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ADvindicate has switched to Disqus for its comment platform. We had been using Muut for a long time, but about a week ago there was a glitch that reset the path for each dynamically created thread. That means the little bit of code that is placed at the end of each article that automatically generates the path where the comments are stored on the server was reset, causing all the comments to disappear from each article; however, all these comments are still viewable in the forum.Read More
Sandy Roberts' presidential nomination to Southeastern California Conference passed, 72 percent to 28 percent.Read More
La Sierra University constituents were scheduled to vote today on proposed bylaw changes that would weaken the Seventh-day Adventist Church's influence on the school, but due to concerns about the location of the meeting, it was turned into an informational meeting. No official votes took place. The meeting had originally been scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Pacific Union Conference office today, but the bylaws state constituency meetings "shall be held on the campus of the University."
A new date for the special constituency meeting was not given, but it must occur prior to June 19, when the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) meets.
Correction: Sentence corrected to reflect the actual language of the bylaws regarding the location of regular and special meetings. Here is the relevant section from La Sierra University bylaws:
Section 5.4 Constituent Membership Meetings: Constituent Membership meetings shall be held on the campus of the University not less frequently than in alternate academic years. Notice of such regular or special meetings shall be given in writing by:
a. Mail sent not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days prior to the date of such meeting and shall be effective when mailed, postage prepaid, to the last known address of the constituent member, according to a list of constituent members certified by the secretary of the Board of Trustees; and
b. Publication in the Pacific Union Recorder not less than thirty (30) days nor more than ninety (90) days prior to the date of the meeting.
The North Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee met yesterday for their quarterly meeting, and voted to call a special constituency meeting to address ministerial ordination without regard to gender. They also voted to "inform and educate members of the rationale toward biblical church leadership without regard to gender; 2) engage and encourage constituents in structured conversation and discussion on women in ministry." The date for the special constituency meeting has not been set:
During their regularly-scheduled quarterly meeting held Nov. 14 in Ridgefield, Wash., North Pacific Union Conference executive committee members voted to engage Northwest membership in a discussion on gender-inclusiveness in gospel ministry. They approved a motion to 1) inform and educate Northwest members of the rationale toward biblical church leadership without regard to gender; 2) engage and encourage constituents in structured conversation and discussion on women in ministry; and 3) call a special session of the NPUC constituency to address ministerial ordination without regard to gender. The motion was presented in response to extensive reports provided by an Ad Hoc Committee on Women in Leadership which met during 2012. No date was specified at the meeting for a proposed constituency session, but that will be determined as the process for discussion and decision-making is further defined within the next month. As a start to the discussion, an initial FAQ page is now available, as is a research document from Dr. John McVay, incoming Walla Walla University president, entitled “Reflections on the Theology and Practice of Ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Additional documents from the NPUC Ad Hoc Committee on Women in Leadership will be available online soon.
Following three hours of respectful study and discussion, leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist world church voted to approve a “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination” on October 16, during the Annual Council of world church leaders held in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. The vote was 264 in favor and 25 opposed.
The move comes after three local unions – the North German Union in the Euro-Africa Division, and the Columbia Union and Pacific Union in the North American Division – separately voted this year to permit ordination “without respect to gender,” something the Adventist Church as a whole has twice rejected in votes at the movement’s General Conference Sessions, which are held every five years.
The voted statement expresses disapproval of the independent actions of the unions, appeals for all Church units “to consider thoughtfully the impact and implications of decisions” made independently of the world community, and affirms the role of women in the Church’s life and ministry. The document also points toward continuing studies on the theology of ordination, the results of which are expected to be ready in 2014, ahead of the following year’s 60th General Conference Session. No sanctions are applied, or suggested, in the document.
“This statement deals with Church structure and procedures. It does not address the question of ministerial ordination practices per se,” the statement said. “The central issue is one of Church polity – how the Church defines its organization, governance and operations.”
“Decisions to pursue a course of action not in harmony with the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session decisions (with respect to ministerial ordination) represent not only an expression of dissent but also a demonstration of self-determination in a matter previously decided by the collective Church,” the statement said. “The General Conference Executive Committee regards these actions as serious mistakes.”
