Below is the full statement from the Annual Council votes Statement on Church Polity
PRE/1 PREXAD/GCDO12AC/12AC to TNCW
3 132-12G STATEMENT ON CHURCH POLITY, PROCEDURES,
4 AND RESOLUTION OF DISAGREEMENTS IN THE
5 LIGHT OF RECENT UNION ACTIONS ON
6 MINISTERIAL ORDINATION
8 VOTED, 1. To adopt the following Statement on Church Polity, Procedures, and
9 Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial
10 Ordination and
12 2. To request that division administrations engage with field unit
13 administrators in reviewing this statement and its implications for Church structure,
14 identity, operations, and mission:
16 STATEMENT ON CHURCH POLITY, PROCEDURES,
17 AND THE RESOLUTION OF DISAGREEMENTS IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT
18 UNION ACTIONS ON MINISTERIAL ORDINATION
20 Foundational principles for Seventh-day Adventist Church structure and
21 operations are rooted in the Bible and draw heavily from the teachings of Jesus, the
22 apostles and the experience of the early Church. In the New Testament the people of God
23 are urged to demonstrate unity (John 15 and 17, Ephesians 4); to engage in worldwide
24 mission (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:7-8, Acts 10-11); to acknowledge
25 differences/disagreements and to have a process for their resolution (Acts 6, 15,
26 Galatians 3:26-29, Philippians 2); and to live as a transformed and transforming
27 community in a fractured and sin-burdened world (Ephesians 2-4).
29 The Seventh-day Adventist Church seeks to preserve its identity as a united global
30 family while addressing mission opportunities and challenges in widely differing cultural,
31 political and economic environments. The desire to hold two objectives, global unity1,
32 and global mission, in creative and dynamic balance has led to an organizational structure
33 that shares and delegates responsibility for mission within a framework of participation in
34 and respect for collective decision-making processes. Within this organizational
35 structure, decisions of a General Conference Session represent the highest authority2—
36 the voice of the whole Church in respect to beliefs, procedures and relationships.
38 It is natural to expect that in response to diverse and ever-changing circumstances
39 differences will arise in determining the most appropriate ways of accomplishing mission
40 while also preserving Church structure and relationships. The articulation of different
41 viewpoints and the expression of disagreement are important ways by which the Church
42 gains new insights and more fully understands the global impact of decisions. Speaking
43 and listening, when done respectfully, are essential to the operational health of the whole
44 body and its continuing effectiveness in mission. The process adopted by the Church for
45 the resolution of disagreements involves forums where all those affected by a decision
46 are represented in the exploration and adoption of decisions.
132-12G STATEMENT ON CHURCH POLITY, PROCEDURES,
AND RESOLUTION OF DISAGREEMENTS IN THE
LIGHT OF RECENT UNION ACTIONS ON
MINISTERIAL ORDINATION - 2
2 The call, by both individuals and organizations, for change in ministerial
3 ordination practices illustrates one expression of disagreement. This subject has been on
4 the global agenda of the Church at General Conference Sessions for several decades.
5 Thus far the General Conference Session (by actions in 19903 and 19954) has chosen the
6 pathway of uniform practice worldwide—ministerial ordination for males only. A
7 recurring question is whether or not the authority to grant ministerial ordination without
8 regard to gender could be granted to divisions without making the provision mandatory
9 everywhere. Several unions in various parts of the world have voiced support for this
10 kind of change in ministerial ordination practices. Three union constituency sessions have
11 authorized their executive committees to approve ministerial ordination without regard to
12 gender. Of these, two have recently chosen to proceed according to the constituency
15 Decisions to pursue a course of action not in harmony with the 1990 and 1995
16 General Conference Session decisions (with respect to ministerial ordination) represent
17 not only an expression of dissent but also a demonstration of self-determination in a
18 matter previously decided by the collective Church. The General Conference Executive
19 Committee regards these actions as serious mistakes. They directly challenge two world
20 Church decisions on the matter of ordination. They create doubts about the importance of
21 collective decision-making as a basic feature of denominational life. They weaken the
22 fabric of Church life and operations by giving opportunity for other entities to follow this
23 example in order to justify independence and autonomy in other matters rather than
24 maintaining a mutual commitment to collective decision-making.
26 The world Church cannot legitimize practices that clearly contradict the intent of
27 General Conference Session actions. This applies to ordination decisions as well as to
28 other matters in which a local organization may feel constrained not just to voice its
29 disagreement with the world Church but to proceed along a pathway that directly
30 conflicts with the expressed will of the worldwide Church. Accordingly, the world
31 Church does not recognize actions authorizing or implementing ministerial ordination
32 without regard to gender.
34 This statement deals with Church structure and procedures. It does not address the
35 question of ministerial ordination practices per se. The central issue is one of Church
36 polity—how the Church defines its organization, governance and operations. Historically,
37 the Seventh-day Adventist Church has developed on the principle of interdependence
38 rather than independence. A course of action contrary to the will of the whole places the
39 organization at risk.
132-12G STATEMENT ON CHURCH POLITY, PROCEDURES,
AND RESOLUTION OF DISAGREEMENTS IN THE
LIGHT OF RECENT UNION ACTIONS ON
MINISTERIAL ORDINATION - 3
Discussion and debate about ministerial ordination practice 1 is a separate matter
2 and is under global study and review. General Conference Session decisions (1990 and
3 1995) did not authorize ministerial ordination without regard to gender, either globally or
4 regionally. Any change in this practice requires action by a General Conference Session.
