The Real Issue: Hint--It's Not Ted Wilson

From the way some people talk (or write), one would think that Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was Hitler, Napoleon, or even the pope!

Accusations and allegations have flown faster than the speed of light from those eager to discredit, marginalize, and skewer the man they believe to be the cause of all their troubles.

Elder Wilson, they claim, is a misogynist who is trying to destroy the church through his dictatorial proclamations, manipulation, and “kingly power”—or worse. We could go on listing the defamations used in this smear campaign . . . but why bother? Let’s finally call it what it is—a distraction from the real issue.

What is the real issue?

What is it that various leadership voices in certain parts of Europe and North America, including the Pacific and Columbia Unions, the North Pacific and Mid-America Unions, the Iowa-Missouri Conference, along with safely-retired professors and authors have been clamoring for? The ordination of women to the gospel ministry.

world map.jpg

GREEN – Unions that have not approved women pastors for ordination to the gospel ministry

YELLOW – Unions who have voted to non-differentiate the ministerial credentials granted to men and women

 RED – Unions that have approved women pastors for ordination to the gospel ministry

US Map.png

For years, indeed decades, this issue has festered within the church, without apparent resolution. This, in spite of THREE votes by General Conference Sessions regarding the issue.

This, friends, is what some would like to distract you from. In spite of loud and persistent voices claiming otherwise, the church has decided, three times in a world church session, not to ordain women to the gospel ministry.

False allegations have been made against the 2015 San Antonio vote and the 1990 and 1995 votes are being ignored. Furthermore, the 2015 vote only affirmed and broadened the previous votes.

The Votes

  • 1990 General Conference Session voted the following recommendation:

“. . . in view of the widespread lack of support for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry in the world church and in view of the possible risk of disunity, dissension, and diversion from the mission of the church, we do not approve ordination of women to the gospel ministry.” (1,173 Yes, 377 No) See 1990 GC Bulletin, No. 7, p. 15:

  • The 1995 General Conference Session voted down the request from the North American Division to adopt the following provision on ordination (673 Yes, 1,481 No).

“The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committees take specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions.” See 1995 GC Bulletin, No. 8, p. 30

   

  • The 2015 General Conference Session voted the following answer to the question put to the Session (977 Yes, 1,381 No):    

“After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the reports of the study commissions, and after your careful consideration of what is best for the church and the fulfillment of its mission, is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No?” See: 2015 GC Bulletin, No . pp. 68, 72

 

Clearly, the 1990 Session voted not to ordain women to the gospel ministry. The 1995 Session voted not to allow a variance for the North American Division to ordain women to the gospel ministry, and the 2015 Session voted not to allow any division to ordain women to the gospel ministry.

 

No Rebellion?

Some leaders claim, on the one hand, that there is no rebellion, but on the other hand they threaten to withhold their division’s tithe from the General Conference should any action be taken against them for directly going against these votes of the General Conference in Session.

 While this is likely not a complete list, here are some direct actions against the world church in session that have taken place since 1995 to the present:

September 23, 1995

Ordination of Kendra Haloviak Valentine to the Gospel Ministry, Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

 September 23, 1995

Ordination of Norma Osborn to the Gospel Ministry, Sligo, Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

December 2, 1995

Ordination of Halcyon Westphal Wilson to the Gospel Ministry, La Sierra, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

December 2, 1995

Ordination of Madelynn Jones-Haldeman to the Gospel Ministry, La Sierra, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

December 2, 1995

Ordination of Sheryl Prinz-McMillan to the Gospel Ministry, Victoria Seventh-day Adventist Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

 March 8, 2012

Mid-America Union Executive Committee votes “to support ordination of women to pastoral ministry.”

March 22, 2012

The Executive Committee of the Southeastern California Conference voted “to remove the term ‘Ordained-Commissioned’ and replace it with the term ‘Ordained’ on all ministerial credentials, regardless of the gender of the credential holder.”

 April, 2012

Chris Oberg, previously “ordained-commissioned,” receives ordination credentials from the Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

April 23, 2012

The North German Union voted to ordain women to the Gospel Ministry.

