Women’s Ordination: The Truth about the Real Position of the 13 Divisions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church


• Problem: The position on Women’s Ordination (WO) by the 13 World Divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is unclear. Online forums suggest that the North American Division (NAD) is often singled out as the only or the primary region in favor of WO. There are informal reports on the position of each Division, but to our knowledge, this study is unique in that it reports on a comprehensive analysis of the written presentations on WO by each Division’s Biblical Research Committees (BRC).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2018/womens-ordination-truth-about-real-position-13-divisions-seventh-day-adventist-church

How about a mail in secret ballot from every member after a special edition of Adventit World publishes a summary of the TOSC report. The GC IN SESSION WOULD VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE RESULTS OF THIS BALLOT. PROBLEM SOLVED😊

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Great article, very informative. I would just like to see the entire SID report, and compare to the Thesis of brother Ram…

Also, the GC has not been authorised to ordain individuals, which begs the question, who has ever heard a institution banning something they can’t do itself. Secondly their constitutency is not the same of those of union or conference, which again raises the question, are they implying that they are over freedom of choice.


Would Spectrum Magazine be interested in taking the lead to publish the relevant documents in more languages?


At the rate the WO issue is going, it’s only a matter of time until it’s voted, however the spirituality of the church is going on a fast decline.


Thank you for putting the time into this! For those that want a complete picture and the facts
what a blessing! Thanks again, you made my day.


I respectfully disagree that the biblical/theological basis of WO was not addressed in the motion that was put before the GC session delegates.

Clearly, as far as the 15 committee members of Southern Asia Pacific Division BRCTOSC were concerned, their votes reflected answers to questionnaires in relation to their understanding of Scriptural and Ellen White support or lack of the same for WO. However, I’m not aware the discussion reached beyond the walls of the division headquarters. It seemed more like a closed door meeting with the utmost secrecy being observed.

How was the vote understood by ordinary church members? What did it mean to them? Not what Compliance and GC Executive Committee members want us to believe after the fact. I suggest a person-sitting-in-the-pew test.


Has someone told Ted Wilson about this?


Thank you for revisiting this topic in such thorough manner. The findings themselves are neither new nor spectacular. Over decades the only argument against WO had been a cultural one only. The divisions in their BRCs were far more unified than expected (EUD probably is one of the most diverse divisions - but had a unanimous vote in favour)… TOSC - even though heavily weighted with powerful non-theologians known to entertain strong opposition - had a clear majority for allowing WO in regions where it would be deemed appropriate.

What is spectecular, even outrageous is the amount of misinformation coming from official news sources at highest level. And no, it would be an insult to the intelligence of the producers to believe, this is just an accident or a misunderstanding. We are being mislead.

Educate, educate, educate.


Thank you Spectrum, for this concise, factual discussion of a very emotional issue! Truth’s illumination will always drive the darkness of error out of our lives!



In the main I consider this paper extremely helpful!

The South Pacific Division Year End Meetings voted "to request the GC to reconsider the recommendations made last quinquennium by the divisions’ Biblical Research Committees, the TOSC committee, and to review the GC Session 1990 action referring to women’s ordination for its context and its relevance to the missional needs of the church at this time, and further, and that in the context of the above items, and specifically in relation to FB # 6,7,14 and 17, to request the GC to place on the GC 2020 Session agenda an action item on the ordination of women in light of the missional needs of some areas of the world church."

Ed, you have just made any GC reconsideration of the recommendations made in November 2013 by the divisions’ BRC’s a whole lot easier. Thank-you for that!! Yet I would suggest that these papers and the concluding recommendations attached to each need to be trawled through with a very fine toothed comb.

In one or two areas Ed could have more adequately reflected the stance of the Divisions. I say this having reflected on many of these reports and having had two articles published on this blog site in 2014. I had particularly commented on the stance of the East-Central Africa Division Report along with that of the Trans-European Division.

NB It concerns me that while the various Division Presentation and summary papers are available with the other TOSC papers on the ASTR website the longer more comprehensive papers produced by each Division no longer appear on the ASTR website.

The Central Recommendation of the East Central Africa Division BRC was “NO, NOT YET.” They clearly envision that a new paradigm of ministry and ordination may yet be implemented in the Adventist communion. The necessary creation of this is a very valid reason for the requested delay. They explain their decision well as follows:

“ECD BRC still sees no light in ordaining women as pastors under the current praxis of understanding and practicing ordination. Our Committee decision is not conclusive and members are urging further studies until the Church is convinced that ordaining under current modalities is biblical.” (p.14).

