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Report of the SAU Theology of Ordination and

Womens Ordination Committee




Members:
G. T. du Preez, A. Platts, P. Chobokoane, G. T. Allers, E. Scholtz, N. Fleming, R. N. Mavuso, L. E. Du Preez, M.
C. Nhlapo, J. Mongwe, T. Danxa, D. Williams.

17 July 2014

Contents
I. Mandate ....................................................................................................................................................... 3
II. Preamble ..................................................................................................................................................... 3
III. Statement on Womens Ordination to Pastoral Ministry ........................................................................... 4
IV. Response to SID Recommendations as outlined in The Summary of SID BRC Position on the Ordination
of Women. ..................................................................................................................................................... 5
V. Elaboration of the Statement on Womens Ordination to Pastoral Ministry ............................................. 6
1. Whereas according to the Consensus Statement for the Ordination to Ministry by the Theology of
Ordination Studies Committee, ordination does not convey any special qualities or status and repre-
sents an endorsement and dedication of a persons talents, time and service to God .......................... 6
2. Whereas the World Church does not have consensus with regard to the biblical evidence .............. 6
3. Whereas the World Church does not have consensus with regard to the writings of Ellen G. White 7
4. Whereas the Fundamental Beliefs insist on the equality of genders without partiality or reservation
and that issues of gender should not be divisive .................................................................................... 7
5. Whereas Official Statements of the World Church argue for the equality of all people irrespective
of gender and maintain that women should play an increased role in the leadership and decision-
making bodies of both church and society ............................................................................................ 10
6. Whereas authority in church governance does not reside with the church pastor, but with the local
membership including both men and women ...................................................................................... 10
7. Whereas a leader in the SDA Church is not aligned with having authority, both men and women
may be ordained as elders, and elders may fulfil the role of an ordained pastor in the absence of an
ordained pastor ..................................................................................................................................... 11
8. Whereas roles assigned to church officers based on gender is not an evident part of local church
election procedures .............................................................................................................................. 12
9. Whereas there is no policy prohibiting the ordination of women to pastoral ministry presently in
existence, nor has there been in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church ............................. 12
10. Whereas human rights are concerned to promote the equal treatment of both genders ............. 12
Appendix A .....................................................................................................................................................13
THE SUMMARY OF SID BRC POSITION ON THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN ............................................... 13
Appendix B .................................................................................................................................................... 16
CONSENSUS STATEMENT ON A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST THEOLOGY OF ORDINATION ........................ 16
Appendix C .................................................................................................................................................... 17
HUMAN RELATIONS .................................................................................................................................. 17
WOMENS ISSUES ...................................................................................................................................... 18
Appendix D .................................................................................................................................................... 19
VALUES ...................................................................................................................................................... 19
50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIVERSAL DELARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS .............................................. 20

I. Mandate
This is stated in action 12-214 of the SAU minutes in the Presidents Council Report: To receive, screen, study,
formulate and submit a response on the ordination of women.

II. Preamble
The Theology of Ordination and Womens Ordination Committee (hereafter referred to as the
committee) acknowledges that any conclusions drawn by the committee are not representative
of all the constituents of the South African Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and division on the issue will remain irrespective of the statements of this committee. The committee has
not undertaken to resolve the womens ordination question by engaging in seminal research on
the issue. The committee acknowledges that SDA scholars, administrators and members have
wrestled with this issue for decades and unanimity continues to elude discussions on womens ordination. The committee acknowledges that biblical materials can be compiled on both sides of
the debate and has not undertaken to resolve biblical arguments. The committee has addressed
the question of womens ordination according to the currently held convictions of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church in terms of the way it has identified itself. This identity can be discovered in
general terms in the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 18th edition (2010), and is also expressed
in the following (though not limited to these factors):
1. The Fundamental Beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
2. The Official Statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
3. Seventh-day Adventist Church Governance
Any stated position on womens ordination should cohere with the fundamental precepts of the Seventh-
day Adventist Church as voted by the General Conference in Session and, in a derivative sense, statements
voted by the General Conference Executive Committee and its subsidiary committees. The committees con-
clusions with regard to the ordination of women into pastoral ministry, therefore, are founded on the eccle-
siology of the World Church as it is currently professed.

III. Statement on Womens Ordination to Pastoral Ministry


1. Whereas according to the Consensus Statement for the Ordination to Ministry by the Theology of Ordina-
tion Studies Committee, ordination does not convey any special qualities or status and represents an en-
dorsement and dedication of a persons talents, time and service to God;
2. Whereas the World Church does not have consensus with regard to the biblical evidence;
3. Whereas the World Church does not have consensus with regard to the writings of Ellen G. White;
4. Whereas the Fundamental Beliefs insist on the equality of genders without partiality or reservation and
that issues of gender should not be divisive;
5. Whereas Official Statements of the World Church argue for the equality of all people irrespective of gen-
der and maintain that women should play an increased role in the leadership and decision-making bodies of
both church and society;
6. Whereas authority in church governance does not reside with the church pastor, but with the local mem-
bership including both men and women;
7. Whereas a leader in the SDA Church is not aligned with having authority, both men and women may be
ordained as elders, and elders may fulfil the role of an ordained pastor in the absence of an ordained pastor;
8. Whereas roles assigned to church officers based on gender is not an evident part of local church election
procedures;
9. Whereas there is no policy prohibiting the ordination of women to pastoral ministry presently in exist-
ence, nor has there been in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church;
10. Whereas human rights are concerned to promote the equal treatment of both genders;
The findings of this committee are that there are currently no conclusive arguments that prohibit the ordina-
tion of women to pastoral ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The committee, therefore, con-
cludes that ordination to pastoral ministry should not be determined by gender.

