Posted July 10, 2015
Adventist Review / ANN staff
General Conference president Ted N.C. Wilson said Friday that a vote this week on the issue of women’s ordination meant “we maintain the current policy.”
Wilson told delegates at the General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, that Wednesday’s vote simply barred the church’s world divisions from making decisions on the ordination of women.
He said the vote has nothing to do with women being ordained as local elders, a practice based on church policy that has been in place for several decades.
Furthermore, he said, the vote was not related to commissioned ministers, who can be male or female under the church’s policy.
“So let us be clear on what was voted on Wednesday,” Wilson said. “We are now back to our original understanding, and I would strongly urge all to adhere by what has been voted. But do not place into the vote other things which were not listed in the vote. We need to be fair, we need to be open, and we all need to accept what is voted at a General Conference session.
Wilson asked division presidents to clarify the meaning of Wednesday’s vote in their territories.
Shortly after Wilson spoke, North American Division president Daniel R. Jackson issued a statement saying that the division “would comply with the vote of the world church.”
He said the division acknowledged that “the vote prohibited the 13 world divisions of the church or any of their entities from making their own decisions regarding the consideration and potential implementation of women’s ordination to the gospel ministry.”
But, he added, the motion did not disallow women from serving as commissioned church pastors; women from serving as ordained elders in the local church, and the ordination of deaconesses.
“Since the motion did not disallow these things, we therefore continue to encourage those who have been serving in these capacities to continue to do so,” Jackson said.
He added: “It is vital to understand that the NAD will continue to follow the directions found in the General Conference Working Policy allowing conferences and unions to license women as commissioned ministers in pastoral ministry. We will also continue to encourage utilizing the services of women as ordained local elders and deaconesses.”
Wilson on Friday also said he has asked divisions to care for specific items that come up in their territory. He did not elaborate, saying only that General Conference leadership hoped matters would go smoothly and expected assistance from divisions on those items.
He said division leaders have a spirit of upholding what the General Conference in session votes. Decisions made by the General Conference in session have the highest authority in the church.
Wilson, meanwhile, sought to squash concerns from some church members that a revision to the Church Manual that delegates approved earlier Friday might limit the authority or activities of the General Conference.
“The reason for the wording is to limit any … frivolous appeals from coming up through the system,” Wilson said.
The amendment gives divisions the right to stop a dispute from reaching the level of the General Conference. The levels where a n appeal can be considered in a division include the local church, conference, and union.
Wilson said the General Conference generally works through divisions and their various levels in resolving appeals anyway.
“So please do not imagine things that, in my opinion, and in my understanding, are never there,” he said.
I wondered why the delegate from the Denmark made her comment if the Union/conference was not subject to the motion that was voted on July 8th?
Surely she knew that the Union/conference would be subject to the motion or why make the comment?.......
To read that the Netherlands Union would continue to ordain women as "pastors" did not make sense to me at all.....folks, we are entering into rough waters.
It appears to me that the actions of some Unions/conferences to "ordain" female "pastors in the years between GC 2010 and GC 2015 will now need to be addressed.
Much prayer, much prayer...
It does, when you consider they have chosen culture and man's law over God's. Martyrs gave up their lives in those lands to not sin against God. Now, it apparently a badge of honor to go in the opposite direction.
i will try to explain it i guess but it is rather complex issue per se...
First of etc be clear what the vote was and was not:
The vote at GC 2015 was/is not a doctrine. It was/is not a policy. It was/is not a bylaw. It was/is not a rule or guideline.
Everyone saying this is misleading one way or another. Both sides of the aisle tried to mislead people here by telling it is something of the above as it would have further implications.
The motion of GC 2015 was a "political ploy" of an attempt to get some sort of perceived "unity" back into the church. If the vote would have been yes as example it would not make much of a difference either in regards to actual impact on day-to-day business of unions, conferences or divisions. Neither does the no vote have any real impact in the end.
I do not really know why the GC decided to bring the question it did especially sine it was well known if they do it this way it will have zero impact. I wonder if they just were scared that if they bring a question which would have an actual impact the vote would cause even more disruptions but thats just speculation.
Why it has no impact is the tricky question which can only be answered by working through the actual contitution(s) and bylaws...
in 1901 the GC with the help of EGW installed the different unions and conferences in an attempt to build some sort of "firewall" between the GC and the local churches as she thought some of the GC authority went too far and was borderline abuse.
At the beginning in 1901 there was a "model constitution" and bylaw for each union/conference which made zero requirements for the local churches to obey any policies etc from the GC.
1975, 74 years after the first introduction of the current system by EGW, the GC tried to get some of its authority back and a new "model constitution" was voted. It reads:
“The object of this [Union] Conference is to teach the everlasting gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and the commandments of God throughout the local conferences and mission fields established within its territory and to promote the interests of the world mission program of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”
So till 1975 the unions and conferences ran as they were created as i completely autonomous.
