The ordination of Women in the Pacific Union
In March 2012, at a regular quarterly meeting of the Executive Committee of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a lay member moved that the Executive Committee begin immediately approving requests from local conferences for ordinations to the gospel ministry for both men and women. After much discussion, the motion was tabled until the next meeting on May 9. At the March meeting, an ordination study committee was appointed to study how to implement the ordination of both men and women within the policies of the church and within the authority of the union. The Union bylaws committee also met and recommended a bylaws change. On May 9, the executive committee heard the reports from both of these smaller committees, then voted to call a special constituency meeting on August 19 to consider the issue.
Initially, legal counsel and the bylaws committee advised that the Executive Committee could not approve ordinations without regard to gender unless the Union bylaws were changed to say the Union would "generally" follow voted world church policy. The reason that the executive committee could not vote to ordain women without changing the bylaws was that the bylaws said the union will comply with all GC policy, and GC policy was thought to not permit the ordination of women. When church administrators pointed out that there is no GC policy limiting ordinations to men, the response was that even though there is no such policy, the assumption that there is a such a policy is so widespread that the union would be best advised to proceed as if there were such a policy. The executive committee decided that the issue was contentious enough that the union should make no change without being sure the constituency supported a change.
Before the special session the same legal counsel advised that while the Executive Committee did not have the authority to approve the ordination of women without changing the bylaws, the delegates to a constituency session did have the authority to vote to approve the ordination of women, with or without changing the bylaws. They explained that since the constituency delegates create and modify the bylaws, the constituency delegates may choose at times to act out of harmony with their own bylaws. (This principle was illustrated at the 2010 General Conference session, where the delegates voted to not change the bylaw that says all departmental associates must be elected at GC session, but a few days later voted — contrary to GC bylaws — to elect the associates in the ministerial department at the next Annual Council. The action was contrary to the bylaws, but the constituency has the authority to vote exceptions.)
On August 19, 2012, the delegates to the Special Session voted (79% to 21%) to "approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender,” but the delegates did not vote to amend the bylaws to say the Union would "generally" follow world church policy. That motion, which required a 66.7 percent positive vote to pass, received only 65.3 percent. The documents below represent the discussions that took place before, during and after the August 19 Special Session.
Some of these documents are available en español.
Pacific Union Conference Special Session
- Video of whole session (Very large file. Suitable only for very high speed internet connection)
- Presentation by Dan Jackson, North American Division president. (text and video)
- Presentations by Ted Wilson, GC president; Lowell Cooper, general vice president; Armando Miranda, general vice president. (text and video)
- Presentation by Ernie Castillo, North American Division, VP. (with discussion of the source for his quotation on the authority of the General Conference in session.)
- Presentation by Larry Caviness, Southern California Conference president. (text and video)
- Presentation by Andrea Trusty-King, pastor, Imani Praise Adventist church, Southeastern California Conference. (text and video)
- Presentation by Randy Roberts, pastor, Loma Linda University church. (text and video)
- Discussion and vote on changing bylaws (47:30)
- Discussion and vote on ordination without regard to gender (1:00:06)
- Pacific Union post-session press release
Documents and Videos
Video Resources -- What do Authority and Headship Mean in the Bible?
- Video: History of Ordination, Part 1, at Sligo Church July 28, 2012, by Darius Jankiewicz, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Andrews University Theological Seminary
- Video: History of Ordination, Part 2, at Sligo Church July 28, 2012, by Darius Jankiewicz, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Andrews University Theological Seminary
- The Upside Down Church, at 2013 Georgia Cumberland campmeeting, by Stan Patterson, Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. of Church Leadership; Chair, Department of Christian Ministry, Andrews U.
Does Church Policy and Church Structure Permit a Union to Decide Who to Ordain?
Who Runs the Church? by Gerry Chudleigh (Revised May 8, 2013): Understanding the Unity, Structure and Authority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- English, iPad version - Download, then "Open in iBooks."
- English, print version - Print version is best photocopied in black and white. Printed copies available at AdventSource.
- Spanish, iPad version - Download, then "Open in iBooks."
- Spanish, print version - Print version is best photocopied in black and white. Printed copies available at AdventSource.