5 Every Church organization in the world has been given the opportunity of participating in
6 the current global study. This can be accomplished through interaction with the
7 respective division-appointed Biblical Research Committee. Division Biblical Research
8 Committees will interface with the General Conference-appointed Theology of
9 Ordination Study Committee. The study is to be completed by 2014 with a report from
10 the Theology of Ordination Study Committee presented to the General Conference
11 Executive Committee at its 2014 Annual Council, which will decide what to refer to the
12 General Conference Session in 2015.
14 The role of women in ministry and leadership has been a long-standing question.
15 It is one that attracts strong yet differing convictions and can readily divide families,
16 congregations and constituencies. The process toward finding acceptable solutions must
17 not obscure the contribution that women have made and continue to make in many areas
18 of Church life and leadership.
20 The General Conference Executive Committee specifically affirms the important
21 roles that women fill in the life of the Church. Their giftedness and commitment is a
22 blessing to the whole Church and a necessary part of its work in mission.
24 Moments of tension in denominational life can be opportunities for both learning
25 and enhancing relationships. The presence of conflict and the expression of difference
26 can help make the Church stronger. In such moments the commitment of all to informed
27 and collective decision-making processes is the best way to resolve matters while keeping
28 the Church together as a world family.
30 The General Conference Executive Committee appeals to all organizations—local
31 churches, local conferences/missions, unions, institutions and divisions—to consider
32 thoughtfully the impact and implications of decisions beyond the boundaries of each
33 entity’s territory of operations. General Conference Working Policy, the Church Manual,
34 and General Conference Session decisions are designed to assist the Church in
35 demonstrating the unity for which Jesus prayed and at the same time to provide a
36 structure that advances the gospel commission in every part of the world.
38 This appeal is also addressed to individual Church members everywhere. Drawing
39 upon Paul’s analogy of the Church as a body (1 Corinthians 12) it is a call for all parts of
40 the body to perform their individual service, to express their unique giftedness with the
132-12G STATEMENT ON CHURCH POLITY, PROCEDURES,
AND RESOLUTION OF DISAGREEMENTS IN THE
LIGHT OF RECENT UNION ACTIONS ON
MINISTERIAL ORDINATION - 4
realization that each is part of something much larger—1 a worldwide family that seeks to
2 do all things in the name of Jesus (Colossians 3:17).
6 1 In the New Testament Church, unity does not always require uniformity (See Acts 15). Instead, unity is
7 based upon mutual commitment to Jesus Christ, to His Word, to His mission, and to the community of
8 believers. One of the ways by which unity is demonstrated is seen in the process of making decisions that
9 affect the whole community—a process of deciding together. The resulting decisions may recognize the
10 legitimacy of practices that do not always reflect uniformity.
12 2 A General Conference Session is affirmed as the highest authority in the Church in the following ways:
14 a. From the writings of Ellen G White: “I have often been instructed by the Lord that no
15 man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other man. Never should the mind of one
16 man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to
17 say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren
18 assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be
19 stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent
20 maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body.
21 At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in
22 the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have
23 said that I can no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the
24 voice of God. But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of
25 duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected. God has ordained
26 that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference,
27 shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment
28 of one man, or a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has vested in His
29 church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and
30 advancement of His work.”—9T 260
31 b. From the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual (18th Edition): “In the Church today
32 the General Conference Session, and the General Conference Executive Committee between Sessions, is
33 the highest ecclesiastical authority in the administration of the Church.”—p. 31
34 c. From General Conference Working Policy B 10 22: “All organizations and institutions
35 throughout the world will recognize the authority of the General Conference Session as the highest
36 authority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church under God.”
38 3 Fifty-fifth General Conference Session, July 11, 1990—Excerpts from Session Bulletin #7, p. 15,
39 dealing with the action and report of the Role of Women Commission: “Voted, To accept the following
40 report and recommendations of the Role of Women Commission as recommended by the 1989 Annual
41 Council: …The commission having listened to the arguments and presentations for and against the
42 ordination of women; having sensed the needs and concerns of the world field; having carefully considered
43 what is probably best and the least disruptive for the world church at this time; and recognizing the
44 importance of our eschatological mission, the witness and image of our spiritual family, and the need for
45 oneness of and unity in the church, reports to the 1990 General Conference session upon the
46 recommendation of the 1989 Annual Council the following results of its deliberation: 1. While the
47 commission does not have a consensus as to whether or not the Scriptures and the writings of Ellen G
48 White explicitly advocate or deny the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, concludes unanimously
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AND RESOLUTION OF DISAGREEMENTS IN THE
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MINISTERIAL ORDINATION - 5
that these sources affirm a significant, wide-ranging, and continuing ministry for women, 1 which is being
2 expressed and will be evidenced in the varied and expanding gifts according to the infilling of the Holy
3 Spirit. 2. Further, in view of the widespread lack of support for the ordination of women to the gospel
4 ministry in the world church and in view of the possible risk of disunity, dissension, and diversion from the
5 mission of the church, we do not approve ordination of women to the gospel ministry.” (The vote was
6 1,173 in favor, 377 opposed.)
8 4 Fifty-Sixth General Conference Session, July 5, 1995—Excerpts from Session Bulletin #8, p. 30:
9 [Discussion was held on a General Conference Executive Committee action] “To refer to the 1995 General
10 Conference Session the North American Division request that the General Conference in Session adopt
11 provisions on ordination as outlined below: ‘The General Conference vests in each division the right to
12 authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition,
13 where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified
14 individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committee takes specific
15 actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in
16 those divisions.’…In favor of the recommendation: 673. In opposition to the recommendation: 1,481. Total
17 number of votes: 2,154. By this vote, the request of the North American Division was denied.”