IV. Response to SID Recommendations as outlined in The Summary of SID


BRC Position on the Ordination of Women.
The committees response follows the numbers as listed in the SID recommendations and each point is ad-
dressed in turn (See Appendix A for the SID document entitled: The Summary of SID BRC Position on the
Ordination of Women):
1. Since there is no biblical support for the ordination of woman pastors, then the ordination of women elders
should also not be considered. That implies that as from the action date, women shall no longer serve as el-
ders.
Response: The World Church is divided on the biblical evidence and the argument that there is no biblical
support for the ordination of women as pastors is not an opinion that is uniformly accepted within the SDA
Church. The issue of the ordination of women as elders goes beyond the SIDs mandate. Hence, pronounce-
ments related to women as elders is out of place and inapplicable.
2. The church should continue to recognize the spiritual gifts of both men and women and encourage them to
be involved in appropriate ministry according to the biblical model.
Response: The committee agrees that the church should recognize the spiritual gifts of both men and wom-
en. The committee also agrees that men and women should be encouraged to be involved in appropriate
ministry, as long as the term appropriate ministry is not taken to mean anything prescriptive. The commit-
tee is unsure as to what is meant by the biblical model, since this has not been clearly established and no
such model is consistently accepted by the World Church.
3. Recognizing that we have taken actions that are not in line with the biblical model, we should review all
principles, policies, and practices not consistent with the biblical model presented above.
Response: In light of the fact that there is no single biblical model accepted by the World Church, recom-
mendations based on an acceptance of such a model are moot and not open to further evaluation.
4. The church should create a variety of ministry opportunities for women with ministerial training such as
counsellors and teachers.
6. Ministerial Training institutions should provide greater scope of study for women in ministry training, such
as doing a double major in theology and counselling.
7. The Admission office of the ministerial training institutions should advise prospective women theology stu-
dents of the ordination vote and guide accordingly.
8. Females who are currently enrolled in our theological seminaries need to be channeled in ministries that
would not require ordination.
Response: The committee notes that points 4, 6, 7 and 8 are recommendations based on the assumption
that the General Conference in Session in 2015 will oppose the ordination of women to pastoral ministry.
Recommendations of this nature need to be shelved until such a time.
5. The church should create a remuneration system that does not discriminate on the basis of gender but rec-
ognizes the capabilities and abilities of every individual in ministry.
Response: The committee applauds the sentiments in this statement and endorses the importance of not
discriminating on the basis of gender.
9. The proposal to regionalize ordination should not be allowed because it will lead to further fragmentation
which will threaten the unity of the world church.
Response: The proposal to regionalize ordination is an attempt to find middle ground on the question of the
ordination of women to pastoral ministry. The regionalizing of ordination is not an ideal and, in this sense,
the committee agrees with the SID recommendation, but acknowledges that sometimes pragmatic solutions
are the only way forward where consensus is not a possibility.

V. Elaboration of the Statement on Womens Ordination to Pastoral


Ministry
The Statement on Womens Ordination to Pastoral Ministry is divided into ten clauses, each of which is am-
plified below. Additional documentation, if required, is provided in the appendices.
1. Whereas according to the Consensus Statement for the Ordination to Ministry
by the Theology of Ordination Studies Committee, ordination does not convey any
special qualities or status and represents an endorsement and dedication of a
persons talents, time and service to God
The following excerpts from the document serve as elaboration for this clause (see Appendix B for
the full document):
a. English versions of the Scriptures use the word ordain to translate many different Greek and He-
brew words having the basic idea of select or appoint that describe the placement of these persons
in their respective offices. Over the course of Christian history the term ordination has acquired
meanings beyond what these words originally implied. Against such a backdrop, Seventh-day Ad-
ventists understand ordination, in a biblical sense, as the action of the Church in publicly recognizing
those whom the Lord has called and equipped for local and global Church ministry.
b. While ordination contributes to Church order, it neither conveys special qualities to the persons
ordained nor introduces a kingly hierarchy within the faith community.
c. Ordained individuals dedicate their talents to the Lord and to His Church for a lifetime of service.
The foundational model of ordination is Jesus appointing the twelve apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark
3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16), and the ultimate model of Christian ministry is the life and work of our Lord,
who came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45; Luke 22:25-27; John 13:1-17).