- Pacific Union Executive Committee Action and the Reasons for It (May 9, 2012 press release)
- Pacific Union Conference Officers Answer Questions
- Fundamental Seventh-day Adventist Beliefs on Unity and Spiritual Gifts
- Six Points on the Ordination of Women Issue, by Gary Patterson, retired General Conference Field Secretary
- A Timeline of Ordination Study and Policy
- The Path to Ordination, by Gerald Penick. What are the Qualifications for Ordination?
- General Conference God's Highest Authority on Earth? Ellen White's changing perspective
- Letter from a Conference Executive Secretary to Elder Ted Wilson (Fundamental Believe #14) (PDF)
- Notice of Special Session August 19, 2012
- Official General Conference Policy on Human Relations
- Official General Conference Working Policy B 05 assigning ordination decisions to unions (PDF)
- Official General Conference Qualifications for Ordination to the Ministry (PDF)
- Approaches to Church Reorganization, by Bert Haloviak, 1993 (PDF) How the authority that was distributed in 1901 found its way back to GC headquarters in later years.
- Pacific Union Conference Bylaws (.doc)
Recent Sermons on Women's Ordination
- Andrews University, Dwight Nelson: A mighty Throng of Women: A Second Look at Male Headship. HD Video, Pioneer Memorial Church, Berrien Springs, Michigan.
- Andrews University, Dwight Nelson: A mighty Throng of Women: A Second Look at Male Headship, Audio only, Pioneer Memorial Church, Berrien Spring, Michigan.
- Loma Linda University, Randy Roberts: The Sixth Bad Idea: A Second Class Ministry, video. March 10, 2010.
- Andrews University, Dwight Nelson: Ellen White and Why I Believe in the Ordination of Women, audio only, Feb. 28, 2015, Pioneer Memorial Church
- La Sierra University, Chris Oberg: Equal Some of the Time, Mar. 18, 2015 (video)
- Azure Hills Church, Kendra Haloviak-Valentine: Crumbs are Enough, April 11, 2015. At Ordination service for Trevan Osborn.
Is the "Headship Principle" Biblical?
- Seminary, part 1: On the Unique Headship of Christ in the Church: A Statement of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. August 21, 2014
- Seminary, part 2: An Open Appeal ... to the Faculty of the SDA Seminary, by Steven Bohr, Gerard Damsteegt and 23 others. Argues that seminary statement should have endorsed headship theology.
- Seminary, part 3: Seminary's response to Open Appeal . . . . "
- TOSC Final Report - This report is mostly a thorough discussion of the arguments for and against the male headship doctrine.
- Reflections on Scripture: Biblical Study for Ordinary People, A series of articles by Stephen Bauer, Phd., Andrews University
- A Short History of the Doctrine of Headship in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, (PDF, Kindle, ePub, etc), by Gerry Chudleigh, 2014.
- Headship, Submission, and Equality in Scripture, by Richard M. Davidson, Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament Theology, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary (PDF)
- Eve's Higher Sphere Hopes, by Phillip Brantley
Is it Biblical to Ordain Women to Ministry? (see also video, above)
A. Recent Studies on Women in Ministry
- Report of North American Division Study Committee, presented at 2013 NAD Year End Meetings
- Let the Women be Silent, by Dave Gemmell. Published by the North American Division Ministerial Department.
- Why I Changed my Mind about Women's Ordination, by Steven N. Allred, pastor of the Yuba City Seventh-day Adventist Church. (PDF), Oct. 2014
B. The following papers were written before the current discussion regarding ordinations without regard to gender. The inclusion of these papers here does not imply that the authors do (or do not) support the action of unions to approve ordinations without regard to gender.
- Ordination of Women: A Hermeneutical Question, By: John Brunt, Ph.D., senior pastor, Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church. (PDF)
- Women, Culture and Christ: Hearing Scripture Yesterday and Today, by Ivan Blazen, Ph.D.,
- Women in Scripture:, by Jo Ann Davidson, Ph.D., professor, Adventist Theological Seminary (PDF)
- The Jerusalem Council, by Andrew Bates, Ministry Magazine, 1995
- Yes, The Bible Supports the Ordination/Commissioning of Women as Pastors and Local Church Elders, (a handout), by Richard M. Davidson, Ph.D., Professor of Old Testament Theology, Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary (.doc)
- No, the Bible Does Not Support Ordination/commissioning of Women as Pastors and Local Church Elders, from Adventists Affirm.
