Unity 2015 Campaign Looks Toward General Conference Vote

(Spectrumbot) #1

An initiative seeking unity within the Seventh-day Adventist Church spearheaded by the Adventist Forum board, the overseeing body of Spectrum Magazine, has generated significant, international support.

A statement targeting Seventh-day Adventist Church members entitled “Affirming Adventist Unity” garnered over 1,000 signatures in its first seven days online, averaging about 185 signatures a day. People in 44 states in the United States and in several more countries added their names to the statement.

The statement endorses a YES vote on the question of whether each major geographic division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church can decide to ordain women pastors. The vote on that question will be held at the 2015 General Conference Session in July.

A large number of signatories came from the Northwestern United States--Washington and Oregon together combined for 18% of the total signature tally after the statements first week online.

Among the names in support of the statement are Adventist employees who have served at the congregational, conference, union, division and General Conference levels of the church. The signers include students, professors, pastors, college presidents, church administrators and laypersons.

The statement draws its mandate from Acts 15 in which unity of faith was maintained while recognizing and allowing for differences in regional practices.

Ken Peterson, a member of the Adventist Forum Board who helped draft the language of the Unity Statement said he felt it is time to resolve the question of ordaining women now after many years of delay. The Internet, Peterson said, provides a helpful method for generating support.

“I am somewhat acquainted with technologies now available through the internet that can help communicate globally in an inexpensive way and we can use in this campaign,” he said. But the real importance of the initiative, Peterson said, is its goal of unity in the Adventist Church.

For the first time the question being asked of delegates points to a way to maintain unity of faith and mission while allowing sensitivity to more regional cultural concerns. Thus, the views of members around the world are now relevant and can be persuasive to delegates. The example in Acts 15 seems compelling to me and Adventist members should be involved on this important topic so the church can move forward.”

Rajmund Dabrowski, communication director for the Rocky Mountain Conference, is more blunt:

“It's time to abandon negativity in the way Seventh-day Adventists fulfill their mission,” Dabrowski said. “God’s mission of love and hope should always be an expression of His faith community as biblically expressed in the proclamation of the Good News.”

Carmen Lau, also a member of the Adventist Forum board, said her involvement derives specifically from her understanding of God. “I am involved because our effort is congruent with my conviction of what God is like and what He requires,” she said. Lau added, “we must allow for some regions to ordain women in consideration of our history of having had a female messenger from God, and on a practical level we need fully authorized female pastors to assist female members who are coping with abusive males.”

Raj Attiken, the recently-retired president of the Ohio Conference said that “the ordination of women to the gospel ministry is occurring and will continue to occur regardless of the vote at the upcoming GC session.  However, a ‘Yes’ vote offers the global Church one way to move forward on this issue without violating any biblical or cultural norms.  It probably is the closest we can come at this time to a “win-win” approach that respects the diversity that exists among us.”

The Unity 2015 campaign aims to widen its network of support as the General Conference Session nears.


Jared Wright is Managing Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6702

(Andreas Bochmann) #2

That’s what I would call optimism. The list of names reads like the “who is who” of Adventist scholarship, yes; with many pastors and church members adding their voice… and yet what makes 1400 a significant number?
I wonder what makes us so slow in acting.

It’s not the topic (“End it now” got around half a million signatures in several years, most coming from non-Adventists … with 17 Mio Adventists??? We simply were not able to activate as much as 2% of our membership to participate… and that hopefully does not mean 98% are for violence against women).

It’s not the relevance and urgency. The topic of unity is relevant and urgent.

What is it? I wonder. Any thoughts?

(Pagophilus) #3

But this should not be done in ways contrary to the Bible. It is a dangerously vague reading of the Bible which allows the ordination of women. It basically allows the Bible to be interpreted any which way according to the prevailing culture.

So it takes a fully authorised female pastor to assist a female church member who is coping with an abusive male? Can’t anyone else do it? No counsellors, friends, deaconesses, women’s ministries personnel? Only an ordained pastor? And what does ordaining women have to do with us having a female prophet? Our female prophet was not ordained and had no leadership authority. She was simply God’s mouthpiece. She may have told the male leadership what should be done, but it was still up to them whether to do it or not.

Sorry, Women’s Ordination still doesn’t make sense biblically.

(Brian) #4

The church will losemembers because in general women are not as dynamic speakers as men are.I have no problem with femael pastors. Just please dpnt put them in the pulpit they put me to sleep.

(Andreas Bochmann) #5

Oh dear… you wouldn’t know how healthy church sleep can be. :slight_smile:

But then - there are plenty of men that put me to sleep in church. In fact, I am surprised you were able to listen to sufficient numbers of women to make a comparison and even allow for exceptions (in general).

How about this line of argument: let’s ordain women, because men in grey suits are so boring to look at.
Hmm… I conclude you weren’t serious after all.

(k_Lutz) #6

I find this petition to ‘Adventist Unity’ quite shallow and self-serving.

  1. The Church of Christ universally recognises God alone as the Head of His Church, the body of believers - the Saints - which are called by His Spirit and have chosen, by abandoning their self-will, to execute His will upon the earth.
  2. God prepares and commissions His Chosen Vessels, regardless of the human distinctives of gender, ethnicity, status or capacity, to serve as ministers of His grace to mankind.
  3. In the similitude of the body, the individual members recognise no intervening authority between them and the Head in carrying out His will.

In this way alone is the Church of Christ unified as one body. To do otherwise is to introduce dis-ease to that body, and consequently have no part in the Body and Blood of Christ. This is especially noted of those which, by usurping God’s prerogative of heading His Church, introduce division and false authority.

