MICHAEL RYAN: We would like to begin to call our session to order.
I have asked my good friend and a good friend of many here, Elder Calvin Rock, Dr. Calvin Rock, retired, who was a vice president of the world church, to come and have our opening prayer.
CALVIN ROCK: [Prayer.]
MICHAEL RYAN: Today we have come to take up the business of the theology of ordination item that was voted by the delegates as part of the official agenda.
I realize that as we look at the history of the church over the past 40+ years, this comes to us today as an item and a road that we have walked before. It is not a new item.
We want to take every opportunity to show respect to people who may be of a different opinion than we are. We want to have a sweet spirit fill this house. And there are things that mitigate against that. And I want to mention them briefly. And I will not only appeal to the delegates who are seated on the floor, but I am making this appeal to those who are also seated as observers. We are not encouraging an applause for any type of speech that is on the floor.
You should know that as comments would become personal, pointed at someone else, comments made about someone else’s opinion, I will interrupt you and remind you that you need to address the chair and make your comments about your opinion, not the opinion of someone else.
We have come today to hear the voice of the world church, and it is so important that in every presentation that is made we show that respect to each other.
Today we are here to enter into this agenda item as a sequenced series of events. We voted that sequence. I will follow it. There will come a moment when we will open the floor for discussion, but that will be after we place several things before the body.
And so I think to position this properly before the body, we need to quickly go through a short process.
Now, you need to know that one of the major objectives of today is to have as many people as possible stand behind the microphone and give their opinion, and I will be making a few comments about that a little bit later. But right now I want to move into a sequence of events that places the item before the body and gives a little orientation to the group on this issue.
And so to begin this sequence of events, Elder Wilson is going to provide an introduction to this and provide a history that gives us some concept of where this item has traveled in the church.
Elder Wilson, please come and share with us those items.
TED N. C. WILSON: What a privilege it is to meet together at this sixtieth General Conference session to hear reports and to do business and to carry on these activities that are so essential.
That beautiful song that we heard just before the beginning of the proceedings, “I Give You Jesus”: My dear friends, today in our activities and our discussion, may that song, “I Give You Jesus,” ring in our minds and hearts, for may everything we do glorify Jesus.
There’s a group here that I want to introduce before we get into an explanation about this particular topic. This group is presenting Jesus. This group is following the beautiful lyrics of that song, “I Give You Jesus.” And I thought that this morning it would be an appropriate time to introduce a group of young people, young people who are involved in frontline evangelism, young people from the Trans-European Division, from the Inter-European Division, from the South Pacific Division, and the Inter-American Division. And for the past two weeks this group, 200 young people, have been preaching God’s Word in a two-week evangelistic series held in partnership with local congregations in the great country of Mexico.
These young people are now to return home with a renewed sense of our message and our mission and with a greater commitment to share Jesus, “I Give You Jesus.” I know that their lives will never be the same again. And in our discussion today, which is part of our church activity, our ultimate goal for everything we do is the mission of giving Jesus to the world.
And so I would like this group, which is part of the Share Him group, to stand wherever you are. I think they’re all seated over there. Let’s give them a wonderful round of applause.
Thank you, young people, on behalf of the world church. We are so excited you are going back home filled with the zeal of evangelism. God bless you in this work.
Brother Chair, I want to thank you for the opportunity to give an introduction to this agenda item relating to the theology of ordination. Our heartfelt desire is that the Holy Spirit will be in control of all that we do and say and the outcome of the discussion. People have been praying earnestly, and we need to be in a spirit of prayer today as we share and as we vote.
We also want a very open and fair discussion.
As with our discussion in the 2014 Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, we want a very open and fair discussion so that delegates will feel free to comment on any aspect of this subject and not feel limited.
When the motion is presented, you can comment on what is on your heart.
In our discussion I hope that all will respect the rights of individuals, as our chair has already indicated: the rights to express yourself and to allow for the entire time that has been allotted for discussion.
