by AT News Team
The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Netherlands may not wait until after the 2015 General Conference (GC) Session to end gender discrimination in ordination. When two previous studies of the topic were conducted by the GC it was the intervention of top denominational administrators, not prohibitions from Scripture or Adventist heritage that blocked women being ordained. More ordinations were approved for women last week. All of these facts have come to Adventist Today over the weekend.
“The delegates have asked the executive committee to implement equality as soon as possible,” Adventist Today was told by Tom de Bruin, executive secretary of the Netherlands Union Conference. The recent constituency session gave the union executive committee the authority to decide how rapidly it can implement the goal of ending general discrimination in ordination which was voted by session. The idea of waiting for the GC, as reported by Adventist Today last week, “is not part of the motion” voted by the delegates, Pastor de Bruin stated.
Pastor de Bruin provided a more accurate translation of what was voted by a large majority of the delegates: “Considering the biblical principle of the equality of men and women, the delegates indicate that they reject the current situation of inequality in the church on principle. For this reason, and considering the context of Dutch society, they charge the Executive Committee to vigorously promote this perspective in the worldwide church. As quickly as possible, and no later than six months after the next session of the General Conference (2015), equality between men and women will be implemented at all organizational levels of the church in the Netherlands. The equal ordination of female pastors also falls in this category.”
A paper by Bert Haloviak, who retired in 2010 as director of archives and statistics for the GC, documents the history of the GC studies on this topic in the early 1970s and late 1980s. It was published this week in Spectrum, the journal of the Association of Adventist Forums, the largest group of Adventist academics. In both cases the Bible scholars, theologians and historians who studied the topic found nothing in Scripture or the writings of Ellen G. White which prohibit ordaining women or women serving as leaders of congregations or other church organizations.
The original study commission recommended that at the 1975 GC Session initial steps be taken toward ordaining women, but this recommendation was diverted by GC President Robert Pierson. Again, leading up to the 1990 GC Session, the Bible scholars were prepared to recommend approval of the practice, but church administrators moved the process away from such an outcome.
“This information clearly shows why many people do not trust the current study,” a retired denominational official told Adventist Today. “Have key leaders already made up their minds? Will we get an honest result? This requires action, not just words of assurance.”
The current print issue of Adventist Today was published last week. It includes an article by Pastor Randy Roberts, senior pastor of the Loma Linda University Church, which reviews the major objections to the current steps taken by four union conferences around the world as well as the Adventist Church in China. Pastor Roberts carefully reviews the Bible reasons for the actions taken to end gender discrimination in ordination.
On Thursday last week (November 15), the executive committee of the Pacific Union Conference approved seven more women for ordination along with two men. “This vote removes any reservations or limitations on the church’s affirmation of the ministry to which God has called these pastors and trainers of pastors,” stated Pastor Bradford Newton, executive secretary of the union conference. The number of women ministers approved for ordination in the Pacific Union now stands at 21.