Dear Adventist World, In your Feb. 2013 edition, you published an article by G. Alezander Bryant called "Wanted: Female Pastors" (page 17). According to the article, the North American Division (NAD) voted to focus on six areas of emphasis over the next five years. These six areas of emphasis are referred to as building blocks. The sixth block considered essential for the continual growth of the church in the NAD is Women in Ministry.
Bryant said the Women in Ministry building block is a "human resource emphasis that focuses on the recruitment of more women for pastoral leadership." Who says there is a lack of women in pastoral ministry, and what is that statement based on? Why must we become "more intentional in developing pathways to ministry for female pastors, since this is not a position that has ever been approved by the General Conference? How is it 107 women already qualify? The goal of the strategy seems to have strong political overtones with the NAD providing significant time, energy and money to support this endeavor. Is it tithe money they are using?
I find all this hype to be very offensive to those of us who are women in ministry and have served in church leadership for decades. Somehow our contributions are not worthy of note because we aren't on a payroll and filling a position ordained by God for men. Are women in ministry who are not pastors somehow not qualified to be among "all flesh" on which the Holy Spirit is poured in the last days? (Joel 2:28) Why is it so many are not mentioned or considered?
In spending so much time, effort and misguided emphasis on the feminist agenda, our church is missing an opportunity to recognize, support and provide partnership to those of us in God-ordained, non-controversial service to God in behalf of our church. Where is the movement to empower them and the millions of others who have the potential to become like them? Why are we spending so much on so few when we could be training a whole army? Here are just a few examples of women I personally know who have honored God with their time and talents and without recognition, limited support, and personal sacrifice, but with joy in service:
- A Bible worker who faithfully has gone out week after week after week giving our literature, seeking Bible study contracts and loving people into God's church
- A health educator who for over four decades has travelled widely with evangelists and headed up local health programs resulting in changed lives and baptisms
- A cradle roll Sabbath School teacher who has consistently had outstanding programs for her class for 28 years
- A vegan restaurant and health food store owner who has sacrificed her time and talent in witnessing and giving Bible studies and has been influential in over 100 being baptized
- A dental hygienist who works four days a week and still manages to have 2-3 Bible study classes on- going with resulting baptisms
- A nurse practitioner who has spend almost full time for two decades rewriting, perfecting and training others in a community based health education program that changes lives
- A prayer warrior who has travelled worldwide, including at the General Conference headquarters, teaching others the joy of united prayer
- A counselor who works in the prison system by day and is blessing her church by using her talents to help those in need in the church by night and on weekends.
- An older women can no longer spend time out and about so for 15 years has been writing supportive and encouraging letters to prisoners with an SDA background.
- An 80 + years old women who has always loved little children and helped in their care and is still baby sitting on Sabbath mornings in church.
- A Docas leader who sorts, cleans, mends, organizes and hands out clothing for 45 years.
- A Pathfinder leader with a consistently award winning program for 37 years.
- A school teacher who took sign-language so she could minister to a very small segment of our church, year after year after year.
This list could go on and on. These are women who have made a difference, who have not needed conference employment to fill the role God has ordained for them; who have not had to be "incentivized, identified, placed, mentored, targeted or receive administrative support" to hear God's voice and act according to His calling. If half as much effort, time and concern were invested in trying to empower all to find their niche and fill it, then God's spirit could truly be poured out on His church to develop its full potential.
When I see the unending articles in slick bi-lingual church magazines and the money wasted on meetings all targeting women as pastors I often think of this quote:
Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband's side in her Eden home; but, like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned (to) her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it. A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God's plan. In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they may be a blessing. Adventist Home 115
God help us as we tread the path of ancient Israel who cried: "Give us a King, we want a King", the only difference now is that the cry is, "Give us a King, we want a King, a Female King."
Dawna Sawatzky a registered nurse with a Masters in Health Education and has been a church volunteer all over the world, working with evangelists for decades.