We have set aside this entire day for this subject. I am hoping—and I say this with all humility and with an earnestness; we cannot dictate, we cannot force, but I am appealing to you—that no one will use parliamentary process to cut off debate on this subject by moving the previous question. We can’t force anyone not to do that. I am appealing to you. We have set aside this entire day and a majority or a good portion of the day for discussion. Please allow for discussion.
If no one is standing at the microphones, no one is there to speak, yes, then let’s call the question. But please allow people to kindly discuss.
Please don’t try to table the motion. Let’s let discussion take place within the allotted time period that will continue until approximately 4:30 this afternoon, which was indicated in our agenda acceptance when Pastor Ng introduced our agenda on Thursday.
I’m hoping that if any attempt to limit discussion is somehow placed on the floor, this body will turn that down and allow for full discussion. It’s up to you. We can’t control people, but let’s have the appropriate amount of discussion.
We’ve come here to kindly, charitably, and respectfully discuss this item during the full time of discussion provided for until the voting.
Also, I say this with great respect, and it may be attempted, but I hope that no one will come with an amendment to the motion.
I can’t control that. The chair can’t control that. If you do that, that’s your right. But I’m asking and appealing that you not try to amend the motion. And I’ll explain that just a little bit later.
A very careful approach has been taken to place this motion before the body. And of course delegates have the right to do what they would like to do, but I ask and appeal to you that we will have full discussion on the motion.
We will be doing things by secret ballot and according to those who have badges. Badges are important today so that you can verify that you are a delegate.
But I want to make this statement: Every delegate is to vote his or her own conscience after studying the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy, and various materials, and listening to the impressions of the Holy Spirit. Others can certainly share their opinions with each other, and they can share comments. But your vote should be yours and yours alone, according to your conscience, guided by the Holy Spirit. That’s why we’ll have a secret ballot, and no one will know what you vote except for you and Heaven.
This is a sacred responsibility. It’s a vote between you and God.
Let’s pray for G
od’s guidance today as we show a calm spirit, even as we share our deeply felt convictions.
Let’s not direct our remarks against people, but rather, speak directly to the issue itself.
As delegates, church members, men and women of God, let’s claim the promise of James 1:19, which says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
The General Conference and various committees have studied this subject since the early seventies or even before. The historical documents and papers related to so much of this subject have been appropriately identified and posted on the Web site of the General Conference Secretariat’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research at Adventistarchives.org. That is where many of you have found the Final Theology of Ordination Study Committee materials and other related documents that have been produced over the past three years or so.
During the General Conference session on July 11, 1990, the session addressed the question as to the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, responding to a recommendation that came from the 1989 Annual Council that the church not move ahead with that process. The 1990 General Conference session delegates voted and agreed with that recommendation, and the current position that we have was maintained.
In 1995 the issue was again addressed at the General Conference session in Utrecht in the Netherlands. On July 5, 1995, the General Conference session received a request from the North American Division that was passed on to the session.
Now, here is a nuance that needs to be understood. There was no recommendation from the 1994 Annual Council to the General Conference session. It was simply to pass on a request from the North American Division that the General Conference invest in each division the right to authorize ordination of individuals without regard to gender. The 1995 General Conference session decided not to accept the request and to maintain the current position of the world church.
Then at the most recent General Conference session, in 2010 in Atlanta, a delegate raised the question about our lack of a theology of ordination. It was not a motion that was made. It was simply a question raised on the floor.
We never voted anything at the 2010 session of the General Conference, but we heard the plea of that delegate. We took that item to our Steering Committee, and then we indicated that we would take that request and would come back with a response.
After the Steering Committee had considered the request, we indicated the next day that there would be an attempt to bring about an understanding of what our theology of ordination was. Earlier in this quinquennium, the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, known as TOSC, was composed of individuals who have convictions on both sides of the question, most of whom were not administrators. There were a few administrators on TOSC who were nominated or suggested by their divisions, and the three executive officers of the General Conference were also members.
