Will Women's Ordination Split the Church?

On Sabbath, October 14, a panel discussion was presented at Loma Linda University Church, entitled, “Will Women's Ordination Split the Church?”

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/article/2017/10/18/will-womens-ordination-split-church
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The “baby” may already be rent in twain, and all the kings men can not knit it together again…

King Solomon, when presented with a unity conundrum, gave free choice, un-coerced, for each party…
The true mother chose life for her child, even if it were no longer her child.

Mr Wilson seems to have chosen the non-mother, and division…ostensibly because he claims the baby his.
It is almost as if he does not care that it risks schism, seemingly co-opting the endgame as the inevitable shaking time.

@sokingcoo @petersomerset The Scandinavian solution is not workable in America-Federal law requires that the conference employee charged with “wills and testaments” must be ordained.
Matter of fact, Sandra Roberts name IS listed in the GC yearbook, just not under “president” (its blank) but under “wills and testaments”. This may explain her response-and might be a surprise to many here.


i appreciated sandra roberts’ conviction that the church isn’t going to split over WO, and that we’ll figure something out because we have to…this is what the hopeful side of me feels…

if the vote to return at AC2017 was miraculous, maybe we’ll see other miracles to counter what now appears to be TW’s move to oust lemon because lemon said non-compliant unions weren’t rebellious…i almost wonder if we aren’t witnessing another balaam or jonah moment, where people do what they do to obstruct god’s plan, but god gets his plan done in the end, no matter what…


Is the hand of God shortened that it cannot act on behalf of His church and its women’s leadership?

We are watching events play out before our eyes. In light of Tom Lemon’s alleged firing as chair of the Unity Oversight Committee, events may be rapid ones.

Important voices are speaking out at the highest levels despite threats and actions to hush and mitigate the power of their voices.


This saga of a church soap opera gyrates from one cliffhanger to the next.

It is becoming a vaudeville, an extravaganza, a carnival and a sitcom !

Let us hope that this bickering imbroglio will not become an embarrassment to the denomination. We must look foolish to other Christian denominations which have successfully granted ordination to their women pastors, decades ago!

It certainly has become a festering embarrassment to all fair minded,
reasonable Adventists in the western world !


Not even one?! That defies statistics. I would suggest sending free coupons for “spine therapy” to each of those “half a dozen.”

If our beloved church were to split, it would be because of poor leadership on behalf of our GC president. One can normally tell whether a behavior is a function of poor judgement or a personality trait. The former defies a pattern whereas the latter is consistent with patterns that disrupts and destroys interpersonal relationships. Guess what pattern are we seeing with our fearless and highly esteemed GC president?


Perhaps we should begin to discern the hand and voice of God speaking to us above the play and counter-play of both the San Antonio vote and that of Annual Council 2017.

From San Antonio we learn that it is best if we reject any regionalised solution to the issues before us. From Annual Council 2017 we learn that it is best if we do not place punitive policy enforcement front and centre of our search for a solution to the issues before us.

Dr Jon Paulien seemed to accept the idea that perhaps we should seek resolution through policy development. And this appears to be in line with the two previous votes.

I also appreciated the three reasons Jon Paulien gave as to why so many Adventists resist the ordination of women:

  1. Sin in the camp needs to be resisted for conscience sake, else the whole body will be defiled.
  2. Such ones have a real fear of Congregationalism.
  3. Neo-colonialism. Many in the global south have the sense that we in the global north want to recolonise them and impose our own ideas on them. And they are saying therefore-enough of this neo-colonialism because we are the church too, and we want to be heard.

It is probably difficult to deal with number one without overcoming a huge theological juggernaut.

However, we can more easily address number two by stressing our desire to develop a permissive global policy which establishes broad guidelines but also allows some flexibility within those guidelines.

Number three can be addressed by a willingness to accept and embrace Adventists from former colonial territories as partners and collaborators in the search for a resolution of this issue. From my perspective, the ordination of women been seen to be a North American and European issue for more than 40 of the last 50 years. Only at TOSC and only to a limited degree were other partners invited to contribute to the discussion and debate of the issues at hand. And this Study Process was stopped before many of these new partners were satisfied that they had been heard. In fact some of them commented that it appeared to be more like a dialogue of the deaf.

The other observation Dr Jon Paulien made that I consider accurate is this:
In the Pacific Union Conference

  1. It’s not a matter of conscience to ordain women.
  2. It is a matter of conscience to treat women equally.
    And there’s a difference!!

