division on behalf of the TED Officers and TED Union and Attached Field Presidents in San Antonio


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6966
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this is a completely classy, well-modulated response…bravo…

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Thank you Pastor Kamal for demonstrating the kind of spiritual leadership needed to advance God’s mission despite the stance taken by other leaders regarding women’s role in ministry. Leaders like you and Pastor Dan Jackson of NAD is what the world church needs so much more of at this time.

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God bless you, Raafat, my old friend!!

I recently had opportunity to visit the UK, to worship in small congregations in Scotland and the Isle of Wight, as well as in the heart of London at St Martin in the Fields on the Sabbath morning!

And I lost my glasses at Runnymede - the home of the Magna Carta, and the birth place of human freedom.

I fear that we Adventists also are at risk of losing our focus on the dignity and freedom that God gives to all.

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A wordsmith. Smart, non-condescending, a regard for intellect. Clever. Impressive.

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I think Pastor Kamal is sincere. I just think these Division Presidents are being forced to play a game that they have been asked to play. We had five plus years of not being able to represent their Division which leads to our next GC Convention. I feel sorry for them!

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I suspect there will be a number of proposals in the coming weeks, months, and perhaps years for achieving parity between men and women in ministry by pursuing alternative means (other than ordination) of recognizing calls to ministry. This is likely especially given what some members of the TOSC highlighted regarding the extra-biblical origins of ordination and the incompatibility of such hierarchical notions in relationship to Jesus’ call to servant leadership. It makes me wonder, in an off-handed way, if we should explore commissioning as a division-wide model of recognition for pastoral ministry and, along with that, consider a conciliar model of leadership for conferences rather than a presidential one. That is, should conferences be led by a joint council of regional ministry specialists under the leadership of a chairperson, rather by a president (thus circumventing the need for ordination and essentially flattening our structure)? Some have suggested that our world church should move in the direction of a conciliar model. Perhaps this an opportunity to come alongside restructuring discussions that have already begun in the NAD.

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Great letter. I missed in the statement a commitment to abide by the ill-conceived “NO” vote.

And that is a good thing.

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Now we are thinking!

Thanks to our 2nd Opinion!!

The TED BRC Report to TOSC has led the way in this kind of thinking! It has suggested that

  1. there be one rite of consecration and public affirmation for Adventist leaders, be they elders, deacons, deaconnesses, pastors and
  2. that the role and function of the individual leader be reflected in the credientials.
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Thanks Spectrum for sharing this latest news.

I’ve been contemplating on the document the NAD released on July 10, regarding the clarification on the roles of women in ministry. Maybe someone here can help me understand the term “commissioned pastor.” We are told in this document that:

Thirdly, it is important that we identify what the motion did not do:

It did not disallow women from serving as commissioned church pastors.
It did not disallow women to serve as ordained elders in the local church
It did not disallow the ordination of deaconesses.

Since the motion did not disallow these things, we therefore continue to encourage those who have been serving in these capacities to continue to do so.

First, can a commissioned pastor do everything an ordained pastor can do? And, secondly, do they still get paid as full time pastors by the church? If the answer is yes, then maybe the “yes” vote won after all.

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Pastor Raafat Kamal has demonstrated by this letter that he is the right leader at this time for the church in the Trans-European Division. Thank you, Raafat!

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After carefully reading this statement twice, how are Raafat’s post-no-vote sentiments not prompted by administrative failure, particularly when his syntax is unwittingly leaking “we had every expectation” regret? In other words, how historically compelling is it, or even mildly honorable, when in an inaugural announcement to constituents a political strategist refuses to include the language of defeat?

Great support from his heart to women in ministry. But I sure can detect a lot of caution in his words, like walking on eggshells. There was no mention that women, unfortunately, will not be able to be ordained. I am not still sure what this letter will actually mean to the women ministers in his territory.

I also feel that this decision taken by the delegates will not have “grave” but rather “devastating consequences” within a considerably short period of time.

I think that the best for those who are too frustrated with the Church’s decision to continue being a Church that discriminates is to take a deep breath and start focusing more on their local churches. Forget that system on the top, because those people in black suits are not going to change the politics or the need to show their power and to exert control.

Your local church is what is relevant. Ignore the rest! Let’s move on!!!

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There’s nothing in this letter that suggest the writer is being forced. Instead, he is compassionately responding, avoiding cliches, acknowledging some responsibility in the matter, and offering ongoing support.

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How true you are, George, more time spent with our beloved brothers and sisters in our local churches and those within the vicinity who we are able to reach. To help them; to heal them; to encourage them, is always good advice.

Maybe you can be the one to help me then with the question I brought up. It is comment #11.

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Tony, I am not sure if the commissioned ones have exactly all the same rights. I just do not know. There may be some tricky technicalities involved, but I really don’t know. Unfortunately I have no clairvoyance powers. I have been successful only as a mere prophet regarding the issues related to only one “saint,” SAN Antonio… :wink: And now all that is over…

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Humility…I love it. Truly you are a prophet! :smile:

And thanks for your honesty, George.

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A first test for the seriousness of this statement will be, how clearly the “demonizers” of women in ministry will be refuted and turned back (not invited to speak in TED churches, not endorsed in publications etc.).
A second test will be how “headship theology” is being addressed. Thus far it is “headshippers” who oppose women’s ordination.
If we want change, we need to educate, educate, educate and deal with the uncontrolled influence independent ministries gained over our church.

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Tony

Commissioned pastors have and have had the same salary and opportunities as Ordained Pastors save that they may not organise a church and hold presidential office. There is one other element, which I do not recall. Beyond this, ordination gives respected office throughout the world. Commissioned Ministers are recognised within the Divisions that have agreed this credential.

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Thank you, Victor, for clarifying that.

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