Keene church considering female senior pastor

Senior Pastor Jennifer Scott of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Shelton, Wash., will be interviewed for the senior pastor position at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church in Texas July 11 She will also present the sermon at the 9:30 and 11:30 a.m. services July 13. Scott's name is at the top of a list of 50 candidates selected by a 25-member search committee. 

Texas Conference Assistant to the President for Communication Costin Jordache confirmed a female is being considered for the position of senior pastor, and that the search committee is being assisted by the conference. He declined to comment further because the search process is ongoing and a final decision has not been made.

Scott is graduate of Columbia Union College (now Washington Adventist University) with two degrees, and earned a master's degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. She has served as an associate pastor at Loma Linda University Church in Loma Linda, Calif., and Green Lake, Wash. 

Scott and her husband, Bob have two children, Camryn and Caeden.

Keene is also home to Southwestern Adventist University, which is why the Keene church has a membership of more than 3,000.

The senior pastor position has been vacant for five months, since previous senior pastor Mic Thurber left to become the Ministerial Director for the Mid-America Union Conference in Lincoln, Neb., after a decade at Keene.  

If Scott is hired, she would be the second female senior pastor of a large institutional Adventist church--senior pastor Chris Oberg of the La Sierra University Church being the first.

But whereas La Sierra is in the Southeastern California Conference, a notoriously liberal conference on the West Coast, Keene is in the Texas Conference, a reputedly conservative conference in the middle of the country.  Unlike the Pacific Union and the Columbia Union, the Southwestern Union has not approved, nor even taken preliminary steps toward approving the ordination of women.  The Keene church may obviate the ordination issue by calling a woman to be the senior pastor of the largest church in the union.  

The Theology of Ordination Study Committee will convene later this month in Maryland for its second of four meetings, but Adventists in North America are moving forward with the implementation of female headship, and do not seem likely to be swayed by anything that comes out of this committee.