2. Whereas the World Church does not have consensus with regard to the biblical
evidence
The committee acknowledges that issues pertaining to the Church and its functioning is best resolved by
proclamations from Scripture. However, with regard to the question of womens ordination, opinion within
the SDA Church is divided as to the nature of the biblical witness. The very fact that Scripture does not seem
to address the question explicitly has meant that conclusions on womens ordination drawn from Scripture
have largely been inferences. For example, it is possible to argue that the designated twelve apostles of Je-
sus were all male and to thereby infer that only men may be ordained as pastors. One could, however, con-
tinue with this logic and infer that since the twelve apostles were all Jewish, only men who are Jewish may
be ordained as pastors. The argument from inference has limited weight purely because it is a conclusion
that is drawn from the evidence rather than one that is explicitly stated in Scripture.
The committee, while not wishing to negatively judge any SDA exegetes of Scripture, perceives that interpre-
tations of Scripture with regard to the question of womens ordination to pastoral ministry often appear to
be guided by pre-established convictions. That is to say, that if a person is in favour of womens ordination,
then their task is to amass biblical evidence in support of their position. Similarly, a person opposed to the
ordination of women, will compile biblical evidence in support of their position. Proponents on both sides of
the divide, hence, claim to hold to a biblical perspective.
While individual members of the committee have opinions as to which biblical arguments are compelling
and which arguments are not, the committee is forced to acknowledge that there is a large body of essays,
papers and books that present conflicting conclusions based on the biblical evidence. The committee, there-
fore, maintains that the Bible has not spoken with sufficient clarity on this issue to provide the SDA Church at
this point in its history and development with the definitive answer it seeks on womens ordination. Mindful
of this, the committee would like to make the following affirmations:
a. The lack of a definitive biblical answer does not mean that the Bible cannot give general guidance;
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b. The Church has a responsibility to address and respond to this question in a definitive manner as it
is a question that has severe and present implications for the Church and its membership;
c. The womens ordination issue is currently not perceived by the Church to be one of Church doc-
trine requiring a specific inclusion in the fundamental beliefs;
d. Since the fundamental beliefs represent the Churchs best expression of the Bible as voted at a
General Conference in Session, these serve as biblical guidance on ecclesiological questions of this
nature.
The committee acknowledges that the list of resources offering biblical arguments both for and against
womens ordination to pastoral ministry is extensive and suggests the following as provisional readings (one
for and one against).
Against:

P. Gerard Damsteegt, Edwin Reynolds, Gerhard Pfandl, Laurel Damsteegt, and Eugene
Prewitt, Interpreting Scripture on the Ordination of Women, Presented by Eugene Prewitt
at the Theology of Ordination Committee, January 21-25, 2014.

For:

ngel Manuel Rodrguez, Evaluation of the Arguments Used by Those Who Oppose the Or-
dination of Women to the Ministry, Theology of Ordination Study Committee, Columbia,
January 2013.


3. Whereas the World Church does not have consensus with regard to the writings
of Ellen G. White
Although Seventh-day Adventist accepts the Bible as their only creed (Church Manual 2010, 156),
the writings of Ellen G. White are a continuing and authoritative source of truth which provide
for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction (Church Manual 2010, 162). Unfortunately, explicit guidance on the ordination of women to pastoral ministry from Ellen Whites
writings has not proved decisive and commentators on both sides of the issue have made use of
her works to bolster their position. In view of the varying approaches to the reading of Ellen
White, the committee is not convinced that Ellen White can be used to resolve the question one
way or the other. The following essay serves as an example:
Dennis Fortin, Ellen White, Women in Ministry, and the Ordination of Women, Theology
of Ordination Study Committee, November 10, 2013.

4. Whereas the Fundamental Beliefs insist on the equality of genders without
partiality or reservation and that issues of gender should not be divisive
The purpose of this analysis is in order to derive theological principles from the fundamental beliefs that may
give direction on the question of the ordination of women to ministry in the SDA Church. The reason for this
is that the 28 fundamental beliefs represent the beliefs of the Church as voted at a General Conference in
Session and as such represent the Churchs best understanding of Scripture. Since the question of womens
ordination is an ecclesiological question, the fundamental beliefs that are most obviously relevant are: #12
The Church; #14 Unity and the Body of Christ; and #17 Spiritual Gifts and Ministries. These beliefs have been
cited in full below:
The committee failed to observe any indication in the fundamental beliefs that any ecclesial role or function
should be exclusively designated for men. The fundamental beliefs appear to state quite the opposite, argu-
ing that all believers are equal in that they are children of God, and that each believer is called on to serve
the church in accordance with the gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows. There is no indication that the gifts are
bestowed on the basis of gender. What follows is a brief exposition of the pertinent beliefs outlining the ba-
sis for this conclusion.

#12 The Church


The church is the community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. In continuity with the people of God in Old Testament times, we are called out from the world; and we join
together for worship, for fellowship, for instruction in the Word, for the celebration of the Lords
Supper, for service to all mankind, and for the worldwide proclamation of the gospel. The church
derives its authority from Christ, who is the incarnate Word, and from the Scriptures, which are the
written Word. The church is Gods family; adopted by Him as children, its members live on the basis
of the new covenant. The church is the body of Christ, a community of faith of which Christ Himself
is the Head. The church is the bride for whom Christ died that He might sanctify and cleanse her.
At His return in triumph, He will present her to Himself a glorious church, the faithful of all the ages, the purchase of His blood, not having spot or wrinkle, but holy and without blemish (Church Ma-
nual 2010, 160).

The committee notes the following:


a. The church is the community of believers who confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. The
church is differentiated as a community in that it consists of those who believe in Jesus Christ as
Lord and Saviour. This differentiation is one of belief irrespective of gender.
b. The church derives its authority from Christ. Any authority that the church (the community
of believers) has is derived from Christ in whom true authority resides. The church as a whole
derives this authority and it is not the unique province of specific believers.
c. The church is Gods family; adopted by Him as children, its members live on the basis of the
new covenant. The church is adopted into Gods family and each member, whether male or female, is likened to a child. There is no differentiation between genders, but all members are
accorded the familial status of a child. All are children and there is no indication that sons are
elevated above daughters or, indeed, vice versa.
d. The church is the body of Christ, a community of faith of which Christ Himself is the Head.
The church is likened to a body . . . of which Christ Himself is the Head. The church collectively as the community of faith is the body of Christ. There is no indication of differentiation in
status or roles based on gender with regard to different body parts. This seems to reaffirm that
Christ alone has authority in the church since He is the head.
#14 Unity in the Body of Christ
The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. In Christ we are a new creation; 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, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with
one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope, and reach out in one witness to all. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His
children (Church Manual 2010, 160-61).