 July 29, 2012

Columbia Union Conference voted, against the model constitution, to authorize the ordination of women to the Gospel Ministry.

 July, 2012

Jennifer Deans, previously commissioned, receives ordination credentials from the Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

August 19, 2012

Pacific Union Conference voted, against its constitution, to authorize the ordination of women to the Gospel Ministry.

September 5, 2012

Raewyn Hankins, previously “ordained-commissioned,” is recognized as ordained by the Pacific Union Conference.

 September 29, 2012

Ordination of Debbie Eisele to the Gospel Ministry, Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

October 6, 2012

Ordination of Marlene Ferraras to the Gospel Ministry, Loma Linda University, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.       

October 6, 2012

Ordination of Genevieve Koh Isidro to the Gospel Ministry, Loma Linda University, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.           

 October 26, 2012

Ordination of Maria Carmen Ibañez to the Gospel Ministry, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

November 5, 2012

Pacific Union Executive Committee approved 12 women for ordination to the gospel ministry who were previously commissioned. From Northern California Conference: Marit Case, Mary Maxson, Norma Osborn, Jessica Richmond; from Southeastern California Conference: Raewyn Hankins, Andrea Trusty King, Jacqueline Lynch, Chris Oberg, Halcyon Wilson, Maria Carmen Ibanez, Audray Johnson, Sandra Roberts.

 November 8, 2012

Columbia Union Executive Committee approved 16 women for ordination to the Gospel Ministry. The women include Allegheny East Conference’s Rosa Taylor Banks, Brenda Billingy, Paula Olivier and Lisa Smith-Reid; Ohio Conference’s Linda Farley, Lori Farr, Sandra Pappenfus and Carmen Seibold; and Potomac’s Karen L. Cress, Sharon Cress, Jennifer Deans, Debbie Eisele, Cherilyn O’Ffill and Sonia Perez. The vote included emeritus credentials for Chesapeake Conference’s Charlotte McClure and Josephine Benton.

December 8, 2012

Marit Case, ordained to the Gospel Ministry, Carmichael church, Northern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

January 5, 2013

Ordination of Brenda Billingy to the Gospel Ministry, Metropolitan Church, Allegheny East Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

February 2, 2013

Ordination of Ginger Harwood Hanks to the Gospel Ministry, La Sierra University Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

February 16, 2013

Ordination of Josephine Benton to the Gospel Ministry, Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church, Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

 May 30, 2013

The Netherlands Union Executive Committee votes “ . . . the Netherlands Union Conference will no longer differentiate between male and female pastors as of June 1, 2013. All pastors, irrespective of their gender, will be “consecrated” (Dutch, ingezegend) pastors. When reporting to the world church, the Netherlands Union Conference will list all pastors as being 'ordained.'”

 August 19, 2013

Linda Farley ordained to the Gospel Ministry, Worthington, Ohio Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

 August 19, 2013

Lori Farr ordained to the Gospel Ministry, Worthington, Ohio Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

August 19, 2013

Sandra Pappenfus ordained to the Gospel Ministry, Worthington, Ohio Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

 August 19, 2013

Carmen Seibold ordained to the Gospel Ministry, Worthington, Ohio Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

 September 21, 2013

Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie ordained to the Gospel Ministry, Christus Koning church in the Hague, Netherlands Union, TED.

 October 27, 2013

Election of Sandra Roberts as conference president, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

November 16, 2013

Ordination of Hazel Burns to the Gospel Ministry and bestowing of (Retired) Ordained Minister Credentials to her, Kettering church, Ohio Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

November 16, 2013

Ordination of Margaret Turner to the Gospel Ministry and bestowing of (Retired) Ordained Minister Credentials to her, Kettering church, Ohio Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

December 13, 2014

Ordination of Pranitha Fielder to the Gospel Ministry, Sligo, Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

May 10, 2015

The Berlin-Central German Conference constituency session voted to implement women's ordination. 

 August 23, 2015

The Swedish Union Executive Committee voted to refrain from ordaining or commissioning any of its pastors.

September 20, 2015

Norwegian Union Executive Committee voted to discontinue the practice of ministerial ordination.