Many of the individuals on TOSC came from the North American Division. There were also two representatives from each of the divisions. In addition, there were biblical research committees of each division involved, and they entered their comments and thoughts into the process.
TOSC met two times in 2013 and two times in 2014, with many papers presented and discussions taking place. We thank the members of TOSC who took so much of their time to listen, to study, to present, and to pray. And we will spend time praying today, as you have seen in our agenda. We want to allow God to influence our minds as to what He wants us to do.
Prior to the 2014 Annual Council of the Executive Committee, reports from TOSC were well circulated so that every member of the Executive Committee and invitees would receive appropriate reports and information. It was not a hidden document, and we encouraged members all over the world to access this information and to study and pray about this subject.
Today we will be hearing brief synopses of each of the positions that are found in the TOSC report, just after Pastor Artur Stele, who was the chair of TOSC, shares a brief review of TOSC and other past studies.
After the reading of the three synopses by the business session secretary, we will hear the reading of the Consensus Statement of the Theology of Ordination, which came from TOSC and was voted and endorsed by the 2014 Annual Council. That statement, a “Consensus Statement on a Seventh-day Adventist Theology of Ordination,” is not being brought here for any discussion or for a vote by the General Conference session, but simply as information. It was voted at the 2014 Annual Council, and it is terminal with that council.
Allow me to tell you how we came to the process conducted at the 2014 Annual Council.
Senior officers from the General Conference and the divisions prayerfully and carefully considered how to approach this item. There were differing opinions and still are. People were absolutely free to express their opinions. However, as we worked together, as we prayed together, we began to see how perhaps we could address this particular question.
A recommendation was brought to the group we call the General Conference and division officers. The three officers of each division and the three officers of our attached union and a few others make up this group, including the General Conference officers.
That group considered a recommendation brought to them in a prayerful process. There was a sweet, Christlike spirit in our meeting. A recommendation without any dissenting person was voted in General Conference and division officers, to be brought to the 2014 Annual Council. The recommendation from the General Conference and division officers was discussed at the 2014 Annual Council and was overwhelmingly approved to be brought to the 2015 General Conference session to you.
It important that you understand what Pastor Ng is going to be giving to you as the motion. The motion that was passed at the Annual Council coming here is a nonweighted, neutral question. The General Conference session owns this question, having considered it twice in the past. Pastor Ng will present that motion to you to then be discussed, a neutral question upon which you must decide “Yes” or “No.”
I just wanted you to know the process that was taken and the beautiful spirit that we saw during the 2014 Annual Council process. We do not have, as the Israelites did, the Urim and the Thummim, in which God would either brighten or cloud a stone so that people could understand the response to a question. We do not have the hovering cloud over the tabernacle or the pillar of fire. We do not have the shekinah glory in the most holy place. We do not have a living prophet. What we do have is what the Spirit of Prophecy indicates.
When the General Conference is in session, it has authority, and in some cases it indicates highest authority. Whatever this body votes, after prayerful consideration and review, one way or the other, I pledge to uphold that decision.
I ask each of you to do the same. We need to be open to what God wants. That’s why we have felt it important to place a question before the highest body of authority, which is you, the General Conference in session, since every one of us has a sacred responsibility when we come to this General Conference session.
So, Brother Chairman, thank you for the privilege to address this session. I also want to assure you that during this process we have attempted to be open and fair as much as possible. Although we have our own personal convictions, we need to be open to God’s leading.
Let’s have full respect for each other and speak with the kindest tones in Christlikeness and respect for each other. Let’s not deride or denigrate anyone. Let those listening and watching, those who are not delegates, those who are watching through electronic means, those who will
hear, let them say, “I am proud to belong to the Seventh-day Adventist Church that allows the Holy Spirit to lead us.”
Brother Chairman, in closing, I want to reserve the right and opportunity to have our former General Conference president, Pastor Jan Paulsen, to speak sometime during the discussion at your discretion.
