By Ervin Taylor, July 27, 2015: Following the vote on women’s ordination at the San Antonio General Conference (GC) Session, where 40% of the delegates voted to allow divisions to decide if they wish to ordain women pastors, the current GC president asked that the 60% no vote should decide this issue once and for all and that all discussion should now cease.
One should probably not comment immediately after such a disappointing event for fear of not being able to put that event into appropriate context, which might take months and even years to unfold. However, in this case, there is reason to set aside such counsel and proceed to immediately express an immediate response, subject always to continuing revision. Obviously, every individual will have a different take on what recently occurred, why it occurred, and what now might be an appropriate course of immediate and long-term action.
One possible immediate reaction to the combination of the unexpected strength of the yes vote and the statement of the current GC president might go something like:
This is not over. Although this battle has been lost, the campaign for justice and equity in the Adventist denomination for women’s ordination will continue unabated. The term of the current GC president (“He whose name cannot be uttered”) is only until 2020. He can do a lot of damage over the next 5 years, but at the next GC session another proposal will be presented, perhaps again to allow each division to decide if they wish to ordain women in their region. And the current GC president may be replaced. Between now and then, those unions and conferences who wish to ordain women will do so, and there is nothing that can be done about it, unless those opposing women’s ordination wish to cause open schism.
Another possible reaction is to suggest that the Adventist General Conference under the current president has rendered itself irrelevant. Let us now look to our local churches, local conferences, and academic institutions retaining integrity for forward-looking leadership and inspiration. They constitute the authentic Adventist Church of the future.
When the result of the voting was announced, someone of sound judgment (certainly not the current writer) was heard to remark: “The vote was important, but even more important will be what various individuals and groups advancing justice and equity in the Adventist denomination are going to do in response to this action.” Amen.