October 20, 2015

The Washington Conference Executive Committee votes a “Mission-Focused Leadership Policy” allowing female commissioned ministers to perform all of the same functions of male ordained ministers.

 October 22, 2015

The Oregon Conference Executive Committee votes a similar policy to that of the Washington Conference.

December 19, 2015

Ordination of Shirley Ponder to the Gospel Ministry, Loma Linda University Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

February 27, 2016

Ordination of Sara-May Colón to the Gospel Ministry, Garden Grove Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

March 26, 2016

Ordination of Patricia Marruffo to the Gospel Ministry, Azure Hills Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

June 24, 2017

Ordination of Beverly Maravilla to the Gospel Ministry, La Sierra Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

March 3, 2018

Ordination of Renee Stepp to the Gospel Ministry, Williamsburg, Virginia Church, Potomac Conference, Columbia Union, NAD.

 September 22, 2018

Ordination of Shawna Campbell to the Gospel Ministry, Loma Linda University Church, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

October 7, 2018

Re-Election of Sandra Roberts as conference president, Southeastern California Conference, Pacific Union, NAD.

    

What Now?

 It’s clear, from their words and actions, that certain leaders within the North American Division and some parts of Europe, often completely out of step with church members in their territories, have no intention of abiding by the three votes of the General Conference in Session. And for trying to bring them into compliance, Elder Wilson, and anyone who supports the compliance process, is villainized.

While another entire article could be written addressing “Conscience over Compliance,” suffice it to say that the Bible and Ellen White are both clear when it comes to the limitations of relying upon one’s conscience alone.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”  asks the Lord in Jeremiah 17:9.

“The idea is entertained by many that a man may practice anything that he conscientiously believes to be right,” writes Ellen White. “But the question is, Has the man a well-instructed, good conscience, or is it biased and warped by his own preconceived opinions?  . . . Consciences do not all harmonize and are not all inspired alike. Some consciences are dead, seared as with a hot iron. Men may be conscientiously wrong as well as conscientiously right. Paul did not believe in Jesus of Nazareth, and he hunted the Christians from city to city, verily believing that he was doing service to God.”[1]

Serious Actions

Votes at a General Conference Session do not come quickly. Before ever reaching the floor of the Session, items have gone through numerous committees, often representing many hours of study and discussion. The recommendations dealing with women’s ordination came to the Sessions only after much study and consideration. They were not simply rubber-stamping policy votes.

To not follow what has been voted in a GC Session is a very serious action on the part of church leaders. It puts church governance in question and undermines their own authority. It threatens the unity of the church throughout the world and can easily lead into congregationalism.

Unions Demonstrating Defiance Towards The World Church:

world map.jpg

GREEN – Unions that have not approved women pastors for ordination to the gospel ministry

YELLOW – Unions who have voted to non-differentiate the ministerial credentials granted to men and women.

 RED – Unions that have approved women pastors for ordination to the gospel ministry.

 NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION

NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION

SUMMARY Table:

 Entity                                2017 Membership                        Total                                              

World Church                            20,727,347

Columbia Union Conference          152,482                    30 women ordained

Pacific Union Conference               226,731              27 women ordained

Mid-America Union Conference       64,838       

N. German Union Conference          19,321       

Netherlands Union of Churches         6,002                  1 woman ordained

Swedish Union of Churches                2,914       

Norwegian Union Conference            4,535       

North Pacific Union Conference     101,909       

Total membership of defiant unions/union of churches: 578,732 (2.79% of world membership)

Conclusion

Now is the time for the General Conference Executive Committee, the highest governing authority of the Seventh-day Adventist Church between General Conference sessions, to take responsibility in bringing swift, decided action against those who are perpetuating discord and disunity by disregarding and working against the express will of the entire world church, as expressed through the voted actions referenced above of the 1990, 1995, and 2015 General Conference Sessions.

We urge everyone to pray earnestly for God to intervene on behalf of His Church and work in a mighty way to bring the harmony and unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are” (vs. 11).

Amen.

 

[1] Ellen G. White, Mind ,Character, and Personality, vol. 1, p. 322.

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