The committee notes the following:


a. The church is one body with many members, called from every nation, kindred, tongue, and
people. In Christ we are a new creation; 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. The belief notes that the church is composed of members of every nation, kindred,
tongue, and people. Hence the church by definition includes tremendous difference among its
members. These differences, and male and female is listed among them, must not be divisive
among us. That the issue of womens ordination has become divisive in the church is scarcely in
dispute. The imperative stated in the fundamental belief that issues of gender not be divisive
means that the church is out of step with its stated beliefs. The resolution to the dilemma is
presented in the following sentence.
b. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and
with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. Where divi8

sions in the church arise related to class, economic status or gender (differences between high
and low, rich and poor, male and female), the fundamental belief presents equality as the solution. Believers are all equal in Christ and are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation. With regard to the ordination of women to ministry, the following is noted:
i. The intent of this belief is that these principles apply directly to gender issues.
ii. The office of the pastor/minister is directly aligned with service and as such falls directly into the ambit of this belief.
iii. Without partiality means without bias in favour of anyone, but equal to all. The idea
that ordination to ministry is something reserved only for males demonstrates partiality
that contradicts the belief.
iv. Without reservation means that there are no conditions under which this does not apply. The withholding of ordination based on gender is an exception that the belief does
not allow for.
c. This unity has its source in the oneness of the triune God, who has adopted us as His children. The basis of church unity is the oneness of the triune God and the belief reaffirms that
our status in relation to God is that of children and that our unity has its source in this fundamental truth. Since we are all Gods children, there should be no partiality among us. The notion that a particular office has been set aside for only males is out of step with the belief and is
a dissonant amendment.
#17 Spiritual Gifts and Ministries
God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member is to
employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. Given by the agency
of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts provide all abilities and
ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained functions. According to the Scriptures, these gifts include such ministries as faith, healing, prophecy, proclamation, teaching, administration, reconciliation, compassion, and self-sacrificing service and charity for the help and
encouragement of people. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip the members for service, to build up the church to spiritual maturity, and to
foster unity of the faith and knowledge of God. When members employ these spiritual gifts as faithful stewards of Gods varied grace, the church is protected from the destructive influence of false
doctrine, grows with a growth that is from God, and is built up in faith and love (Church Manual
2010, 161-62).

The committee notes the following:


a. God bestows upon all members of His church in every age spiritual gifts which each member
is to employ in loving ministry for the common good of the church and of humanity. God bestows gifts on all members.
b. Given by the agency of the Holy Spirit, who apportions to each member as He wills, the gifts
provide all abilities and ministries needed by the church to fulfill its divinely ordained
functions. The gifts are given by the agency of the Holy Spirit . . . as He wills. There is no indication that the gift is predicated on any attribute of the receiver; gender, class or otherwise.
Each person receives gifts to perform divinely ordained functions, that is, functions that are
determined by God. In this regard, the belief implies that what is meant by the word ordain is
that which is determined by God alone.
c. Some members are called of God and endowed by the Spirit for functions recognized by the
church in pastoral, evangelistic, apostolic, and teaching ministries particularly needed to equip
the members for service . . . . It is noted that the pastoral gift is specifically mentioned as one
of those recognized as a divinely ordained function. This is granted to members as the Spirit
wills. There is no indication in the belief that there should be a division of gifts amongst mem-

bers according to stereotypical gender roles. Gifts are determined by the Holy Spirit, not by social norms and mores.

5. Whereas Official Statements of the World Church argue for the equality of all
people irrespective of gender and maintain that women should play an increased
role in the leadership and decision-making bodies of both church and society
There is no indication in the Official Statements of the Church that any special status is granted
to men over women in terms of roles or position. The following are selective quotes (see Appendix C for the full statements and references):
a. Seventh-day Adventists deplore and seek to combat all forms of discrimination based on
race, tribe, nationality, color, or gender (Human Relations).
b. The equality of all people is one of the tenets of our church (Human Relations).
c. Seventh-day Adventists believe that all people, male and female, are created equal, in the
image of a loving God (Womens Issues).
d. Women are entitled to the God-given privileges and opportunities intended for every human
beingthe right to literacy, to education, to adequate health care, to decision making, and to
freedom from mental, physical, or sexual abuse. We also maintain that women should play an
increased role in the leadership and decision-making bodies of both church and society (Womens Issues).
e. Ultimately, we believe that the church will fulfill its mission only when women are empowered to achieve their full potential (Womens Issues).

