THE BIG TOPIC, Wednesday, July 8, 2015 GC

The morning session started about 9:30 a.m. and for the first two hours, the time was spent in sharing the theology of ordination, the history of the topic over the years in the Adventist Church, and three reports from the Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). We in the Pennsylvania Conference had two pastors serving on the TOSC and providing contributions, Pastor John Peters and Pastor Tara VinCross.
Two of the three reports recommended the ordination of women to the gospel ministry in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although that was classified as not being enough for a consensus of 90% of the TOSC, it was classified as being a super-majority. (66.6.%)

About 11:30 a.m. the GC Secretary read the motion coming from the 2014 GC Annual Council that would allow Divisions through their Executive Committees whether or not to ordain women pastors in their divisions.

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By the glory of God, I was able to be the first delegate to speak to the motion, and speak in favor of the motion. Just so that there is no mis-understanding of my words or my motives in speaking, my words are listed here:
“Mr. Chairman:
I respectfully ask all of us in God’s world church, how we should relate to the following questions:
If in 1911 Ellen White in Review and Herald May 18, writes “In the city of Portland the Lord ordained me as His messenger, and here my first labors were given to the cause of present truth.”
And–
If in 6 T p. 322 Ellen White writes:
It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God.
And–
If in Acts of the Apostles p. 161, 162 Ellen White writes:
Both Paul and Barnabas had already received their commission from God Himself, and the ceremony of the laying on of hands added no new grace or virtual qualification. It was an acknowledged form of designation to an appointed office and a recognition of one’s authority in that office. By it the seal of the church was set upon the work of God. p. 161,162
And–
If in Joel 2:28,29 God’s word states And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Then–
We must ask ourselves, is it possible God would have us recognize He is working through the daughters of the Adventist church?

If our Adventist daughters are being called by the Holy Spirit in these last days to serve the cause of God through the gospel ministry — Is it possible we are NOT honoring God, by refusing to recognize the calling of God to the daughters of the Adventist Church and permit Divisions to ordain?”

Since the floor was open for delegates to begin speaking about 11:30 a.m. delegates began lining up, until there were scores of delegates at many microphones. At 12 noon, we broke for lunch and very few delegates had been able to speak by then. The Chair of the session, Mike Ryan, assured delegates that those who had registered to speak by having their name tags scanned at the microphones could return in the order that they had been registered in. The chairman also followed a policy of alternating between those standing in favor of the motion and those opposed to the motion. The chair had declared at the beginning of the session, that discussion on the motion would cease at 4:30 and a vote would be taken at that time.

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What became interesting through the time of the session, was that although a large number of delegates were lined up to speak to the motion, there were a number of delegates that came to the microphone to raise a point of order, which enables a delegate to speak ahead of those in line. At the end of the day, only 40 delegates were enabled to speak to the motion either for or against, while 35 delegates came to the microphone to raise points of order. Since everyone only had 2 minutes to speak, including those raising points of order, then the 35 raising points of order used up quite a bit of time that the delegates waiting in line to speak to the motion, either for or against, ended up not being able to speak at all. My sympathies were for Mike Cauley, our former PA Conference President, now president of the Florida Conference, who stood at the microphone at 11:40 a.m. We dismissed for lunch, and then he retook his place at the microphone for the afternoon session, and stood there until 4:30 p.m. Due to so many raising points of order, he never received a chance to make his point at the microphone.

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At 4:30 p.m., the session ceased discussion. We were dismissed by rows within our seating sections of Divisions, and received a paper ballot with two options: “Yes” or “No” and each was listed by the 5 languages that the entire General Conference Session is being translated into. Only those with “delegate” badges that were scanned into floor scanners used to know who could speak at microphones as official delegates, were issued ballots. We were to mark them, and this file to the front of the auditorium where large plastic bins were place and employees of the General Conference Auditing Service were tasked with overseeing the collecting of the ballots.

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It took about an hour to collect the ballots and then to hand count them.

The vote results were:
Yes – 977
No – 1,381
Abstain – 5
Total – 2,363

The motion lost, by a margin of 404 votes. Interestingly, this was the largest number of delegates voting at any time during this entire session, up to this date.

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Of interest, were two General Conference Statesmen, Elder Jan Paulsen, former General Conference president, and Lowell Cooper, retired (as of the previous day) General Conference Vice-President both gave heartfelt appeals for the delegates to vote in favor of the motion.

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After the business session, Elder Dan Jackson invited the entire NAD delegation, special guests and guests, to conference room 103, where we had caucused on Friday for recommending our Nominating Committee members, to have a time to pray and to encourage the NAD to be a gracious supporter of the World-Church at large at this time.

Whatever way you may feel about the outcome of this vote, I am proud of our church for taking up this issue, giving it world-wide study, bringing the results of that study to the world church and that the world church took this seriously enough to provide a wealth of information, and then devote specific time for all the delegates to carefully consider it and vote on it. We have a world-church that is willing to consider things “together.” What a blessing! I am thankful for being a part of such a church where items can be raise, considered, prayed over and then processed together.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Kathy Cates on July 9, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    What effect will the results of this vote have on the Pennsylvania conference?

    Reply

  2. This should not bring any change in Pennsylvania. As a Conference, our By-laws state that we shall be in harmony with the Columbia Union and the General Conference. The GC authorizes women pastors to be commissioned, and that is the practice we have consistently followed, even though the Union voted to authorize women to be ordained.

    Reply

  3. […] THE BIG TOPIC, Wednesday, July 8, 2015 GC (PA President’s Blog, 8 July) […]

    Reply

  4. Posted by Gary Henderson on August 1, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    The rebellious spirit that has been cherished within the Pennsylvania Conference has been soundly rejected by the General Conference which God has ordained to have authority. From the pen of inspiration…

    I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s 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. At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God. But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected. God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority.

    Reply

  5. Gary, it is interesting that you accuse the Pennsylvania Conference of a rebellious spirit. However, the truth of the matter is, that at all times, representatives of the Pennsylvania Conference, and its leadership, have always followed the policies of the Seventh-day Adventist church and the General Conference. The PA Conference commissions women in pastoral ministry as the General Conference policy calls for. It has not ordained women in the pastoral ministry. Any expressions on the topic by the PA Conference or its leadership have all been conducted following all the appropriate processes that the General Conference has laid out and has been done with respect. There is not a rebellious spirit. We have always worked within the structures that are encouraged for all church entities and personnel to follow. We are glad to be part of the World Church and to abide by it’s direction.

    Reply

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