North Pacific Union Conference Takes Cautious Steps on Gender Discrimination in Ordination
by AT News Team
In the wake of decisions by four other union conferences to end gender discrimination in ordination, the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee voted three steps at its regular, quarterly meeting on Wednesday (November 14). A careful process will (1) “inform and educate Northwest members of the rationale toward biblical church leadership without regard to gender; (2) engage and encourage constituents in structured conversation and discussion on women in ministry; and (3) call a special session of the NPUC constituency to address ministerial ordination without regard to gender.” No date for the constituency meeting was specified.
A Committee on Women in Leadership, which was appointed a year ago, reported to the executive committee and a paper reviewing the New Testament references to ordination was presented. The paper makes the point that in the most recent English translations of the Bible, the word “ordination” does not appear because of its questionable origins. The paper was prepared by Dr. John McVay, president of Walla Walla University and a Bible scholar.
“Some have actively wondered if perhaps our system of ordination is not even biblical, but rather, based on a tradition far removed from our own Protestant roots,” says a statement published yesterday on the web site of the Gleaner, the NPUC periodical. Clearly defensive on the controversial topic, the statement addressed the question, “Has the NPUC leadership already made up their minds?” In fact, the executive committee includes those who “believe strongly in the value of equal inclusion of women in all facets of Adventist ministry and leadership,” as well as those “very much opposed to the idea of ordaining women,” the statement said.
“The Northwest includes Seventh-day Adventists with quite progressive views as well as some of the most conservative members in the denomination,” a retired administrator told Adventist Today. “It has had congregations leave the denomination in recent decades who felt that the Adventist Church was too sectarian and it is the home of some independent ministries that have been condemned by the denomination for acting like schismatic groups.” Balancing such a range of opinion will be difficult for the NPUC leadership.