Ever since 1975 the constitution which each union has to have has been changed little by little trying to give the GC some of its power back which was taken 1901.
The current "model constitution" (voted 2015) reads:
“All policies, purposes, procedures, doctrines, programs,and initiatives of this Union shall be in harmony with the
doctrines, programs, working policies, procedures, and initiatives adopted and approved by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.”
Here i outlined the important wording.
"In harmony" does not mean unisono nor does it mean literal. Women Ordination was never actually forbidden or restricted by any of the working policies or doctrines by the GC. Most of the working policies regarding ordination do indeed have a gender inclusive language stating "his/her" "he/she" etc or do not mention anything about women at all.
For the union or the conferences to not be able to ordain women to full gospel ministry in their territory the GC must vote on a doctrine or policy to actually forbid it. Only than the union or conference would no longer be "in harmony" with the GC and would be in violation of the constitution. If that happens it automatically triggers the expulsion of the respective union/conference of the SDA Church organization.
The current difference you see is by the different organizations responding.
The NAD is a division and was/is somewhat more affected by the vote and has stronger ties to the GC than a union.
The Netherland Union is an union and has not been affected by the vote one way or another. It has its own conference which voted already years ago to ordain women. It could only stop this by another vote in the conference which would stop that not by their own choosing. Furthermore the Netherland Union has its own constitution which states that it must "only" be "in harmony" with the GC policies. Since the wording of the current policies does not forbid ordination to full gospel ministry at all and even explicitly allows so called commissioned pastors the stance the dutch are taking is actually "in harmony". (Sidenote: Ordained pastors which are fully ordained by their respective Union but not taken up by a Division to be fully ordained only have the full rights within the territory of the Union they have been ordained by whereas when a division grants them that status it counts worldwide.)
This all is pretty much legal limbo at this point however there is not much anyone can do to stop any union, which voted through their conference, to ordain women. The only way to do that would be by voting a GC policy in which explicitly forbids women ordination and than after the policy is on the books take actions against the unions which do it anyway.
This however would force the Church instantly to abandon countries and whole regions, as in disband, no longer be recognized as a "Church", no longer be granted any religious freedom and be unable to work within the society of that country/region, because of the secular laws there which forbid such an action. Furthermore it would require change on several other GC policies which implicitly allow women ordination and are currently being "used" by unions to be "in harmony" while not be unisono or literal following the GC policies.
Hope this helps..
However this will not be resolved anytime soon unless we are willing to abandon countries/regions around the world. Wondering tho how this would work with the mission to spread the word everywhere...
Meta that vote should newer have taken place:
Balaam and the WO
Hilari: Welcome to Prophetic Insights. I am sitting here with Pastor Andrew Henriques of Prophesy Again and Saved To Serve Ministries. I am Hilari Henriques, and we are discussing the recent vote on women’s ordination that was held Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Pastor, there was a lot of anticipation leading up to this vote as to whether or not women should be ordained as pastors and elders in the gospel ministry presiding over churches and conferences within the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. After the ballots were counted, the majority voted against women’s ordination. So what are your thoughts regarding the outcome of the vote?
Pastor Henriques: Well, I believe that the issue surrounding women’s ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church can in many ways be applied to the account of Balaam. This indicates that as a denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has reached the anti-typical banks of the Jordan and is at the very borders of the heavenly Canaan.
Hilari: I would like for you to explain some more how Balaam’s account applies to this issue; but first let’s look at the reaction of some Seventh-day Adventists who are now rejoicing that the vote turned out the way that it did. Many conscientious and well-meaning Seventh-day Adventists have fasted and prayed that the outcome would be that the denomination would not approve of the divisions of the church having the authority to ordain women if they so choose, and are now rejoicing at the outcome of the vote, believing that somehow the denomination was saved from apostatizing. However, the apostasy had occurred even before the ballots were cast.
Pastor Henriques: Let me interject Hilari. In case you are not aware, it is worth mentioning that prior to the General Conference Session of 2015, the issue of women’s ordination was brought to a vote two times before, in 1990 and 1995; and was voted down both times. What is significant about this particular issue, is not the outcome of the vote, but rather the fact that an unscriptural practice even reached the level to be voted upon at the General Conference Session, now for the third time.
Hilari: Who is it that decided to bring this issue to the floor to be voted upon at the General Conference sessions?
Pastor Henriques: The denominational leaders and administrators at the annual council held a few months prior to the sessions are the ones who decided to bring this issue to the General Conference Session. And while many are celebrating and viewing the outcome of the recent vote as a victory for the denomination; this is a false illusion. I say it is a false illusion because, regardless of the outcome, the leaders had already sinned by allowing this unbiblical item to be brought to a vote at the General Conference Session, now for a third time.
