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Church Unity and Women’s Ordination

We, as North American Division Seventh-day Adventists, are eager to move forward with God’s mission but are weighed down with the issue of women’s ordination. It has been brought to the world church and collectively decided on in 1990, 1995 and 2015. But a deep controversy still wages. In various places, women have been ordained in direct opposition to the votes of 1990, 1995 and 2015. In other places, while this explicit act hasn’t happened, leaders have been in violation of the spirit of the world church decisions by encouraging actions of rebellion and contention. (For a nutshell of its recent history, click here and for a broader history click here.)

The Disunity and Rebellion

For the past many years, various leaders throughout the North American Division have persistently pushed that which the world church has voted against.

Here are just a handful of such actions, voices and influence:

  • Illegitimately ordaining women as ministers, all unrecognized by the General Conference.
    - June 24, 2017 — at the La Sierra University Church, Southeastern California Conference in the Pacific Union
    - December 19, 2015 — at the Loma Linda University Church, Southeastern California Conference in the Pacific Union
    - December 13, 2014 — at the Sligo SDA Church, Potomac Conference in the Columbia Union
    - August 17, 2013 — at the Worthington, Ohio, Adventist Church, Ohio Conference in the Columbia Union
    - February 2, 2013 — at the La Sierra University Church, Southeastern California Conference in the Pacific Union
    - September 23, 1995 — at the Sligo SDA Church, Potomac Conference in the Columbia Union
  • Articles in our union and church magazines promoting women’s ordination and vilifying the GC for asking them to respect the world church decisions.
    - Comparing GC and Elder Wilson to Hitler and the Papacy — March 2017 NPUC Gleaner, “Protest
    - Promoting women being ordained — February 2016 Adventist Review,Weniger Society Honors Branson, Lemon, and Roberts
  • Division, union, and conference leaders, neglecting to make sure entities under them are in compliance with world church policy.
  • Calling for special constituency meetings to vote for unions to be out of harmony with their own bylaws and the world church votes on women’s ordination.
    Pacific Union
 — Ricardo Graham, President
    Columbia Union
 — Dave Weigley, President
    North Pacific Union
 — John Freedman, President
    Mid-America Union — Thomas L. Lemon, President
  • Conventions held encouraging disunity with the world church and comparing GC leadership to Hitler and the Papacy. Organized by: Wim Altink, Ricardo Graham, Thomas Muller, Brad Kemp, and Dave Weigley and hosted by Australian Union Conference • Columbia Union Conference • Danish Union Conference • Netherlands Union Conference • New Zealand Pacific Union Conference • Northern German Union Conference • Norwegian Union Conference • Pacific Union Conference • South German Union Conference • Swedish Union Conference
  • Discontinuing ordinations union-wide and conference-wide, and instead commissioning or licensing all new pastors, therefore allowing commissioned or licensed ministers to function as ordained ministers.
  • Discrimination against faithful Seventh-day Adventist organizations such as Amazing Facts for sharing the same view of women’s ordination that the world church has expressed.
  • The 1996 President’s Commission on Women in Ministry Report is a document in which North American Division leadership voted to promote women as ministers in every capacity possible right after the 1995 vote to not ordain women as ministers. While technically complying with the world church vote by not technically “ordaining” women as ministers, this decision simply created another title of ministry called “commissioned” ministers which was essentially imbued with all the rights of an ordained minister. This act is loaded with obvious intentions to violate the spirit of the 1995 world church vote just months after it was passed.

Because these leaders reveal by their actions, voice and/or influence that they are not in support of the world church, because of constant contention, they are weighing the church down. They have been willing to split the church to accomplish their agenda. We’d like to move forward harmoniously with the mission of our church.