Issues also affects Church of England
The latest development on tis topic comes from the Danish Union and is as follows:
Statement regarding equality and ordination
According to the Seventh-day Adventist Church's belief in creation, as witnessed in the Bible, God has created mankind – man and woman – in His image and therefore equal.
Because of sin, God instituted a special priesthood reserved for men. This special priesthood with its sacrifices and functions found its fulfillment in Jesus Christ. There is no longer any special priesthood. Jesus Christ is our only true priest, the exalted high priest in the true temple in heaven. Now all have free access to God (Hebrews 4-5).
All of Christ's followers – both men and women – were lifted up to be a "chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to declare His praises" (1 Peter 2:9).
This royal priesthood has a common purpose, namely to proclaim the gospel.
This ministry is based on the spiritual gifts which the Holy Spirit gives equally to men and women (1 Chor 12). Paul mentions some specific grace based ministries in the Church, including apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds (i.e. pastors), and teachers (Eph 4:7-16).
With background in this biblical understanding, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denmark will not distinguish between genders when appointing pastors, and wishes to see equality between genders in all areas of responsibility. As a result, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denmark will suspend the ordaining of any new pastors until the General Conference session in 2015.
Voted at the Danish Union session, May 12, 2013
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) agreed July 23 to approve a consensus statement on an Adventist theology of ordination. The action was an early endorsement of the goal of TOSC leaders to move unitedly through the challenging issues surrounding the church’s discussion of ordination. The delegates votes were 86 to 8, a ration of 11:1. The full statement reads as follows:
CONSENSUS STATEMENT ON A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST THEOLOGY OF ORDINATION
RECOMMENDED, To adopt the document, “Consensus Statement on a Seventh-day Adventist Theology of Ordination,”
In a world alienated from God, the Church is composed of those whom God has reconciled to Himself and to each other. Through the saving work of Christ they are united to Him by faith through baptism (Eph 4:4-6), thus becoming a royal priesthood whose mission is to “proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9, NKJV). Believers are given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-20), called and enabled through the power of the Spirit and the gifts He bestows on them to carry out the Gospel Commission (Matt 28:18-20).
While all believers are called to use their spiritual gifts for ministry, the Scriptures identify certain specific leadership positions that were accompanied by the Church’s public endorsement for persons who meet the biblical qualifications (Num 11:16-17; Acts 6:1-6; 13:1-3; 14:23; 1 Tim 3:1-12; Titus 1:5-9). Several such endorsements are shown to involve “the laying on of hands.” English versions of the Scriptures use the word ordain to translate many different Greek and Hebrew words having the basic idea of select or appoint that describe the placement of these persons in their respective offices. Over the course of Christian history the term ordination has acquired meanings beyond what these words originally implied. Against such a backdrop, Seventh-day Adventists understand ordination, in a biblical sense, as the action of the Church in publicly recognizing those whom the Lord has called and equipped for local and global Church ministry.
Aside from the unique role of the apostles, the New Testament identifies the following categories of ordained leaders: the elder/supervising elder (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim 3:2-7; 4:14; 2 Tim 4:1-5; 1 Pet 5:1) and the deacon (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-10). While most elders and deacons ministered in local settings, some elders were itinerant and supervised greater territory with multiple congregations, which may reflect the ministry of individuals such as Timothy and Titus (1 Tim 1:3-4; Titus 1:5).
In the act of ordination, the Church confers representative authority upon individuals for the specific work of ministry to which they are appointed (Acts 6:1-3; 13:1-3; 1 Tim 5:17; Titus 2:15). These may include representing the Church; proclaiming the gospel; administering the Lord’s Supper and baptism; planting and organizing churches; guiding and nurturing members; opposing false teachings; and providing general service to the congregation (cf. Acts 6:3; 20:28‑29; 1 Tim 3:2, 4-5; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2; 4:5; Titus 1:5, 9). While ordination contributes to Church order, it neither conveys special qualities to the persons ordained nor introduces a kingly hierarchy within the faith community. The biblical examples of ordination include the giving of a charge, the laying on of hands, fasting and prayer, and committing those set apart to the grace of God (Deut 3:28; Acts 6:6; 14:26; 15:40).
Ordained individuals dedicate their talents to the Lord and to His Church for a lifetime of service. The foundational model of ordination is Jesus appointing the twelve apostles (Matt 10:1‑4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16), and the ultimate model of Christian ministry is the life and work of our Lord, who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45; Luke 22:25-27; John 13:1-17)
For those who would like more in-depth information about the committee and its mission, follow the link below:
In reply to this post by Noey
For those of you who are interested in the various reviews before the final release of the document, have a read below:
Work of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee resumed this week as the 106-member committee gathered for its second session of the year near Baltimore at the Maritime Institute of Technology Conference Center.
On Tuesday, a vote was taken on a general consensus statement regarding a theology of ordination. Originally presented to the Committee in February, the document then was revised by a reading committee in May. Slight revisions were made this week before the document was approved by a vote of 86 to 8.
The significant addition to the statement made by the reading committee is material about the meaning of the word ordination. “English versions of the Scriptures use the word ordain to translate many different Greek and Hebrew words having the basic idea of select or appoint that describe the placement of these persons in their respective offices. Over the course of Christian history the term ordination has acquired meanings beyond what these words originally implied. Against such a backdrop, Seventh-day Adventists understand biblical ordination simply as the action of the church to publicly recognize those whom the Lord has called to and equipped for local and global church ministry.”
In the final version, "biblical ordination" was changed to read "ordination, in a biblical sense."
This background information about the word ordination replaced sentences about the election and call of individuals coming from the Lord and that “ordination is an act of commissioning that acknowledges God’s call, sets the individual apart, and appoints the person to serve the church in a special capacity.”
