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
Unfortunatly, the door was opened when the church modified God's instructions as to the standards that men should meet in order be ordained to the gospel ministry as well as local elders. As more and more of these men who did not meet God's criteria became pastors, they did not have the help of the Holy Spirit to guide them and help them resist these other forms of sunworship. As they worked their way up the organizational ladder, it soon became obvious that they outnumbered those who God has indeed called.
Then the church did not take a stand against the wedding ring. That lead to the celebration movement and that brought in the wild "music" that goes along with that worship style. They argue that the Psalmist speaks of loud music, therefore, that makes it OK to bring it into the church. But, that is another discussion.
With all of those who were brought into the church by this worldly display, they demanded more of the trappings of sunworship, which has now come to ordaining women and homosexuals.
There is only one more step into total sunworship, that is the day of worship being on the first day of the week, and there are already people pushing for that, behind the scenes. That is standing in the wings, waiting for the ordination of women to take over.
When a person starts down this broad pathway, it seems so innocent. After all more pastors were needed, so they just modifyied the rules to make it possible to get enough pastors. Then in the desire to seek to bring in greater numbers of people. Then they wanted to accomdate those who place their trust in a gold band instead of a Holy God.
Now, we want to accomdate the modern woman and our culture, just like Ahab accomdated the modern woman back then. However, the course will be the same today as it was back then, national apostacy leads to national ruin.
This is no coincidence. This is part of Satan's plan, that we were warned of long ago, to deceive the very elect. While I realize that prophecy warns us that this cannot be stopped. We do not have to become a part of it. And as we stand firm for what is truth, hopefully, by our example, we can stear others who are honest in heart away from those who peddle the devils teachings.
Oh, my! It's only getting worse. Heed the warning. You know what it is.
Here's an article on the history of church growth in relation to women's ordination;
Reply by Sarah Sulton
But to some I AM....I am not "trying" to get anyone's approval of what God and I have settled by HIS WORD.
I also disagree regarding Phoebe and Junia....and Priscilla.
Sarah just where do you stand? It's very difficult to pin you down. ;-) I've always imagine you have been seeking women's ordination all along.
pro WO big time.
Here's an interesting twist. What is the MOTIVATION for seeking ministry? Has God called? When God speaks you will know it, there is no mistaking it. So, even for a man, to say I just want to do that job, because I want to is pressumption. God has spoken to me a couple times in my life, and there is NO mistaking it. If he called me, I would know. He has not. I can only assume that He wants me where I am, for whatever reason.
I think there may be too much position seeking period. If there were more indians and not so many chiefs the work would have been done by now.
Well spoken, my friend.. :0)