• Education of constituents about women’s ordination stressed.
    • However, “sometimes we can make it harder for people to do what it is they are trying to do” by impatience and false claims of inaction, said ORCM Executive Director Dana C. Edmond.
    • Some Adventist churches and leaders in Africa showing openness to ordaining women, according to ORCM leaders.

07 December 2021 | All Regional Conference presidents are in favor of moving towards ordaining women, according to the Office of Regional Conference Ministries (ORCM) Executive Director Dana C. Edmond.

The ORCM is a communications and support network for Regional Conferences throughout the United States. Six of the nine Unions in the North American Division (NAD) have Regional Conferences which supervise predominantly black churches within the territory of other conferences.

Canada does not participate in the regional system, but Bermuda does as a Regional Conference in the Atlantic Union Conference.

Regional Conferences cannot vote to ordain women because administrative governance belongs to each conference’s geographic Union.

Still, “the leadership in all of our regional conferences across the board is supportive of women’s ordination. … I believe all across North America the overwhelming sentiment in the circles where I’ve been is supportive [of women’s ordination instead of commissioning],” said Edmond in a Nov. 13, 2021, YouTube video titled, “Leading Change: Women’s Ordination.”

Although women can be commissioned as pastors, delegates at the 2015 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists session voted against allowing divisions to decide whether or not to ordain women pastors in their regions.

According to a North American Division document on commissioned ministers, a commissioned pastor cannot serve as president of a local conference, union, division or the General Conference. Consequently, the 2015 General Conference vote effectively barred women from holding leadership positions in the Adventist church.

ORCM Communications Director Darriell Hoy stressed that “constituents have a role to play. If [ordaining women] is something that you believe in, constituents have the opportunity to speak with their leaders and say, ‘This is something that we would like to see happen in our conference.’”

Educating constituents about women’s ordination was highlighted during the presentation. Cryston Josiah, vice-president of Central States Conference, the only Regional Conference in the Mid-America Union Conference (MAUC), discussed how he had prepared a 40-slide summary of the North American Division Theological Study of Ordination before the MAUC constituency vote on women’s ordination.

The Central States Conference initiated the MAUC constituency vote, which happened on Sept. 12, 2021, and passed overwhelmingly (83 percent) in favor of equally ordaining men and women.

Kimberly Bulgin was the first woman ordained in the MAUC under the new policy on Oct. 23, 2021, in her New Beginnings Church in Wichita, Kansas, which is located within the Central States Conference.

However, Edmond cautioned against pushing too hard, too fast.

“Sometimes we can make it harder for people to do what it is they are trying to do” by impatience and false claims of inaction, said Edmond.

“We want to be fair and allow [conferences] to work through the process, because … there is a different dynamic in all of them. We don’t want to make it sound like there’s a lack of courage, or they are afraid of political consequences.”

Edmond and Hoy also mentioned that regions historically biased toward male leadership in the church, such as Africa, are showing evidence of change and openness to women’s ordination. They said they had been in contact with administrators in Africa and met women pastors working there.

According to them, the administrators they talked to in Africa do not have a problem with ordaining women in the NAD.

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This press release was edited by AT staff.

(Photo: The Office of Regional Conference Ministries (ORCM) Executive Director Dana C. Edmond, bottom row, said that all Regional Conference presidents are in favor of moving towards ordaining women in a Nov. 13 YouTube presentation, “Leading Change: Women’s Ordination.” Photo via screenshot.)

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