Why We Need to Act

  • This internal fight is wearing the church down and hindering its evangelistic mission.
  • Many faithful members are discouraged.
  • The issue of women’s ordination is currently leading to other compromises with worldly culture such as the acceptance of homosexuality in Seventh-day Adventist churches.
  • It is challenging our very foundation as a church as it seeks to change how we have always interpreted the Bible as a church. If you’ve changed your hermeneutics, you’ve changed your church. The hermeneutics of promoting women’s ordination reinterpret and dismisses parts of the Bible, compromising with culture to sustain its position. The end of this kind of Bible interpretation is “anything goes.”

But this is not who we are as a church. As church laity and leadership seeking to be unified with the world church, we have the right to be accurately represented by our North American Division leadership as church authority rests in the hands of the membership through elected representatives. Our church’s “form of governance is representative, which recognizes that authority rests in the membership and is expressed through duly elected representatives at each level of organization…” (SDA Church Manual, p. 26). We feel we are not being represented accurately by various North American Division leadership.

“This form of governance recognizes also that ordination to the ministry is recognized by the Church worldwide therefore various local churches, conferences, unions and divisions are acting in defiance to the world church when they ordain women to be ministers (SDA Church Manual, p. 27).

Our church manual states that “persistent refusal to recognize properly constituted church authority or to submit to the order and discipline of the church” is grounds for church disciplinary action (SDA Church Manual, p. 62).

As this statement is referring to members, then how much more should it apply to the leaders in our church?

Our church’s Constitution, which has been voted on by the world church, states that:

“No division, therefore, is free to pursue a course of action contrary to the will of the whole, or to appropriate to itself the authority of the General Conference in defense of such action.”
B 40 20, GC Working Policy

It is the division president’s duty to make sure the unions follow the decisions of the world church:

“The president of the division is the first officer placed in general administrative oversight of all activities in the division. As a vice president of the General Conference he is an officer of the General Conference, responsible to that body for administration of the work according to plans and programs voted by the General Conference Session and/or the General Conference Executive Committee and according to plans and policies agreed upon by the executive committee of the division, of which he is chair. It is his duty to stand as counselor to the officers of unions or attached missions/local fields, as well as to those in charge of division departments and institutions.”
B40 30, GC Working Policy

All divisions, unions, and conferences are to maintain unity of action by carrying out what is voted by the world church:

“As the divisions seek to cooperate with one another by keeping in close contact with the General Conference, carrying out the General Conference policies agreed upon in council, so within the division all the organizations, union or local, should seek to maintain unity of action by keeping in close contact and counsel with the division office, carrying out policies agreed upon in division councils and executive committees.”
B 40 25, GC Working Policy

Act Now!

Our General Conference leadership has very graciously and very generously given non-compliant NAD leadership and other church leaders a whole year to come into compliance with the 2015 world church decision in San Antonio to not ordain women as ministers.

October 2017 will mark one year from that decision, and this issue of non-compliance will be revisited at the upcoming Annual Council meeting this fall.

Some non-compliant leaders are audaciously criticizing our faithful GC leadership, likening them to the Nazis and the Papacy for daring to hold them accountable to what the world church has voted on.

We need to lift our voices and let our GC leadership know that we are in full support of the world church and that we request our leaders to act in accordance with the decision of the world church.

Furthermore, we need to let our leaders know that insubordination to the church’s Biblical decisions which would compromise our unity and mission cannot continue unchecked.

What You Can Do Today

Don’t be intimidated. Now is the the time to speak up. If enough of us speak up, it will have an incredible impact on the future of our church. We believe that many at the GC and other levels of leadership want to do more, but are limited without our voice.

Please take action on one or both of these important steps without delay (the sooner these steps are taken the greater impact they will have):

Write an email or letter to the General Conference Executive Committee and its chair, Elder Ted Wilson.

As this is a division issue, the next level of accountability is the General Conference. This needs to be a brief letter (200-250 words maximum) sharing your concerns and requesting the GC to require all division, union, and conference leadership be brought into full compliance with all world church decisions. It should also request the replacement of all leadership who have knowingly violated this decision.