Hilari: I agree with that point. In Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, and 28 the Bible is clear that sin begins in the mind even before the act is manifested physically or carried out. Furthermore, the mere fact that the Seventh-day Adventist leaders contrived the unbiblical practice of women’s ordination and went further to push it on to a vote, indicates a manifestation of the sinful thought and the practice. You had mentioned earlier that this issue parallels with the account of Balaam, and I would like you to expound on that.
Pastor Henriques: The history of Balaam’s continual disregard for God’s word, pursuing his own agenda, which would surely lead to God’s people being cursed, strikingly parallels with the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church bringing the unbiblical practice of ordaining women, not once, not twice, but thrice before the General Conference Sessions to be voted upon. The point I am making is not that the leaders are directly cursing the people, but by the thought of pushing women’s ordination forward to be accepted by the people, would bring the curse of God to the recipients. Let’s analyze this account a little closer. When pagan king Balak asked Balaam to curse God’s people, Balaam should have emphatically said “no” and entertained no further dialogue with the enemies of God’s people. Yet Balaam responded by stating that he would go and seek God to discover His will concerning the matter, even though Balaam, once a prophet of God, knew that pronouncing a curse upon God’s people was a sin; you can find that in Numbers 22:6-8. Of course God did not permit Balaam to move forward in his pursuit according to Numbers 22:12. And based on verse 19, when Balak sent men again to Balaam, offering even more rewards and inducements, Balaam again stated that he would inquire of God a second time, even though he knew what God’s will was. Due to Balaam’s sinful persistence in the matter, God allowed Balaam to have his own way. And according to Numbers 22:20-22, God’s curse ever after rested upon him.
Hilari: This brings out the point I was making earlier, that Balaam’s commission of the sin did not only occur when he went to curse the Israelites; his sin was committed when he cherished the desire in his mind to go against God’s will, and presumptuously sought the Lord, as if the Lord would somehow change His mind.
Pastor Henriques: Exactly. Let me now read from Patriarchs and Prophets to emphasize and bring out a few more points here: “In the night season the Lord appeared to Balaam and said, ‘If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.’ Thus far the Lord would permit Balaam to follow his own will, because he was determined upon it. He did not seek to do the will of God, but chose his own course, and then endeavored to secure the sanction of the Lord. There are thousands at the present day who are pursuing a similar course. They would have no difficulty in understanding their duty if it were in harmony with their inclinations. It is plainly set before them in the Bible or is clearly indicated by circumstances and reason. But because these evidences are contrary to their desires and inclinations they frequently set them aside and presume to go to God to learn their duty. With great apparent conscientiousness they pray long and earnestly for light. But God will not be trifled with. He often permits such persons to follow their own desires and to suffer the result. ‘My people would not hearken to My voice. . . . So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.’ Psalm 81:11, 12. When one clearly sees a duty, let him not presume to go to God with the prayer that he may be excused from performing it. He should rather, with a humble, submissive spirit, ask for divine strength and wisdom to meet its claims.”1
Hilari: Wow! I can see how the account of Balaam really applies to the process that led up to this vote and how the proponents of women’s ordination were motivating their constituents to pray and seek God so that He would allow them to get a yes vote, even though it goes contrary to scripture. But I also see that this account applies to those who share the sentiments of the General Conference President, that though women’s ordination is not supported by the Bible or the Spirit of Prophecy, they were in favor of organizing the TOSC to study again what had been previously studied leading up to 1990 and 1995. Like Balaam, did they except to get a different answer?
Pastor Henriques: So three times the issue of women’s ordination has been brought to the floor for a vote. It is interesting that God sought to prevent Balaam from carrying out his sinful agenda three times. According to Numbers 22:32, Balaam smote his ass three times while on his way to carry out his sinful desires. I believe that the female ass represents the church body, while Balaam represents not only the proponents and leaders of the women’s ordination movement, but also those who allowed this unbiblical issue to be brought to a vote.
Hilari: What would you say to a person who asks how are the leaders who may not directly endorse women’s ordination, but allowed it to be brought to a vote, comparable to Balaam?
Pastor Henriques: Those leaders simply should have said “no” when that item was proposed; but instead, they allowed it and were willing to go along if the vote would have turned out in favor of women’s ordination. Hilari, some may say that I am advocating church leaders that are dictators. I am in no way saying that. What I am saying is that if a leader knows the truth, he should take a stand and not compromise though the heavens fall; and by him standing, the sincere people would also stand with him. Even I would stand with and support such a firm and spiritual leader.
