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A Report on the Women’s Ordination Discussion Across North America

The information below has been provided by the North American Division
At the 2010 General Conference Session in Atlanta, Ga., a request was made from the floor to study the theology of ordination. A timeline was voted in reference to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s research and discussion on this issue with the Church’s Biblical Research Institution serving as the facilitator.
Listed below is the theology of ordination study process timeline:

October 2011 — At the Annual Council, the process is presented and each division is asked to request their division biblical research committee to make a study of the theology of ordination and its implications for church practices. Divisions that have not yet established a division biblical research committee are kindly requested to do so. The Biblical Research Institute will provide the necessary materials, which will be of help in establishing the biblical research committees.
November 2013 — Each division committee at their 2013 year-end meetings reviews the study made by their division biblical research committee and recommends it to the Biblical Research Institute director for consideration by a theology of ordination study committee.
November 2013 — The General Conference Administrative Committee appoints a Theology of Ordination Study Committee with appropriate division representation.
December 2013 -- June 2014 — The Theology of Ordination Study Committee analyzes the materials received from the divisions and prepares a combined report.
June 2014 — Report is reviewed by General Conference executive officers.
June 2014 — Report is reviewed with the President’s Executive Administrative Council (PREXAD) and the General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM).
October 2014 — General Conference administration process the report to the 2014 Annual Council
October 2014 — Annual Council will review the report and, if needed, take any appropriate action. If voted material needs to be placed on the 2015 General Conference Session agenda, it will be processed accordingly.
The aforementioned process serves as a backdrop to various unions in the North American Division as they have begun to address the role of women in ministry and women’s ordination in their own territories.
At the 2011 North American Division Year-end Meeting, executive committee members voted to allow Division leadership to elect a committee to provide direction to the development of a series of papers, which will contribute to the discussion of the biblical theology of ordination and its implications prior to the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Tex
Listed below chronologically are the complete statements from the various organizations in reference to their discussions on how to recognize the role of women in ministry:

Pacific Union on Women’s Ordination
Thursday, March 15, 2012
After nearly two hours of discussion and prayer, the Pacific Union Conference executive committee today reaffirmed their strong commitment to the ordination of women. The committee agreed that the next steps will require careful planning, so they decided to put specific actions in place at their next meeting on May 9. In the interim, union administrators will work with local conference administrators to develop proposals for specific actions.
Columbia Union to Study How to Affirm Women in Ministry
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
At its spring meeting Sunday, the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee voted two items that will propel the subject of women in ministry to the top of its agenda this year, as follows:

“Whereas the North American Division (NAD) Leadership has encouraged each union to be intentional in affirming women in ministry,
we vote to establish an ad hoc Committee to study the issue of women in ministry and recommend to the Columbia Union Executive Committee how we can be intentional in affirming women in ministry. In addition,
we vote to affirm our previous action requesting the NAD to grant us permission to ordain women in ministry.”
To ensure that these topics remain a priority on its agenda, the committee also requested that the ad hoc committee present its report at the next union Executive Committee meeting.
Between now and then, the ad hoc committee, which will have representation from each of the union’s eight conferences, will work through five terms of reference:
1. Review past history of Columbia Union practice.
2. Review biblical and Spirit of Prophecy mandates regarding the role of women in ministry.
3. Review Columbia Union Conference Bylaws and General Conference / NAD policies.
4. Study and review cultural implications regarding women in ministry.
5. Recommend to Columbia Union Executive Committee appropriate initiatives for supporting women in ministry.
More information will be released following the ad hoc committee’s report to the Executive Committee on May 17.
Columbia  Union  Executive  Committee  Calls  Special  Constituency  Meeting  to
Authorize Ordinations Without Regard to Gender

Thursday, May 17, 2012

At its May 17 meeting, the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee received a report from an ad hoc committee assigned to study how to affirm women in ministry.   Read Report
After discussing the report (included below), the committee voted:
1. To recognize its responsibility to act morally and ethically by expressing unyielding commitment to ordain qualified persons to the gospel ministry without regard to gender, and
2. To call a special constituency meeting for the purpose of authorizing ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender, and
3. To set the meeting date for July 29, 2012, at 10 a.m., at a location to be determined in Maryland.
The committee approved the motion by a vote of 34-6, with one abstention.
“I believe this action represents our committee’s desire to move the mission forward, and we are calling this special session to facilitate a wider conversation,” said Dave Weigley, union president, explaining the need for input from the larger constituency.
To help members understand the committee’s perspective, leaders will publish a special July issue of the union paper, the Visitor. It will provide a review of biblical, historical and Spirit of Prophecy guidelines concerning the role of women in ministry.