6. Whereas authority in church governance does not reside with the church pas-
tor, but with the local membership including both men and women
The Seventh-day Adventist 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
(Church Manual 2010, 28). Inasmuch as SDA Church governance is representative and authority rests in the
membership, the committee notes that the authority of a pastor at a local church level is derived and in
service to the local membership. The idea that the position of the ordained pastor is one of authority over
the church membership is a misunderstanding of the nature of the office.
In the Church today the General Conference in session, and the General Conference Executive Committee
between sessions, is the highest ecclesiastical authority in the administration of the Church (Church Manual
2010, 31). It should be noted that no individual is granted ecclesiastical authority in the SDA understanding
of governance. In this regard the Church Manual quotes Ellen White:
I have often been instructed by the Lord that no mans judgment should be surrendered to
the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a
few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say
what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the
brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary
to the decision of the general body.9T 260 (Church Manual 2010, 31).
The local church operates within defined roles in Seventh-day Adventist Church structure. Within the con-
text of those roles, the business meeting is the governing body of the local church. Members in regular
standing are encouraged to attend and entitled to vote (Church Manual 2010, 123). It is noted that govern-
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ance at a local church level is by the business meeting and that all members in regular standing (men and
women) are entitled to vote. This means that ultimate authority at a local church level is the province of
both men and women.
It is acknowledged that the local church in its day to day functioning is guided by the church board, but the
church board is nevertheless subservient to the business meeting: The business meeting has authority over
the board and may delegate responsibilities to the board in addition to those assigned by the Church
Manual (Church Manual 2010, 124).
Any objection to the ordination of women as pastors based on the idea that women should not have author-
ity, misunderstands the role of the pastor. SDA Church governance does not allow final authority to be given
to any individual and people who are voted into office serve the church according to the description of their
particular office. In this sense it is true that the pastor should be the congregations spiritual leader and ad-
viser, since this is the expected role of the pastor (Church Manual 2010, 33).
The committee, therefore, notes that authority in church decision-making does not rest with the pastor, but
rather with the local membership. The argument that women should not be ordained as pastors cannot be
sustained on the basis that it confers authority that is uniquely reserved for men, since the nature of the
pastoral role according to the SDA model of church governance is one of service, not authority. To argue that
women cannot have authority over men is something that can be debated, but to apply that debate to the
ordination of women as pastors misunderstands the nature of Seventh-day Adventist Church governance.
A footnote to this should add that, at a local church, final authority resides with the church business meeting
(which is comprised of both men and women). In terms of the World Church, final authority resides with the
General Conference in Session (which is comprised of men and women). It is, therefore, fair to say, that in
Church governance, the SDA Church does not differentiate between men and women. Both have equal au-
thority.

7. Whereas a leader in the SDA Church is not aligned with having authority, both
men and women may be ordained as elders, and elders may fulfil the role of an
ordained pastor in the absence of an ordained pastor
The term leader in a Seventh-day Adventist context should not be understood as having authority over the
church membership. In fact the word leader is applied freely across all aspects of church life and each
church may have, for example, a youth leader, a family ministries leader, a health ministries leader, a reli-
gious liberty leader and so on. Indeed, elders are specifically called religious leaders of the church and
spiritual leaders (Church Manual 2010, 71). There is nothing in church policy that prohibits women from
functioning in any of these leadership roles.
In addition to this, in the absence of a pastor, elders are the spiritual leaders of the church and by precept
and example must seek to lead the church into a deeper and fuller Christian experience (Church Manual
2010, 71). If an ordained woman elder can function as an ordained pastor in the absence of an ordained pas-
tor, the church indirectly has already ratified the validity of women serving as ordained pastors. Further to
this, it is crucial to reiterate that leadership in the SDA Church does not mean authority:
Christian leadership is servant leadership. Healthy, growing churches usually have strong
and effective pastoral leadership. But strong does not mean dominating or manipulative
leadership. You know that rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are
great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires
to become great among you, let him be your servant (Matt. 20:25, 16), (Seventh-day Ad-
ventist Minsters Handbook 2009, 101-102).

11

8. Whereas roles assigned to church officers based on gender is not an evident


part of local church election procedures
The committee notes that roles in the Seventh-day Adventist Church are not designated according
to gender, but rather according to talents and abilities. The committee acknowledges that there
are certain church officers that tend to be distinguished by gender. For example, it is improbable
(though not forbidden) that a man become the womens ministries leader. The manual also distinguishes between deacons and deaconesses. In this regard, however, it should be noted that while
deacons tend to take up the offering and deaconesses tend to prepare the communion bread, for
example, this is a matter of tradition not prescription. There is nothing in church policy that
would prevent a deacon from preparing communion bread or a deaconess from collecting the offering on a Sabbath morning. The roles are not distinguished by gender.
The committee is mindful that role distinction according to gender is an argument that has been
emphasized by some opposed to the ordination of women to pastoral ministry (see, for example,
Bacchiocchi, Samuele. Women in the Church: A Biblical Study on the Role of Women in the Church. Berrien Springs: Biblical Perspectives, 1987), but notes that no such role distinction is practiced by
the Church. All church officers may be either male or female, including, elders and pastors. The
only current withholding is that of the ordination of women as pastors and not the withholding of
the role of pastor. Irrespective of the validity of the role argument, the committee reiterates
that ordination is not a role and that roles assigned to church officers within the Seventh-day Adventist Church are not distinguished by gender. For this reason, the role argument does not currently have relevance in a Seventh-day Adventist context.

