After hours of discussion including speeches from General Conference president Ted Wilson, GC vice-president Lowell Cooper, and North American Division president Daniel Jackson, the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted 209 to 51 to authorize ordination to Gospel ministry without regard to gender. With their vote, the CUC joins the Nothern German Union in enacting ordination equality. The Pacific Union Conference will vote on a similar provision on August 19.
Today's special constituency session lasted over three hours. During the meeting, both Elder Wilson and Elder Cooper spoke in strong opposition to the motion to move independently of the world-wide Church, which is currently conducting a study on ordination. Wilson predicted dire consequences for deviation from the desisions of the General Conference in session.
The meeting began with worship, during which Daniel Jackson spoke to delegates of love and of God's Spirit.
"The hallmark of the church is that we love each other," Jackson said, adding that the body's primary responsibility, personally and collectively was to God. Jackson did not directly address the issue at hand, but instead appealed to the work of God. "Either the Spirit of God was poured out in Bible times, or it wasn't," Jackson said, adding, "And if it was then, it is today."
After Jackson, President Wilson addressed delegates.
He framed the issue as one of unity or disunity: "I come to you today because I care about the unity of the church at large," Wilson said.
Wilson appealed to his father, former General Conference president Neal C. Wilson, saying, "If dad were alive today, he would be very concerned about today's recommendation, as are thousands around the world."
The president then warned that a vote in favor of ordaining women might lead to "fragmentation, congregationionalism and a breakdown in collegaialism." But Wilson was quick to add to his warnings, "I'm not threatening you in any way, just presenting facts."
He then took issue with the idea that the vote would put the CUC at variance with the World Church, calling variance "a nice, polite word." "In reality, if voted it will put you inopposition to World Church," Wilson said. The president repeatedly used phrases such as "grave consequences" and "out of harmony" to describe the move to ordain equally.
Wilson again appealed to delegates to defer to the ongoing process of study, that he said would involved the Biblical Research Institute, an entity that thus far has been excluded.
Following Wilson's remarks, Vice-president Cooper addressed delegates reiterating the appeal to "refrain from autonomous action." Both Wilson and Cooper made political appeals, but did not address biblical or theological issues.
After Cooper, Wilson added a few more comments, saying that he was inviting delegates "to be integral part of remnant church." The clear implication was that by voting for ordination equality, they would be outside the confines of the remnant church. The president concluded by saying, "I implore you, do not vote the recommended action...we should stay in harmony with each other and not branch out independently, which could have devastating effects."
Following remarks from the General Conference leadership, members of the CUC Ad Hoc Committee that brought the recommendation to ordain equally spoke about their process.
Potomac Conference president William Miller provided a brief history of the move in CUC to be gender inclusive. He demonstrated that the process goes back to the 1970s. Miller pointed out that in the past when similar discussions arose, people predicted dire consequences, but "The earthquake didn't happen," Miller said repeatedly. Miller showed that policies affecting women in ministry were historically enacted at local, grassroots levels, and then were eventually adopted by the world church. Whenever changes toward inclusivity were made, Miller said, they were not initiated by the World Church.
"One of our favorite pastimes as denomination is to commission another study," Miller said pointedly.
Ohio Conference president Raj Attiken was next to speak. He noted that authority in the Adventist denomination has historically rested with people at local levels, and has flowed up through delegation. Attiken addressed the idea of church unity, saying that unity lies in ideals rather than church structure. "Diveristy is intrinsic to authentic unity," he told the audience.
Attiken pointed out that in 1881, the General Conference voted to ordain women, and there was no dissent from Ellen White. A little later, Attiken shared a statement from Ellen White, in which she said that "The General Conference ought to be the voice of God, but it is not."
Next, pastor Brenda Langford Billingy delivered a rousing speech in which she compared ordination to graduation. She pointed to her own prospering congregation as evidence of God's enabling power through women ministers. After dressing in a CAP and gown "of grace" to illustrate God's calling, Billingy concluded by movingly turning in her ministerial credentials.
"I brought my commissioning diploma. I will leave it on the table in hopes that as you vote today...I will be able to see our president sign his name on this diploma and choose to put X over the word commissioning and write in 'ordained.' All heaven awaits your vote," she said to loud appluase.
Immediately after Billingy finished, the motion came from the CUC ledership: "MOTION - That the Columbia Union Conference authorize ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender."
