September 13, 2012

INBOX -- Letters From Our Readers

2012 1525CalledTogether INBOX
In this special edition of Inbox, the letters below represent a sampling of opinion and thought from a variety of readers who took the time to write us in regard to our coverage of recent meetings on ordination. As always, we welcome your responses.--Editors.

What Does It Mean?
Regarding the article by Mark A. Kellner “On Ordination Questions, General Conference Leadership Appeals for Orderly Process” (July 26, 2012): What does the term ordain mean? The Bible tells of ordaining places (1 Chron. 17:9, KJV), peace (Isa 26:12, KJV), situations (1 Cor. 7:17, KJV), feasts (1 Kings 12:33, KJV), musical instruments (2 Kings 29:27, KJV), duties, things, etc.

If “lesser” things are ordained, let’s keep women infinitely higher.

Caesar Nawalkowski
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada

Response to Coverage of Columbia Union Vote
Though the vote taken was 80 percent for and 20 percent against the gender neutral ordination (see “Columbia Union Votes Gender-Neutral Ordination,” Aug. 16, 2012), I do not expect the world church to be in unity on this subject matter, because of cultural differences. I have been an Adventist for more than 45 years, and I have followed the controversial issue over time. We, as a church, have studied the matter both theologically and historically and have found no basis for denying female pastors the privilege of organization into the gospel ministry. I truly believe the brethren are in denial that there cultural differences here. North America, Europe, and Australia believe in equality for women. This is not true in some parts of the world field, where women are considered second-class citizens with no rights. As a church we cannot change the mentality of other cultures when it comes to theological thinking when it is part of their culture norms.

Most of us North American Adventists are educated and well-read on the subject—we know that glossing over the results of what we already know is the true fact is counterproductive, even trying to be politically correct when it serves no purpose.

We are living in the twenty-first century, and God’s work needs to go on with the ordination of both men and women who are qualified and trained to carry on the ministry of the church.

Duane Sandvick
San Diego, California

I was saddened by news that the Columbia Union Conference has voted in favor of gender neutrality in ordination of pastors despite the appeals from General Conference leaders to postpone their action. Their decision may well come back to haunt them. . . . The argument that the Bible doesn’t specifically forbid the ordination of women is reminiscent of what took place in the gradual change from Sabbathkeeping to Sundaykeeping keeping. Ellen White wrote: “Rome began by enjoining what God had not forbidden, and she ended by forbidding what He had explicitly enjoined” (The Great Controversy, p. 290).

The Columbia Union is now leading out in a maverick movement that may well fragment our whole church organization. The confusion over the roles of the sexes that God assigned to each since the beginning shows how unreasonable political correctness has become. . . .

May God give us the “spirit of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7, KJV).

Floyd Sayler
Oliver, British Columbia, Canada

I hope that the “gender-inclusive ordination war” will not be allowed to be played out on the pages of the Adventist Review. Those who call for church unity should not lead by being polemic.

Dan Martella
Windsor, California

Why is a commission busy with the topic of women ordination to the ministry?

The Columbia Union Conference talks about unity in the church; still it decides to follow its own way. Does unity mean integrity? Does it mean undivided and unbroken? Does it mean oneness?

I am not against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, but there should be patience and respect.
Brethren, as you sow so shall you reap (see Gal. 6:7, 8). In my humble way of seeing things, the Columbia Union decided to sow disunity, so they will reap the aftermath.

In my country there is a widely-known saying: “Soup prepared in a rush, in the end, will be salty.”

Thank You, Jesus, that when You asked Your Father if He was willing to take away the cup, You also said: “Not My will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Norman R. Boekhoudt

I am saddened by the vote of Columbia Union for gender-neutral ordinations in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as reported in the Review. I strongly suggest every Seventh-day Adventist find a copy of the book, The Tip of an Iceberg, written by C. Raymond Holmes in 1994. The author explains very clearly and in depth from Scripture about this subject, and we definitely should take our direction from God’s Word. Pray church, pray, for unity in our church worldwide.

Marge Nyhagen
College Place, Washington

Gender Neutrality
The Adventist Review, the “general paper of the Seventh-day Adventist Church” and the flagship journal of the church, offered a neutral approach to the action the Columbia Union Conference took on July 29, 2012. The words of the president of the General Conference asking the delegates not to move forward were not quoted and in four lines the article shows that he cares “about matters of conscience.” The article ends with nine lines quoting a delegate who was “so proud” of having “voted on the right side of history.” It is my opinion that the “general paper” should have sided with the action taken by a General Conference in session.

Carlos Martin
Collegedale, Tennessee

I was sad to hear there might be a split of some conferences from the General Conference over the ordination, or not ordination, of women pastors. I will add my opinion on this issue, based on Scripture.

What did God say was the original plan on Creation? The original plan is always the right plan. God created the universe, not only very good, but perfect (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). What was God’s original plan for woman? God created both male and female in His own image (Gen. 1:27). Woman was to complement man with the skills God have to her and be his help meet (Gen. 1:20).

What does a help meet do? He, or she, helps. It’s as simple as that.

Joe Cobb
Greenwood, Mississippi

Has all the Seventh-day Adventist Church just received official light from the heavenly throne of the universe to now ordain chosen or called women to the gospel ministry? No! Our God has not turned on the green light showing that we are now to go ahead and ordain women. Jesus set an example by choosing 12 men to be gospel ministers.

Does this mean women can’t preach? No! Do they have to be ordained to preach? No! Men and women, stop rebelling against God. Let’s focus in every way possible on our preparation and the preparation of others for Jesus’ very soon coming!

Paul Emerson
Ojai, California

There is tension between the strong and the weak, but must the strong always defer to the weak? When does the weak become strong? Why does the call for unity require those of different thoughts to conform to the other position?

Unity that seeks uniformity in every way is not good. Diversity within unity is good; consider how much variety God created in nature, even within the same species.

When does the church realize that culture cannot dictate nor hold back the church’s movement? When does the church realize that what works in one part of the world isn’t best for another part of the globe?

Why are women in the United States, who are employed in every available kind of job and at every level of employment, to be held back because other cultures are not ready for women to receive equal recognition and pay for equal work? Why must I, a woman, give my tithe and offerings, my time and talents, and support a church that treats me as a second-class member of the family of God?

Salvation is gender-neutral; so must be the review of those who seek to affirm those whom God has called and chosen.

The time has come for the Adventist Church to move on—let local cultures determine (as they struggle with) when is the (if there is a) right time to accept that women are colaborers with Christ in the work of warning the world of a soon-coming Savior. Let’s move on to unite under the Holy Spirit to do the His work—now that is unity. (Even then, there is diversity in how He wants us to do His work! Go figure!)

Judith Warren Hawkins
Tallahassee, Florida

I belong to a small church in Florida. Most of our members are very laid-back, but they don’t think that a woman should teach a Sabbath school class on Sabbath. We have a very nice woman in our church who is very smart and good with children, and she knows her Bible well.

The two teachers who have the class told her that women don’t teach men, and she was very hurt. So I wrote an article about God and our talents in the local paper. Most of the members agreed with it. But some of the men are afraid of losing class members.

Could you please print an article about women in our church who teach and preach? Thank you!

Ernie Porter
Inverness, Florida

“Salvation is gender neutral; so must be the review of those who seek to affirm those whom God has called and chosen.”
                                                                                      —Judith Warren Hawkins, Tallahassee, Florida