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Report: Women's Ordination Approved in CUC

In a historic vote, the Columbia Union Conference becomes the first union in the Seventh-day Adventist Church to ordain women.

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

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The World-wide church does not take issue with women elders, women pastors, or women deaconesses. I would encourage you to read the current policy--BTW, at the 2010 GC, the World-wide delegates voted in favor of ordaining deaconesses.

No Teresa.  Am aware of the banana backbone approach; visible every time a position anti God's instruction is voted for by a majority (human beings); forgetting that 1 (human+God) is majority. God bless.

Mmm Sarah. Policy is very wonderful until it messes around with Divine principle.

Am aware of the tactics used in these sessions especially around these matters.  I still stand by...the larger constituency of the SDA church does not support WO.

We disagree that the policy is conflicting with Divine Principle....the very fact that this has passed not only at CUC session, but began with the North Germany Union Conference in April , passing with more than 2/3 of the Delegates, states a few things:

1.  The Biblical convictions are not isolated.

2.  The Biblical convictions are not "American".

3.  The Biblical convictions are coming from countries where it would be easier not to address the issue at all.

4.  The Biblical convictions represent more than a handful of SDA Christian Believers.

Scobs

Yes, the approach that those advocating WOPE have been tactics that when I was a used car salesman, I would never use.  They have been dishonest, manipulative, misrepresentative, the same as blackmail, using apporaches that they would never want used on them, and the list could go on.

One early meeting, both men and women were asked to write papers on the issue.  The vast majority of the papers were against WOPE, and it was not along gender lines.  However, when the chairman saw the direction that they were going, he ended the presentations and wrote his own report of the meeting.  A report that represented the findings as supporting the ordination of women. 

In one conference, the women held back their tithe, placing the conference in a financial bind.  They told the conference that if they would ordain women, they would turn in their tithe, which amounted to serveral million dollars. 

Those who are pushing for WOPE have misrepresented the role of women in the time of Christ, both in Judea as well as in the Greco-Roman world.  Instead of being as down trodden as they claim, in the Greco-Roman world, a woman could own a male slave and if in business, she did not have to pay all of the taxes a man would have to pay.  Phoebe and Lydia are two such examples. 

When it comes to the Bible, they twist everything they can to support their positions.  Texts out of context, refusing to accept texts just as they read, ignoring all passages that refute the ordination of women or spell out how God deals with such actions.  Would you want a preacher who practices these things?  Yet that is the product of the WOPE movement.

Just as we have seen here.  Texts are demanded for support.  However, when they arep produced, there is a thundering silence or some inane comment about it just being the other person's opinion.  When asked for text to support their opinions, again, there is a thundering silence. 

Are these the tactics that we want to see in our ministry?  Do we want ministers who are more interested in displaying their femine charms then in presenting truth?  Bending over to display their breasts.  Wearing skirts that leave little to the imagination (this I have personall observed) and swaying in very suggestive ways. 

Yes, some men have tried this, but they were fired.  How come women who do this are not also fired?  A very dual standard.  One prominent woman pastor was always in the company of a man she was not married to, and I have spoken with that woman.  How long would a man last in the ministry acting like that?  Or how long would a homosexual man, living with his lover, be allowed to be in the Adventist ministry?  Yet, women have been ordained when they in fact were living with their lesbian lover.  The father and mother of one of these girls told me this themselves. Not to mentioned some of the very inventative theology they have presented.  Certainly nothing that they got from the Bible, and they admit the same, in a few cases.

This is only a sample of many of the things that I have either witnessed myself or others who had first hand knowledge of them have related to me.  Yet, some claim that ordained women have been called by God.  I hardly believe that; with as few ordained women as there are, with this percentage of those who fit the things such as I have related, that God is in this movement in any way.  By their fruits you will know them.

 

Maranatha :)
Ray

@Scobs

Amen.

YOU take issue with it...and that's your right, but be clear:  That is NOT the position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as voted in GC sessions.

aye madam Sarah.  my rights are ceded upward every day at best; such that the direction has to come from there and all i do is follow.  i only make a choice -- to follow or not to follow...that which I have come to know as the Lord leads.  GC is as good as it allows God to lead.  Less than that, we have a huge problem.  That is why I back President Ted Wilson's call on NAD and on worship styles.

I DONT BELIEVE GOD WILL BE HAPPY ABOUT THIS!!...

@Irene

Agreed!

Saints of God,

Please for our sakes calm down, lol! Disagree to agree and agree to disagree in love honouring one another. Every opinion is valid and should be respected in love and kindness as each individual is unique and different. Can you imagine if all of us were the same way, life would be so boring and tasteless, see how awesome God is? Cool, huh!

Now that we have paused a bit to breathe- Thoughts to ponder:

Isn't God the head of the church and will He not finish His work at the time set?! Is my relationship with God and my fellowmen made better due to my participation in this ongoing discussion? Should Jesus come right now am I ready and prepared to meet Him?

Finally:-

Thank God we have a voice and a place where it can be heard...Please then gently people, let us make our points and state our opinions in a more friendly tone, remembering always to respect the other persons views!

God bless you all richly!

Saints of God,

Please for our sakes calm down, lol! Disagree to agree and agree to disagree in love honouring one another. Every opinion is valid and should be respected in love and kindness as each individual is unique and different. Can you imagine if all of us were the same way, life would be so boring and tasteless, see how awesome God is? Cool, huh!

Isn't God the head of the church and will He not finish His work at the time set?! Is my relationship with God and my fellowmen made better due to my participation in this ongoing discussion? Should Jesus come right now am I ready and prepared to meet Him?

THANK YOU!!!!

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