Union Conference in California Reasserts Support for Women as Ordained Clergy in the Adventist Denomination
October 10, 2015: The executive committee of the Adventist denomination’s Pacific Union Conference voted to affirm its female pastors and to continue to abide by the vote of its constituency delegates in August 2012 to “approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” At a regular meeting on September 9 the governing committee for the denomination in five western states in the United States also asked its officers to write a strong statement for distribution in local churches and institutions in support of women clergy and clarifying misunderstandings that many have after the vote at the General Conference Session in July.
Entitled “A Pledge of Support for Women in Ministry,” the statement was published in the October issue of the Pacific Union Recorder. It begins by quoting Psalm 19:1 and asserts, “We raise our voices in praise for God’s grace as we are led by the Spirit in mission and ministry … and will continue to be loyal and integral parts of the Seventh-day Adventist world church.”
In fact, the Pacific Union Conference contributes more tithe to the General Conference than any other union conference in the denomination and has one of the largest memberships. It is the home of some of the most important institutions in the Adventist movement and was the home of cofounder Ellen G. White during the last 15 years of her life in the early 20th century.
The organization “views full participation and recognition of women in pastoral ministry as vitally important for Spirit-filled ministry with our territory,” the statement said. “Distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ.”
The statement views the leadership of the Holy Spirit as the key element on the topic. “The Holy Spirit gifts people of every age, gender, and ethnic background according to His purposes, and we encourage women of all ages and backgrounds who feel called to ministry to answer” the call of the Spirit. “We are committed to supporting women in every aspect of ministry and church leadership, whether they are licensed, commissioned, or ordained.”
Reports at the meeting indicated that the Pacific Union Conference had an increase in membership in the most recent quarter, and now has 225,203 baptized members in 808 congregations. Tithe had increased by nearly two percent at the end of July as compared to a year earlier.
Enrollment in Adventist primary and secondary schools was down by four-tenths of one percent in preliminary reports on the new school year, but Pacific Union College recently received the first half of a $2.6 million donation from a donor who is not a church member. Its campus is at capacity and this summer the college launched the first of several new programs in which students may enroll from anywhere in the world and study via the Internet.