The statement text continues, “The world Church cannot legitimize practices that clearly contradict the intent of General Conference Session actions. … Accordingly, the world Church does not recognize the actions of unions or conferences that have authorized or implemented ministerial ordination without regard to gender.”
But the statement is also clear in stating the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s position on women: “The General Conference Executive Committee specifically affirms the important roles that women fill in the life of the Church. Their giftedness and commitment is a blessing to the whole Church and a necessary part of its work in mission.”
The measure passed on a secret, paper ballot after the day's discussion, which began with comments from Pastor Ted N. C. Wilson, Seventh-day Adventist world church president. Wilson expressed the hope that the world church's units would continue "focusing on the mission of the Church, uniting in Christ, even though we will face some differences and disagreements."
Wilson was followed by noted evangelist and retired General Conference vice president Pastor Mark Finley, who spoke about the question of how the early church made decisions and worked in unity. He referenced three incidents in the book of Acts.
"The essence of unity is not uniform action; it is respecting one another enough to listen carefully, respond thoughtfully and decide together," Finley said. "Insurmountable difficulties were resolved as early church leaders met together, prayed and surrendered their personal opinions to the decision of the larger corporate body."
During an extended comment period, Pastor Daniel Jackson, North American Division president, sought to reassure world church leaders that the division supported the Church's mission, despite the polity question discussed in the statement.
"We want to make it abundantly clear that the NAD without any hesitation expresses our unity with the world church," Jackson said. "We are not just an adjunct to the world church; we are brothers and sisters with every person in this room."
A pastor in the NAD’s Atlantic Union Conference, Dedrick Blue, told his fellow delegates that “the process deals with the mechanism, but the effect is just as important as the process. What we are grappling with here is the effect of our decision as a world body,” adding, “Don't get involved with process to neglect justice and mercy.”
While he voted in favor of the statement, Northwest Pacific Union Conference president Pastor Max Torkelson II said he hoped younger Adventists wouldn’t get the wrong message from the action. He spoke with a reporter following the meeting.
“I’m concerned that, particularly our younger church members have less patience” to wait for the world church to act, he said. “And we’re asking them, we have been asking them, for years, to be patient, and now again we’re asking them to be patient. I admire them to the degree that they are, but I’m wondering how long we can presume that they will be patient. I’m afraid that we may disappoint them.”
Following the vote and before prayers by Adventist university leaders from three continents, Wilson said he appreciated delegates’ careful approach to the matter.
“Thank you for your confidence in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring unity to God's Church,” Wilson said. “We're not at the end of the road, we still have a journey to complete, but by God's grace, let's do it together.”
By Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review, and Edwin Manuel Garcia/ANN
—Click HERE to read the full statement (PDF download)
A Need for Accurate Information on Women’s Ordination Though I had attended both the 1990 and 1995 General Conference [GC] Sessions, somehow, over time my memory of the actual votes taken regarding women’s ordination had become fuzzy and confused. It was only since mid-2012, and in the midst of the expanding debates on this matter that I went to the recorded minutes of those pivotal GC sessions to consider what was voted, and on what stated basis the decisions were made.Read More
Mountain View Conference, which is within the Columbia Union, says they will support involvement of all members in church ministry, but will only do so in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist World Church as expressed by actions taken during the General Conference in business session. The statement was voted by the conference's executive committee July 23, 2012, according to a post on the Columbia Union Conference's (CUC) Facebook page. The statement can also be found on the front page of the conference's website:
Mountain View Conference Executive Comm. statement:
Due to the current and considerable dialogue in the North American Division regarding the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, the Mountain View Conference Executive Committee voted the following statement:
Whereas the Mountain View Conference has a long history of actively supporting, encouraging, and empowering women in church ministries, and
Whereas the Mountain View Conference recognizes itself as an integral part of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, it is therefore resolved:
The Mountain View Conference, following the scriptural mandate of the priesthood of all believers, and as directed by its Constitution and By Laws, intentionally chooses to continue its long-held commitment of supporting, encouraging, empowering, and celebrating the involvement of all members, regardless of gender, in church ministry. However, we will do so only in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist World Church as expressed by actions taken during the General Conference in business session. (Emphasis added)
After the CUC's July 29th vote to authorize ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender, the Pennsylvania Executive Committee voted a statement that said, "While the Columbia Union has a more general wording in its by-laws, the Pennsylvania Conference has very specific wording, which we will abide by."