The reading committee that made the revisions will also be reviewing the documents and statements that are scheduled to come from the thirteen world divisions this fall. It was created and members were chosen by the Steering Committee for the TOSC “in order to be as transparent and open as possible.” Five people who support women’s ordination— Bill Knott, Kwabena Donkor, Randy Roberts, Teresa Reve, and Darius Jankiewicz — were selected, plus five people who do not support it— Doug Batchelor, Ray Holmes, Laurel Damsteegt, John Peters, and Phil Mills. The vice chair of the TOSC, Geoffrey Mbwana, was selected to chair the reading committee.
The consensus statement as originally drafted and revised uses gender inclusive language to leave open the question of the ordination of women to the ministry and not to support or oppose it, according to a note at the top of the document.
Originally, it described the gospel ministry as “a special calling from God who in His grace chooses individuals and equips them with gifts in order to lead and nurture His people. . . The quality of the life of such individuals evidences the fact that the Lord has called them to gospel ministry, and the church acknowledges this calling through the rite of ordination. Therefore, ordination is an act of commissioning that acknowledges God’s call, sets the individual apart, and appoints the person to serve the church in a special capacity.”
All versions of the statement include numerous Biblical references as support for key concepts. The revised statement adds some texts not included in the first: Num. 11:16-17; Acts 6:1-7; 13:1-3; 14:23. Later in the document it adds Deut. 3:28, Acts 14:26; 15:40. Then Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; John 13:1-7.
Another Union votes for WO
The July 5 announcement from the Netherlands Union Conference reads as follows:
On May 30th, 2013 the Executive Committee of the Netherlands Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church decided to ordain female pastors, recognising them as equal to their male colleagues. During the Union Session last year the delegates from the churches in the Netherlands charged the church leadership with the task of implementing equality between men and women in the church as soon as possible. After much discussion, and after weighing the many options, the Executive Committee has decided that the best way to implement this equality is through the equal ordination of men and women.
At the Union Session in 2012 the delegates passed the following motion:
"Considering the biblical principle of the equality of men and women, the delegates in session indicate that they reject the current situation of inequality in the church on principle. For this reason, and considering the context of Dutch society, they charge the Executive Board to vigorously promote this perspective in the worldwide church. As quickly as possible, and no later than six months after the next session of the General Conference (2015), equality between men and women will be implemented at all organisational levels of the church in the Netherlands. The equal ordination of female pastors also falls into this category."
As Dutch church we wish to stand firmly behind the principle that all human beings are fundamentally equal, regardless of gender, race, or background. This equality informs an integral part of our fundamental beliefs. The decision not to distinguish between pastors based on their gender falls under this principle. Through this decision the Netherlands Union Conference will be at variance with the policies of the world church. We wholeheartedly wish to follow these policies, and recognise that there must be unity in the church of Jesus Christ. This made implementing the above motion and making this decision particularly complicated. In the end, this decision was the result of weighing the principle of unity against the principle of equality. Other possibilities were also discussed, including the option of not ordaining any pastors until the world church recognises equality, and the option of waiting until the upcoming session of the General Conference of the world church to reach a decision. Ultimately it was decided that from June 1st, 2013 all ordained and commissioned pastors, regardless of gender, will be considered ordained in the Netherlands. In practice this means that Pastor Elise Happé-Heikoop (pastor of Arnhem, Nijmegen and Doetinchem) is now considered ordained, and that on September 21st Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie will be ordained together with her (male) colleague Enrico Karg. The full decision of the Executive Board reads as follows:
"Considering the decision of the 2012 Union Session regarding the equality of men and women (#153), and taking our ethical objections to unequal treatment into account, the Netherlands Union Conference will no longer differentiate between male and female pastors as of June 1st, 2013. All pastors, irrespective of their gender, will be 'ingezegend' pastors. When reporting to the world church, the Netherlands Union Conference will list all pastors as being 'ordained'."
Because of the potentially delicate nature of this topic, it was decided that the communication of this decision would be delayed until July 5th, 2013. This gave the leadership enough time to properly and correctly inform the Trans-European Division. The Netherlands Union Conference has 5276 members, spread over 55 churches and 16 church plants. Last year the 26 pastors in the Netherlands baptised more than 150 new members. In recent years the church has grown steadily, averaging at 3,5%. While some of this growth can be attributed to immigration, the church-planting movement has been particularly successful in reaching the native (Dutch) population in one of the most secular countries in the world.
Columbia Union joins the growing crowd if Unions ordaining women.
Below is the report from Dr Bertil Wiklander (President TED) lecture at Newbold College on 10th September 2013
How do you condense 700 pages of meticulous research into a one hour lecture? On Tuesday, 10 September, Dr Bertil Wiklander, President of the Trans-European Division (TED) made a valiant attempt as he shared the results of his two-year search for the biblical roots of ordination. What the audience of 90 at the Newbold College Diversity Seminar heard was not so much his role as administrator, politician, and academic, though there were elements of all three. Instead, here was a Bible student and a conscientious pastor, concerned to teach and guide his people.
Dr Wiklander began his lecture by explaining the latest round in the process which the global Seventh-day Adventist Church is going through, as it struggles once again to decide whether to ordain women to the gospel ministry. He described the appointment by the General Conference of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) and his co-operation with Newbold College theologians and other TED leaders in the Division's own Biblical Research Committee with a brief to report to TOSC. He made clear how central to the whole process is a developed view of exegesis and interpretation, and he listed clearly the principles his committee had agreed on. Dr Wiklander went on to describe his biblical findings.