History of Seventh-day Adventist Women in Ministry
- Women and the SDA Church, by Bert Haloviak, Seminar at Sligo Church, Oct 15, 1988
- Ordination: Disentangling the Gordian Knot, by Kendra Haloviak Valentine (PDF). Includes brief summary of IRS issues.
- Records Pertaining to Ellen G. White's Ministerial/Ordination Credentials, Ellen White Estate, October, 2012
- The Campbellite and Mrs. White, by Gerry Chudleigh. From Pacific Union Recorder, July, 2012
- What Haskell Said, by Denis Fortin, Ph.D., Dean of the Andrews University Theological Seminar. From the Pacific Union Recorder, July 2012
- Ellen White and the Australasian Women, by Bert Haloviak (large PDF)
- Your Daughters Shall Prophesy, by Beverly Beem and Ginger-Hanks Harwood (PDF)
- Called by God: Stories of Seventh-day Adventist Women Ministers, by Josephine Benton. This book is displayed here by permission of AdventSource. All Rights Reserved. (large PDF)
- Adventist Women Preachers, by Lester Devine, director emeritus of the Ellen G White/Adventist Research Centre at Avondale College of Higher Education.
- "Candid Investigation Necessary to an Understanding of the Truth" by Ellen White, 1890.
- Jan Paulsen, former GC president addresses 2012 Annual Council
- "Women ... Needed in the Great Work of Preaching the Truth," by Ricardo Graham, Pacific Union Recorder, June 2012
- Following the Heart of Jesus, by Ricardo Graham, Pacific Union Recorder, July 2012
- Our Praise Shall Ascend, by Ricardo Graham, Pacific Union Recorder, July 2012
- A Pastor's Perspective, by Alfonso Valenzuela, senior pastor, Campus Hill church, Loma Linda, Calif.
GC Statements and Study Committee (2012-14)
General Conference 2015
GC Statements of Concern
- NEW, Video: "What might have been can be," Feb. 2015, GC Reformation and Revival Committee
- NEW, Historical background of GC Video: "What might have been and what actually was," by Gerry Chudleigh, Mar. 21, 2015
- NEW, Lo que pudo haber sido y lo que realmente fuedurante la Sesión de la Conferencia General de 1901, Por Gerry Chudleigh, 18 de marzo, 2015
- The General Conference and It's Divisions, published by General Conference, April 12, 2012 (.doc)
- An Appeal for Unity in Respect to Ministerial Ordination Practices, from GC president's office, June 27, 2012 (PDF) At GC request this document was supplied to all delegates to special session.
- General Conference Response to Pacific Union decision to ordain without regard to gender (August 19, 2012)
- General Conference statement voted at 2012 Annual Council (after Columbia Union and Pacific Union begin ordaining without regard to gender)
- Correspondence regarding 2014 SDA Yearbook. The SDA Yearbook, published by the General Conference, is an official directory of employees and organizations of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The president of the Southeastern California Conference is Sandra Roberts, but the 2014 Yearbook shows a blank line where the president's name should be. Following is the correspondence related to that ommission.
GC and Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee Reports
- Report of North American Division Study Committee, presented at 2013 NAD Year End Meetings
- General Conference Study Committee Website
- TOSC Final Report
- TOSC published papers
- TOSC papers, June 2014
- TOSC papers, January 2014
- TOSC papers, July 2013
- TOSC papers, January 2013
- Symposium on the Role of Women in the Church (Mohaven Papers). Originally studied in 1975. Released by Biblical Research Institute 1985.
Other Links of Interest
- Southeastern California Conference Elects Sandra Roberts as president
- Website: Statement by Dr. Bertil Wiklander, president of the Trans-European Division, on ordination, Sept. 10, 2013.
- Website: Danish Union session vote to ordain women, May 12, 2013
- Website: Lake Union Conference website on ordination of women
- Website: North Pacific Union Conference website on ordination of women
- Website: Columbia Union Conference website on ordination of women
- Website: Mid-America Union Conference statement on ordination of women
- Video: Columbia Union Ad Hoc Committee Presentation at Special Session, July 29, 2012
- Trans-European Division's "Statement on Women's Ordination to the Pastoral Ministry," August 25, 2012
- Website: Wikipedia article on the Ordination of Women in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Southern Africa Union Report on the Ordination of Women, July 17, 2014.