Upper Columbia Conference Continues Trend of Separate-But-Equal Ministerial Credentialing

In an attempt to elevate women ministers in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, many administrative territories have created workaround solutions to the problem of the General Conference's refusal to ordain women at the denomination's highest levels. One increasingly-common solution is to make women's credentialing functionally equal to men's credentialing by allowing commissioned ministers the same rights and privileges as ordained ministers.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/03/30/upper-columbia-conference-continues-trend-separate-equal-ministerial-credentialin

The efforts of the UCC and other North Pacific Union conferences deserve better than a comparison to the infamous separate-but-equal laws of racial segregation. By equalizing the ministries of women and men, and the NPUC’s granting the requests1 of male pastors to exchange their credentials to commissioned, what is being achieved there is the blurring of gender-divided ministry categories and titles. All these actions increasingly erode the official misuse of ordination as a gender marker.

Separate-but-equal is instead the claim of those who oppose the equality of women in the church. They try to convince us that while God reserves for men certain functions/roles which women are capable of, this doesn’t signify inequality.


It is time for men to quit pussy-footing around. It is time to whatever men and women are called Beyond Pastor, to allow this Name to allow BOTH women and men to become Conference Presidents, Union Presidents, North American Division Presidents. Until this happens there will always be the treating of women as “Less Than” by religious men in the SDA denomination. There will always be discrimination both overt and covert. Children will see the difference of how adults treat women in local church leadership. And these observed and caught attitudes will continue on in life as they view women in their adult world. Women will be considered less than men, and they will relegate women to second class positions in their minds.

As we know, it is MEN who create the volumes that list all the denomination workers. Since these MEN see women as non-entities in the church advancement, we should NOT let these men determine the value of women at the local church level, the Conference level, the Union level, the Division level.

We need to allow these MEN to do what ever they want with Books. Books eventually end up in the trash anyway no matter how much time an effort they put into producing them. So these MEN are actually the ones who are irrelevant. The effort of women in their advancing the church of Christ, the giving of the Gospel is forever. And THIS is what we need to honor.


one wonders how no-voters in san antonio must feel to see their vote relegated to essential irrelevance by the creative ways quite a number of dissenting conferences and unions are coming up with now…one thing i’m not seeing is enforcement by the general conference of its delegate vote, although it did seem to scare into submission max torkelson of NPUC, at least initially:

perhaps there really isn’t anything the general conference can do as long as the letter of the text of the san antonio vote is being upheld…or perhaps the general conference is saving a surprise, shock-and-awe move for indianapolis in 2020…

i do expect that indianapolis is going to be bogged down with all these non-compliance developments since san antonio…the grand vision ted wilson laid out for his second term so recently - christ and his righteousness, faithfulness, total member involvement - seems to have already landed with a giant thud…it doesn’t seem like our church is really moving forward…

It is a shame that attention to the way we do ordination wasn’t considered strongly in the discussions. We practice an unbiblical ordination, one that has its roots in Catholic theology. Several raised this point (I know I have) but it seemed neither side cared. It was all about headship and or no headship and this central problem was ignored. Now, after the vote, “light” comes over ordination itself and creative means of getting around the problem takes place. I think had we discussed more the issues of how we do ordination, and addressed the Working Policy itself, things could have been much more productive. Instead, we worked ourselves into a corner with yet another vote that has done nothing for unity upon this matter. I keep praying something mutually acceptable can come out of this disagreement among us.


The term Pasror means shepherd not intercessor. Ordination does not confer priestly privileges. Adventism lives in the Old Testanent on a host of doctrinal issues. Let us remember the the veil was torn in the temple as Christ cried out–“It is finished”! Remember it was Mary who told the disciples that Christ was risen. all good news follows after. Tom Z


A recognition of equality may be the be best first step for this conference, although it seems a small one. But until commissioned pastors can become conference presidents, the distinction remains unequal. The document is silent on that point.


I heard that TW and the GC strong-armed the NPU leadership to back down on the ordination constituency meeting that you’ve referred to. Not sure what to believe about that. I’m doubtful the GC can resort to shock-and-awe tactics given the growing distraction that WO has become and the fallout that would surely result. Given the 41% support for WO by the male- and administrative-biased delegates in San Antonio, the GC must realize that the global rank-and-file membership might now actually be in favor of WO.


Yes. The fact that SANDRA ROBERTS’ name is blanked out as a legitimately elected president of an Adventist Conference in good and regular standing contributing tithe to the world church is outrageous, loud, and shouting to both our young university college men and women–this isn’t the place for you if you believe in the foundational Christian doctrine, the New Testament principle of the Priesthood of ALL Believers.

The insult to her is an insult to all Adventist women whether they know it or agree.


These are truly exciting times to be living and awake in !
They are made even more so, not merely because of the decay of polite society in the so-called ‘cosmos’ of the modern world, but because of the surprising new growth of polite society in the SDA church, in spite of being immersed in this very harsh world.

