- North American Division (NAD) Ministerial Association has a goal to double the number of female pastors in the division.
- Number of pastors who are women in the NAD has increased from 101 to nearly 200.
- The Adventist denomination is still struggling with the issue of women’s ordination.
24 June 2022 | “You need to ask no one for permission to answer God’s call. No one.”
That’s what Ivan L. Williams Sr., director of the North American Division Ministerial Association, said to a room full of 150 pastors, all women, during a luncheon specially designed to encourage and celebrate female clergy and seminarians on Monday, June 20, 2022, reported the NAD.
The event was held during the recent 2022 CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention in Lexington, Kentucky., U.S. Heather Crews, associate ministerial director for the NAD and chair of the NAD Women Clergy Advisory, said some of the event’s goals were to build connections among female clergy, to give participants access to mentors, and to provide support.
“Women understand women in ministry. Men don’t necessarily have to struggle with some of the things we struggle with,” said Guadaloupe Montour, a member of the NAD Women Clergy Advisory team. “We are not sidelined. We are not tokens. We are here, and we want to make space in an event where the language and seminars are sometimes not directed towards women.”
Williams shared his commitment to female ministers, saying the NAD Ministerial Association had set a goal to double the number of female pastors in the division. He said the number of pastors who are women has increased from 101 to nearly 200. “We have not reached that goal, but we’re getting close,” Williams said.
Not everyone in the Adventist denomination shares that commitment.
In 2015, delegates at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC) session voted against allowing regions to decide whether or not to ordain women as pastors in their regions. The result of this vote was the continuation of church policy that restricted pastoral ordination to men.
At this year’s GC Session, delegates debated again about women’s ordination, even just as church elders. Heated comments also were made about allowing women to be conference presidents.
Currently, no woman holds a top leadership position in the highest levels of the Adventist Church’s administration (General Conference or world division).
However, Nerida Taylor Bates, president of the Association of Adventist Women, said in a Spectrum article that the Adventist Church has female pastors or theologians in every division. By her count, there are 4,000 female pastors worldwide.
And although the NAD is one of the few world divisions of the Adventist Church that supports the ordination of women, women’s ordination is still a bone of contention there. Crookston Church in Minnesota, U.S. recently submitted a statement to its conference pushing back against women’s ordination.
Still, the NAD does have women in top leadership positions at the union and conference levels of administration, such as Celeste Ryan Blyden, the executive secretary for the Columbia Union Conference, and Sandra Roberts, the executive secretary of the Pacific Union Conference.
Support for female pastors was clearly on display at the NAD Ministerial Association-sponsored luncheon, as well.
The pastors received T-shirts that read “I Am Called,” and those who were married also received shirts for their spouses that said, “Strong Men Marry Pastors.”
Crews encouraged the pastors to believe deeply in their calling, even when others did not recognize it.
“Wear this shirt with the pride God has placed in you,” she said. “It is His pride. You are called.”
(Photo: Pastors pose for a photo after an NAD Ministerial Association luncheon designed to encourage and celebrate female clergy and seminarians on June 20, 2022. Photo by Pieter Damsteegt via NAD website.)