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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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Hi Ray

Where specifically is the Biblical proof against it (ordaining women)?

Is it just tradition not to?


Shall we consider?

Walt

It is hard to put into words what I am feeling and how saddened I am by the choice made by a part of the remnant church.  And while I know those who support WOPE wants those of us who are against it to give in and agree to it and to say they are right, I can't say I am for something that I believe is biblically wrong.  And for most things, I am a very accepting person...I will accept people as they are and in the condition they are, sins and all and try to lead them to a better way but love them anyways.

This though is different.  I have to seriously pray and consider where I go from here.  If the rest of the church worldwide allows this conference to stay in good standing, thus condoning something that I and many others see as biblically wrong, then if I keep my membership, I am condoning that which I believe to be sin and I become a partaker in that sin.  Just as if part of the church decided to keep Sunday holy, if they are accepted we all are guilty.  So yes, the consequences are grave. 

More than that, what does this signal about the time of the end?  When the church that was raised up turns against God, then how much longer does the world have?  Is everything really going to just go on as normal?  If we believe this is the last church before the end and the church falls, then what?  All that keeps running through my mind this last hour is when Ellen White was talking about people stepping off the platform of the church to talk about the foundations and how they were lost.  Physically hurting from the sorrow.  A night we should all be spending in prayer. 

Maybe the world will go on and the worldwide church will say "ok, that is fine with us" and the members of that union will say great and everyone will just pretend that they think it's not a problem.  But even though I believe in men and women serving God, this isn't the way.  And for me, it won't be over.  I've been a member my whole life, even through these last years when no one has come to see me...even when I was hurting thru a divorce...even when I sinned...but if I truly want to serve God, then I have to be a part of a church that is serving Him or just serve God on my own.  I can't stay a part of a church that is partaking in something that is against the Bible.  And I have to be lead by the Bible and my conscience.

Not a victory for either side.  Not a victory for the world church or the conference that supported it.  Not a victory for God.

Shows you how out of it I've been the last few weeks that I didn't realize that it was a union not a conference that was voting.  And I'm part of that union.  Somehow I thought it was just the conference where Washington DC is which was bad enough.  Which means that I really have to decide now what my course of action should be.  And I know it won't matter to the local church because I'm not able to get there and they never contact me but it will be hard to say goodbye to what has been a part of my life all my life.  Maybe it is time to let go and obey God.

Dorothy....I think we have to remember that satan is attacking from the inside. But if all  who did not like this left then maybe satan would be all who was left. Maybe we just have to pray.....It's not an actual salvation issue...

So let me see if I am understanding:  Because a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit is different from yours  that is the equivalent of (quoting you) "satan attacking from the inside"?  

Hey Sarah..please do not put words in my mouth..or consider something I said was referring to just one particular topic. I have said over and over elsewhere that I believe satan is attacking us from within the church..regarding the gay marriage thing being pushed by some in our church..and by shepherds rod from within our church..and the list goes on and on..where others are bringing into our church different beliefs..thus our church IS being attacked from the inside.

So, if we already know that satan IS attacking our church from the inside..if everyone left because of  this ordination confusion, then maybe all that would be left in the church was satan. I did not say that this issue was satans work. I do not know that yet...and I do not know where the Holy Spirit is in this issue. I am only now trying to learn about it.

I am trying to tell Dorothy that we need to hold fast...and I personally am waiting for the study that the big conference is to come out. I am not sure that God has said definitely NO to any future(from when it was put in the bible) time when women pastors would be ok..and I don't see any definite "yes".

I do know that if it is in the Bible that at some point something was not allowed, and there is nothing later on that says anything different..then we are usually to follow that example.

So no, you were not understanding me the way I meant it..perhaps many of us need a crash course in expressing ourselves perfectly..along with other things.

teresa

The way I found to avoid discipline, was to not do things in the wrong way.  Maybe those hard blows are trying to get your attention so you can make a better choice and save you in the end.  Defying God's word will most certainly not lead to Salvation.

 

Maranatha :)
Ray

I wrote:

So let me see if I am understanding:  Because a person is convicted by the Holy Spirit is different from yours  that is the equivalent of (quoting you) "satan attacking from the inside"? 

I asked a question for clarification because of your comment in THIS thread...I do not follow nor read all of your posts in this forum.  With that stated, it was a honest question which did not "put words in your mouth" nor bear the defensiveness given me.

In a discussion and discussion board, it is not only appropriate, but more than fair to ask for clarification.  

Right....Wrong.

Say that again Alexander.  God loves us all and hates sin. If 80% choose to live with sin, unfortunately its a fail and the 20% moves on.  We have ONLY 2 spirits on this earth, one Holy and the other not.

The devil has long been working on positioning himself to lead most astray by pretending to be the Holy Spirit....and yes the very elect will be misled. God bless.

@Alexander

Like the Bible says.. Narrow is the way, and few be that find it.. :0)

Bro Alex....you were very clear on this one, very loud and clear. lol.

I remember going through this business class at work and using the 80:20 rule... WORK WITH 20% of your potential client base who normally give you 80% of your sales.  Spend more on them .... now ... apply it here... well; I would have to go with the 20% of the men who voted against WOPE.

We have a challenge...to get the 80% of this group to see they are lost on this point.

God bless.

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