The real surprise for me is that for the ECD BRC the cultural dimensions of ordination are in large focus.

The ECD Report makes 4 assertions:

  1. "Different modalities need to be urgently developed and implemented in the Church’s praxis so that no servant of God … feel[s] unappreciated and undervalued by the Church.(p.14). Creativity in the development of culturally sensitive practices of appointment to leadership are recommended because “the God of Israel did not bypass cultural norms when he communicated important messages.” (p. 19).

  2. “Ordination” presently carries unhealthy nuances which need undoing in order to facilitate servant leadership for the Adventist Church. (p.14). These unhealthy nuances are named elsewhere in the document:

  • “Notions of hierarchy and patriarchy” (p.19).
  • “A concept and practice of ordination such that it perpetuates the notion of male domination in the church.” (p.19).
  • “The traditional African worldview where ordination is a male ‘spiritual rite of passage’.” (p.19)
  • “The traditional understanding that male/ female roles are fixed.” (p.20).
  • “The person who has been set apart considers himself/ herself as superior or better, and therefore endowed with magical powers.” (p.20).
  1. The differing views on interpreting Scripture, and especially passages on headship as clearly taught, have left the two sides of the debate … engaging in what might be considered “dialogue of the deaf” or “selective inattention whereby human beings hear what they want to hear.” (p.11). Thus, they in their own context make a strong call for more study of the issues before GC 2015. [Remember this call was made in November 2013 and reported to TOSC in January 2014].

4. Their greatest desire was for a “theologically intelligent and responsible church” and this will undoubtedly involve information sharing “down to the grassroots.” “It will be counterproductive for the Remnant Church’s delegates at San Antonio General Conference Session to cast their vote for or against women’s ordination if they do not have adequate information.” (p.15).

[In “An Open Letter To the GC Officers Concerning Ordination” published on this blogsite and dated 06/12/2014 I plead with the GC to make provision for this education process. I warned that as the ECD BRC had concluded the 2015 GC vote would be counterproductive otherwise. And so it has proved. Thankfully, you Ed are making a similar call now].

Ed, I think you have misunderstood the stance of the South Pacific Division big time. The SPD BRC Secretary invited me to submit a paper for the BRC. I am very familiar with all the papers which were published a few days before the 2015GC Session began in the book South Pacific Perspectives on Ordination. Plus the fact that the SPD President at the time, Dr Barry Oliver, a TOSC member wrote a summary paper on “Moving Ahead in Unity.” Please look again. THe SPD do not merit being placed in the ‘Leaning Yes’ column as far as WO is concerned. Their resolve has always been firmly, ‘Yes’ we should ordain women; and just as firmly to cooperate in making a global decision about it.

Ed, please write to me personally thru my Gmail. petersomerset@g…


Actually the General Conference does issue ordination credentials for GC officers, Division officers and appropriate employees of GC Universities - Andrews and Loma Linda.

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The question is, can the GC ordain someone? Because issuing a paper anyone can do.
Division official and “appropriate” employees, are GC workers. Sorry, but “appropriate” employees sounds like there are “non appropriate” employees.


I was having a conversation with a church worker, and they mentioned that some women don’t get a pension plan when they get employed by the church, they might qualify after two or three years or never- package with no benefits. While men are immediately put onto the pension plan.


Are you by any chance correlating WO and Spiritual Decline of the Church?

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Noooooooooooooooo!!! :wink:


If that is not also discrimination of women, what is???


How convenient!
What is the history of this process?
Was it properly instituted-or is the GC out of compliance with this perhaps conflict of interest practice and is it counter to accepted church documents regarding said policies?


So how or when did this policy change, " Authority for ordination is assigned to the union level of church governance as indicated by General Conference Working Policy L 45 05. It states, “After favorable consideration the local conference committee will submit the name of the candidate with its findings and convictions to the union for counsel and approval.”



Thanks, Peter Marks (and everyone). I appreciate the feedback.

I should add that although the content of the article may not be surprising for some regulars on Spectrum, there is a segment of the world church with a completely distorted perspective and likely believe that NAD (and liberal Europe, etc.) are the only ones supporting WO.

I am blessed to be able to communicate in Dutch, French, English, Spanish, and read Portuguese, and I can confirm that there is a significant lack of information. Spectrum is commended for publishing the articles in Spanish also so that others in Latin America can have sources that can be cited/referenced. I really encourage you to share/disseminate articles such as these because one of your friends, even if they don’t speak Spanish, may have a bilingual friend, who then re-shares the article (or potentially searches for the article in Spanish).

Again, I appreciate everyone’s feedback.