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Seventh-day Adventists facing pressure on allowing female clergy

Two U.S. regional groups of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have recently approved the ordination of women pastors, moving faster than the worldwide church’s study of the issue.

The Pacific Union Conference, which includes California and four other Western states, voted 79 percent to 21 percent at a special session on Aug. 19 to “approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” Weeks earlier, the Maryland-based Columbia Union Conference, which includes eight Mid-Atlantic states, adopted a similar change in its policy, with 80 percent in favor.


World leaders of the church — who appealed for unity before the votes were cast — said they were disappointed with the conferences’ actions. They said the Columbia Union’s July 29 action was “not in harmony” with the general policy of the church, and said the Pacific Union would “preempt the collective decisions of the world church regarding ordination.”

Leaders of the Maryland-based Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is best known for observing the Sabbath on Saturday instead of Sunday, are in the midst of studying the “theology of ordination” for possible consideration at their 2015 General Conference Session.

There are about 320 women pastors in the worldwide Adventist Church. Within North America, there are about 120 women pastors and about 4,100 male pastors. Many Seventh-day Adventist women pastors hold a “commissioned” credential, which does not permit ordination, while most male pastors hold a “ministerial” credential, which does.

In 1990, the General Conference Session, the highest authority of the global church, approved a recommendation that prevented authorization of ordination of women to the gospel ministry. Five years later, it rejected a request from its North American Division that its regional groups be permitted to authorize ordination regardless of gender.

In an official response to the Pacific Union, Seventh-day Adventist Church President Ted N.C. Wilson and other officers cited those previous decisions and said world church leaders “will carefully review the situation and determine how to respond,” possibly at an October meeting.

Adventists are not the first group to face disparate action on women’s ordination. In 1974, 11 women were “irregularly” ordained as priests in the Episcopal Church, two years before the national church voted to allow female priests and bishops.

Pastor Andrea Trusty King, pastor of an Adventist congregation in Moreno Valley, Calif., was elated by the Pacific Union Conference decision.

“I see it as a move of God,” said King, 34. “The church is recognizing what he has been doing for a long time.”

But King said everyone is not rejoicing, and she thinks the divide is more generational than geographical.

“You have older people who absolutely don’t believe in this and young people who are saying, ‘What’ s the big deal?’” she said.

Pastor Courtney Ray, who serves as an associate pastor at a church in Compton, Calif., called the Pacific Union decision “long overdue.” She chose not to be “commissioned” and now looks forward to an ordination ceremony if an executive committee approves her for ordination.

Ray said there was a tension between wanting to be sensitive to church leaders’ desire for everyone to “move together on this issue” and the sense of others who felt it was a “bad witness” for there to be different designations for male and female clergy.

“But the bottom line is that if something is right, then there’s never a time to wait to do the right thing,” said Ray, 31.

Pastor Stephen Bohr, an opponent of women’s ordination who leads an Adventist church in Fresno, Calif., said the Bible calls for women to have different roles from men. By his reading, women can be prophets — such as church co-founder Ellen White — and deaconesses, but only men can be pastors.

“I just am disappointed that the Pacific Union would launch out on its own and not wait for the world church to make a determination,” said Bohr, 62. “I think they jumped the gun.”

Garrett Caldwell, a spokesman for the world church, said there is “excitement” in many corners of the Seventh-day Adventist Church about the possibility of full recognition of women’s ministry roles.

“There’s an anticipation of that recognition, but I think the greatest concern is that as this body grows and matures and adapts that it is able to stay a united body,” he said.

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"Peculiar" does not mean weird or unfair.  Be blessed.

and what do you think is so unfair or weird?

Sarah

That is in the eyes of the beholder.

Ray

Sorry, you feel that way....it is interesting that people say they are Christians but come across as only wanting themselves to be saved....Sad.

"To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.  What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

 

To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."--1 Corinthians 9:18-23.

LadyEm

Well said, this is the point exactly.  If one looks back over the last seven decades or even longer, and look at the heresies that have crept or swept into Adventism, then look at when those same heresies entered apostate protestism, there is about a 10 to 30 year lag time. 

It use to be more like 30 years before Adventist would pick up those heresies from apostate protestantism, however, of late is it getting more like 10 years or even less.  A most recent example is contemplative prayer.  There has been about a 10 year lag time with that.  Ordaining women took about 20 or 30 years to start in the Adventist church.  Of course, Adventist have been ordaining women, even as pastors, for some 30 or so years now, so that is not something new any more, only the scope of its being practiced.

Why do we have to ape the very organizations that we label as "apostate?" 

Why do we ape the very organization that we label as: "the beast?" 

It does not make much sense, unless we note that the old adage: "Keeping up with the Jonses" is still part of human nature. 

Christians tend to want to be "saved" they want the assurance of Salvation, they want to be part of God's family, yet, like with Lot, they pitch their tents toward Sodom.  The cann't take their eyes off of the world, and they become like what they look at. 

This is why we must keep our eyes on Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.  Then the world will fall into its proper prospective and we will not want to be like the world.

When feminist tell us that we need to adapt to the society in which we live, they are telling us to pattern the world.  When charges of racism are leveled, they are only reflecting their own phobias.  We can not look at the past and its mistakes.  We must look to the future and what God has promised for us.  The backward look is the recipe for being lost, except when it is to remember the lessos learned and the depths of sin from which God has saved us..

 

Maranatha :)
Ray

The "message" does not change...but the method very well can...as Jesus:

1.  He ate with sinners and outcasts.

2.  Met a Samaritan woman in the middle of the day by a well--alone.

3.  Call a petite, tax collector from a tree on his way to a home visit--his.

4.  Plucked corn from a field and healed sick people on the Sabbath

5.  Was a storyteller--but not for children only.

Same message...but different methodology....they tried to kill Him, too.  And did.  But He won, anyway....and saved some people doing different things to reach THEM for the Kingdom.  

What innovation...and what an example for us all!   ^  _  ^

If this is what you consider racism, then I am guilty....guilty of understanding the people who do not fit in the square and seeing their value in God's eye's for the Kingdom--His Kingdom.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."--John 3:16, 17.

Wow  Sarah sorry to laugh but LOL! I think you are your own worst enemy, You argue with people who even agree with you!

Remember just because you have a strong opinion does not always mean it is right(my self as well) You are to busy arguing with people you rather end up missing it all.

God Bles

Not arguing at all...it seems that some may not be used to those who think and  speak....Blessings.

You really did just miss it.

That's pretty dang condescending, there, Sarah.. I am sure Lady Em thinks and speaks as well as you

Alexander

Those are some very good points.  Witnessing is not all sweet talk and does not consist of a failure to address the main questions, if we feel that others might not like to hear them.

God's love is "tough love."  It uses the hardest tool there is, the truth.  Truth does not back down when someone turns on the waterworks and crys becasue someone does not pat them on the back and tell the that their nonesense is truth. 

Those who take that approach will be among those who are on the outside looking in.  For we are in a battle between truth and error.  Those who fratanize with the enemy will spend eternity with him, the one they have chosen to listen to.

 

Maranatha :)
Ray

@ Deborah Thank you! :)

@Alexander Thank you! :)

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