Ed Reid entreats Adventist Review to correct misinformation about women's ordination

In the following letter, G. Edward Reid appeals to Adventist Review Editor in Chief Bill Knott to correct "egregiously inaccurate" details in Dave Gemmell's article “Ministry is Ministry—Changing views about women pastors” published in Adventist World's March edition. The article can be read online

March 26, 2015

Elder Bill Knott
Executive Publisher and Editor in Chief
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904

Dear Elder Knott:

I rarely write letters to editors.  In fact, you will note that this is my first to you in your many years as Editor in Chief.  My concern is that the NAD FEATURE in the March 2015 issue of Adventist World “Ministry is Ministry—Changing views about women pastors” was so egregiously inaccurate that I just felt constrained to send you a letter expressing my concerns.

The primary references quoted by Dave Gemmell in the article are three articles that Ellen White wrote that appeared in the Review and Herald, Dec. 12, 1878, Dec. 19, 1878, and Jan. 2, 1879.  As you are likely aware, the article was titled, “Address and Appeal, Setting Forth the Importance of Missionary Work.”  It was submitted by Ellen White as one long article.  The Review staff decided to print it in three parts and it appeared on the above dates.  With these articles used as the primary references, Dave Gemmell actually quotes Stan Hickerson and includes a “vimeo” clip by Stan that has a number of glaring inaccuracies as well.

The conclusion drawn by Pastor Hickerson and quoted by Dave Gemmel  in His article in both the title to his NAD article and the emphasis given in it are that Ellen White, in the third article, encouraged the ordination of women as pastors.  This is simply not true for the following reasons:

1. The title to the Review articles that are referenced in Dave Gemmell’s article and referenced also by Pastor Hickerson’s vimeo clip has no indication that Ellen White is about to write “a pivotal article” about women’s being ordained as ministers.  The article’s title is “Address and Appeal, Setting Forth the Importance of Missionary Work.”  The entire article is about hundreds and even thousands of men, women, and young people getting involved  in the “tract and missionary work” not that hundreds and thousands should become ordained ministers.

2. Pastor Hickerson attempts to separate the third article from the first two,  thereby taking it out of its original context, since it was originally from the pen of Ellen White as one single article.  This is nearly equivalent to taking the 70th week of Daniel nine out of its context, which is the week of Christ’s ministry and death, and taking it all the way down to the end of time.  Hickerson states in his “vimeo” clip referenced in the NAD article that in this concluding article that she “breaks away from the literature ministry and waxes eloquent about women being preachers.”  However, it is clear that the third article still continues the theme of the first two when she states, “Who will seek God earnestly, and from him draw strength and grace to be his faithful workers in the missionary field? Individual effort is essential for the success of this work. The ease-loving and self-caring, the worldly, ambitious ones will be ashamed to engage perseveringly in the tract and missionary work" (RH, January 2, 1879 par. 8).

When these articles are read together, as they were originally written, the primary focus is that many laymen, both men and women, were being encouraged to do something to advance the cause of God, and Ellen White gave the example of the circulation of our publications.  She noted in the first article, “None of us are to be idlers in the vineyard of the Lord. We are not all qualified to do the same kind of work; all cannot be ministers, to labor in word and doctrine; but there are other parts of the work, fully as important as this even, which have been fearfully neglected. Men and women are needed to act a part in this great work, in spreading the light of truth by circulating our publications. This work has not been taken hold of as it should have been by those who profess the truth" (RH, December 12, 1878 par. 5). 

Note that she says, “All cannot be ministers.” 

3. Elder Hickerson states in the vimeo clip that “God chose Mary to be the first preacher and that it was no accident that God chose her.”  The article does not say that God chose her and that it was no accident that Mary was the first preacher.  It is simply a fabrication of Elder Hickerson.  He also indicates that the work would be finished sooner if women were ordained as pastors.  The article doesn’t say that either.

The third installment of Ellen White’s article does say, “It was Mary that first preached a risen Christ.”  But earlier in the article she notes, ‘There is now the same call for disinterested workers as when Christ gave his commission to his disciples before he was taken from them into Heaven. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," is our Lord's command. Self-sacrificing labor is wanted in every part of the harvest-field. Men and women may be co-workers with their self-sacrificing, self-denying Redeemer… The larger part of the members of our churches are not working Christians; they are living as if there was no great emergency, no fearful danger of their fellow-men losing eternal life. Many fold their hands at ease, yet profess to be followers of Christ. The burden of the work has been left principally upon ministers, while many of the church have stood looking on to see how matters were coming out. There are not only men but women who should set their hearts and minds to become intelligent in regard to the very best manner of working for the Master, qualifying themselves to do that part of the work for which they are best adapted. All will, if connected with God, see something to do, and will do it… There are fields of missionary labor which have been open for years, calling for workers, and yet many have not seen or realized the necessity of their doing anything. The work, they thought, was for some others, but not for them. There are hundreds and thousands who can work if they are so disposed. Up to the present time they have done nothing but serve themselves. This class of do-nothings and know-nothings, as far as the work to be done in God's cause is concerned, will never hear the well done from the lips of the Majesty of Heaven. They have not taken any interest in the many branches of the work. They have not learned how to work for the Master to advance his cause in doing to the utmost of their strength and ability to save souls from error and death. I was shown that there must be with men and women a general waking up to the needs of God's cause. The minds of our sisters may be expanded and cultivated. If they are devoted to selfish interests, the soul will be left dwarfed. Emptiness and unrest will be the result.  {RH, December 12, 1878}  

Ellen White quotes Mark 16:15 over 200 times in her writings to indicate that every believer is called to preach the gospel to every creature.  Non-ministers are preachers in this sense.  Here are a few representative statements:

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), is Christ's command to His followers. Not that all are called to be ministers or missionaries in the ordinary sense of the term; but all may be workers with Him in giving the "glad tidings" to their fellow men. To all, great or small, learned or ignorant, old or young, the command is given.  Ed 264.1

Preaching the gospel includes more than sermonizing; and the work is not confined to the ministry. Thousands are idle who should be working in various ways for the salvation of souls.  OHC 298.2  

Service to God includes personal ministry. By personal effort we are to co-operate with Him for the saving of the world. Christ's commission, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," is spoken to every one of His followers. (Mark 16:15.) All who are ordained unto the life of Christ are ordained to work for the salvation of their fellow men. Their hearts will throb in unison with the heart of Christ. The same longing for souls that He has felt will be manifest in them. Not all can fill the same place in the work, but there is a place and a work for all.  COL 300.4  

To every converted soul He says, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature'. GCB, February 22, 1895 par. 2 

4.  One of Ellen White’s life-long burdens was that everyone who is able should be involved in the work of God in some way.  She wanted to see a finished work.  The following are relevant statements:

The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers. --Gospel Workers, p. 352.  

It is not the Lord's purpose that ministers should be left to do the greatest part of the work of sowing the seeds of truth. Men who are not called to the ministry are to be encouraged to labor for the Master according to their several ability. Hundreds of men and women now idle could do acceptable service. By carrying the truth into the homes of their friends and neighbors, they could do a great work for the Master. --Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 21.  

Just a few months before she passed away Ellen White was still appealing to women to get involved in missionary work.

In the various branches of the work of God's cause, there is a wide field in which our sisters may do good service for the Master.  Many lines of  missionary work are neglected. In the different churches, much work which is often left undone or done imperfectly, could be well accomplished by the help that our sisters, if properly instructed, can give. Through various lines of home missionary effort they can reach a class that is not reached by our ministers. --RH, Dec. 10, 1914

5.  As you and Pastor Hickerson are likely both aware, the staff of the Ellen G. White Estate was asked to prepare a statement regarding Ellen White’s view of women’s ordination for the 1990 General Conference Session.  The entire report is included as Appendix C in the 1998 EGW compilation Daughters of God.  I will now quote several sentences giving references from the DG paging: (Note all Caps in DG not my emphasis.)



To state that the Review articles in Dec. 1878, and Jan. 1879, were Ellen White’s endorsement of women’s ordination to the ministry goes directly contrary to the White Estate’s research noted above.

6. On the 70th anniversary of the great disappointment of October 22, 1844, Ellen White submitted an article to the Review that was printed in the October 22, 1914 edition.  This was just a few months before she passed away ending a 70+ year span of service to God’s Church.  In this article she quoted much information that was included in the Dec. 1878, and Jan. 1879, issues of the Review and made the same appeal for women to get involved with missionary work.  Here are a few excerpts:

Many appeals to church members have been published, and in these have been outlined successful methods of labor. As I have testified in former years, there is now the same call for disinterested workers as when Christ gave his commission to the first disciples. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature," is our Lord's command. Self-sacrificing labor is wanted in every part of the harvest field. Men and women are to be coworkers with their self-denying Redeemer…

Every true follower of Christ is a missionary…

It is the duty not of the minister merely, but of every member of the church, to represent Christ to the world…

Every individual Christian is required of God to be active in missionary service…

In past years, much has been done to strengthen the hands of the lay members, and to encourage them to be vigilant home missionaries…

We are a people whom God has favored with special privileges and blessings in making us the depositaries of his law. None of us are to be idlers in the vineyard of the Lord. We are not all qualified to do the same kind of work; all cannot be ministers, to labor in word and doctrine; but there are many other lines of work, fully as important as preaching, which have been sadly neglected. RH, October 22, 1914

In this important follow-up article to her earlier works, no mention is made of women becoming ordained ministers or any lament that the church has not followed God’s will in this matter.

7. A view from Ellen White’s perspective of how the work will be finished is given that includes thousands of laymen working with ministers in a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  She notes:

In visions of the night, representations passed before me of a great reformatory movement among God's people. Many were praising God. The sick were healed, and other miracles were wrought. A spirit of intercession was seen, even as was manifested before the great Day of Pentecost. Hundreds and thousands were seen visiting families and opening before them the word of God. Hearts were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit, and a spirit of genuine conversion was manifest. On every side doors were thrown open to the proclamation of the truth. The world seemed to be lightened with the heavenly influence. Great blessings were received by the true and humble people of God. I heard voices of thanksgiving and praise, and there seemed to be a reformation such as we witnessed in 1844. 9T 126.1

Servants of God, with their faces lighted up and shining with holy consecration, will hasten from place to place to proclaim the message from heaven. By thousands of voices, all over the earth, the warning will be given. Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. EV 700

I am very encouraged to note in the April-June issue of Elder’s Digest that the “Reach the World” plan for 2015 and beyond that was voted by the 2014 Annual Counsel of the General Conference will involve every single member of the church.  It would be a fulfillment of Ellen White’s vision of how the work will be finished.

The saddest part of the misinformation in the March Adventist World  NAD Feature is that it has been sent to every Adventist home in North America in the “official paper” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  What can be done to mitigate the damage and correct the false information? 

Since you and Pastor Hickerson are both top tier Adventist historians, and are concerned for accuracy, I would hope and pray that the readers of Adventist World can be given the true facts about Ellen Whites lack of support for women’s ordination as ministers.

As a faithful baptized member of 60 plus years and a full-time worker for over 44 years, I love this church, and I would not want the church to make an important decision based on incorrect information.

May God grant you His wisdom and blessing in your life and important work for Him.

Sincerely your friend in Christ,


G. Edward Reid

cc.  Ted N. C. Wilson, Stanley Hickerson, Dave Gemmell, Daniel Jackson