As noted by this form of petition, unity cannot be enforced by draconian measures, but only by the pure love of God. It was brought up in the discussions of the Theology of Ordination Committee that the division of ‘clergy’ from the laity established hierarchy, producing the general apostasy from pure grace of the gospel. When SDAism abandons these false images of authority it may return to its roots as a missionary tract society by which God’s word may be delivered to the every man, woman and child.

Trust God.

(Elaine Nelson) #7

The church has already stated that there is no theological reason why women should not be ordained. For those who quote their favorite texts opposing this, it is not in line with what the church has stated.

(Elaine Nelson) #8

The entire church is made up of all its congregations, wherever they are. They have the right to voice and petition their concerns. In what way is it “shallow and self-serving”? Have they not the the same right as those who were on the TOSC to voice their opinions, also? Because they have not the authorization as a formal denominational committee, their opinions should carry no more nor less weight than individual members when they choose to form a group to state their concerns.

What other methods are suggested for concerned members to have their voices heard?


Here is the basic problem: We disagree. Various church committees have studied this for decades and they have also found disagreement among members. Most recently, the Theology of Ordination Study Committee after a significant multi-year process by sober and serious people hand-picked for their expertise could only muster a two-thirds majority supporting women’s ordination and one-third disagreed. So it is simply a mistake to categorically assert that “Women’s Ordination still doesn’t make sense biblically.” Instead, the more accurate statement for you to make would be: “Women’s Ordination still doesn’t make sense to me as I interpret the Bible.” So in an environment of disagreement what should the world church do? This is where Acts 15 comes in and offers a viable way forward it seems to me.

There was apparently deep disagreement in the early church about whether one must be circumcised or not. As Ellen White explains in Acts of the Apostles (Chapter 19), “…many of those who had been converted to the faith of Christ still felt that since God had once clearly outlined the Hebrew manner of worship, it was improbable that he would ever authorize a change in any of its specifications.” However, in spite of the very clear statements in Scripture the Jerusalem Council determined that Gentile converts did not have to practice circumcision. Ellen White comments that James emphasized “the fact that, in turning to God, the Gentiles had made a great change in their lives and that much caution should be used not to trouble them with perplexing and doubtful questions of minor importance, lest they be discouraged in following Christ.” I see relevant and wise counsel here as it relates to the issue of ordination. By the way, “Even the disciples were not all prepared to accept willingly the decision of the council.”

You and I may never change our views even with much additional study on this issue. But I strongly believe that the example of Acts 15 can be used for much good effect on the issue of ordination just as it was on the issue of circumcision. While this may mean there will be different practices in different areas of the church, this was exactly the result of Acts 15 as well and was hugely beneficial. The decision at the San Antonio GC Session has that same possibility of being hugely beneficial, even in the face of our underlying disagreement on Biblical interpretation.

(George Tichy) #10

I am glad I am not the only one who has been saying this. Again, I am 100% sure that most Unions have already a plan B for after the (most certain) NO vote.

(George Tichy) #11

Who said that?.. I hope you are not referring to what Andreas @andreas wrote, because it would reveal that you did not understand what he said.

(Andreas Bochmann) #12

No, George, the reference is to Carmen Lau (penultimate paragraph in the article).

(George Tichy) #13

Obviously this is a joke, but you should have included the :wink:

(le vieux) #14

You’ve got to be kidding! I’m opposed to WO on Biblical grounds, but I’ve heard many good female speakers. I doubt you would have gone to sleep in any sermon by Ellen White. Someone with a solid, Bible based message should be able to speak, be they male, female, or child. Give me a break!

(le vieux) #15

This is nothing but the spirit of rebellion. And this in a blog about church unity? Defying the vote at the GC session will certainly not promote unity. Good thing this guy is retired; other wise he might suffer (this is for George) “grave consequences.”


(George Tichy) #16

Pici, I applaud your calmness and cool when you affirm your respect for free voting on a subject, and people’s right to vote in different ways than you do…

(Kevin Paulson) #17

The Acts 15 model is exactly the opposite of what a YES vote would mean in San Antonio. The decision regarding circumcision was not permitted to be settled regionally, as though certain territories of the church could require circumcision as necessary for membership while other territories could choose to not make circumcision a requirement. That’s what a YES vote in San Antonio would mean regarding ordination. And this is precisely the opposite of what happened in Acts 15.

The decision of Acts 15 was a universal one. Circumcision was henceforth binding on no one, and could not be used anywhere as a requirement for membership in the Christian church. It wasn’t a question of whether people could continue to individually practice circumcision; it was a question of whether circumcision could in fact be a requirement, anywhere, for church membership. The answer was universal, not regional. Circumcision was not to be a requirement for church membership anywhere.

The decision in San Antonio must be universal also. And I believe it will be.

Regarding unity, John 17:17-21 is clear that only sanctification through God’s Word of truth can bring genuine unity. Ellen White agrees:

“We cannot purchase peace or unity by sacrificing the truth. The conflict may be long and painful, but at any cost we must hold fast to the Word of God” (HS 197).

(le vieux) #18

There might be “grave consequences” if I didn’t, n’est-ce pas? :slight_smile:


Why is this not clearly seen by anyone who tries to look at the matter objectively, if that is possible in the now charged atmosphere.

It looks to me, from statements made, that certain elements are determined to follow their own path regardless of any GC decision.

Who was the first rebel?

(Kevin Paulson) #20

And if they do follow their own path, that path will part ways from the rest of the worldwide Adventist body.