Mid-America Union Votes on Women’s Ordination
A statement from Thomas L. Lemon, president

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
On Thursday, March 8, our Union Executive Committee voted “to support the ordination of women in the Mid-America Union.” We have, with that simple vote, unleashed at least as much misunderstanding as understanding. In making that short statement we intended to be clear, but obviously we were not. And some of my statements since, along with the statements of many others have further muddied the waters. It is unfortunately true that words cannot totally encompass all the nuances of our discussion or understanding as we voted our consciences 11 days ago. It is also impossible to convey via the printed page the experience that pervaded our committee room. It was a wonderful, heartfelt and honest discussion and a firm resounding vote.
But we did not vote to ordain a woman. When the time comes, after considerable prayerful study and discussion, we will be in a better position to discern how best to move forward.
What we do know is that we want the world church to understand that as a committee we are closely aligned in our support of this cause. We intend to work in harmony with the North American Division (NAD) of the General Conference and at such time as the NAD provides authorization, we look forward to seeing parity achieved across our union for all individuals as we, together with the world church, pursue the mission of making disciples given to us by Jesus.
We want that message of support to extend to those women who have experienced and are pursuing the call to ministry in their own lives. We further want our conferences to feel free to discuss the matter in an environment of safety and openness, and among those six entities we prayerfully desire to achieve a working consensus at our two levels of governance. And thirdly, we are also with this action encouraging the world church to respect the various mores and values expressed in the 13 world divisions. That is a major reason why the divisions were established in the first place more than a century ago.
Please keep us in your prayers as we sail in uncharted waters at this point. And, under the direction of the Scripture, may the Holy Spirit continue to reveal to us the pathway He wants us to walk in.

The Southern Union Executive Committee Action Surrounding Women in Ministry
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Due to the current and considerable dialogue regarding women in ministry in the North American Division, the Southern Union Conference Executive Committee voted the following statement:
Whereas the Southern Union Conference and its member conferences and organizations have a long history of actively supporting, encouraging, and empowering women in all areas of ministry including pastoral, evangelistic, conference and union leadership, and all levels and areas of education, and
Whereas the Southern Union Conference recognizes itself as an integral part of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, it is therefore resolved:
The Southern Union Conference, following the scriptural mandate of the priesthood of all believers, intentionally chooses to continue its long-held commitment of supporting, encouraging, empowering, and celebrating the involvement of women in ministry. However, we will do so only in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist World Church as expressed by actions taken during the General Conference in business session.

Atlantic Union Conference Statement on Women in Ministry
May 15, 2012
At its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting on May 10, 2012, the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee voted the following statement regarding women in ministry.
Recognizing the current discussions and the value of women in ministry within the North American Division, the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee voted the following statement:
WHEREAS the Atlantic Union Conference and its member conferences and organizations have benefitted from the faithful service and commitment of women in ministry, including evangelistic, pastoral, educational and other roles at all levels of the church and school system, and
WHEREAS the Atlantic Union Conference recognizes itself as a part of the Seventh-day Adventist church, and will act in harmony with its decisions taken during the General Conference in business session, it is therefore
RESOLVED, that the Atlantic Union Conference, in harmony with the scriptural mandates of the priesthood of all believers, is committed to supporting, empowering and celebrating women in ministry.

North Pacific Union Conference Looks Toward Gender-Inclusive Policies
Recommendations will be brought to November meeting

Thursday, May 17, 2012
The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Executive Committee, during its May 16, 2012, meeting in College Place, Wash., authorized the NPUC administration to appoint an ad hoc committee to create specific recommendations on how to fully integrate committed and called Adventist women into all levels of church leadership within the NPUC territory.
The recommendations of this ad hoc committee will be presented to the NPUC Executive Committee at the regularly scheduled November 14, 2012 meeting.


Appeal for Unity from the General Conference  -  June 29, 2012

Questions Answered by the general Conference  -  Aug. 9, 2012
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