YOUR LETTER SHOULD BE:
- Addressed to:
“Dear Elder Wilson and members of the GC Executive Committee” (giving Elder Wilson permission to share your letter with the Executive Committee)

- Brief
One page, 200-250 words at most. Avoid long discourses or doctrinal discussion.

- Respectful
Speak with Christian courtesy and love.

- Specific
In a sentence or two, relate a specific instance that has caused you concern, and especially share any personal experiences that you have had or have personally seen that are out of harmony with the world church.

- Knowledgeable
Division, union, and conference presidents are responsible to carry out the actions of the General Conference (GC Working Policy, B 40 20, 25, 30). Though they know this, it is still proper to kindly remind the members of the GC Executive Committee of this fact.

- Sent to:
By email to: Elder Ted Wilson at askpastorwilson@adventist.org

Or by mail to: Elder Ted N.C. Wilson, President, Seventh-day Adventist Church, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904

Click here for a sample letter as a general guideline.

There is no question—your email, your letter will make a difference! With God’s grace and by acting now, you can make a big impact on decisions made at the upcoming 2017 Annual Council of the General Conference Executive Committee this October. But you need to send it without delay.

Sign the petition:

Note: Although the petition list below only displays the first initial of your last name, rest assured, your full name will be submitted so that you will be counted.

NEW: At the request of many, there is a second new petition created for those outside of the North American Division (the NAD includes the USA, Canada, Bermuda, and Guam). Click the button below on the right and it will scroll down to the petition for those outside of the North American Divison.

Note: These petitions accept an email address one time only. If you share an email address with someone who has already signed please contact us and we will add you to the petition manually.

Church Unity and Women's Ordination

  

Dear Elder Wilson and the members of the General Conference Executive Committee,

We, as Seventh-day Adventist North American Division church members, would like our division and all of its unions, conferences and local churches to be in unity with the world church's decisions regarding the ordination of women as was expressed in the 2015 vote.

Because of persistent rebellion against the world church in regards to women’s ordination, we are calling for the removal and replacement of the various officers and leaders at the division, union, and conference levels who by their actions, voices, and influence have worked against what the world church has decided thereby causing division and disunity.

We also request for the local churches of these leaders to apply church disciplinary action of one to 12 months of censure or removal of church membership as they have brought disgrace upon the cause of God by persistent rebellion (SDA Church Manual, p 63). By this may it be impressed upon them “the need for a change of life and reformation of conduct” (SDA Church Manual, p 63).

[your signature]

2,338 signatures

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Latest Signatures
2,338 Ron F. Florida
2,337 Ross I. South New South Wales, Australia.
2,336 Heather G. Pacific Union Conference
2,335 Timothy A. Northern California
2,334 Sara Charlyene L. Georgia Conference
2,333 Sylvia S. North England
2,332 Renee J. Southeastern
2,331 Dan P. Montana
2,330 Kelly P. Montana
2,329 Sandra L. Montana
2,328 Michael F. Potomac
2,327 Barry J.
2,326 Lyndon R. Ky-Tn conference
2,325 Sweet A. Ontario Conference of SDA
2,324 Colleen c. Florida
2,323 Paul c. Florida
2,322 Allene K. Oregon
2,321 Robert E. lake Union Conference
2,320 Betty H. Illinois - Central
2,319 Ben V. Rocky Mountain
2,318 Randall W. Iowa-Missouri
2,317 Danny W. Alaska
2,316 John B. Lakewood
2,315 Dale B. Carolina Conference
2,314 Eldred S. Chula
2,313 Catherine H. Upper Columbia
2,312 Robert S. Oregon Conference
2,311 RONALD E S. OHIO
2,310 Becky S. NAD
2,309 Kudakwashe R. East Zimbabwe Conference
2,308 Robert M. KY-TN
2,307 Irene M. Sad galion ohio
2,306 Stan H. Gresham
2,305 Debra S. Ky-Tn
2,304 Brian S.
2,303 Richard B. Georgia-Cumberland
2,302 Marie D. Georgia Cumberland
2,301 Tumusiime N. East African division
2,300 neal S. KY. TN CONFERENCE
2,299 Genettia C. Indianapolis
2,298 Quentin S. Ontario
2,297 June P. Georgia Cumberland
2,296 Paulo P. Southeastern California
2,295 James R.
2,294 Jan H. Ohio
2,293 patrick v. Ohio
2,292 Elwyn P. SNSW Australia
2,291 David M. SNSW, Australia
2,290 Silvya T. Estonia
2,289 Frederick L. Gridley, CA Pacific Union Conference, Northern California