9. Whereas there is no policy prohibiting the ordination of women to pastoral
ministry presently in existence, nor has there been in the history of the Sev-
enth-day Adventist Church
The issue of the ordination of women to pastoral ministry has been on the table of the General Conference
from 1881 to the present day. In this time, there has been no policy against the ordination of women to pas-
toral ministry. As has been mentioned by the minority report, the ordination of women has been discussed
at least nine times over the period 1881 to 2012, but there has been no vote against the ordination of wom-
en pastors by the GC. The committee notes that the absence of explicit policy preventing the ordination of
women to pastoral ministry within the Seventh-day Adventist Church throughout its history suggests that
the practice of not ordaining women has been inculcated more by years of tradition than theological pre-
scriptions and doctrine.
10. Whereas human rights are concerned to promote the equal treatment of both
genders
(See Appendix D for the Official StatementsValues and 50th Anniversary of Declaration of Human
Rightsreferenced in this section)
Questions have been advanced as to whether the role of women in Adventist ministry and the affirmation of
that role through ordination can also be understood within the framework of human rights. The committee
acknowledges that while the issue of human rights is not decisive in establishing a Seventh-day Adventist
theology of ordination, there are nevertheless key points that are raised that are valued by the Church and
relevant to the Church. The Official Statement on Values of the Seventh-day Adventist Church reads: Our
sense of mission is driven by the realization that every person, regardless of circumstances is of infinite value
to God and thus deserving of respect and dignity. Through Gods grace every person is gifted for and needed
in the diverse activities of the church family (Values).
It is the expressed view of the SDA Church that discrimination of persons on the basis of religion, gender,
race and culture is a violation of biblical imperatives (Galatians 3:28), flies against our sense of mission and is
an infringement of basic human rights. From its very inception in the middle of the nineteenth century, the
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Seventh-day Adventist Church has supported human rights (50th Anniversary of Declaration of Human
Rights).
In terms of Human Rights the right to be affirmed for serving in ministry is inalienable. Ordination is an af-
firmation for Christian service and mission. This need for affirmation is fundamental and innate. It is inherent
and not organizational. It may be institutionally granted or denied, but its natural presence can be neither
ignored nor suppressed. Further to this, Ellen White believed in human rights. She believed that basic human
rights are Godgiven and are the legitimate inheritance of every human-being, male or female (Great
Controversy, 295):
There are rights which belong to every individual, in doing Gods service. No man has any
more right to take these rights from us than to take life itself. God has given us freedom
to think and it is our privilege and duty always to be a doer of the Word and to follow our
impressions of duty. We are only human beings and no human being has jurisdiction over
the conscience of other human beings (Ellen G White, Letter 92, 1895, Manuscripts Releases,
19:213).

Appendix A
THE SUMMARY OF SID BRC POSITION ON THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN
INTRODUCTION
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has debated the issue of the ordination of women to the gospel ministry for over a hundred years. In all instances, the decision has not been in favour of women ordination. The absence of a clear biblical basis has been the reason for lack of support for the ordination of
women. In recent years the topic has generated increasing discussion.
There has been a growing awareness of the increasing participation of women in various aspects
of ministry. There is also a notable contribution and participation of women in ministry and this is commendable and encouraged. Perhaps the debate about ordination is indicative of the fact that women are
active in the mission of the church.
The contribution of this paper is to develop a position based on biblical foundations and the writings of Ellen White in dealing with women participation in ministry and women ordination.
I. BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS
In the discussion of this topic, time has been invested in establishing sound hermeneutics of the
Bible and the writings of Ellen White. The first three chapters of Genesis are recognised as playing a
foundational role in the development of theology. Hence, they are taken to be the starting point on which
the discussion of ordination of women should be established. Some pertinent issues that arise out of these
chapters are:
1. Both male and female were created by the Creator in His image (imago dei). They are equal in
their essence (ontologically) as reflected in Gen 1:26-27, Mk 10:6, and 1Tim 2:13. None is inferior to the other, and this resonates well with E. G. White (see PP 46 and AH 115).
2. Male Headship/leadership role:
a. Man (Adam as in ish) represents God in headship as stated in the layout of Gen 1-3 and
1Cor 11:3, 7-8.
b. There is clear role differentiation which started before sin and continues even after sin
(Gen. 2:7; 1Cor 11:7-8; Eph. 5:22-31).
c. Primacy of man (Adam) in creation (Gen 2:7, 22; 1 Cor. 11: 12; 1 Tim 2: 13).
d. God gives Adam the prerogative to name the animals and Eve (Gen 35 2:19-23; PP 48).
e. Amongst the ordained priests in the Old Testament there were no women (Ex 28: 41).
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f. Amongst the ordained apostles of Jesus there were no females (Mark 3: 13-19).
g. There were also no female elders amongst the ordained leadership of the church.
h. Male headship is reflected in Eden, in the home and in the church (Eph. 5:23).
3. The curse which resulted from the entrance of sin, brought a distortion of God given roles not
an introduction of new roles (Gen 3:16).
4. There is a lack of biblical precedence for the appointment of female elders.
5. The priesthood of all believers in the New Testament sets every believer on the same level. Yet
the same New Testament demonstrates the appointment of ordained male leaders.
II. GUIDANCE FROM THE WRITINGS OF ELLEN WHITE
1. Ellen White, consistent with the OT and NT models, affirms the participation of women in
ministry within the specified roles as stated in the article where she directly addressed the laying
on of hands on women in 1895:
Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should
be appointed to visit the sick, look after the young, and minister to the necessities of the
poor. They should be set apart to this work by prayer and laying on of hands. In some
cases they will need to counsel ith the church officers or the minister; but if they are devoted women, maintaining a vital connection with God, they will be a power for good in
the church. This is another means of strengthening and building up the church. -RH, July
9, 1895.
This statement does not relate to the ordained ministers functional roles (administration, ordinances or raising of new churches). It describes a part time function for persons who must consult with
church officers or a minister.
2. Ellen White is recognized as having occupied the prophetic office within the Adventist
Church and yet there is no record where she requested to be ordained nor received ordination from the church.
3. Ellen White did not receive a vision, instruction or revelation on the issue of her ordination.
III. POSITION ON WOMEN ORDINATION
In view of the study conducted and the arguments presented above, SID BRC recommends that
the Biblical model of ordaining men only, must be maintained.
IV. OUR AFFIRMATIONS
We affirm:
1. The Bible has and should still continue to inform practice and ministry in the church,
both in the past and present.
2. The Old Testament and New Testament models of ministry leadership give us timeless
principles regarding the appointment of men and women to different functions.
3. The Old Testament and New Testament demonstrate that no women were ordained.
4. In the selection of leaders in the Old Testament and the appointment of apostles in the
New Testament, culture was not used as a determining factor. Christs Model in the selection of apostles provides the fundamental framework for ministry and its practice in the
Christian church within the multicultural context of the expanding church without introducing womens ordination.
V. RECOMMENDATIONS
1. Since there is no biblical support for the ordination of woman pastors, then the ordination of women elders should also not be considered. That implies that as from the action
date, women shall no longer serve as elders.
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2. The church should continue to recognize the spiritual gifts of both men and women and
encourage them to be involved in appropriate ministry according to the biblical model.
3. Recognizing that we have taken actions that are not in line with the biblical model, we
should review all principles, policies, and practices not consistent with the biblical model
presented above.
4. The church should create a variety of ministry opportunities for women with ministerial training such as counsellors and teachers.
5. The church should create a remuneration system that does not discriminate on the basis
of gender but recognizes the capabilities and abilities of every individual in ministry.
6. Ministerial Training institutions should provide greater scope of study for women in
ministry training, such as doing a double major in theology and counselling.
7. The Admission office of the ministerial training institutions should advise prospective
women theology students of the ordination vote and guide accordingly.
8. Females who are currently enrolled in our theological seminaries need to be channeled
in ministries that would not require ordination.
9. The proposal to regionalize ordination should not be allowed because it will lead to further fragmentation which will threaten the unity of the world church.