I also would request the opportunity to make a statement at your discretion. As we go into this process, I will be praying. And I ask each of you to pray.
Thank you for your kind, considerate, Christian courtesy and cooperation. May the Holy Spirit truly be in this place and lead us in this process.
Again, your discussion and your decision will be based upon your personal study of the Bible, the Spirit of Prophecy and related materials, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. There is an enormous mission and role ahead for God’s remnant church. That role is now opening before us as we take our prophetic place in history, to proclaim Revelation 14 and Revelation 18, which I might indicate was one of the chapters for us to read today in Revived by His Word. We are to proclaim the loud cry of the third angel and accompanied by the fourth angel. Let us unite in Christ and His
John 17 wish, that we may be one in Him to accomplish His final plans for the salvation of humanity. Through the Holy Spirit’s power, He will use you and me as a united church.
Arise! Shine! Jesus is coming!
MICHAEL RYAN: I heard some of you applauding. I realize we were talking about things that we all solidly embrace, but I do want to make mention of that.
Now we are going to enter into a time that is the most important time we’re going to spend on this item. Many times we have moments of prayer, and we invite the body to pray. But I hope that we can recognize the gravity of the issue before us and that it is only from a divine source that we are really going to receive true direction.
And I want us to take some time and pray today. We’re going to do this a couple of times. And I would request that we certainly pray for direction. But I would request that we would pray for a sweet spirit in this house, the respect that we would show to fellow brothers and sisters.
And now I would like for us to form groups of two or three. We will take three or four or five minutes. That’s going to be time well spent. Let’s recognize that our call upon Heaven for direction is a real resource for this church. And so as we enter into this time, let’s do so with the seriousness and appeal to Heaven to really guide and direct us.
Let’s just take some time right now. At the end of that time we will have a prayer. I’m going to ask our secretary, Karen Porter, to pray. Let’s just find two or three people and pray for that sweet spirit to discuss this in respect for each other. Let’s separate now.
Thank you very much for taking that moment, and we’ll do it again.
We believe, probably above many things in this church, in prayer. And what a joy. You can’t imagine what peace it brings when I know that we’re dealing with a group that has its anchor in prayer.
And we want to move on down through the sequence of events that we have on the agenda.
Elder Wilson, do you want to make any comment about the General Conference in session—you have made that statement—being the highest authority. I think it will help this brother concerning the conflict of two previous actions versus the one today.
TED N. C. WILSON: Simply from my understanding, the General Conference can take up items and review items. At our last General Conference session we heard, as I said, a request from the floor. We took that to our Steering Committee, which looks at the agenda items and the progress, and we came back with an assurance that we would look at a theology of ordination, which we did not have. We did not have a written document entitled Theology of Ordination. So that is what we have been working on over the past number of years—actually, during this past quinquennium. That brought us to the situation where a decision would need to be made regarding requests from different divisions or sentiments.
You know, the church is a dynamic and changing church, and so we have to respond to things. I, Brother Chair, do not feel in any way that we are out of order in doing what we’re doing, but, of course, we will leave that to you and to the body. Thank you.
MICHAEL RYAN: We’re going to move into a brief synopsis or review of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee and the past studies that have been done.
Dr. Stele, please give us this review.
ARTUR STELE: I would like, before giving a brief synopsis, to remind ourselves that we are all about mission. In The Acts of the Apostles, I find the following quote: “The church is God’s appointed agency for the salvation of men” [p. 9]. I hope you will not argue here that Ellen White meant here “humanity.” “It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world” [p. 9].
So whatever we do, let it be done having mission in mind. I’m not aware of any other subject that has been studied for so long as the subject we are discussing today. In fact, the first small study committee was established in 1881. Since then, many more commissions have been requested to study the issue. What unites most of these commissions is that most of them finished its work with the same request: “We need to study the subject more.”
