Women’s Ordination Lost Again Today

In a shocking vote, a document outlining punishment for leaders of institutions that are deemed out of compliance with church policy, was referred back to the Unity in Mission Oversight Committee that recommended it. It was essentially a vote to do nothing until next year’s Annual Council. At first, I was very pleased that it was referred back. It felt like victory. However, a few more moments of reflection led me to the realization that those in favor of equality in ministry lost, again. Here are a few reasons why:

1. We are no closer to the world church accepting the ordination of women.

Absolutely no progress has been made on that issue. In fact, I would say that we have regressed. Time and attention are now revolving around policy and compliance that have nothing to do with the moral call to equality. The vote ensured that there is going to be another year of delay around the policy issue and no further reflection on the important role women play in the church and the need to treat them equally.

I found it stunning how disconnected the first few days of AC were compared to what happened Monday. In the first few days, it was all about mission and all the leaders were talking about how we need every single person involved in mission. Yet, on Monday, they were then trying to limit the roles women could play in mission. If that dichotomy is completely lost on them, which it appears to be, there is little to no hope for progress anytime soon.

In a best case scenario for supporters of equality, current President Ted Wilson will not be re-elected at the 2020 GC Session. If the new President is in favor of women’s ordination, the General Conference would ideally stop seeking to punish Unions who have ordained equally and leave them alone. Then, perhaps, a vote to accept women’s ordination will come to the floor at the 2025 GC Session. Right now, this is the absolute best case scenario you could possibly imagine. How awful is that?

2. A toxic and coercive form of leadership was on full display.

It started on Sunday when General Conference Secretary, G.T. Ng, used the Secretary’s Report to give a history lesson on how the church handled rebellious leaders through the years. Without directly saying it, he was painting those in favor of WO as rebels who needed to be dealt with or risk the church being led astray. This kind of presentation had no place in the Secretary’s Report and set the tone for the kind of leadership that is being displayed.

On Monday, before the 14-page document outlining Phase 2 of the “reconciliation process” was released, Tom Lemon, Chair of the Unity in Mission Oversight Committee detailed steps taken in the previous year. He admitted that all the steps in the document voted last year were not followed! In fact, they barely did any of what Annual Council voted. The steps were simple and clear and they didn’t even come close to finishing them. Yet, they still moved forward with Phase 2. This shows that Phase 1 was a farce all along and they always had their sights set on punishment. The irony is that they were out of compliance with the voted action at Annual Council in 2016 and if the document in 2017 was approved they should have been investigated for being out of compliance!

The toxicity continued in the way the 14 page document was handled. The document was not shown to delegates until the time of the vote, despite requests to see it sooner. Imagine that: none of the delegates even had one night to think and pray over it. They were given the document and expected to approve it within a few hours. As a pastor, I would never imagine pulling a stunt like this on my congregation. If we are handling a difficult issue, we make sure people have time to think and pray about it. If there are serious disagreements and concerns, we table the decision until the next meeting. It’s just proper respect and due process. However, they tried to ram it through and President Wilson was visibly frustrated and openly advocated as chair (which is also questionable) to not refer it back.

This document was seen by all the GC Division Officers and other leaders which is around 70 people. You can see the fine reporting by Bonnie Dwyer about how manipulated that process was with proxy votes and shady dealings. Yet, the fact that even with all the manipulation it took for it to “pass,” that enough people of the 70 went along with it is highly troubling.

We also saw the prolific use of Ellen White quotes trying to hammer home their points and stifle dissent and discussion. It feels like half the 14 page document is just quotes from her, and Ng’s presentation was filled with them as well. The message trying to be sent: If you don’t go along with what we are proposing, you are rejecting the Spirit of Prophecy. The battle of EGW quotations at some point is going to have to stop.

Is this kind of leadership acceptable in the church? I hope not.

3. I had to shield my child from it.

I was streaming the proceedings on my computer when my six year old son came over and asked me what I was watching. What was I supposed to say? I just told him that some people from the church were making some decision, then encouraged him to play with his toys in an attempt to distract him. It’s an embarrassment. There is no good explanation to give a child so I tried to shield him from it. Yet, I know there is only so much shielding that can be done. He will find out. He will ask me to give an account of my role in what’s happening. I’m not sure how I’ll answer.