He described a variety of processes of 'imposition of hands' in the Bible. Laying on of hands was used to transmit virtue but also, as in the scapegoat ceremony, to pass on responsibility for sin. Laid on hands could dispense blessing, healing and baptism. Certain patterns of Jewish scribal ordination in the Old Testament might have influenced the early church to lay hands on deacons – a practice neither recommended nor repeated in the rest of the New Testament. Jesus did not ordain but He made or appointed apostles and warned them not to be like the scribes but to follow the servant model of leadership.
There is no general command to the Christian church to ordain anyone to a leadership position. The concept of ordination is not found in the Bible and emerges in the second and third-century as the Roman church mirrored what was done in the Roman Empire's legal and civic system. This Roman Catholic concept was not fully challenged during the Protestant Reformation and unbiblical practices remained. "In the New Testament", said Dr Wiklander, "there is no term for ordination as a process of induction to church leadership. It is a pagan practice."
After focusing on the Reformation, the lecture moved on to look at early Adventist history. Dr Wiklander had researched in depth the ecclesiastical heritage of James White and many other Adventist pioneers. They brought with them into the Adventist Church from their previous group ‒ Christian Connection ‒ the three orders of ministry: pastor, elder, and deacon. The idea of apostolic succession – that only ordained ministers could ordain ministers – took hold but, "it has no biblical root", Dr Wiklander insisted. Finally the audience was treated to a whistle-stop tour of an extensive list of church leadership tasks which Ellen White told the church leadership in 1901 that women should take and for which they should be paid by the tithe. "And she said this", said Dr Wiklander, "at a time when women were not even allowed the vote in political life." After an hour, Dr Wiklander concluded the lecture on a personal note. "I become quite emotional when I speak about this", he said. "The research has given me a big question. I believe we should bring men and women into the ministry on equal terms." "The research has given me a big question. I believe we should bring men and women into the ministry on equal terms."
As usual, the question and answer session brought more fascinating insights. "I've been ordained...so I feel a bit pagan now!" said one pastor. "If ordination is a pagan not a biblical practice, should we ordain at all?" Dr Wiklander admitted that he had considered that possibility but rejected it. "We need to have a way of ensuring that we are led by educated and appropriate church leaders and we need a practical way of doing that. There are a lot of traces of paganism in our lives, praying with our hands together, Christmas trees, and the names of the days of the week. Our significant concern needs to be what meaning we assign to ordination. I believe we need a deep reform to make our practices of ordination more biblical."
Questions explored the possibility both of what might happen in the church if women's ordination is agreed and if it is not. People shared concerns about submitting to a vote rather than to the voice of scripture. Dr Wiklander explored the worst possible scenario ‒ a massive schism in which people go their own way and the tithe system is threatened. Some will be unhappy whatever is decided and research needs to be in place as a basis for our teaching. Either way, we need to have a big reform of ordination in our Church and in relations between clergy and laity so that members do not feel the status of pastors separates them from lay people. We can only go forward together if we are all together as servants. Finally, the President gave more personal commitments to his belief in the ordination of women. "I am converted completely to what I said tonight. I would die for it." Newbold's pastor, Patrick Johnson, was impressed. "There was a great deal for pastors to think about in this lecture", he said. "I've heard Bertil speak many times but I've never heard him speak with such passion and conviction."
[Helen Pearson] - See more at: http://adventist.org.uk/news/2013/2013-buc/ordination-the-ongoing-search-for-understanding#sthash.aXDgetxp.dpuf
Sandra E. Roberts, the executive secretary of the Southeastern California Conference for the past nine years, has been nominated to be the conference president. The constituency will vote on her nomination at their meeting Oct. 27. If elected, she would be the first woman to be a president of a Seventh-day Adventist conference.
Roberts holds a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Claremont School of Theology as well as a Master of Arts degree in religious education from Andrews University. During her 26 years in the Southeastern California Conference, she has also served as the general manager and summer camp director at Pine Springs Ranch, the chaplain for the Loma Linda Elementary and Junior High, associate pastor of the Corona Church and associate youth director for the conference. She was ordained to the gospel ministry in 2012.
According to Fritz Guy, chair of the SECC nominating committee, current President Gerald D. Penick, Sr. told the committee that he did not want to be considered for re-election during the committee’s first meeting on Sept. 8. The committee met again and completed its work on Sept. 15. A report was posted on the conference website Monday evening, Sept. 16, and was also sent to the constituency meeting delegates.
No further notice of the committee’s work was made public, according to the SECC communications director Enno Mueller, who said the conference planned to wait for the vote of the constituency before making any statements about the change in officers.
Roberts’ nomination comes as the denomination is in the midst of an international discussion of whether or not to ordain women ministers. Last year the constituents of the Southeastern California Conference and the Pacific Union Conference, of which the SECC is a part, voted to proceed with ordination of women. This is significant, because conference presidents are required to be ordained ministers of the gospel. Southeastern California Conference is one of the largest local conferences in North America, with a membership of 70,572 who meet in 160 churches in the Imperial, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties. It is home to two denominational universities and its largest health care complex.
In another first, the nominating committee tapped Jonathan Park, who has served as a conference vice president for Asian Pacific Ministries, to take Roberts’ place as executive secretary. He is the first Asian-Pacific representative to be selected as one of the top officers of the conference. Elizer Sacey, pastor of the Redlands Filipino Church, has been named to the Asian Pacific Ministries position. The other two vice presidents, George King for Black Ministries and Alberto Ingleton for Hispanic Ministries were re-nominated. Treasurer Verlon Strauss was also re-nominated.
