Upper Columbia Conference Rescinds "Separate But Equal" Credentialing Policy

The Upper Columbia Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee has rescinded a policy that provided separate credentialing tracks for men and women that made commissioning and ordination functionally equal.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2016/07/22/upper-columbia-conference-rescinds-separate-equal-credentialing-policy

this story, according to some conservative sites, is an example of victory for the faithful people of god…but it’s really all a matter of personal perspective, and an indication of how divided our church really is…


What a sad commentary on the state of women in the church–it’s the same old story–in the interest of “unity” and “focusing more intently on mission” the Upper Columbia Conference has reneged on its earlier decision to essentially grant gender equality. And that’s at the heart of this–we as a church make decisions now, not on moral imperatives but on keeping as many people happy as we can. I feel like I’m in an abusive marriage (and I’m not referring to my literal marriage which has been a wonderful 45 years of an equal and loving partnership). If I continue to stay in an abusive relationship, it only encourages the abuser to continue abusing. I feel I have waited more than long enough in hopes that the abuser will change. For my own sanity and safety, I am coming to the realization that it is time to leave this marriage. My destiny, both temporal and eternal, is at stake, if I continue in this marriage.


Terrifically troubling seeing our church yanked backwards by those who oppose The Priesthood of All Believers and insisting on driving the bus backwards.


As an itinerant retiree, I can testify to the aging of Adventist congregations that I visit in North America and Europe.

Our millennials, raised egalitarian, find it highly offensive, that our church leaders stigmatize women as inherently " inferior",
One more reason for the millennials’ mass exodus from our now depleted denomination!

I can almost guarantee, that the “several conservative congregations who mounted a campaign against the conference”
–holding the conference hostage with threats, and essentially hijacking equality, were most likely, generally GERIATRIC.
What will be the fate of their church plants and congregations, when fifteen years from now, most of these mortal misogynists will be underground?

We live in a new age, as exemplified by Trump’s wife and his incredible daughters, who at the recent RNC, more than held their own versus Trump’s two sons, in their poise, eloquence, and obvious achievements!

Britain elects its second female prime minister, Hilary Clinton runs for president, and our daughters/granddaughters/nieces are slurred and slighted by our church leaders as being “less than”.

One would expect such gender discrimination from African tribal congregations or Asian patriarchal societies, but coming from what is usually regarded as the “progressive” Pacific Northwest, this action confirms for me that Adventism is still in the dark ages.

Regrettably, we are mired in a malevolent and medieval mindset, which does not auger well for Adventism’s retention of its younger demographic, who admirably, honor and cherish their mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and female cousins.

This heinous, heretical, “headship” dogma does not find fertile soil among younger, well educated professional millennials – unfortunately, the church’s future tithe base!

Our esteemed leaders could not have performed a more PERFECT emulation/duplication of the Roman Catholic Church, when they, elevate ONE woman ( EGW=Virgin Mary) to the highest pedestal/pinnacle, while all other women are decidedly second class citizens!


Obviously a Conference needs to listen to its constituency.

However, when a topic is as serious, as hotly debated, as thoroughly looked at as the one expressed in “Separate but equal” … it is difficult to accept a policy should have been produced lightly and without due consideration - to both, the subject matter and the constituency. If such a policy needs to be “rescinded” after such a short time there must have been serious misjudgement on the side of the leadership - of either the subject matter or the constituency.

  • If it should be a misjudgement of the subject matter, it should be rescinded - and the whole leadership should resign.
  • If it should be a misjudgement of the constituency, but not the subject matter - the whole leadership should resign - without rescinding what they stand for, as they lack the trust of those they lead and were not able to communicate what is right.

To rescind and yet remain in leadership position in my view is a “Cameron” i.e. a coward action to maintain leadership positions (aka power) when in fact, it really has been lost to a vocal group of ultra conservatives (who probably are as willing to take responsibility as Farage or Johnson - but leave the mess to others).

It’s a sad day once again.


When will the SDA church realize that women have no place in the pulpit before a mixed gender congregation.This has nothing to do with gender discrimination but with following the plain teachings of Scripture.

Once SDAs accept that women have no Scriptural authority in the church then they can rid themselves of the little red books and become a true witness.


The “separate but equal” step was actually wrong-headed, because it was an attempt to technically comply with a GC action, while ignoring the substance of what the GC was trying to impose.

The Upper Columbia Conference would have been better to point out that the GC has no jurisdiction as regards decisions about who can and cannot be ordained - that is a Union responsibility.

While the rescinding of that action looks like a retrograde step and will be disappointing to some, it will probably ultimately increase the impetus for a better outcome - full equality in title, ceremony, function and remuneration.