Forgive me if I’m not celebrating. Perhaps the old saying puts it best: we won this battle but are losing the war.

Trevan Osborn is Associate Pastor at the Azure Hills Church in Grand Terrace, California.

Image Credit: Adventist News Network

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8306
4 Likes

I can understand your desire to shield your child, however I believe that this is exactly the thing that should be placed front and center to our children. As you pointed out the best scenario is in 2025, that would make your 6 year old 14, exactly the time when they will be beginning to make choices on baptism and thier interaction with the church.
We need our children to understand our struggles with faith, in that way when they have their own they can understand that they are never alone.
The Lord Still Leads.

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Trevan,

I’m not as pessimistic as you appear to be as to where we have arrived and the direction in which we are moving.

One Committee member in the discussion remarked probably accurately, I believe, that there seemed to be a general willingness that there needed to some policy enforcement measures put into place. But mercifully, we were preserved from the wrong measures being instituted.

Equally as important as some policy compliance/ enorcement measures are some policy development measures. We can rely on the Unity in Mission Oversight Committee to recommend some of the compliance/ enforcement measures. The Unions and Divisions must seek to have input into this process. What we must not let the GC do is to forget that now they have an opportunity also to bring further resolution to the issues before us concerning gender and credentialing by a strategy of policy development as well. The NAD and the Inter-European Division must join both the SPD and the TED in pushing for this. We will lose everything if compliance/ enforcement measures are refined but not our credentialing policies.

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Thank you, Trevon, for putting into words the disappointment and heartache all these machinations at the GC cause. I also am disappointed that the document was not voted down - but under given circumstances, the outcome was better than expected (just think of AC 2016). And I feel very very grateful for you and all those others who, though denominationally employed, take their stand and follow their conscience. Let me just say a big big thank you for your courage.
The good news is - I am not aware of God signing the GC working policy either, so the Holy Spirit will continue to guide men and women into His service - He’s no respector of persons.

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Its unfortunate that it seemed the document wanted to be “smuggled” in. The point i hope they will consider is the appeal process.

What should also be considered is what, who and how will the same “compliance” measures be enforced when the GC secretariat is not compliant which its procedures

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I wandered down a dark alley on the Internet to get the reaction of particular Seventh-day Adventists who believe that women are eternally subordinate to men. The comments of my good friend David Read are noteworthy:

“Here is the bottom line: there is no will for discipline on female ordination. Period. No will. Therefore, there will never be any discipline on female ordination. The San Antonio vote has effectively been reversed. That is the reality. Own it. You’ll sleep better. Or maybe you won’t, but it’s still the reality.”

“Ron (and everyone else reading this), the can has not been “kicked down the road.” Yesterday was the end of the road, the end of any serious attempt at discipline on the WO issue. There will be no discipline on female ordination. The San Antonio vote has effectively been reversed. The WO people got their way. It’s over.”

The San Antonio vote, which is valid but not dispositive, is already obsolete. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is being sanctified, and no one should dare to try to stop that. If you are an opponent of women’s ordination, you are either consciously or more likely unconsciously and unwittingly an anti-Trinitarian. Study what Scripture reveals about God. Discern that the Triune God is a model of the marriage couple. And as you begin to understand that the Son is not eternally subordinate to the Father, you will realize that women are not eternally subordinate to men.

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In the US political system pundits are noting how the political base of our current President manages to “rule” (some would say ineffectively). Essentially it is argued that as in the game of chess a stalemate is a position of the pieces in which a player cannot move any piece except the king and cannot move the king without putting it in check Has the issue of woman’s ordination come to this point where any position or situation in which no action can be taken or progress made is essentially a deadlock for Adventists.The rules of chess provide that when stalemate occurs, the game ends as a draw (i.e. having no winner). During the endgame, stalemate is a resource that can enable the player with the inferior position to draw the game rather than lose. Choosing to not to ordain women is an inferior position. The sooner we start with that reality the better off we will be.