However, the Theology of Ordination Study Committee established during this past quinquennium was not given this luxury to finish with the same request. Rather; we have been given the task to study the theology of ordination: then, based on this theology of ordination, study the implications, especially as it relates to the women’s ordination. And if we are able to come up with a consensus, then to present that consensus to the Annual Council.
Then we were given the instruction by the body that organized us: if you are not able to come up with a consensus, you have to provide reports that present the views, but then concentrate on solutions, so that finally we can put an end to the discussion, stop all of the destruction, and return to the main task of our church: mission.
And so a worldwide study has been established. Every division has established a biblical research committee; and then the TOSC was established, a large committee; and the large committee was connected with bridges to every biblical research committee. From every biblical research committee, TOSC had two representatives, and so the information was going back and forth.
We started our study with the aim of achieving a consensus on the subject of theology of ordination.
And today I would like to give glory to God, I would like to praise His name, that in spite of all the differences in opinions, we were able to come up with a short document on the theology of ordination.
If one studies this document very carefully, it really provides the basis for how to move forward. I’m not going to go into the details, because it will be read. And please pay attention to the many details that are in this document. And I’m sure you have already read it.
Because this was the aim of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee: to be open, transparent. And we have decided to put all of the papers, everything that was going on in TOSC, online, to make it available to people; and so you could really participate with us, read it, discuss it, communicate with us.
And I’m sure you have read it, and you have received the final report that was sent to you electronically and also in the hard copy.
This is why I will really make my statements very brief. Praise be to God, as I said, we were able to come up with a document, “Consensus Statement on a Seventh-day Adventist Theology of Ordination.” Then we moved on, and we started to study the issue of women’s ordination.
It was a challenging task. At times, no way out was env
isioned. We were praying. We were studying. We were praying again and studying again.
And the result was that we couldn’t come with a consensus understanding and statement on the issue of women’s ordination. In fact, we had three groups in the Theology of Ordination Study Committee almost equal in size that had different views. The synopsis of their views will be presented today, so I will not go into it.
But one thing I would like to say: All three groups are sincere, faithful Seventh-day Adventists. All three groups treasure the Scriptures. All three groups have tried to base it on Scripture. But unfortunately, different groups have interpreted some passages differently. But I would like us to respect all three groups.
We saw the sincerity, we saw the struggle, we saw the prayers, we saw the fasting, and yet there was no consensus.
Brothers and sisters, in some of my sleepless nights I was thinking and I was praying, “Lord, why can’t we come up with a consensus?” Our pioneers struggled with many theological issues, but they came together. They struggled, they studied, they prayed, and then they came up with a consensus. But we have not.
And I was wondering. And then I almost heard the following: Maybe you are asking the wrong question. Maybe, instead of asking who should be ordained, you should ask, “Lord, how can we recognize those that You have called so that we can ordain them?”
And then the Scriptures provided enough evidence to discover the callings of God. As I said, we will hear the three different views. We have concentrated on the solutions. We have said, “We cannot come together on the understanding of the issue, but how now, with differences of opinion, can we come together and, as one family, move forward?”
We have tried it. We have tried it hard.
We have tested if we would all agree to move in one direction.
We have been a study committee and not a decision-making committee, and so we have not used the voting system. But how to discover if we have a consensus?
So we have to ask the people to take some kind of vote to discover it. Unfortunately, we have not discovered it, although groups 2 and 3, as you have seen in the card, have a similar solution. Because it was a study committee, we aimed at a consensus, which should be at least around 90 percent of support. We had more than 90 percent for the theology of ordination document, but the group committee couldn’t achieve this goal for the solutions. And so we have three different documents, three understandings, and three ways forward.
MICHAEL RYAN: We plan to read a very short synopsis on each of those positions. We’re going to request the secretary to read those short synopses right now.
Karen Porter, please share with us those statements.
KAREN PORTER: These position statements have been prepared by the groups representing these positions, and we will read them exactly as they were given to us.
MICHAEL RYAN: I turn to our secretary to read the “Consensus Statement on a Seventh-day Adventist Theology of Ordination” as it was endorsed by the 2014 Annual Council.