And I paraphrase Jon Paulien - If you do what the Norwegians have done in not ordaining anyone, maybe there’s reason to find a new consensus and stop being at odds with everyone. Exactly Jon!!

So, I believe we can make real progress in addressing the perception that the agenda of WO really will end by introducing both Congregationalism and Neo-colonialism. I sense that we will best address both these objections by engaging in a process of policy development that may very easily involve dispensing with the idea of ordination.

You are correct. Sandy is listed under Property/ Trusts! You object to an investigation of a potential credentialing policy change because of your interpretation of American Federal law. I find this bizarre! Salvation Army officers up till 1978 were not ordained - even the Salvation Army Generals, and three of these 20 souls have been women. Their Officers of both genders were commissioned, period. Salvation Army theology did not deem them to be part of the clergy. Since 1978 they are both commissioned and ordained. That is why the author of Leadership in the Salvation Army: A Case Study in Clericalisation sees the drift toward Salvation Army Officers wanting clerical status as a search for power and domination.

Yes it would be smart to investigate the possibility. Please see the note above to Timo. The experience of the Salvation Army has led them in the other direction, to an embracing of an ordination theology in 1978, when they didn’t have one previously. The author of the above mentioned book has lamented as much to me. Interestingly, the Salvation Army was a tighly structured hierarchical organization with an anti-clerical theology (from 1878 -1978) and a theology that embraced both genders in its leadership.


I am reminded of the OT story of how the children of Israel wanted a king because everyone else had a king

We want OW because it is way of the world not because it is sanctioned by Scripture or common sense just because everyone is doing it

Will the denomination split over it. Not a chance the professional prayers and players know which side their bread is buttered on and arguing over these matters and being paid for it beats working anyday

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Though she tried to hide it, Sandra Roberts was visibly shaken when Jim Walters asked if the SECC might want to consider the Scandinavian solution. She prepared to leave shortly as was announced earlier.


It started 150 years ago. Every other church had an “ordained” professional clergy set apart from the laity. SdAs decided that they needed “ordination” as well.

Jeremy this isnt unity, its compromise
You have quoted circumcision ?
What is the difference between the physical and internal .
As per EGW she mentions circumcision
’Be ye seperate’

The video is like a carnal debate its become a sport
Like a roman colosseum yesss clapp clapp we are winning.
Can anyone else see the stupidity .
Fruitless debates .
All in a church was jesus happy when church was turned into a sale yard ?
Early writings.

Trying to push aside the fake gem stones
Theologians here can you expand

This I think is the smartest course and returns to the more Biblical idea of church. However, There is a bureaucratic power structure as the annual council demonstrates that will not take kindly to the elimination of the clergy class as the bureaucracy is based upon the clergy class. It may be time for a complete overhaul to save the church from complete wreckage. But no one likes to commit to an overhaul. Though even with a win for WO the church organization and power problem will remain.


2 hours & 7 minutes!!!
on the W.O. topic…which might only end with the 2nd coming…

Uhhhhh. I think I’ll pass… thank you .

Of the millions of SDA members…what % ever spend 2+ hours on their weekly SS lesson… except maybe some SS teachers?

Would someone do me a favor…if you watch the whole thing???
How many bible verses are quoted?

What does “split” mean?
It is already split.

I attend a church with a large SS class. Maybe only 10-15% read through their SS lesson.
We don’t have a female pastor yet several women have presented sermons over the years,

Very few 7th day Adventist Christians attend church…most are Saturday church attending pew warmers usually focused on worldly issues.

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I have not listened to the whole thing. What more can be said after 40 years? But:

  1. Representation from the GC. Did anyone here really expect someone from that side to come and be fried in the hot bed of “rebellion”, SEC Conference? What would be the advantage? It would be just a constant attack and demeaning exercise. I don’t blame them for not coming. It would have been a fool’s errand.
  2. But in light of the above, can you really expect a panel composed of people who are all in favor, and some adamantly so, to represent the other side? Really? I think Pauline did an admirable job, but he still will not get the nuance, especially of the third world.
  3. Sandra Roberts is a stench (sorry for the hard word) in the nostrils of the NO WO crowd and the third world. Guy and the committee wanted to rub the nose of the church in it, and so arranged for her election. Do you really think that those opposed are going to be persuaded by such an act? If she wanted to foster unity, she should resign.