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YES!! If the SDA church would say the Nicene Creed together in church on every Sabbath, each member out loud in unison, there would be an understanding that GOD IS ONE.
One is not “lower” or “higher” than the other. ALL ARE ONE in the Creation of the Universe, ALL ARE ONE in the formation of this earth for humans and in creating humans. ALL ARE ONE in the Redemption process for humans.
ALL ARE ONE. This IDEA of one being greater than the other is HERESY, HERESY, HERESY!!!
Jesus the Man, Christ the God and the other 2 Gods ALL sit on the throne bench together!. And Have since Eternity past. Have since the God-Man ascended to heaven, and have continued to do so the past 2000+ years.

On Another Note – This INACTION regarding the Ordination process as a WORLD CHURCH,
This Inaction STILL ALLOWS ALL UNIONS WHO WISH to continue to Ordain to the Ministry WHOEVER they CHOOSE to RECOGNIZE.
It ALSO ALLOWS any further Unions to begin ordaining to the ministry of the church WHOEVER they CHOOSE to RECOGNIZE.
THEIR DIVISIONS’ PRESIDENTS AND STAFF are NOT allowed to interfere in WHO THEY CHOOSE.

Do we NEED to begin picketing the hesitant Union Offices where women are STILL 2nd and 3rd class citizens in the church?

QUESTION-- WHY is Allen SO Penal Colony Minded for the people in the Unions that WANT WOMEN TO BE THEIR “AUTHORIZED” Pastor???
PUNISHMENT MINDED???
“39 Stripes” MINDED???

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I have been attending the Azure Hills Church for a few months now, and enjoy what the author does in that congregation. However, I humbly dare to disagree with his view on this battle against DOW (Discrimination of Women). Some call it WO, but it is much worse, because it’s a case of discrimination happening in a so-called Christian Denomination. And I say “so-called” because I cannot imagine discrimination of any kind happening in a true Christian Denomination.

In my opinion we are not losing the war. Any war is won by consecutive victories in small battles - inch by inch. In this case, the war is against a monster - a power that is led by people who believe that intimidation and threatening is allowable in Christian behavior. People who are so sick that they could even create a “secret oath document” to be signed by the people on the pews with even little time to read it. I call it “Soviet Style Governance.”

But… WE WON again. I say again because the vote in SA was a first win. After tossing the million-dollar worth TOSC conclusions, Ted Wilson came up with a question that was completely misconstrued and it backfired on him. It was a tricky question, intended to share the Unions’ power with the Divisions. If that has passed we would be fried, because then the GC would be able to usurp the Unions’ power and take over the whole thing. There wouldn’t be any further discussion of WO, and the DOW would be perpetuated in the Denomination.

But the attempted hijacking failed badly! It seems that by Divine providence the people from the world church did not comprehend the question and ended up voting thinking they were voting against WO. A true shot in the foot! And, since “the body spoke,” nothing changed, the Unions retained their power to legislate on ordination issues. The GC lost, we won that battle!

And now this fiasco at the AC! After a fraudulent maneuver adding those non-votes to the yes votes prior to addressing the final document to the plenary, “the church body” spoke again! The GC lost, we won again!

In my opinion Ted Wilson should pack up and go home right away. His cause is lost - discrimination of women will NOT be perpetuated in what he things is his own church. But he won’t leave. Despite a clear message from the “body” rejecting his Machiavellic style of governance, Ted will stay and will keep wasting more money (fortune) from the Church in his battle to perpetuate DISCRIMINATION of women in the Church.

Men who cannot let go their “power & control” illness should not be allowed to have any position in which they may usurp their authority and make their own sickness the main issue to be discussed. It’s costly, a waste of time of others, and at the end it is a lost cause anyway!!!

Yes, the battle against DISCRIMINATION OF WOMEN in the SDA is being won! Inch by inch!!!
= ==================

Hi Robert! I am glad hearing from you again!

You are right, it’s frustrating. Now, just think for a moment how frustrating it would be right now if the vote in SA had been YES, and the GC had the control of the ordination process since. Plus/or if the vote (actually a VoteGate, right?) on Monday has passed! That would have caused a revolution in many places.