The floor was opened to delegates to speak to the motion. Delegates were given two minutes each to speak. Some who opposed the motion ignored the two-minute stricture and attempted to continue speaking after their time elapsed. The commenters gave the impression that a majority of delegates supported the motion, though speakers on both sides spoke equally passionately. Many speakers appealed to their families. Some appealed to unity, others to inclusivity. Some praised the action, others denounced it.
Following comments, an amendment was offered to the motion to clarify its wording. However, several minutes of confusion ensued as delegates tried to understand what they were being asked to vote. After much deliberation, the amendment was voted down, and CUC president David Weigley called for a vote on the original motion.
Delegates voted by secret ballot. After several minutes of voting and vote tabulation, Weigley called the group to order to announce the result of the vote.
Weigley announced that there were 260 votes with 9 abstentions and a few blank cards received. Of those who voted, 209 voted yes, 51 no. With an 80% margin, the motion carried. Weigley told the audience, "This is not a surprise to those of us who have been listening carefully around this union."
Weigley went on to akcnowledge the leaders from the General Conference and the North American Division who attended, and asked NAD president Dan Jackson to close with prayer. Following Jackson's benediction, the congregation sang together "Blest Be the Ties That Bind."
On August 19, the Pacific Union Conference will be the second union within the North American Division to hold a special constituency session related to ordaining equally. The PUC will be voting on changes to the GC model constitution in order to allow for a previously approved policy permitting ordination without regard to gender. Because delegates will vote to change the constitution and by-laws, that vote will require a 2/3 majority for passage.
Photo Credit: Columbia Union Conference Visitor
Just signed the petition against it.. Here is the link.
What we need to at least consider and study into, is whether there is a "heterosexual family model" in the heavens as well.
A word used in the Old Testament for God = Elohim = male, plural and female. Also, God called them both "Adam" in Gen. 5:2 KJV.
See and consider Rom. 1:20, and ask, "What do we really know about God, this universe or anything for that matter"? Consider how small we are and the "hidden manna" (Rev. 2:17).
We may yet be surprised, even as much as those that said it could not rain, and then a flood, or those that ridiculed a virgin birth.
We need then to walk carefully, admitting that we cannot see, and really know little (John 9).
This is a very sad day in the history of the SDA church. When a union officially votes that God's word does not control what they want to do. They have officially declared that they are no longer either a Christian church nor Seventh-day Adventist. For to look to the second advent with this on thier record is to look for destruction.
Yes, the female commissioned pastor, Brenda Langford Billingy, should have her credentials shreaded, not signed. For if the president signs it, he will be as guilty as she is. Here is a good example of emotionalism overriding the clear statments of God's word. Great grandstanding, but very poor judgment.
This action should be a warning to the entier church as to what can happen when God's word is ignored. I was not surprised that it went this way. For I have a relative who is an official of the Columbia Union and I know his stand on this issue. We do not see eye to eye on this at all. So, I would have been more suprised if the vote had gone the other way.
But, just because punishment tarries, it is no proof that it will never come. Eve did not cease to exist for hundreds of years after she rebelled against God. But she is not alive today, she did suffer the pain of death. And as she and Adam watched the death of nature, the falling leaf and the fadding flower, she was painfully aware that it was her choice that caused that death.
So too, these female pastors and unfaithful delegates who voted to rebel against God, are no doubt heady with emotion tonight, while Satan rejoices and Heaven weeps. But, it is only for a time. Soon those who rejoice will weap and those who morn will be comforted. God will not allow this to go on forever. When it happens, those who voted for this rebellion will call for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them.
Note what the prophet says:
"And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say, but they will not do it.  When this comes—and come it will!— then they will know that a prophet has been among them." Ezekiel 33:32-33 (ESV)
And destruction will come, it is only a matter of when.
Well I am shocked as well about that Union decision. I keep saying the SDA church as a whole is a huge mess. I thought all our unions and conferences were to follow the direction of the main conference or whatever it is..and they in turn studied everything being led by God.
Unless we have total unity in our church..or as near as we can get it since noone is perfect..then we cannot call ourselves the remnant like many of our preachers do.
The term "remnant" means that it is like the original. The early Christian church went this same way. They forsook the doctrines of Christ and tried to make it easier for the heathen to join their ranks. So they compromised to the point that they became the Roman Catholic Church. This was prohesied and that it would be destroyed.