World history has recorded plenty of troubles in the past, and still in the present. (ISIS for instance.) But ‘troubles’ are merely ‘signs’ of, not the cause of, Jesus returning. If troubles were the cause, then surely the bloody sight of the past century’s persistent social engineering atrocities should have brought Jesus flying to our rescue long before ‘Y2K’ !

Ironically too many of us SDAs may have become so obsessed with the study of the ‘coming’ of the
‘3 (or 4) Angel’s’ that we fail to notice that it is the prospect of a fully-ripe ‘harvest’ – the ‘3rd Angel’ announcing that what the 1st Angel is searching for is found : “Here are they . . . .”— that brings Jesus’ 2nd coming, flying on the angelic clouds of Heaven, to ‘harvest’ us home. But, ‘us’ who ? Is there even one tender new blade of SDA ‘grass’ to be found sprouting out of Earth’s blasted battlefield that is symmetrically ‘full’ and worthy of becoming ‘ripe’ ?

Yes ! It is called ‘equity’, or ‘iquity’, as opposed to ‘in-iquity.’ Finally, we SDAs who hope to be the last generation, are awakening to grasp that Godly concept which we should have been leaders in teaching to the world’s social engineers long ago, not vice versa. ‘Iquity’ originated with our Creators, not as a mere ‘right’, but as a necessity for life itself to exist.

As a child of the 20th century I listened naively to male ‘ministers of the Gospel’ – supported by that tithe dedicated to the Gospel Work – preach from Malachi on bringing the ‘whole tithe’ into the storehouse. They presented Malachi’s challenge from God as if the congregation spoken of was only delivering from 0 % to 99.9 % of the quantity due. It wasn’t until I let Malachi, himself, educate me about the ‘symmetry’ of God, as an adult, that I realized that the whole quantity of 10% was being given. However, with the complicity of the very Levitical Gospel Workers, themselves, un-symmetrical animals of un-whole quality were being selected from the tithe-flock for the altar. Such ‘un-whole’, ‘un-healthy’, animals brought to the altar were blasphemous misrepresentations of the good ‘name’, or good ‘quality’, of Christ, and of the Father, as being ‘iniquitable’, ‘sinful’, ‘vain’, useless. God could not open the channels of heaven to bless such false imagery of ‘God’, and the sacrifice of Himself, in Christ.

Malachi also expressed God’s distaste of divorce, not merely for the sake of the divorced parents, but especially for the sake of their highly-impressionable shared ‘offspring’. God wanted healthy marriages enabling ‘offspring’ to be symmetrically-‘iquitable’, or ‘Godly’. Again, God was focused on the production of equitable, ‘full-eared’ souls fit for ‘harvest’—mentally, emotionally, and physically ‘fit’, just as ‘Ellen’ described the 3-in-1 symmetrical focus of ‘true education’.

Ellen’s life roughly spanned the era named after a woman who ruled a world empire upon which the sun never set. Ellen died before she would have been allowed to even vote in the country that claimed to be ‘free’ of Queen Victoria’s reign. Yet, Ellen’s own understanding of God’s own mind was very ‘free’, and far ahead of many male SDA church leaders who were ‘voted’ into office.

On page 34 of Patriarchs and Prophets, the ‘Father’ and ‘Word’, or ‘Son of God’ were described by Ellen as having a highly-equitable marriage-style relationship during the ‘Creation’ of mankind. On page 46, as mankind was created, they were given the same highly-equitable God-style relationship in order to produce the ‘godly offspring’ (or ‘sprouts’) which Malachi said God desires to see produced of such things He has symmetrically ‘joined together’.

So, clearly – even according to Ellen – before sin, or ‘inequity’ occurred on this Earth’s ‘theater’ of the universe, the woman, Eve, was intended to fulfill the very real, and very ‘typical’, ‘role’ with Adam on Earth that would most clearly reflect the ‘anti-typical’ role of the ‘Word of God’ with the Father in Heaven. Then, surely, as God-intended, and created, ‘Eve’ to exist – before the fall – she was highly-ordainable, was she not ?

The closer we SDAs get to being ‘ripe for harvest’ – thereby helping to ‘ripen’ the rest of the world – the closer we will reflect and promote . . . what ? The ideal role, of female SDAs being an ‘image’ of the intended role of ‘Eve’ – as reflecting the ‘Word of God’ ? Or as an ‘image’ of that role of that other ‘iniquitable’ mother of divorce, ‘Babylon’ ?

If women cannot be ‘born again’, right now on this Earth, into their God-intended pre-fall ‘image’, as men can be, then why do we SDAs even bother baptizing them ‘into Christ’ – the ‘Word of God’ ? Can ‘Adam’ ever forgive ‘Eve’ ? Yes, ‘he’ must, and seeing that sprout of highly-‘iquitable’ forgiveness grow more fully among some SDA male leaders is very exciting ! It means the SDA ‘crop’ is getting ‘riper’.
There’s hope the mess of this world’s ‘cosmos’ is about to end !