Hey, even if the paint is oil-based, one day it will dry, and discrimination of women in our church will be just a shameful embarrassment of the past, as is 1844 now. A memory directly connected to the name of Ted Wilson. History cannot be deleted…

Salut to the 184!!!

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George, you’re right. But it’s frustratingly slow - kind of like watching paint dry. The document should not have been referred back to the committee - it should have been rejected - forcefully!

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Did anyone seriously believe that there would be any other outcome to this…Why would there be. Ignoring the issue and passing it on to each new session has worked for at least 30 years - why change. This way the faithful keep being faithful and the renegades keep doing their thing - each believing God is on their side.

…in the meantime…

Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne,
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and,
behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping
watch above his own.

Interestingly enough, this was written in 1844; the issue - slavery.

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but this isn’t, or shouldn’t be, the battle…the battle should be to come into compliance with the council of jerusalem’s dual-policy solution of letting competing, strongly felt cultural views exist side by side…there may be issues where more than two battle lines are drawn, for which the council of jerusalem’s model can also serve as the template…

there is no more point in attempting to change a headship adventist’s views on women than there is in changing a jew’s views on circumcision…we already have decades of evidence that a resolution of WO, one way or the other, is hopeless…why perpetuate that hopelessness…

transforming the church into a post-modern feminized society is a waste of energy…this is because god isn’t in this effort…isn’t it the case that for centuries he worked with polygamy, which is extreme headship on steroids…of course headship, anywhere and everywhere it exists, is regrettable…but a homogenized WO church obviously isn’t god’s priority…his priority is the conversion and salvation of everyone, just where they’re at…therefore this should be our priority…

for many decades, white europeans went to africa in order to teach black natives how to dress, eat and socialize as white europeans…isn’t the mega damage, sustained by millions upon millions of people ever since, evidence that cultures should be left alone…when you strip away someone’s culture, and force him to subsist in your own culture, you don’t have conversion…you have a zombie, who falls far short of the holistic conversion experience god wants to give every human being…honestly, i don’t know how much clearer any of this can get…

therefore AC 2017 should be regarded as a victory - a miraculous victory even, considering that a motion to return, on top of a motion to refer, is what prevented the phase 2 document from even being voted on…these kinds of unexpected developments should be seen for the supernatural interventions they are…headship advocates now have at least a year to repent over their attempt to stifle the work of the holy spirit through the women in our church, in addition to all the division they have caused…their repentance shouldn’t be their headship views, but their obvious non-compliance with the dual-policy model outlined in the bible and egw…let’s hope they repent, that san antonio can be denounced, and that the church can move closer to its triumphant future…

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My son is 8. I told him as much as he could grasp. I have a 3 year old… she´s still too small.
I agree with you!
For them the simplicity of life is a total no brainer as with the young ones in our church.

I saw a miracle on Monday. I thought it was all going to blow up and the church was going to fall, that it wouldn´t survive the split and it was all over. And I was going to be the first one to run away from all that bunch of crap!

Well, Paulsen´s testimony there had the strongest impact I believe. I can see God´s reflection in him. I believe his speech there was the strongest our church has had since the times of Ellen White. Makes me cry every time I see him in that video. And there were several others like him. The way things turned around instead of blowing up was amazing.
We don´t have the full victory, but we are not wiped out either. I´m still in, not sure how, but in! We´re still standing with the beliefs and convictions only our consciences allow by God´s grace, and no one will take that away from us!

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Until you understand the mind set of persons nurturing obsessive compulsive traits. These individuals are obsessed with making sure rules are made perfect and obeyed to the “T” they lose orientation why those rules were made to begin with. By then they would have wasted the majority of their productive years of life in rule making. I kid you not, I see them a dime a dozen in my psychiatric practice. As such, I take comfort that TW and his cohorts will return to the drawing board and start all over again. They will never resolve this issue because most likely they will be sidetracked by another issue that would need their punishment.