This vote by the Columbia Union Conference is going the same way. So, indeed we are more of the remnant then we might want to believe. But, we can learn from history. We do not have to go this way. Only a fool will believe that they can make the same mistakes and the results will come out different. For this time, the destruction will come alot sooner.
Remember, not one in 20 of the Adventist church knows what they believe and are ready to meet their life record. So, when only 80% voted for this, it means that there are more in the Columbia Unions who have not bowed the knee to Baal then what was predicted. We can praise God for the loyal 20%.
Amen..I agree with you saying that about the loyal 20percent. I always believed that we were not sposed to have women pastors..that the church should not be headed by a woman. I was not sure about elders though..I figured that might be ok. Women have so many ways to teach or "preach" in the church.
An "elder" is a "local pastor." He is the pastor for that church, working under the pastor assigned by the conference. This is just like that pastor works under the Ministerial Secretary, who works under the Conference President, who works under the Union President, who works under the Division President, who works under the General Conference President. The Local Elder is just the first step on the path to becoming a full pastor. Albeit most never advance beyound the local elder, every minister must be ordained as a local elder first.
This is why it is important to choose the local elder with as much care as is suppose to be exercised in selecting ministers.
The campaign for women to be ordained has come about becasue of several failures. Otherwise called "creeping compromise."
1. Local elders were ordained for reasons other then the ones listed in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Doctor's, lawyers, wealthy individuals, etc., were ordained becasue of their popularity and influence instead of their spiritual maturity. Sometimes only because they were the only man available who could stand up front and speak.
2. Then ministers were being ordained for reasaons other then the ones listed above. I'll not list any of the these deviations, but they were anything but what the Bible listed.
3. Women claimed that if the Bible could be ignored for local elders and ministers, then why not allow them to be ordained too?
See, this whole problem started when the criteria listed in God's word was ignored. When men who did not fit the criteria were ordained, how could they deny women the right to be ordaied? If they did, they would be denying their own ordination. This is why I insist that this is not a gender issue, rather it is a submission issue and it applies to both men and women.
Then the push came to approve the wearing of the wedding band and jewelry. This was allowed.
So, then homosexuals wanted to be ordained, and they have been. Now they are pushing for full recognition and membership and the right to fill offices.
Since the church has compromised in these areas,when the push comes to worship on Sunday, they will have little stamina to stand up to that test, since they have capitulated on all of the other test. You cannot fail all of the "nickel quizes" and expect to pass the final test. It rarely happens.
Sunday worship, ordaining women, wedding rings, diet etc. are all things that were introduced by the father of all liars. They have walked hand in hand down through the centuries together and have been the distinction between sun worshippers and those who worship God. As those practices have gradually come into the church, one by one, and have been pronouced acceptable by human opinion, even worse apostasy does not seem that bad. We have now come to the place where what God says has come to mean nothing at all.
Many beleive that any woman's opinion is as good as what God says. Then these women blame men for doing what they are doing. We are seeing this even here on this forum.
We must deceide whether we are going to serve God all of the way, or set our opinions up as our god, as certainly an idol as anything carved out of wood or gold.
Hopefully this will be of help to you.
This is the danger in giving in on little things. For they add up and soon one cannot stand up to the final test. This is the path that Satan has been leading us on and we must either turn around or fail.
If they were serious about the issue instead of defying the GC why didn't they annul all ordinations and 'commission' everybody? Nuff Sed
I think they may be giving them space to do the right thing on their own before taking any forceful steps.. Basically they are trying to show tact and diplomacy regarding the issue, because they would like to avoid the church being torn apart by this more than it already has been..
Matthew 10:34 "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."
Jesus never said that the church would be at peace. It will be divided as He also said about the wheat and tares would grow together.
Jesus always spoke to the people in the "church" - the Jews at the time. Yes we have a lot of tares in the church but we must be keep beholding our Lord Jesus Christ. You become what you behold.
Praise the Lord that this is happening, as this proves that our Lord Jesus is coming soon. Don't focus on this rubbish that is happening as Satan wants to take our focus off Jesus - which is easily done. Study your Bible that God gave you and read Ellen White and the pioneers writings and listen to where God leads you.
All i can say is that we must behold Jesus and nothing else. We all struggle in this as the world and Satan tries to keep us off the track. Just keep beholding the One who came to save us.
Yes, indeed, that is a valid observation. There will always be the tares in amongst God's people. Thanks for reminding us of that.