Unfortunately, the atmosphere [at PUC] is such that I feel I cannot, in good conscious, encourage my daughters to attend this school. Should they attend here, my concern would be that they would no longer abide by the guidance and principles I felt convicted to teach them. After listening to Pastor Henderson’s sermon, I felt the time had come to voice my disappointment and concerns and forward them to your office for your records.Read More
I did a lot of stupid things when I was in college. I still do. I also did a lot of things that no doubt made my Savior weep. And I still do. Thus, I can completely identify with the mindset that would motivate a college student--or a person of any age, for that matter--to make a silly video, emulating a popular movement known as the "Harlem Shake." Yet all this doesn’t diminish the sadness I experienced when I saw a video of students from my alma mater participating in the erotic dance in a very public venue on campus. There was bumping. There was grinding. There was silliness and revelry – all classified by many Christians, no doubt, as simple and innocent fun. (Read more)
On Thursday, November 15, the executive committee of the Pacific Union Conference unanimously approved requests to ordain seven women and two men. Most of the women who were approved for ordination have been in ministry for several years -- in some cases several decades -- but have officially been considered “commissioned.” According to Bradford Newton, executive secretary of the Pacific Union, “This vote removes any reservations or limitations on the church’s affirmation of the ministry to which God has called these pastors and trainers of pastors.”Read More
Dr. Lela Lewis authored a petition asking conferences in Pacific Union not to support its recent decision to approve ordination to gospel ministry without regard to gender. The petition does not address the theological issues surrounding ordination, but attempts to "implore God’s people to come together in the spirit of love through the power of the Holy Spirit."
[W]e the undersigned do not support Pacific Union Conference’s recent decision to go against the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists’ council in respect to women’s ordination. We believe that to do so ultimately mars the image of God in His church and His people by creating disharmony and confusion....
The petition cites the recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and Mountain View Conferences to stay in harmony with General Conference working policy, as the example each conference should follow. Both those conferences are in the Columbia Union Conference, which recently voted 209 to 51 to authorize ordination of female pastors.
At times I found it extremely difficult to watch the Pacific Union Conference emergency constituency meeting online Sunday, and had to step out of the room a couple times in frustration. It was hard to hear people twist scripture and the writings of Ellen White, as they attempted to make their desires appear holy. Even though the majority who attended were of the same opinion, God still miraculously intervened amid misinformation and highly charged emotional appeals for equality. Now that the much-advertised PUC meeting is over, people are asking, “What exactly happened and how are things different?”
Many people are unaware the primary purpose for this meeting was to push through a change in the union’s bylaws so it could legitimize the ordaining of women without being at odds with General Conference policy.
So when the vote to change the bylaws failed by one percent, some delegates noted an audible groan in the room. Why? Continuing to vote the second motion was, at that point, an empty victory. After all, the PUC was already ordaining female pastors.
Documents given to delegates by the legal counsel made clear that if the motion to change the bylaws failed, they would still vote on the second motion to ordain women simply so “… the constituency’s voice be heard.” Ridiculously, other than affirming what the union is currently doing and as a public relations stunt, there was no change in policy made in Sunday’s vote. The motion regarding gender was still voted, perhaps largely to mitigate the appearance the union had just wasted an obscene amount of time and money for naught. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on this meeting. A friend commented to me afterwards, “This makes me rethink where I give my tithe money.” Although I believe the church is the storehouse, I understand why she feels that way.
Furthermore, it appeared everything that could possibly be done to manipulate the decision of the delegates was done. For three months, the PUC Recorder was jammed with biased, one-sided articles arguing for the ordination of women. It acted as a bully pulpit for women’s ordination, if you will.
Also, a day before the constituency meeting, Loma Linda University Church had a special two-hour “informational meeting” for delegates that was also streamed on the internet. This lopsided “pep rally” led by union and conference officers was solely dedicated to urging delegates to vote in favor of the motions. Absolutely no time was given to represent opposing viewpoints, held by the majority of Adventists.
