Our praise shall ascend

By Ricardo Graham

“We are witnesses for God as we reveal in ourselves the working of a power that is divine. Every individual has a life distinct from all others, and an experience differing essentially from theirs. God desires that our praise shall ascend to Him, marked by our own individuality. These precious acknowledgements to the praise of the glory of His grace, when supported by a Christ-like life, have an irresistible power that works for the salvation of souls” (Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, page 347).

Everywhere I travel in this union, I see examples of those inspired words being fulfilled in our churches and in the lives of our members. On some blogs and websites, it appears that there is a huge issue over exactly how the church affirms the ministry of men and women, but out where the mission of God is being done — where pastors and chaplains preach God’s Word, pray for the sick, and minister to the bereaved; where members help neighbors in need, and where we worship together, the bounds of race, culture, age, income — and gender — fail to divide us. We are united in our commitment to the saving message of Jesus Christ, and the compelling call to devote our lives whole-heartedly to fulfilling the gospel commission.

I don’t know what the delegates to the special constituency meeting on Aug. 19 will vote, but I am pursuaded that what we do will be driven by our love for God and our commitment to doing His will. At that meeting, our sisterhood of churches in the Pacific Union will consider very small, but mission-critical, changes to our bylaws. I believe the changes that our bylaws committee has suggested will help us fulfill the Lord’s bidding here in the Pacific Union. This is an important step for us to take, not just for the immediate discussion surrounding the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, but for power and creativity and effectiveness in all that we are called to do.

I believe that our executive committee has responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Christ asks us to give tangible meaning to the sacred calling that the Apostle Paul first articulated to the Galatian church: “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28, KJV).

We are compelled by nothing less than the sacred mission we have been chosen to fulfill. If you are a delegate to the constituency meeting, please join me in praying for our time together, even as I am praying for each of you. If you are a member of our sisterhood of churches, please be bold in presenting to our Heavenly Father our greatest desire: to better understand and fulfill the sacred commission that we are called to in our lives and in our churches.