Hilari: In addition to what you already stated about Balaam smiting the ass, certain leaders have been aggressively pushing and urging the members to accept women’s ordination and have been attempting to have it as a voted policy. You know Pastor, as we continue in our dialogue, I do not want this point to be lost, so I will reiterate it. Whenever an unbiblical policy is placed in a position to be voted into practice, and the possibility that the church will vote in favor of that unbiblical practice is there, the church has already sinned, even if it is voted down. So this “no” vote is really not a victory at all.
Pastor Henriques: I agree. Let’s now take a look at what Balaam was really after. Balaam was covetous for position, promotion, and wealth; he was therefore willing to blatantly disregard God’s revealed will to attain these rewards; and many today who are willing to set aside God’s Biblical order and principles are doing the same thing in order to attain numerical church growth, which would increase the tithe and offering, popularity, and also to be in harmony with other denominations. I have a statements here that expresses the sentiments of Jan Paulsen and Calvin Rock. Let me read it for you:
“…our best and finest minds, most dedicated individuals have looked at this, examined it locally and globally…and culturally, and we asked ourselves what is the best solution….We support a ‘Yes Vote’ at the General Conference session 2015.’ Jan Paulsen, former General Conference President.” “…certainly if He wishes to gift a woman in this day and time; when that gift is accepted, in places where it is accepted, it should be recognized.” “For me the whole ordination question boils down to one simple question, ‘does this person have the gift?’ If so, who are we not to recognize it.’ Calvin Rock, Former General Conference Vice President.”2
Hilari: It is worth mentioning that Balaam sought to push his agenda three times, and three times he utterly failed, as was the case with women’s ordination in 1990, 1995, and now 2015.
Pastor Henriques: That is exactly the point that I am emphasizing. The three failures of women’s ordination directly parallel with Balaam’s three failures, and this shows that we have arrived at the anti-typical banks of the Jordan about to cross over into the heavenly Canaan. And the same apostasy that occurred right on the banks of the Jordan, we can find today among God’s professed people. [Numbers 24:10 and 11]. Now in Numbers 25, even after his three failures, Balaam found another way to carry out his sinful agenda. He brought in the heathen, Midianitish women to unite with God’s people, which brought God’s curse upon thousands of the Israelites who died on the banks of the Jordan and did not enter Canaan. Likewise, I believe the NAD and other divisions supporting women’s ordination will find another way to carry out their sinful agenda. Now Hilari, this is the part that truly saddens me. Balaam’s fate was even worse for having led God’s people into the transgression. Balaam, once a true prophet of God, died with the enemies of God, and his obituary states that he died as a soothsayer, a spiritualist, one who promotes lies [Numbers 31:6-8; Joshua 13:22; and Micah 5:12].
Hilari: Pastor, I see where you are going with that. If the leaders of the movement in favor of women’s ordination are unrepentant, they may very well read their own fate in Balaam’s demise.
Pastor Henriques: This is my prediction, even though I don’t claim to be a prophet. Since the vote has been “no” for the three times that it has been brought to the floor, in 1990, 1995 and 2015, all of the divisions in favor of women’s ordination will have to make one of two decisions. They will either surrender their positions and practices of ordaining women or remove themselves from under the General Conference. I believe the latter will be the decision based upon the North American Division’s previous statements that they are taking steps to remove themselves from under the General Conference. Hear what this says: “The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America has a need to have its own unique message and strategies that are relevant and work in our territory, Jackson told the church leaders from across the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and Micronesia. While the Seventh-day Adventist movement began in North America, we are among the youngest divisions in the church, and it’s time that we grow up and leave our parent’s house.”3
Hilari: You know pastor, this is highly probable that the NAD will not relinquish their practice because Sandra Roberts was reelected as President of the Southeastern California Conference.4
Pastor Henriques: And to add to that Hilari. The NAD put out a video in which Marquis Johns expressed the vision of the NAD to double the 107 women pastors in five years. This video was shown at the GC session even before the vote took place.
Hilari: During the voting process Elder Ted Wilson stood up and said “that he would abide by the vote, whatever the outcome. Noting that his views on the issue were ‘well known, argued for a united decision,’ and said ‘agitation on this issue’ should discontinue after the vote so that the church’s focus can return to evangelistic mission. ‘My prayer,’ he said, ‘is, ‘Let us stay together.’”5 Really? Knowing and even acknowledging in the past that this practice is unbiblical? Are we to just go along for the sake of unity?
Pastor Henriques: Well let me just read this quotation in closing from The Great Controversy, page 45 says: “To secure peace and unity they were ready to make any concession consistent with fidelity to God; but they felt that even peace would be too dearly purchased at the sacrifice of principle. If unity could be secured only by the compromise of truth and righteousness, then let there be difference, and even war. Well would it be for the church and the world if the principles that actuated those steadfast souls were revived in the hearts of God’s professed people.”6
I share the sentiments of the apostle Paul for Seventh-day Adventists: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Romans 10:1.
I am happy they are going the right way.