If all that wasn’t enough, at Sunday’s constituency session our General Conference President Ted Wilson was rudely interrupted by a woman as he was respectfully articulating reasons to not vote the motions. This was followed with the proponents of women’s ordination clapping and jeering. I couldn’t help but think this was surely one time where quieting a clucking woman in church should have applied. I was appalled at such a lack of respect for our president, and the sorely underrepresented “other” viewpoint.
Finally, the delegates were basically forced to listen to three lengthy pro women’s ordination sermons as Sunday’s meeting wrapped up. The sermons were represented as “informational” but were obviously one final burst of emotional propaganda to manipulate delegates immediately before the vote. Other than the two minute sound bites, no time was given to represent the majority of Adventists.
The structure of the meeting was more akin to a political convention filled with all the usual emotional appeals and propaganda rather than a church constituency meeting. Even though there was a boast of love and unity from proponents of women’s ordination, there was little respect shown, even to the person representing the church’s highest authority. It was jaw dropping how the North American Division Vice-President Ernest Castillo derided Elder Wilson, who represented the one main voice in opposition to the rebellion. It was easy to see what spirit was in control.
It appeared the deck was stacked, but God still intervened. Praise Him the change to the bylaws failed. This means the PUC is still out of harmony and policy with the world church, and something has to be done.
As a spectator watching the shenanigans of the PUC, I hope to see the General Conference Executive Committee in October effectively discipline this union with a loving but firm hand at the annual council. And I know I speak for other women as well, who also value the distinct God-given roles of men and women in the home and church.
A special constituency meeting called by the officers and executive committee of the Pacific Union Conference met for over four hours Sunday afternoon in Woodland Hills, California, to address the issue of ordaining women to the gospel ministry. A proposed change to the union's bylaws, which would have allowed the PUC to be out of compliance with GC and NAD working policies on any given issue, just failed to garner the required two-thirds vote, but the motion to ordain candidates without regard to gender passed overwhelmingly, 79% to 21%. (The constituents of the Columbia Union passed a similar motion, 80% to 20%, three weeks ago.) The session began with a hymn, and then small prayer groups were formed to pray for the meeting. A couple of tests votes were taken to familiarize the constituents with the electronic voting devices being used; a back up system of green and yellow cards was also available, but the electronic voting system was used throughout. Marianne Gilbert and Meredith Jobe were voted in as parliamentarians.
The formal speeches were begun by Elder Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division. Elder Jackson stated that he was influence by two competing values, 1) his strong desire for equal treatment for women, and 2) his desire to avoid damaging the church through precipitous action or disunion. “The church,” he stated, “is not ours to modify without regard to one another, just because we think it should be this way or that.” He seemed very torn and hence indecisive, but seemed to come down on the side of maintaining unity.
Elder Wilson spoke next, largely repeating the plea for unity that he made, unsuccessfully, at the Columbia Union meeting. He urged the constituents to wait for the study of ordination that will be completed in 2014 and submitted to the fall counsel that year. He stated that the issue is in the hands of the world church, and that the ordination study will involve all divisions of the church, as well as the BRI, and be more extensive and thorough than any other study on this topic. He did not discuss the issue of female ordination substantively, arguing, as he did at the CUC meeting, that this was not the place for such a discussion. “Do not vote something that will put you in opposition to the world church,” said Wilson.
Elder Lowell Cooper spoke to clarify that although the unions apply the process of ordination, they do not set criteria for ordination contrary to the express will of the world church. Cooper stated that the authority of ecclesiastical subdivisions such as unions comes from the world church in general conference session, and that unions are expected to work in harmony with the expressed will of that body; by implication, the notion that the General Conference acted without authority in 1990 and 1995 in voting against female ordination is false. Armando Miranda, a general vice president of the General Conference, spoke next, arguing that the shaking had begun, as many new people were joining the church, and many old members leaving the church. He urged the delegates not to become side-tracked by issues that would cause division and distraction. Elder Wilson returned to the platform to address specific questions of policy and to once again urge the delegates to “refrain from autonomous action in a matter that is before the world church. Give the process a chance.”