Finally, the church will not split because the world church does not have the stomach to discipline the “rebellious” unions, and apparently will not do so. They will, by default, be allowed to continue.

This may foster others to “rebel” about other issues, homosexuality, Creationism etc. I do not see a happy future for the church. A formal vote would have been better. Paulson is just as much to blame as Wilson. He let it go on without addressing it. Those here who see him as such a righteous fellow only do so because he agrees with them. I am not impressed. WO as litmus test, great…

One more thing. Ordination does not imbue someone with special power. (But I must say, when I was ordained it meant much to me). It is very useful in recognizing an individual as a approved leader of the church. It was done so at the beginning of the SDA church, at least, to note who the church approved as spokesmen for it. It was to eliminate confusion about who spoke for the church, when there were some who tried to get a following for themselves.

So to give it up would be a mistake.

Insightful comments. (of course they in a way agree with mine!!..Ahem…) I am not sure what you mean by the quote above.

I did not read all the papers (I, in fact read none), but it would be interesting to hear a discussion between some that did. I commented on this subject, at least initially, because I did not think it was a moral matter. So the various arguments do not matter so much to me. In fact I think either way is OK, there is no command to do it nor a prohibition.

I do not have a problem with a woman as leader. Some have proven themselves quite able. Ellen has been a wonderful gift to the church. I say what I said about Roberts because of the way it was done. In fact if you think about it, it may have been such actions that turned the rest of the world against WO. When you are asking some who oppose an idea to approve it, it is best not to wave a flag in their faces, to show that you will do whatever you want regardless. That is called hubris. The morally superior attitude demonstrated by some is certainly a turn off. Even in a way like dogmatic fundamentalists!

And I must say I have little respect for those who wait until they are retired to speak their minds. If a man takes risks for his opinion, even though I may not agree, he is worth listening to. To wait until there is no risk just means you are not really convinced yourself.


Commenting without listening leaves a commentary suspect However I found your comments based on your general view interesting.

re 1. No I did not expect anyone to come from the GC. Those who are against because it might seem to give the talks more legitimacy as well as the reason you pointed out and those who are for WO due to job fragility (cf Tom Lemon).

re 2. But they did try and I think Jon P helped me at least to better understand the antiWO leadership. I agree that Pauline did an admirable job. Of course he could not get in all the nuances. It was not, BTW his stated purpose to represent all the views of every part of the world. That attempt happened at TOSC. Did you read the papers of the different divisions to know where they stood? I did. But I have never dialoged with anyone else that did.

re 3. I agree, that is how they feel. Did you know that there were so many problems over Ellen that for a while she remained silent and even avoided going to church gathering? She ends her account by saying, “I shrank from offending my brethren, and in this allowed the fear of man to break up that uninterrupted communion with God which had blessed my heart for so many months” {LS80 176.1}, Sometimes there is a price to high to pay for peace and unity with our brethren, no matter how much we desire it. How can we say “No.” to God? How can we refuse to acknowledge, appreciate and fully use the blessings God has sent us in the forms of both men & women?

And Tuesday showed that some are out to delete all women in leadership ministry, even the women deaconesses. I agree with you that ordination is saying someone can speak for us. Therefore Tuesday’s attempt to delete ordained deaconesses is saying we don’t want to acknowledge any women speaking for us at any level. I assume, based on your statement that you do not think any woman should speak for the church. I am curious what you think of Ellen White.

Altho Jon Paulson is not as much to blame as Wilson, he could have done more to face the issue. He thot to save the church the uproar Instead I think, with the best of intentions, he exasperated it He, along with several others tried to speak up once they retired but they could have had more influence while still in office.


For the life of me, I do not understand why we as a church are still arguing this issue 100+ years following EGW’s death. We can hide behind doctrine. We can hide behind policy. We can hide behind unity. We can hide behind all manner of other equally non applicable excuses but when you strip it all away, the reason we continue to disallow women serving in an official capacity in ministry amounts to nothing more and nothing less than our own spiritual immaturity and our failure to LISTEN to our sisters and brothers in Christ.


…and my momma would have as well, God rest her soul until the resurrection!

Somehow I doubt that the Kingdom to come will be a place where any demographic is subservient to another or is disallowed to fulfill any particular function necessary to the peaceful cohesion of that kingdom, so yes, “spiritual immaturity”.

Indeed, why?