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Appendix B
CONSENSUS STATEMENT ON A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST THEOLOGY OF ORDINATION
Revised 07-23-13tkb
TOSC to AAS-EOM+ADCOM+GCDO13AC+13AC+15GCS
130-13GS CONSENSUS STATEMENT ON A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST THEOLOGY OF
ORDINATION
RECOMMENDED, To adopt the document, Consensus Statement on a Seventh-day Adventist Theology
of Ordination, which reads as follows:
In a world alienated from God, the Church is composed of those whom God has reconciled to
Himself and to each other. Through the saving work of Christ they are united to Him by faith through
baptism (Eph. 4:4-6), thus becoming a royal priesthood whose mission is to proclaim the praises of him
who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9, NKJV). Believers are given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20), called and enabled through the power of the Spirit and the gifts
He bestows on them to carry out the Gospel Commission (Matt 28:18-20).
While all believers are called to use their spiritual gifts for ministry, the Scriptures identify certain specific leadership positions that were accompanied by the Churchs public endorsement for persons
who meet the biblical qualifications (Num. 11:16-17; Acts 6:1-6; 13:1-3; 14:23; 1 Tim 3:1-12; Titus 1:59). Several such endorsements are shown to involve the laying on of hands. English versions of the
Scriptures use the word ordain to translate many different Greek and Hebrew words having the basic idea
of select or appoint that describe the placement of these persons in their respective offices. Over the
course of Christian history the term ordination has acquired meanings beyond what these words originally implied. Against such a backdrop, Seventh-day Adventists understand ordination, in a biblical sense,
as the action of the Church in publicly recognizing those whom the Lord has called and equipped for local and global Church ministry.
Aside from the unique role of the apostles, the New Testament identifies the following categories
of ordained leaders: the elder/supervising elder (Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17, 28; 1 Tim 3:2-7; 4:14; 2 Tim
4:1-5; 1 Pet 5:1) and the deacon (Phil 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8-10). While most elders and deacons ministered in
local settings, some elders were itinerant and supervised greater territory with multiple congregations,
which may reflect the ministry of individuals such as Timothy and Titus (1 Tim 1:3-4; Titus 1:5).
In the act of ordination, the Church confers representative authority upon individuals for the specific work of ministry to which they are appointed (Acts 6:1-3; 13:1-3; 1 Tim 5:17; Titus 2:15). These
may include representing the Church; proclaiming the gospel; administering the Lords Supper and baptism; planting and organizing churches; guiding and nurturing members; opposing false teachings; and
providing general service to the congregation (cf. Acts 6:3; 20:28-29; 1 Tim 3:2, 4-5; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2;
4:5; Titus 1:5, 9). While ordination contributes to Church order, it neither conveys special qualities to the
persons ordained nor introduces a kingly hierarchy within the faith community. The biblical examples of
ordination include the giving of a charge, the laying on of hands, fasting and prayer, and committing
those set apart to the grace of God (Deut. 3:28; Acts 6:6; 14:26; 15:40).
Ordained individuals dedicate their talents to the Lord and to His Church for a lifetime of service.
The foundational model of ordination is Jesus appointing the twelve apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:1319; Luke 6:12-16), and the ultimate model of Christian ministry is the life and work of our Lord, who
came not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45; Luke 22:25-27; John 13:1-17).