After this, all platform speakers were strongly pro-female ordination. Ernie Castillo spoke next, arguing in English and Spanish that the actions of the CUC and PUC were justified in light of the GC's refusal to allow the NAD to allow commissioned pastors (women) to serve as conference presidents. (But the NAD has long since agreed that it had no right to amend its “E-60” policy in a way that would be out of compliance with GC working policy.) Next, a female pastor spoke and gave her testimony about how she ended up in ministry despite not, at first, believing that she would.
Next, Randy Roberts, senior pastor of the Loma Linda University Church, delivered a sermon, at the request of the PUC Executive Committee. Roberts argued that a “wooden literalism” would have women wearing a head covering and not speaking in church at all, and hence the spirit of Scripture pointed to radical equality between the sexes. The most important text, he argued, was Galatians 3:28, which states that “in Christ there is no longer Jew nor gentile, free nor slave, male nor female, but all are one in Christ,” implying that this text should be read as eliminating sex roles. He also argued that female ordination is consistent with the spirit of Fundamental Belief No. 14, which proclaims unity in Christ, and some of the church's policy statements that speak against discrimination. He ended by appealing to the opinions of young people, who take our larger culture's eradication of sex roles as a given, and with an appeal that female ordination was culturally appropriate to the Pacific Union, even though it would not be in many places in the world.
The discussion then turned to the bylaw changes, and several speakers addressed these at length. It was argued that the PUC was, as a matter of actual history and practice, out of compliance with GC working policy on several issues, and that the bylaw changes would bring the bylaws into conformity with actual practice. When the matter came up for debate and vote, the first floor speaker to the microphone moved to foreclose debate and vote on the bylaw change. This vote failed to garner two-thirds, so debate proceeded. Several speakers expressed dismay at changes that would give the PUC Executive Committee such broad authority to depart from GC and NAD working policies. Doug Batchelor noted that there is a big difference in, for example, wedding vows, between “you SHALL forsake ALL others” and “in general, you will forsake others.” When the vote was finally taken, the bylaw change just failed to received the required two-thirds votes; it received 65% of the vote when 66.6% were necessary.
Next came the motion to ordain without regard to gender. Many wanted to speak to this and, although most were in favor of female ordination, quite a few spoke against it. Interestingly, those evangelists who convince others, with biblical preaching, to come into the church, Doug Batchelor and Stephen Bohr, argued against female ordination on biblical grounds. The pastors of the long since-converted, and of the “cultural Adventists,” tended to be in favor of female ordination. One person made a point of order based upon the idea that the failure of the motion to amend the bylaws (which would have given permission to be out of compliance with GC and NAD working policy) precluded approval of a motion (ordination without regard to gender) that is out of compliance with GC and NAD working policy. This was referred to attorney John Daggett, who misunderstood the objection, thinking it had to do with adequate notice by publication of the motion. The point of order was brushed aside and the debate continued. Finally, after a meeting of about four hours, the vote was taken; the motion to ordain without regard to gender carried by 79% to 21%.
The failure of the bylaw amendment was a victory for church unity. The PUC Executive Committee failed in its bid for broad authorization to disregard GC and NAD working policy. This should preclude any attempts to ignore policy with regard to homosexual pastors, or NAD education policy with regard to origins, or whatever the next liberal enthusiasm may be.
It was made clear once again that appeals to church unity, delivered with great solemnity by GC President Ted Wilson, will not prevail on the issue of female ordination. The SDA Church has failed to articulate a biblical doctrine of sex roles. In the absence of such a doctrine, the SDA membership in the developed countries has conformed to the culture of those countries in regard to the radical hostility to any sort of differentiation of roles as between men and women. It seems unlikely, at this late date, that the SDA Church will ever find its way into conformity with Scripture on this issue.
Top leadership of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists this evening issued a response to the Pacific Union Conference’s vote to recommend ordaining ministers without regard to gender, saying the move is a “serious threat” to unity of the world church and preempts an ongoing study on the issue of ordination. In a special Constituency Session this afternoon, the California-based Pacific Union voted 79 percent to 21 percent to recommend to its Executive Committee to “approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” The Adventist Church currently does not ordain women as ministers.