KAREN PORTER: This is an action of Annual Council, so it also requires no action by this body. It is not the business of this session to discuss or edit this document as well. It comes by way of information.
[Read the document.]
MICHAEL RYAN: We’re about ready to have the introduction to the question to be placed before us.
Before we do that, we want to take time to pray again. I’m asking that we just take a moment and pray silently. We’ll take just a minute or two to ask the Lord to be here and to fill this room with His Spirit.
I’m going to now turn to the secretary of the General Conference, Dr. G. T. Ng, to read an introductory statement and place the question before the body.
G. T. NG: The title of the statement is “Theology and Practice of Ministerial Ordination.”
[Read the document.]
[For the full manuscript of those documents as read, go to www.AdventistReview.org.]
RAYMOND HARTWELL (yes): I respectfully ask all of us in God’s world church how we should relate to the following questions. If, in 1911 in the Spirit of Prophecy, Ellen White, in the Review and Herald, May 18, wrote, “In the city of Portland the Lord ordained me as his messenger, and here my first labors were given to the cause of present truth”; and if in the Testimonies, volume 6, page 322, Ellen White wrote, “It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God”; and if in The Acts of the Apostles, pages 161 and 162, Ellen White wrote, “Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification,” it was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointive office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office, “by it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God”
[p. 162]; and if in Joel 2:28 and 29 God’s Word states, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit”; then we must ask ourselves, Is it possible God would have us recognize He is working through the daughters of the Adventist Church?
If our Adventist daughters are being called by the Holy Spirit in these last days to serve the cause of God through the gospel ministry, is it possible we are not honoring God by refusing to recognize the calling of God to the daughters of the Adventist Church and permit divisions to ordain?
DELMAR NAVALLO CARO (no): I’m against it, because you didn’t respect my motion that we first have to deal with the disobedience of the ones that have ordained women before a decision is made at this GC session.
JOHN BRUNT (yes): Many years ago I had a unique opportunity to have a short stint teaching pastors from several countries in the southern part of Africa. Nearby was a beautiful beach. And on hot days that beach, was very inviting, but I never went to that beach, because I could not morally do it. It was a Whites-only beach at that time, and I could not go where my Black brothers and sisters could not go.
For the past 13 years I’ve pastored a church where I’m blessed to have a number of associate pastors; and I have worked with 19 associates: 14 men, five women. I have seen them work together. I’ve seen the Holy Spirit work through them in an equal way, although the five women have had more baptisms than the 14 men.
I know that these women are ordained by God for ministry. They aren’t pushing for ordination. They just want to minister; they don’t care what they’re called. But I care, because my ministry being recognized, affirmed by the world church, in a way that theirs is not makes me feel the same kind of discomfort and uncleanness that I would have felt if I had gone to that beach.
In the early church, when they had a conflict of convictions—and this is a deep moral conviction for me—they achieved unity of mission by allowing for diversity of practice.
They no longer required, but did not forbid, circumcision. If we are biblical, we will do the same and vote “Yes” for mission in unity.
CARLOS STEGER (no): We all are very interested in the unity of the church. Christ prayed for the unity of the church in John 17. But I also find in John 17:17 that Jesus said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” We cannot have unity if we are not united in truth.
The proposal that has been presented, if voted, would disunite the church, and we would not be united by the church. As I understand, the Bible is clear for me. To approve the ordination of women is not according to the Bible, and we will not abide to the t
ruth as it is in God’s Word.
FRANK HASEL (no): In light of the far-reaching implications of the issue before us, I trust that the leadership of our church will deal with the issue of women’s ordination with prudence. And I strongly desire that all of us show the wisdom not to treat this issue as if it were a pillar of our faith or a fundamental belief.
It never has been in the past, it is not now, and it should not be made into one in the future.