I’ve seen it mentioned here that the document came to the committee from the executive officers of the GC whereupon the committee massaged and revised it to some degree before presenting it at AC. Whether that is an accurate account, I have no clue.


Will women’s ordination, or the authoritarian tendencies of General Conference leadership. split the church?

Who knows how the future will unfold. I suspect the church will go on without a major formal split although we are in for some interesting times ahead.

What I do know is that the church is split informally already. When more than half the church members have left, that is a huge split. It’s just that they don’t all go and form a new organisation claiming to be the seventh-day adventist church. When most of the children and young people will not be in our church in the years ahead, that’s a major split.

In my part of the world, many committed young people of high values are puzzled and perplexed at how in a large part the church is 1) backward and fighting against inequality, and resists actively acting for and championing fairness and justice on the human level, 2) not interested generally in caring for advocating for protection of all of creation and against destructive practices, and 3) caught up in religious power games and structures that are far from the way of Jesus.

These and other things are splitting off high numbers from the church already. Keeping them and getting them back won’t come about from preaching personal revival and conservatism and preaching the doctrines ad nauseum. If the way of Jesus isn’t lived out in all areas there isn’t much to chance of healing and reversing the split that has happened, is happening, and will continue to happen.

This is not a rebellion. Adventism is an organisation with some key leaders attempting to model it to a top-down authoritarian hierarchical model that is not the way of Jesus or the heart of early adventism. It is currently a system that is purging many - many of them rather quietly. There are those who say that at their work if you don’t do what you are told then you lose your job, so that’s how it is with the church. Except that is not the way of the church. The leadership and organisational units beyond the local church are there to serve not to rule and dictate. If there is any rebellion, it is by those who impede people from living out their calling and those who ask people to violate their consciences, those who impede the church members from their mission, and by those who do not live out the spirit of Jesus.


Tell me my brothers and sisters, would anyone dare to figure just how many God-pods could be purchased and shared with our distant ‘siblings’ in the South Pacific, in Kenya, in Nepal, if we cut the budget for AC meetings and all the flying to and fro, and open-handedly passed on the mis-spent dollar value to missionaries who are actually working for Jesus?
When conference presidents in the island fields cannot reach the churches in their region; when volunteers-in-action have to walk instead of ride a bike to the village churches under their care; when there is one Bible per VIA, and none for the home churches or their members, should we not hang our heads in shame, to think that pomp and ceremony and presidential ponderings are chewing up tithes and mission offerings?
May God in His mercy forgive you for wasting His resources on ‘meetings’ in high places, when committed village folk are weeping for spiritual succour/nourishment. God wants us all to be His missionaries - in the pulpit, in the clinic, at the printing press, at the door, in the kitchen, in the classroom, and in the retirement village and preschool. Baptizing His lambs in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is the first step, holding them tight and feeding them God’s Word - that’s why so many of us have gone out as ‘independent’ workers, male and female, because God called and we couldn’t resist His love and grace, and that was motivation enough.


NO, the WO issue is not going to split the Church! What is going to split the Church is:

  1. The issue, precisely, will be discrimination in general.

  2. A GC President that is obsessed with himself and believes that he personally has the final answer for all the issues, therefore he does not have to listen to anybody, but just impose his views as being God’s will.

  3. The lack of people who refuse to sell their souls to politics.

  4. The utilization of infamous maneuvers. Like the one we just saw with the 14-page document. Did TW really believe that everyone would be scared and afraid of calling him on his behavior? I mean, keeping the document secret then revealing it to people only a little before the voting, wishing that they would vote his way without paying much attention to the paper? This is not only naive, it’s a real offense to any person. But the maneuver (manure??) didn’t work since they were using secret ballots. And TW’s Machiavellian plan just got defeated, 184/114.

These things can certainly split the Church. When people have enough of this nonsense perpetrated in name of God and Religion, and they decide to act, then a split can happen. Another option would be to impeach the man, or he could resign - which will not happen. People with this kind of personality believe that they are the only ones possessing the true view of things. They are self-appointed authorities on truth and on everything else, and they have to just impose it on others. They can even use a threat like, “Grave Consequences” if someone dares to challenge them.

It’s not WO that is going to split the Church.


Sounds too similar to this year’s maneuvers by leadership in the U.S. Congress. But in Congress there was open voting and there was willingness on the part of some to stand up and be counted. I wonder how much closer the vote would have been if the voting was not by secret ballot.