Isn’t it comical to look at the landscape? The GC is pouring valuable time and resources away from our mission to punish unions who they deem out of compliance even though they themselves are as much, if not more, guilty than those they are seeking to punish? Never mind the fact that SECC, one of the “guilty” parties pay their salaries. Go figure-Typical OCD. Which remind me of “Des” Ford’s cliche “marching in circles.”

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I think Trevon is quite wrong, and Read quite right. There is no will to discipline on WO, so it will, in the end, prevail. That does not mean the world church will accept it in their own areas, but they will let those that want to to be allowed.

I think Trevon’s attempt to shield his child is a mistake. The real world is a place where there are all manner of folk that will disagree with you and attempt to foil your plans. It is better not to be a snowflake on such matters.

And, this is not a sanctifying issue, and has nothing to do with that.

Congradulations! You won enough on the other side to keep from coming under discipline. The question now will be whether any issue will result in discipline.

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My impression reading through the document is:

  1. Their argument is that WO is not a matter of conscience but rather simply a church policy. If that is the case then ordinations should be done away with all together. Which would stop the argument and allow the focus to be on that which is really important.

  2. They are trying to punish people whom they have no authority to punish, else they wouldn’t be looking for the authority to do such. It would seem to me the ones who elect them to the position are the ones who are in the position to discipline or remove them from office…

I am concerned with what I see as the desire to control, which goes against the very structure and foundation of this church.

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GC Annual Council 2017 was a breath-taking watershed moment when GC leadership were denied the authority to enforce compliance where individuals and church entities are out of compliance with GC actions, case in point being WO. The future will tell if they learnt their lesson and desist, or if they will come back with renewed zeal and fervour to have another go at it at the 2018 GC Annual Council whichI I predict will be an unliikely scenario. The genie is out of the bottle. Masks have come off. The tide is turning in favour of mutual trust, and the love of mission - TMI (Total Member Involvement) and TPI (Total pastoral involvement) with both ordained genders on board.

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But there was something remarkable in TW’s closing of the session. Every time in the past when his vote prevailed he would close by saying, “Let us turn to mission.” So far I can remember this time he had not said it. No doubt he was caught by the decision. All his end remarks went around the outcome and the future try to “make something more helpful” and that we still have “entities out of compliance”.
Yes they have been caught by the vote and will need some time to rearrange their documents and then they’ll start it over again. Like @elmer_cupino said, they are that kind of persons. Having control is their prerequisite of doing other things. Like some students who won’t start learning till they haven’t cleaned up their desks. Lost time does not matter to them. It’s tragic, but it’s true.
By the way, today we all agree with @ajshep.

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I wondered how Ted was going to get out of this. He has backed himself increasingly into a corner many times. If there wasn’t a circuit breaker of some sorts there was going to be big pain, trouble and major repercussions.

It’s probably the best we could hope for this week. But the attitudes of authoritarianism and top down autocratic behaviour and demands is in Ted and his allies’ DNA. This will not be the end. It will bubble out in all kinds of ways until T&T (Ted and Team) have a true revival in their hearts like they call for, and until they are truly open to a real Reformation. They keep calling for it, but do they realise that Reformation is not everyone being obedient to the status quo and the demand of authorities. It is a radical breakdown and rearrangement of an existing system. These guys have done their best to set up a system that is more heading towards the papal system they decry. Somehow I don’t see Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus in the way they carry on. Their words are cheap, their actions scream.

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Trevon,

I am not surprised by any of this, sadly. I disassociated myself from this church many years ago because of to many things to list here. I love the Lord and that has nothing to do with any religion. As I read I felt badly for so many I know are being mistreated, disrespected and devalued over and over again by these same actions or inactions. I was irritated, sad and mad at the same time but when I read about your feeling the need to shield your son from what was happening it mad me cry. I guess somewhere SDA is deep in my soul. (It is part of my history and part of who I am I can’t deny.) I hope in my life time I will get to witness the change that needs to come. Again sadly, I feel that will never happen under the current leadership. May God Bless your sweet family. Keep the faith. Hold strong for the fight. It will be a new story for the church and a new improved church for your children.
Mrs. Mills

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