“Separate But Equal” — THIS never works.
It NEVER worked in the Public School System.
It SHOULD never be considered in the Christian Church, at least in the Christian Church that takes the Apostle Paul as an authority on Church Administration.
Paul states that ALL are Equal Before God. There are No gender differences before God.
Separate But Equal is NOT a New Testament Doctrine.

Paul Hoover is a great guy. I am sure the others in the Conference Office are trying to be “good” administrators. But they have become like Peter in Acts. FEARFUL. When the Orthodox Jews came around he decided he couldnt treat the Gentiles as Equals before God.
When these Ultra-Orthodox SDAs come around the Conference staff are FEARFUL and cant treat everyone as Equals before God.
It would have been MUCH BETTER to have allowed for the special constituency session, invited others to come, and to have been able to hash this out with ALL the members of the Territory and not have allowed just a VERY FEW SDA membership to DICTATE to the Entire Church.
Something that would have been time consuming, but maybe beneficial. Go to each church. With a Secret Ballot and get the views for or against by Every Member. Not just a very few.

This is certainly a Sad Time. We have too many Peter’s in the Church.
We need more Paul members who will stand up to the Peter members and Administrators.
Bring them back doing the right thing.
Not leading by FEAR as this actions seems to have been.


Just as in raising a child, the best interest of the child and not the best interest of the parents should be the guiding force of parenting. A good enough parent should never have the child dictate its terms. The child may argue and fuzz but here is where the parents are held responsible by society for its survival. The same can be said about religious denominations. The best interest of the whole denomination should be the guiding force to determine its trajectory, not the best interest of a select group of members who failed miserably at developing empathy and lack common sense.

At stake here is not the issue of “separate but equal” but the quality of UCC’s leaders. Why would any parent set limits then undo it under threats unless the aim is to teach their children never to place credence to their counsels? The same question can be asked of UCC’s leaders. Why cross the Rubicon then run back? These leaders should have learned a lesson from Eliot Richardson who resigned his position of AG instead of cowering to his president. Our UCC leaders missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be true leaders. Instead, there are a group of members laughing their hearts out somewhere in the NW Pacific and around the neighborhood of Fresno and Roseville, CA.


Ralph Thompson: I guess you would not have appreciated hearing Ellen White preach–which she did–and I’m sure she did so in front of mixed company.

I used to belong to the Bunker Hill church, in Michigan, which greatly prized its old pulpit from which she had preached. Unfortunately, the church burned, and the pulpit with it.


We are not talking about “leadership” here. Leadership is service. “Ministry” literally means service. Church leadership is ministry in the service of the greater good as defined by principles. Leadership/service/ministry does not bow to pressure from narrow interests, no matter how vocal, powerful or manipulative.


It seems to me that the initial “equal, but not really” action was an attempt to appease these same constituents. Otherwise, why not just vote for equality? When these constituents objected to the “equal, but not really” action as going too far, it was rescinded to keep from offending this tithe base. This is church politics. Calling it “mission” or something else is distracting. It’s also wrong.


Will the next NPUC president facilitate this? Let’s hope so!


It’s a good bet that those churches (number? members (?) are feeling their power now. What may they not try now that they have managed to sway the entire conference? Was a poll of all the church members ever considered before such a hasty reversal? Why not? This has set a terrible precedent and may be used by other conferences.

This bus is going over the cliff and all those who love freedom of conscience better get off now.


I would guess, based on past experience, money played a big part. Perhaps some of the more financially influential members put up a lot of pressure.

I can’t imagine that a group of poor, non, or minimally contributing members, could ever sway anything.


Conference President Hoover was well trained during his time in the Georgia-Comuberland Conference where backpedaling is an art form.


The idea of a conference breaking ranks is to be applauded, even if it is utterly pragmatic and offensive use “separate but equal” to describe any organizational policy in the 21st century. Backing down from the commitment to break ranks is disappointing at best. These are clearly signs that we are heading towards some major organizational controversy and I, for one. welcome it.


I don’t like the backward change in policy, but I think we should temper our criticism of the leaders who made the decision. Personally, I can’t fault their motives. There are details about constituency meetings, including costs and investments in time, energy, and political maneuvering, that could understandably prompt the leaders to consider a different approach. Let’s offer them our prayers instead of criticism. Let’s pray that, in the long term, they succeed (along with other constituencies) in moving things closer toward the priesthood of all believers.


What it really is …is an example where a small sampling of people created policy out of whole cloth for an entire conference. The motion, letter, plan was to let the membership decide. They apparently feared being overturned at a special constituency session than they did reversing themselves of their own accord.
That is their right, but does it say something about how large decisions should be made?
Should 18 people on an executive committee make policy for a whole conference?
I perceive the issue as one of unity.