Under the conference’s bylaws, the nominating committee selects its own chair. Fritz Guy was chosen again. He also served as the chair at the previous nominating committee. Pacific Union Conference President Ricardo Graham attended the sessions as an adviser. The nominating committee also drew up a list of 20 members for the executive committee and the eight members of the bylaws committee. Conference bylaws specify representation on both committees to include people from all parts of the conference, male and female, from all of the ethnic churches, and to include someone under 40.
Interestingly, since delegates are chosen to represent churches, their ethnicity is determined by the church they attend. So at this session, one of the members, who had represented a Hispanic church but moved her membership to a mixed congregation, which is considered Anglo, was no longer counted among the Hispanic members.
Netherlands Ordains First Woman Pastor in Europe
22 September 2013 | Netherlands Union Conference
The Netherlands Union Conference (NUC) has welcomed two new pastors, Enrico Karg and Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie, in an ordination ceremony at the Christus Koning church in the Hague on September 21, 2013. Berkel-Larmonie is the first female pastor to be ordained in Europe.
Following a brief worship service, Pastor Jan Koeweiden and Pastor Dwight van Ommeren, who mentored the young pastors during their two year internship, took the opportunity to offer their soon-to-be colleagues a final word of advice and support. Van Ommeren gave seven tips for success in ministry. Koeweiden spoke jokingly of how, in a time of financial and social crisis, the job of a pastor is “the job of a lifetime because it is a job for life”. The two pastors also delivered a prayer for the two candidates before Pastor Jurriën den Hollander, director of the NUC’s Ministerial Association, offered the prayer of ordination.
Before the laying on of hands, Dr Tom de Bruin, executive secretary of the NUC, held a sermon on what it means to be ‘called.' Citing the stories of Moses, Isaiah, Elisha, Jeremiah, and Ellen White, the sermon focused on the narrative of Peter and his miraculous catch in Luke 5:1-11, explaining that just as each of those people was miraculously called, so every one of us has our own calling from God. “Everyone is called to something different,” said De Bruin, “but everyone is called. None of us is worthy, but if we listen to God’s call amazing things will happen.”
The newly-ordained Pastor Karg and Pastor Berkel-Larmonie gave their own testimonies in response, and shared their personal stories of calling. “It took me a long time to recognize it myself,” said Karg, “but when I look back there were many people who saw a pastor in me. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.”
Berkel-Larmonie’s testimony was more sober in tone, but no less moving. “For a long time I fought my calling, and when I finally accepted it the road was long and uncertain, but now I understand why God let me take so long to make it here. It’s like my husband Glen always says—God wanted me to be here at this exact time.”
NUC President Wim Altink delivered the charge, and both candidates responded to the questions with a resounding “Yes.”
“It is amazing that we have young, fresh spiritual leaders in the church,” said Altink. “With these leaders our church has a bright future. I can safely say this is a church to be proud of.”
This last phrase refers to the title of the strategic plan for the NUC for the coming five years. Berkel-Larmonie and Karg mark the beginning of what the NUC hopes will be a fresh new generation of young pastors. A staggering 65% of the NUC’s current pastors are due to retire within the next fifteen years. Pastoral interns Tom Meijer and Oliver Yeboah, the next young candidates on the road to ordination, were also present for the ceremony.
“I am very glad that the Netherlands had the courage to ordain [Berkel-Larmonie],” said Pastor Jeroen Tuinstra, president of the Belgian-Luxembourg Conference. “We are very happy that our northern neighbors have taken this stand for equality and are prepared to carry it out. We hope that this may spread to other countries, or that at the very least it may have a positive impact on the Theology of Ordination Study Committee.”
Pastor Elise Happé-Heikoop, commissioned in an identical ceremony more than a decade ago and now also officially listed on the NUC’s reports as ordained, was among the first of the pastors present on the stage to welcome Pastor Berkel-Larmonie into the ranks.
Looking back at the day, the tone of the service was clearly focused on God, and his calling of all people alike. In this way the NUC administration followed the tone set in the decision at the Union session last December, where the members called for total equality between all people serving the church. While it is a historic day for female pastors, the emphasis of the day was not on any human affairs, but rather on the unimaginable power of God, who can still call people to serve his church, even in 2013.
For Immediate Release
Southeastern California Conference
October 27, 2013
For more information contact:
Enno Müller, interim communication director
Sandra Roberts Elected President of Southeastern California Conference
On Sunday, October 27, 2013, delegates voted (72%-28%) to elect Sandra Roberts as president of the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Roberts had served since 2004 as executive secretary of SECC. Previously, she worked as a teacher, chaplain, youth director, and pastor. She received her masters degree from Andrews University in 1984, and received a Doctor of Ministry degree in 2006 from Claremont School of Theology.
In her new role, Roberts took the opportunity to recognize the new conference officers and to thank the delegates for their involvement in the constituency session. In her address, she expressed her desire and challenged the audience to follow Jesus in the work that needs to be done throughout the territory of SECC.
Referring to the dusty feet that Jesus had during His time on earth, she said, “Following Him means that we are going to get our feet dirty with the dust of Southern California…We must do this without fear that differences will pull us apart. Christ will always be our anchor point.”
Delegates also elected five other key administrators. These included Jonathan Park, executive secretary; Verlon Strauss, treasurer; Elizer Sacay, vice president for Asian/Pacific Ministries; George King, vice president for Black Ministries; and Alberto Ingleton, vice president for Hispanic Ministries.
Prior to the election of Roberts, delegates had the opportunity to speak to the motion on the floor. Many delegates lined up to share their views. There were some opposing opinions, but most people expressed their support for Roberts as president.
Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, reminded delegates that the General Conference does not endorse women’s ordination, and he passed on a message from Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the world church, clarifying that the election of a woman as president would not be recognized by the General Conference.