Having said this and with this in mind, I would like to address the following aspect. The discussions at the TOSC meetings, of which I was a member, have made it sufficiently clear that the supporters of women’s ordination to pastoral ministry and those who support that women should not serve in such a capacity both based their reasoning not on culture but on Scripture.
If this is the case, how do we effectively preserve the rights of those who, for conscientious reasons, do not support the ordination of women to ministry? If divisions are permitted to make provisions for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry as they deem it appropriate, what do we, for all practical purposes, do with those local churches and church members who, for conscientious reasons, cannot support such a decision? Will they be forced to transport their membership to another SDA church or conference? It seems that no one has a conscientious objection when a male pastor serves their church, but some among us do not feel free to have a female pastor. So how do we protect their freedom?
LARRY GERATY (yes): I belong to a missionary family. When I taught at the seminary at Andrews, I taught on all the continents except Antarctica, so I am familiar with the international church and see it as a real strength.
I’m thrilled that missionaries from the NAD are no longer needed in the same numbers as before. We have learned here that the so-called mission fields now comprise 90 percent of Adventist membership. Now, here in the U.S., we need you as missionaries to help us with church growth.
Those of you in the global south know, I’m sure, that if you have ordained men, you have already accommodated to modern custom without biblical authority, because there is no biblical basis for ordination as we practice it.
So for the sake of our evangelism and nurture in North America, Europe, and Australia, we appeal to you to allow us in our divisions to recognize by ordination our women too who have been called by God and are serving effectively in ministry.
We understand why many of you may not wish to do so in your divisions, and we have no burden to force you to do anything. In the global north the majority believe in inclusivity and see inclusion of women called by God as a matter of justice, as well as in harmony with fundamental belief 14, which says, “In Christ . . . distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us.”
And you know the Bible texts in Joel and Galatians about women. So we appeal to you not to force us against our consciences. There are many examples of the global north being willing to accommodate customs of the global south in our worldwide church for the sake of mutuality, compassion, and unity. We now respectfully request the same graciousness on your part.
NWADIKE UCHECHUKWU (no): The Bible tells us that God does not change. The Bible tells us that God is omniscient. He knows the beginning from the end, and He knows the end from the beginning. He also knows that this church would come to this point at this time in our history, and God can never lead us away from the truth.
And so Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life. If Jesus is the truth, He practiced the truth, So if Jesus is the truth and did not ordain any woman to the gospel ministry and that is the truth, we should follow the truth, and it shall be well with the church.
MAXWELL MUVWIMI: I have a problem with the motion. It doesn’t seem to me to be very clear. It says: “Is it acceptable for division executive committees?”
Now, under the divisions we have unions and the conferences and missions. There is the possibility that someone at a lower level may say, “I am not a division, and so I can do what I feel is right for my conference,” and hence we may experience the same challenges that probably we may have experienced in the past. Because sessions have sat and they have made recommendations that were not honored in some parts of the world.
So I would love to seek a clarity if the motion would be a little more narrowed down to even lower entities so that when the vote is taken, it’s taken from a mission, conference, union, up to the division level.
MICHAEL RYAN: I realize the sensitivities that you have mentioned, but I think we’re going to have to deal with the question that’s on the floor.
G. T. NG: Can I make a word of clarification? We are one church, even though, as a division, you may have some unions that think or decide otherwise. But as a church, we have only one policy. We move in the same direction.
So if unions were to be divisive in their approach by not acting and thinking along with the division, then we have a problem. The problem is one of unity. So we are appealing to the world church to move in concert with each other and not act independently and unilaterally.
MICHAEL RYAN: I will make mention of appreciation to the body for the spirit that we’ve had this morning. Thank you very much. Keep a prayer in your heart that that sweet spirit will stay among us.
WILLIAM WINSTON: [Prayer.]
MICHAEL L. RYAN, Chair
KAREN J. PORTER, Secretary
R. J. KLOOSTERHUIS, GARY B. PATTERSON,
and CLAUDE SABOT, ProceedingsEditors