Pacific Union’s move comes three weeks after a union in the mid-Atlantic United States voted a similar action. The Maryland-based Columbia Union Conference on July 29 voted to recommend to its Executive Committee to approve ordination without regard to gender.
General Conference officers said both actions are contrary to policy. Leaders appealed to all administrative units to “refrain from independent and unilateral decisions” and said the world church Executive Committee will determine how to respond at its next meeting in October.
The response from General Conference officers follows in its entirety:
A RESPONSE TO THE ACTION OF THE PACIFIC UNION CONFERENCE CONSTIUENCY MEETING ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 2012
The 17 million members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are united through the Holy Spirit in a common commitment to Christ and the truths of His Word, an urgent end-time mission, and a divinely inspired church organization. A threat to any one of these places at risk the unity of the church. It is for this reason that the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church affirms the Pacific Union’s action not to change their Constitution and remain in harmony with the world church. This represents a step in a positive direction. The General Conference leadership is seriously concerned, though, with the Pacific Union’s subsequent action to preempt the collective decisions of the world church regarding ordination. Unilateral actions contrary to the voted decisions of the global church seriously threaten the unity of the church.
The world church recognizes the vital role that women play in the life, ministry and leadership of the church and encourages their active involvement. Because the General Conference Administrative Committee has already voted and commenced the most comprehensive study in our history on the subject of ordination, which will include the study of the ordination of women, the action of the Pacific Union to grant Ministerial Ordination “without respect to gender” preempts the process voted for the current study of ordination theology and practices by committing the Pacific Union Conference to a particular outcome before the study-and-discussion process is completed. It also expresses a lack of trust in the integrity of the general process accepted and voted by General Conference administrators and personnel, division officers, and pastors and lay members from all the world divisions who serve on the General Conference Executive Committee, which includes the presidents of the 125 unions representing the world church, regarding how we approach common challenges.
Further, the action is contrary to General Conference Working Policy and sets aside the 1990 and 1995 decisions of the General Conference in Session respecting the practice of ordination. The action taken by the Pacific Union Conference represents a serious threat to the unity of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, and thus, at its next meeting in October 2012, as indicated in another recent public statement by General Conference officers and division presidents, the General Conference Executive Committee will carefully review the situation and determine how to respond. In the spirit of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the officers of the General Conference appeal to all entities, organizations, and individuals, including the Pacific Union Conference, to refrain from independent and unilateral decisions and from implementing any such actions.
It is our prayer that the “oneness” Jesus prayed for in His great intercessory prayer in John 17, and that which the disciples experienced in Acts 2, will be manifest in His church today. We pray that the result of this “oneness” will be lives transformed by His grace, united in His love, and empowered by His Spirit to proclaim His last-day message in all of its fullness to a perishing planet, hastening the glorious return of our Lord.
Ted N. C. Wilson, President General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
G. T. Ng, Secretary General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Robert E. Lemon, Treasurer General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Source: Adventist News Network
You can watch the Pacific Union Conference's special constituency session live August 19 at 1 p.m. (Pacific Time). A list of the delegates has been published in the July edition of the PUC Recorder. Below is the special constituency session announcement:
Notice of Pacific Union Conference Special Constituency Session
A Special Session of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists will be held at the Warner Center Marriott, Woodland Hills, 21850 Oxnard Street, Woodland Hills, California, 91367 on August 19, 2012. Registration will begin at 10 a.m., with the meeting beginning at 1 p.m., August 19.
This session is called to consider the following changes to the Pacific Union Bylaws. The proposed changes will enable the union to approve the ordination of ministers without regard to gender, when a local conference requests such approval. [Words highlighted in gray to be deleted; underlined words to be added]
"All In general, the policies, purposes and procedures of this Union shall will be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists."
The Pacific Union bylaws entitle each local conference to one delegate without regard to the membership count of the conference. Additional delegates are based on a proportional basis, on the count of the membership of the conferences, made at the end of the calendar year immediately preceding the date of the regularly scheduled session.
Ricardo Graham, President
Bradford Newton, Executive Secretary