But Graham continued by stating that because delegates to the Pacific Union Special Session voted in 2012 to authorize the ordination of women, that the recommendation of the SECC nominating committee is in harmony with conference and union bylaws and policies.
Before dedicating the new officers, former President Gerald Penick was thanked for his years of service and received a standing ovation from delegates. Penick spoke to the delegates and gave farewell thoughts.
“May God bless us under this new leadership,” he said.
The Constituency Session began with worship. After music, prayer, and scripture, John Brunt, senior pastor of Azure Hills church, delivered a homily.
“God doesn’t play favorites,” he said. He challenged the attendees to trust God to lead the way.
Fifteen new churches and companies were voted into fellowship, members of the executive and bylaws committee were affirmed, and changes to the bylaws were brought into effect.
For one of the session reports, Rudy Carrillo, youth ministries director introduced Carmen Ibanez, director of Pine Springs Ranch. They presented the Pines Springs Ranch report with images of the damage caused by fire earlier this year, as well as a plan to rebuild the camp. Delegates approved a spending request to begin the rebuilding process.
After the officers affirmed that they would listen to their constituency, the session was closed with a benediction.
October 31, 2013 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Author: ANN staff
Seventh-day Adventist world church officials today released a statement regarding a local conference that recently elected as president a person who is not recognized by the world church as an ordained minister. Ordination is one of the criteria for being a conference president. The statement, in its entirety, follows:
Moving Forward Together
A response from the General Conference to recent actions in North America
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has been called by God as an urgent, end-time voice proclaiming God’s love and last day message to the world. He has commissioned us to proclaim the three angels’ messages of Revelation 14:6-12 to people worldwide desperately looking for hope. The message and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is unique and is heaven-sent. Our top priority as a church is knowing Jesus ourselves and sharing His message of redemption. Nothing is to stand in the way of this proclamation as we unite to reach every “nation, kindred, tongue and people” with the “everlasting gospel.”
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a fellowship of believers bound together by a common commitment to Christ, the truths of the Bible, a worldwide church organization and a mission to the world. Each of these elements is vitally important in preserving the unity of the church and keeping it from fracturing. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not organized as a collection of independent units. Although each Conference/Mission, Union and the General Conference (which includes the divisions) have their own constituencies, they are also united by common commitments, mutual trust and agreed upon policies. The Church, the body of Christ, is inter-related. Actions that affect one part of the body affect the whole. The Apostle Paul stated it succinctly in these words, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)
Working Policy, which is the recording of our agreements as to how we will work together to do the Lord’s work and mission, serves as one of the practical unifying agents that the Holy Spirit uses to bind the church together. Policy is not inflexible. It can be changed but it reflects the understanding of the collective group, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When personal convictions are placed ahead of the collective policy decisions of the worldwide church, troubling precedents are set. God works in an orderly way and wishes His church to exemplify this sanctified behavior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Humility and submission to God for the good of the church body as outlined in the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy are fundamental Biblical principles for the benefit of the church.
At the 2012 Annual Council in a voted action entitled, “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures, and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination,” the world church strongly indicated that it does not recognize as ordained ministers individuals who do not meet the criteria outlined in policy. It deeply concerns the world leadership of the church that recently a local conference constituency elected as a conference president an individual who is not recognized by the world church as an ordained minister. Ordination to the ministry is one of the criteria set forth for being a conference president. General Conference administration is working with the North American Division administration as they deal with the implications of this local conference action, which is contrary to the 2012 Annual Council action.
The world church is currently working together in a Theology of Ordination Study Committee with participation by all divisions to better understand the functions of ordination as well as the role of women in relation to ordination to the gospel ministry. A careful process is functioning and reports will be given to the 2014 Annual Council with the expectation that this subject will go to the 2015 General Conference Session for a decision under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We have every confidence in the Lord’s leading of His precious remnant church. By God’s grace and through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the church will find its way through this challenging time as we move forward with the unique message and mission entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist movement. It is God’s plan that we proclaim His end-time, prophetic truth to every corner of the globe and especially the enormous metropolitan centers of the world through “Mission to the Cities” utilizing every form of comprehensive urban evangelism including comprehensive health ministry and many other methods. We urge all church members and leaders to pray that the Holy Spirit will unite us to fulfill Christ’s promise that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) United in Christ’s love, bound together in a common Biblical message, linked through a common church organization and committed to one another with mutual respect and trust through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are confident this church will triumph at last and proclaim Christ’s eternal message of truth to the ends of the earth in anticipation of Jesus’ soon second coming.
—The General Conference Executive Officers
The NAD (North American Division) end of year meeting voted 6 to 1 to affirm Women's Ordination. You can view all the reports (for and against) by clicking on the link below.
The IED (Inter-European Division voted unanimously to recommend WO, see news release below
Inter-European Division will recommend that there is ‘room for women’s ordination’
Madrid, Spain [Corrado Cozzi]. The Inter-European Division will recommend to the Seventh-day Adventist world church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee that there is room for the church to ordain women to pastoral ministry.
The recommendation follows study of the papers presented at the division’s Biblical Research Committee as well as those prepared for the Theology of Ordination Study Committee this year from January 15 to 17 and July 22 to 24.
The process is part of the world church’s ongoing study of the theology of ordination, which was first established at the denomination’s General Conference Session in 2010. Each of the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions is preparing its own report, and world church officials have promised to bring back a compiled report to the 2015 General Conference Session.
The Inter-European Division’s recommendation stems from several points:
· The Bible does not specifically define what ordination for pastoral ministry is.
· There are no direct statements in the Bible either commanding or prohibiting women’s ordination.