But first, there are lingering sinful ‘inequities’ of understanding, and of teaching, ‘God’, that we have too long inherited and passed along from our clearly ‘unripe’ SDA history. ‘Iniquities’ that can prevent that ‘harvest home’ we SDAs claim to preach in our very name ! Consciously or not, an ungodly, sin-biased ideal, or model, of post-fall social engineering – one of ‘divorce’, in the image of sin-ful, not sin-less, Adam and Eve – has plagued the fertile minds of generation after generation of tender-hearted, new, SDA ‘offspring’. Offspring who have pathetically struggled to grow, to become able to sincerely ‘worship’ a happily-married, symmetrically-‘iquitable’ ‘God Family’ that doesn’t argue in ‘judging’ the savability of its Earthly ‘children’. And we have struggled in the face of an ‘iniquitably’-divorced, male-dominated SDA church leadership which claims – whether consciously, or unconsciously – that they alone, without ‘mom’, are able to fully-represent that ‘whole’ ‘God Family’ from a ‘pulpit’ ‘blessed’ stubbornly by the post-fall ‘model’ of male-only ordination . . . all in hopes of our attaining a pre-fall state as a ‘church family’ . . . so we can all go home ? ! The ‘family’ metaphors our SDA theology claims keep falling out of step with the Biblical model.

Such inconsistent claims are very ‘unripening’, are they not ? .
The ‘Word of God’, IS ‘God’, too . . . or was John wrong ?


Thank you to the Upper Columbia Conference for your contribution to ending this ritual of discrimination. I thank all those in leadership who have found ways of expressing support for women in the church without creating discord. Blessings on your authentic ministries. Rene G.


Plessy v. Ferguson was the first attempt in the U.S. to try a “separate but equal” doctrine to allow states to “legally” continue practices of segregation. The reality, however, was that African Americans continued to be seen as something "other than…
So now in Adventism in the 21st century the unity of the church, either real or imagined, is seen as threatened by the insistence that we, as a world church, publicly accept, acknowledge, and celebrate what God has already declared. I cannot be the only person who finds this attempted solution to be seen by sincere Christians both within and without Adventism as odd. How do we explain this? I’m going to follow Occam’s razor here and ask; if the approbation on both men and women are equal - why exactly do they need to be separate?


Reminds me of:

What we need and are likely going to get sooner or later:


I like your comparison of the whole tithe to the whole harvest! Also more time should be spent reveling in who God created us to be than to accepting the curse of sin as our only lot in life. We are born again! Not slaves to sin when Jesus lives in us, therefore we are once again living as he intended as far as is possible on earth!

Does it seem odd to others that a Conference has to find a “work around” to the General conference decrees?

I can tell you from smart SDA young people who look at our church, they simply shake their head in dismay. As a church, we are failing. Workarounds are not equality and as long as conferences are content bowing down to the Papal power of the General conference we will continue to approach irrelevancy at an accelerating pace.

We have some pastors going rogue by demanding true equity. The act of turning in credentials is deeply political. It is time for conferences to be just as radical. Incremental progress and work arounds are not progress, they are inches. There is a time for mediating a common ground. And there is a time to stand up and be the be counted. As Gandhi suggested:

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”


Need Inspiration? Oh Captain My Captain.



I own a home in Portland Oregon, and know that the Pacific Northwest is one of the more progressive, modern-thinking, non-discriminating areas in the USA.

The fact that the North Pacific Union Conference has been so medieval in its response to WO does not equate what I observe in the general Pacific Northwest population.

Had the NPUC been in the forefront of the drive for equality, as was the Pacific Union Conference, the action of the Upper Columbia Conference would not have been necessary.

While the recent action of the UCC is both admirable and laudable, it misses the point. As long as only ORDAINED pastors are elevated to conference, Union conference, and GC positions, an effective GLASS CEILING remains for our women pastors.

It is my understanding that in Adventism, unlike some other denominations, pastors of very small churches as well as huge institutional churches, get equal salaries.

The ONLY advancement up the “pecking/power” order, is promotion to Union Conference and General Conference positions, which apparently requires ordination.

So long as this remains the case,“SEPARATE AND EQUAL” will resonate with women pastors ( as well as our very astute academy/college girls) as DISCRIMINATION


ROSA PARKS SHOULD BECOME THE MASCOT OF ALL FEMALE ADVENTIST PASTORS, who no longer wish to be “at the back of the bus”!


The refusal to ordain women came from the constituents, not from the GC leadership. It’s a problem only for those who can’t accept that the vote didn’t go their way.

How could she have been “legitimately elected,” when her election went against denominational policy?


It’s called a “vote.”


The conference voted for her; they did not have to get the G.C.'s permission.

If you believe otherwise, please cite the working policy for union conferences. They have been cited many times previously and they have the legitimate right to determine their own officers. There is no
rule against that as the G.C. neither votes for such officers or must first approve them.


Constituents had a discussion and voting procedures in place. The constituents VOTED for this person as the best person for the job: Sandra Roberts.