Church Unity and Women's Ordination - Outside the NAD

  

Dear Elder Wilson and the members of the General Conference Executive Committee,

We, as Seventh-day Adventist church members outside of the North American Division, would also like our division and all of its unions, conferences and local churches to be in unity with the world church's decisions regarding the ordination of women as was expressed in the 1990, 1995, and 2015 votes.

Because of persistent rebellion against the world church in regards to women’s ordination, we are calling for the removal and replacement of the various officers and leaders at the division, union, and conference levels who by their actions, voices, and influence have worked against what the world church has decided thereby causing division and disunity.

We also request for the local churches of these leaders to apply church disciplinary action of one to 12 months of censure or removal of church membership as they have brought disgrace upon the cause of God by persistent rebellion (SDA Church Manual, p 63). By this may it be impressed upon them “the need for a change of life and reformation of conduct” (SDA Church Manual, p 63).

[your signature]

[your signature]

930 signatures

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Latest Signatures
930 Aleks M. South New South Wales
929 Ron F. Florida
928 Mercy R. North England conference
927 Vinyl R. North England conference
926 DP.gan (. Manipur India
925 Tumusiime N. East African union
924 Eldrin O. Central Luzon Conference
923 Vernie C. Hayden Lake SDA
922 Nelly K. Mittel-Rhein Conference, Offenbach, Germany
921 Gin M. Myanmar Union Conference
920 Lois E. Florida
919 Verna B. NAD
918 Annmarie W. Michigan
917 Gary K. central ca
916 Martin M. Michigan
915 Eddie W. South eastern
914 melissa w. kentucky tennessee
913 Jackeline G. Interamericana Guatemala
912 Robert M. New York
911 Daniel C. Gulf States
910 Carol C. Texas
909 Alvin R. North Philippine Union Conference
908 Joseph M. Pennsylvania
907 Carol D. South Africa
906 David W. Northeastern Conference of SDA
905 Portia S. Oregon
904 Richard P M. Michigan
903 van o. Chesapeake
902 Hector P. Southern Conference of California
901 Kevin G. South New Zealand
900 viktor t.
899 Jennifer D. Waiblingen
898 Elena S. Norway Eastern Conference
897 Carmen A. KY/TN
896 Nita T. South east Queensland , SPD
895 Jayne R. Southeastern Californis
894 chris s. Austria
893 Wayne C. South Queensland
892 Joel S. SCC
891 Nercy M.
890 Corinne K. North New South Wales, Australia
889 Eddy K. NNSW Australia
888 maartje v. SEC
887 Rafaela R. Brazilian Central Union
886 Paul and Natalee M. North New South Wales - Australia
885 Fazila M. Thisted Danmark
884 Anna Marie H. Thisted Danmark
883 Uwe W. Buchholz/Nordheide North German Union
882 David A. Western Australia
881 Peruzi N. Thisted Danmark

Encouraging Victories

Netherlands Union

The Netherlands Union delegates voted a completely new and faithful leadership into place this past May 2017.

World Church Affirmation Sabbath

World Church Affirmation Sabbath in the Upper Columbia Conference sent a powerful statement to the NAD that they stand united with the world church.

Montana Conference

When presented with changes to the bylaws of the Montana Conference which would put it at variance to the world church in regards to women’s ordination, the delegates voted it down.

unity-bible-sm

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