Columbia Union Constituency Delegates Gather Sunday for Historic Session
by AT News Team
Delegates from the eight local conferences in the Columbia Union Conference will gather this coming Sunday, July 29, in the Southern Asia Seventh-day Adventist Church, immediately across the street from the General Conference complex. The question before them will be if the time has come to quit discriminating against women in ordination to the gospel ministry.
The union executive committee voted such a recommendation months ago by an overwhelming majority. The General Conference officers have appealed publicly for the cancelation of this meeting and two GC vice presidents will be present to argue that the delegates should wait until 2015 and trust the world body to make the decision. Others voices, including retired GC officers, have pointed out that the current study on ordination promised at the 2010 session in Atlanta is not even looking at the role of women in ministry.
One solution would be for the Seventh-day Adventist Church to stop ordaining anyone and have only Commissioned Ministers. The GC has already decided that is acceptable for women to be Commissioned Ministers, although a number of divisions and unions have refused to do it. There are other denominations that do not practice ordination and their clergy are only commissioned.
In fact, ordination is not really a Bible teaching. It is a tradition which developed over centuries in the Catholic Church and then was adopted by Protestants, including Adventists. Ellen G. White held the credentials of an ordained minister for decades and orthodox, loyal Seventh-day Adventists in China have ordained 17 women as ministers, starting in the 1980s.
“Why are we fighting?” several have written to Adventist Today to ask. “Maybe this can be a time to demonstrate our maturity as the remnant people of God,” one veteran pastor said. Adventist Today has been told by scores of those who will sit as delegates on Sunday that they have been in prayer and careful study of Scripture and the writings of Ellen White, as well as other documents from the Adventist heritage. “All eyes are on the Columbia Union this weekend,” a local elder said.
In fact, it is not the first time in recent months that a union conference has voted on this topic. The North German Union voted in its constituency meeting months ago to stop discrimination against women pastors and ordain them. The Southeastern California Conference has already issued ordained minister credentials to all of its commissioned ministers.
Adventist Today will have coverage next week of what happens on Sunday. The editors invite our readers to pray for the delegates as they assemble. May the Holy Spirit also be present.