· As the church felt free to develop its organizational structure to further its mission based on biblical principles, division BRC members consider ordination not as a doctrinal or biblical issue, but something that must be handled at an administrative level.
· There are no clear biblical principles that would require or guide the application of the principle of headship in the family or the church.
· The Old Testament priesthood has its fulfillment in the unique priesthood of Christ, which is the basis for the priesthood of all believers.
· BRC members were unclear over why ordination requires a differentiation between genders that doesn’t exist in other levels of ministry or service, such as teachers, deacons, prophets and leaders.
Based on the report of the Biblical Research Committee, the Executive Committee of the Inter-European Division recommends the ordination of women to pastoral ministry, taking into consideration the possibility of applying it according to the needs of the fields.
The SPD (South Pacific Division) voted unanimously to recommend WO. Details are below:
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific has unanimously affirmed a report from its Biblical Research Committee that “does not see any scriptural principle which would be an impediment to women being ordained”.
The report, based on lengthy deliberations and seven research papers on the theology of ordination prepared by academics from around the South Pacific Division (SPD), concludes that “the calling of the Holy Spirit needs to be recognised for both men and women. There is a sense of injustice that needs to be addressed.”
The vote at the Division’s year-end executive committee meeting does not imply a change of working policy within the South Pacific at this stage, but it does signal a clear message to the world church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee ahead of the 2015 General Conference (GC) meetings, when the issue of the full ordination of women pastors will be discussed.
“My personal conviction is that ordination should not be dependent on gender,” said SPD president Dr Barry Oliver after the vote. “But I also recognise the enormous importance of unity in the Church. Our global unity is a wonderful gift from God and it is my hope that, as a global church, we will move forward in an orderly, unified manner.”
Delegates from across the Pacific voted unanimously in support of the conclusions, but recognise the complexity any change would have in the diverse cultural landscape across the region. “Currently, ordaining women is difficult in our culture,” said Pastor Roger Tetuanui, president of the French Polynesia Mission. “But the younger generation is more open, and they may ordain women in the future if the GC accepts our conclusions.”
The SID (Southern Africa Indian Ocean Division) voted against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. Details are below:
The SID Biblical Research Committee (BRC) position
on the ordination of women to the Gospel Ministry.
The presentation of the abridged paper sparked mixed responses from members of SID EXCOM. It is clear that varied opinions and different positions exist on this issue. This paper does not represent the position of the church as the issue is still under careful study by scholars of the church.
An abridged version of the Paper that will be given to TOSC (Theology of Ordination Study Committee, which will meet at General Conference - January 2014) was presented to the SID EXCOM, 2013. It was received by SIDEXCOM.
“... In the absence of clear biblical revelation, the established model and practice of ministry should be upheld” ... The action taken by the BRC supported the position against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry...”
There is a clear process accepted by the church so that before an official position of the church is established at the next GC session, it would be after extensive and careful study is exhausted. Receiving this report is part of the process of consultation and not an end in itself.
The study continues and the discussion intensifies as the church prayerfully moves forward.
We may have a difference of opinion but let us, at all times, without compromise of our conscience, be united in the pursuit of truth and God's will for these times.
The EAD (Euro Asia Division) voted against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry. Details are sketchy but shown below:
The second day of the meeting, the report of the Committee to explore the theology of ordination. The extended Executive Committee, which consists of all the delegates meeting, adopted a resolution on the work of the Committee of biblical studies (EAD), which stated that the Euro-Asian Division is under erživaet the practice of ordination of women on presviterskoe/pastor.
The paragraph above is translated from EAD website.
No more information is available at the moment but will post a fuller report when it becomes available.
The TED (Trans European Division) voted unanimously to recommend WO. Details are below:
TED Executive Committee recommends inclusive ministry without gender distinctions
Bečići, Montenegro, 18 November 2013 [tedNEWS staff] At its 2013 Annual Council the Trans-European Division Executive Committee received and discussed a Report on the Theology of Ordination prepared by the TED Biblical Research Committee.
[photos: Esti Pujic]
The Report is extensive and comprises 730 pages. It responds to a large number of questions regarding ordination which have been put to the Biblical Research Committees of the world divisions. This does not only include the issue of women’s ordination, but the matters of biblical hermeneutics, the biblical teaching on ordination, ministry, offices, terminology, rituals, the significance of laying on of hands, the development of ordination after the completion of the writings in the New Testament, the understanding and practice of ordination in the major Christian churches, its introduction and later development in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the view of Ellen White. At the end of a two-hour discussion, the committee members voted unanimously in a secret ballot to recommend the Report to the Seventh-day Adventist World Church’s Theology of Ordination Study Committee, which will meet on 21-25 January, 2014.
Bertil Wiklander, President of the TED and chairman of its Biblical Research Committee, has been significantly involved in the research and said after the decision: ‘It is clear that the leaders in the TED wish to see a thorough review of ordination as a whole and to have an inclusive ministry without gender distinctions. We have worked for 19 months with this report and have become astonished at what we have discovered in the Bible and various historical sources. The Report gives good reasons for the Church to review its practices in order to let them harmonize more with the Bible. We understand, however, that our contribution is only one of many and we are looking forward to continue working with the world church to seek biblical solutions while preserving unity of purpose.’
The Report is part of the World Church’s study of the theology of ordination. This initiative was first voted by the General Conference Session in 2010, and the process was approved in October, 2011. Each of the Church’s thirteen world divisions has been asked to study ordination and bring the relevant recommendations to the General Conference Biblical Research Institute. From there it will go to the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, who has been asked to prepare recommendations to the General Conference. The GC Annual Council 2014 will decide what recommendations will be brought to the GC Session in 2015.
For more info, click on the link below:
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