Following the assignment of representatives from the 13 global divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the names of the 100-member Theology of Ordination Study Committee were announced November 29, 2012 by committee chairman Artur A. Stele, a general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The 100 individuals – see table for the complete list – span a range of viewpoints and roles within the movement. Membership includes Tara VinCross, an Adventist pastor in Philadelphia, Pa.; former U.S. Ambassador to Malta Kathryn L. Proffitt; Gerard Damsteegt, a professor of church history at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary; Doug Batchelor, senior pastor of Sacramento Central Church in California and president of Amazing Facts; and Lisa M. Beardsley-Hardy, education director for the General Conference. Adventist Review and Adventist World editor and executive publisher Bill Knott is also a member of the committee.
The top three officers of the General Conference are ex-officio members of the committee, but neither Pastors Ted N.C. Wilson, president; G.T. Ng, secretary; nor Robert E. Lemon, treasurer, have a voice or vote on the panel.
“The main reason for releasing the names is to kindly invite every member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to pray for these names,” Stele said in a statement. “We are in need of God’s guidance and leading in this study process.”
The statement also summarized the main tasks confronting the panel:
- Review the history of the study of ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- Develop a Seventh-day Adventist theology of ordination.
- Study the subject of ordination of women to the gospel ministry.
- In areas of disagreement, focus on potential solutions that support the message, mission, and unity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
According to Stele, “The Theology of Ordination Study Committee will prayerfully study the issues presented above trying to reach a consensus on each assignment. In the areas where consensus will not be reached, the TOSC will present several reports and will also work on potential solutions. These steps will ensure that the process will be open, fare, and transparent.”
Stele said the steering committee has already met twice, and “we are suggesting that the first meeting of the TOSC in January 2013 will be totally dedicated to the study of the first step. A group of scholars has been given the assignment to work on the first draft of the Theology of Ordination document.”
He added, “We are planning to present the first draft to the TOSC in January, discuss it, and based on the contributions of the whole committee, to prepare a second draft and send it out to all Division [Biblical Research Committees, or BRC]. We will ask each Division BRC to send in their suggestions, contributions, agreements, and disagreements. Based on the discussions involving all BRCs, a third draft will be prepared and we hope to come to a final draft that could be ‘hopefully’ accepted by the TOSC the first day of our meetings in July, 2013.”
Stele said, “after concluding the study on Theology of Ordination, we will start working on the issue of women’s ordination.”
He concluded, “The TOSC starts its work in total reliance on God’s guidance. Please, pray for the right spirit and openness for God’s leadership.”
Although women have functioned in various ministry roles from the beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ordination has come up as an issue before church leaders several times in the recent past. At present, the Church does not ordain women to ministry, following votes at General Conference sessions in 1990 and 1995 on the question, where the issue was a major focus of the international deliberations.
By Mark Kellner Source: Adventist Review