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Appendix C
HUMAN RELATIONS
Seventh-day Adventists deplore and seek to combat all forms of discrimination based on race, tribe, nation-
ality, color, or gender. We believe that every person was created in the image of God, who made all nations
of one blood (Acts 17:26). We endeavor to carry on the reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ, who died for the
whole world so that in Him "there is neither Jew nor Greek" (Gal. 3:28). Any form of racism eats the heart
out of the Christian gospel.
One of the most troubling aspects of our times is the manifestation of racism and tribalism in many societies,
sometimes with violence, always with the denigration of men and women. As a worldwide body in more
than 200 nations, Seventh-day Adventists seek to manifest acceptance, love, and respect toward all, and to
spread this healing message throughout society.
The equality of all people is one of the tenets of our church. Our Fundamental Belief No. 13 states: "In Christ
we are a new creation; 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, who by
one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him, and with one another; we are to serve and be served
without partiality or reservation."

This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative
Committee (ADCOM) and was released by the Office of the President, Robert S. Folkenberg, at the General
Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 29-July 8, 1995.
Official Statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Human Relations,
http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/human-relations/ (accessed
July 17, 2014).

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WOMENS ISSUES
Seventh-day Adventists believe that all people, male and female, are created equal, in the image of a loving
God. We believe that both men and women are called to fill a significant role in accomplishing the primary
mission of the Adventist Church: working together for the benefit of humanity. Yet we are painfully aware
that throughout the world, in developing and developed nations, adverse societal conditions often inhibit
women from fulfilling their God-given potential.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church has identified several major problems, well-documented by research, that
often keep women from making valuable contributions to society. Stress, the environment, and increased
demands have placed women at greater risk for health problems. Poverty and heavy workloads not only de-
prive women of their ability to enjoy life, but also impair their physical and spiritual well-being. Family vio-
lence takes a heavy toll on its victims.
Women are entitled to the God-given privileges and opportunities intended for every human being--the right
to literacy, to education, to adequate health care, to decision making, and to freedom from mental, physical,
or sexual abuse. We also maintain that women should play an increased role in the leadership and decision-
making bodies of both church and society.
Ultimately, we believe that the church will fulfill its mission only when women are empowered to achieve
their full potential.

This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative
Committee (ADCOM) and was released by the Office of the President, Robert S. Folkenberg, at the General
Conference session in Utrecht, the Netherlands, June 29-July 8, 1995.
Official Statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Womens Issues,
http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/womens-issues/ (accessed
July 17, 2014).

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Appendix D
VALUES
Seventh-day Adventist values are rooted in the revelation of God provided through the Bible and the life of
Jesus Christ. Our sense of identity and calling grows from an understanding of Bible prophecies, especially
those concerning the time immediately preceding the return of Jesus. Consequently all of life becomes a
growing experience and demonstration of involvement with God and His kingdom.
Our sense of mission is driven by the realization that every person, regardless of circumstances, is of infinite
value to God and thus deserving of respect and dignity. Through God's grace every person is gifted for and
needed in the diverse activities of the church family.
Our respect for diversity, individuality and freedom is balanced by regard for community. We are one--a
worldwide family of faith engaged in representing the reign of God in our world through ethical conduct,
mutual regard, and loving service. Our faithfulness to God involves commitment to and support of His body,
the church.
____________________
This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive
Committee at the Annual Council in Silver Spring, Maryland, October 10, 2004.
Official Statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Values,
http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/values/ (accessed July 17,
2014).

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50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIVERSAL DELARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS


From its very inception in the middle of the nineteenth century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has sup-
ported human rights. Inspired by biblical values, the early Adventists were involved in the struggle against
slavery and injustice. They claimed the right of every person to choose beliefs according to conscience and to
practice and teach his or her religion in full freedom, without discrimination, always respecting the equal
rights of others. Seventh-day Adventists are convinced that in religion the exercise of force is contrary to
God's principles.
In promoting religious freedom, family life, education, health, mutual assistance, and meeting crying human
need, Seventh-day Adventists affirm the dignity of the human person created in the image of God.
The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights was written and adopted by individuals who had emerged
from the unprecedented destruction, disorientation and distress of World War II. This harrowing experience
gave them a vision of and desire for a future world of peace and freedom. Coming from the best and highest
part of the human heart, the Universal Declaration is a fundamental document standing firmly for human
dignity, liberty, equality, and non-discrimination of minorities. Article 18, which upholds unconditionally reli-
gious liberty in belief and practice, is of special importance, because freedom of religion is the basic human
right which undergirds and upholds all human rights.
Today the UDHR is often violated, not least Article 18. Intolerance frequently raises its ugly head, despite the
human rights progress accomplished in many nations. The Seventh-day Adventist Church urges the United
Nations, government authorities, religious leaders and believers, and non-government organizations to con-
sistently work for the implementation of this Declaration. Politicians, trade union leaders, teachers, employ-
ers, media representatives, and all opinion leaders should give strong support to human rights. This would
respond to and help reduce growing and violent religious extremism, intolerance, hate crimes and discrimi-
nation based either on religion or anti-religious secularism. In this way, the Universal Declaration will grow in
practical importance and luster, and never risk becoming an irrelevant document.

This statement was voted by the General Conference Administrative Committee, November 17, 1998, and
released by the General Conference Office of Public Affairs.
Official Statements of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, http://www.adventist.org/information/official-statements/statements/article/go/0/50thanniversary-of-the-universal-declaration-of-human-rights/ (accessed July 17, 2014).

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