by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, November 4, 2013
By a vote of 182 to 31 with three abstaining, the executive committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD) voted this afternoon (November 4), "That we receive the Biblical study of ordination prepared by the NAD Theology of Ordination Study Committee and affirm the conclusion that all people, men and women, may receive ordination as an affirmation of the call of God; and that the NAD support the authorization of each division to consider, through prayer and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, its most appropriate approach to the ordination of women to gospel ministry."
Adventist Today reported about the 240-page report last week which includes extensive Bible study by scholars who read the Scripture in the original languages, detailed review of the relevant material from the writings of Ellen G. White and the history of the topic. The study committee included both Bible scholars who favor ordaining women as well as men, and those who oppose the practice.
The study committee took considerable time to share its report with the executive committee during its annual meeting and many chapters of the report were presented in the form of a video. Adventist Today has been unable to discover at this time whether or not these videos will be distributed more widely. This committee is the governing body for the North American section of the denomination's General Conference (GC). The meeting took place in the auditorium at the world headquarters of the denomination where the offices of the GC are also housed.
This report is one of potentially 13 because the GC asked each of its divisions to establish a study committee on the topic. Between December 2013 and June 2014 the GC Theology of Ordination Committee will review the reports from the divisions. In June 2014 it will submit a report to the GC officers for review by the GC administrative committee in preparation for the annual meeting of the GC executive committee in October 2014 when a recommendation will be formulated for presentation to the delegates during the next GC Session in the summer of 2015.
The purpose of this study process is to come to a solid, Bible-based solution to a controversy that has been debated since the 1970s and was originally addressed at the 1881 GC Session. With the change in traditional notions about the role of women in the western, industrial nations and a growing share of the urbanized developing nations, the issue has become increasingly mingled with concerns about the dropout factor among young adults raised in the Adventist faith and the denomination's stalled growth pattern in North America, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.