Pennsylvania Conference Executive Comm. statement:
PENNSYLVANIA CONFERENCE OFFICERS STATEMENT REGARDING THE COLUMBIA UNION ACTION ON ORDINATION
The recent Columbia Union Special Constituency Session regarding ordination without regard to gender has led to some questions from those wondering how this might affect the Pennsylvania Conference and its future actions.
The Pennsylvania Conference Officers have carefully reviewed the action of the Columbia Union Session, and have reviewed the Pennsylvania Conference Constitution and By-laws. While the Columbia Union has a more general wording in its by-laws, the Pennsylvania Conference has very specific wording, which we will abide by. This wording states that the Pennsylvania Conference policies and procedures shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
The purposes, policies and procedures of the Conference shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the NAD and the GC. (Pennsylvania Conference Constitution, article 3, voted 2009)
It is our belief that according to this wording we as a Conference will follow only that which the General Conference policy provides for, in regard to ordination. Our Pennsylvania Conference Constitution and By-laws Committee is not recommending a change in this wording to the Pennsylvania Conference Constituency Session this Fall.
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.
A special July 29 constituency meeting called by the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted a resolution: “That the Columbia Union Conference authorize ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” Using secret ballots, delegates from the eight conferences of the union’s mid-Atlantic United States territory voted 209 in favor and 51 opposed, with nine abstentions. The Columbia Union says it has 135,000 members in more than 700 congregations.
According to a statement issued by the Columbia Union Conference late Sunday, the union executive committee will no longer deny requests from conferences to ordain proven female ministers to the gospel ministry, but their calling will be fully recognized on par with their male counterparts.
“This is not an easy time for the church, but it is the time for the church,” said Dave Weigley, Columbia Union president, following the vote. “We are part of the worldwide church, and we are united in the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Dan Jackson, North American Division president, cautioned, “What we are doing here today not only will impact us personally and as a union but will also impact our world church. I want to say that our primary accountability is to God.”
In extended remarks, Adventist world church President Ted N. C. Wilson appealed to delegates not to move forward with the motion but to wait for the results of a worldwide study of ordination approved last October by the church’s Executive Committee, and expected in 2014.
“I come to you today because I care about matters of conscience,” he said. “I come to you because I care about the unity of the church at large.”
Lowell Cooper, a general vice president of the world church, challenged the premise that union conferences are authorized to make the kind of change envisioned under current denominational polity. “The idea that the authority and responsibility of one type of organization in the world family can be exercised autonomously and unilaterally is a concept alien to the ethos and practices of the [Seventh-day Adventist] Church,” he told the delegates.
Bill Miller, president of the Potomac Conference and chair of the ad hoc committee tasked with studying this issue, started his presentation of the committee’s report by reiterating that he was a “loyal member of God’s remnant church.” He then recounted the church’s history of discussions and decisions on the issue of ordaining women to gospel ministry.
Shortly after noon, Weigley, who chaired the special session, opened the floor for constituent input. Delegates quickly formed three long lines at the microphones. Many voiced their belief that all whom the Holy Spirit has clearly called to ministry should be ordained without regard to gender, though several admitted to being conflicted.
Larry Boggess, president of the Mountain View Conference, whose executive committee released a statement opposing the motion, said, “Lest it be misunderstood, I love you, too, even though I disagree with you. If we say we are the body of Christ, then we would act in unity. What we do today will not generate thousands of new members.”
Following the vote, Rick Remmers, president of the Chesapeake Conference, commented, “I appreciated greatly the spiritual tone set today and sensed the love and loyalty for our church.”
“I am so proud to be part of a historic day in the Columbia Union,” said Deborah Hill, a member of the Allegheny West Conference. “We voted on the right side of history and will work very hard to unify not only our union but to work more closely with the General Conference.”
Source: Adventist News Network