Posts Tagged: The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Multifarious Thoughts on Women’s Ordination

I’ve jotted down some thoughts based on a response to a friend this week on the women’s ordination issue and then I just went a little crazy Seth Godin style (not that I am the genius of Seth Godin just his free flowing style):

Something to remember in regards to the women’s ordination decision at San Antonio this summer is that a “yes” vote isn’t forcing anyone to go along with the ordination of women. No church, no conference, no Union, no division will HAVE TO ordain female pastors with a “yes” vote.

A “no” vote actually does force people to go against their beliefs.

I can see how folk can be convicted that women should not be ordained. How can I see this? I see it because I see in the Bible that there is no absolute “yes” nor is there an absolute “no” to the ordination of women.

In the writings of Mrs. White there is no “Thus sayeth the Lord” either for or against the ordination of women (which by the way should say something to us when she has commentary on every issue under the sun…and above the sun too :)).

For these reasons I can understand why some would come to the conclusion against women’s ordination because in the absence of these absolutes from the Bible or Mrs. White people must come to a conclusion from a multitude of variables. And it would be arrogant to assume the variables that have lead me to my position should be the same for everyone else.

Can I ask my brothers and sisters that oppose women’s ordination, with the absence of a definitive “yes” or “no” in these two authoritative places, are you able to likewise see how I could get to my conviction?

Do you my friends and colleagues that see this position different than I do believe that I can be, that I am a Biblically faithful Seventh-day Adventist even if I believe women should be ordained? If your answer is “no” then we have of course no place to work from, because you’ve chosen to place ordination at a level I have not, at a salvific level. However, if your answer is “yes, I can see how you could come to a different conclusion on WO’s than I do.”

Not that you agree but you can see how I could reach the conclusion I’ve reached, absent of definitiveness in the Bible or the writings of Mrs. White.

If you can see this, and if you do believe I can be a Biblically faithful Adventist while still believing that women should be ordained; why wouldn’t it make sense to support a decision that would allow me and people like me to serve in conjunction with my convictions and would in no way force you or people like you or your church to operate outside of your convictions?

A “yes” vote on women’s ordination is the only vote that does not force anyone to practice ordination outside of their convictions. No individual. No local church. No conference. No union. No division. A “no” vote forces individuals. Local churches. Local conferences. Unions. Divisions to function outside of their convictions.

I don’t believe a “yes” vote should be cloaked in the framework of “a vote for unity.” It makes it sound like if we don’t vote “yes” then those of us that support women’s ordination will rebel.

I believe a “yes” vote should be cloaked for those in opposition to women’s ordination in the framework of “a vote for acceptance.” Not acceptance of women’s ordination personally, but acceptance of other Biblically faithful Adventist’s having a different conviction.

I believe more individuals in support of women’s ordination should also state their opposition to the ordination or acceptance of practicing LGBT clergy within our denomination. Not because I want to oppose something that isn’t even on the table, but because this is the accusation and scare tactic being used Stephen Bohr and others to undermine the cause of women’s ordination.

Do I deny that there are some that do have this agenda? Absolutely not! But the world should know the great majority of us in favor of women’s ordination in North America do NOT have this position that Elder Bohr and others are insinuating.

I wish that those in favor of WO would stop saying that if we don’t vote “yes” on this we are going to lose our young people. For one, we’ve already lost a majority of our young people and it has nothing to do with WO. For two, a large percentage of young people I’ve talked to and asked, “would you leave the church over this issue?” have said, “no. I wouldn’t be happy, but no I wouldn’t leave the church.” The other large percentage has said, “What are you talking about? 🙂 ”

I think the millennial mind is a unique thing none-of-us should speak definitively on! It is as bad of argument as all the baby boomers that have said to me, “If we want to get the young people we need this type of music.” Here is what the millennials say to that:

Blogger Amy Peterson put it this way “I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly ‘relevant.’ I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.”

Millennial blogger Ben Irwin wrote: “When a church tells me how I should feel (‘Clap if you’re excited about Jesus!’), it smacks of inauthenticity. Sometimes I don’t feel like clapping. Sometimes I need to worship in the midst of my brokenness and confusion — not in spite of it and certainly not in denial of it.”

The scare tactic of “we will lose our young people if we don’t ordain women” is just as bad as “this will open the door for LGBT clergy.” Both are not helpful to the discussion.

I believe everyone on both sides of the discussion should watch this sermon by my friend Kessia Reyne Bennett. She lays out well her position, a good position, “that it is not a woman’s right or anyone’s right to be ordained.” ORDINATION is NOT a RIGHT

A “yes” vote is the only vote that has the potential to make the statement: “we agree to disagree now lets move forward with mission.”

I’m afraid a “no” vote at this juncture will keep this issue alive another 5 or 10 years and thus continue to be a distraction to the mission of the church, at which point the next generation will vote “yes” but we will have already lost those 5 or 10 distracted years.

I say this not because I plan to go against the church if it votes “no” but I believe there is too much momentum in support of women’s ordination at this time and many will keep it alive ’till the General Conference in 2020 or 2025.

That said if the vote is “no” I pray for God to give those of us in favor of women’s ordination holy amnesia and silent lips, ’till it is time to set the agenda for General Conference 2020 and then kindly request again the World Church’s support of our conviction.

May God shock and humble us all in San Antonio!

Okay I’m done.

More Than a Voice!

For the past 12 years I’ve had the privilege of working for The Seventh-day Adventist denomination. My prayer is that I continue to work for them until Jesus comes back or I die, whichever comes first. I truly love this global community of faith; that said there are occasions that I become flummoxed by some of the things I am seeing and hearing within my church.

Recently I’ve been reading the biography of J.N. Loughborough by Dr. Brian Strayer. I have thoroughly enjoyed the read, it might be my favorite of the Adventist Pioneer Series thus far.

As I’ve read almost two-thirds of the book however I have found myself getting sideways on an issue…

The lack of inclusion of young adults at the highest levels of leadership within our church!

I have heard, ever since I accepted Jesus and started hanging-out around Seventh-day Adventist leaders the statement, “We need to make sure our young people have a voice within their church.”

Here is what I would say to how well that has gone: if young people truly had a voice in this church, a voice that anyone was listening to, a voice with a vote, then there would be a more diverse spectrum of ages amongst our church leadership at every level.

As it stands now though, at the highest level of leadership, The General Conference, there are currently no administrators under the age of 50…and I would venture to guess that there are not even any under the age of 60, if any of you are I apologize :). But it is not just at the General Conference level, The North American Division has the same problem; we have some leadership in their 50’s, but no one at a significant leadership level is below the age of 50 to my knowledge. The same is true within our Union leadership.

I got sideways as I was reading  the Loughborough biography because I am reading stories about young adults that are in great positions of influence within our church…oh and when I say young adult, I’m not talking about 40’s and 50’s, I’m talking about 20’s and 30’s, even a few in their late teens. Presidents, GC executive committee members, top theologians, General Conference sent evangelists.

Reading these stories makes me so proud of our early church and so disappointed with our current church.

Young in leadership is just something that is not seen anymore…

Something that is not even given a chance to be seen or experienced at any level other than the local church and maybe, just maybe a local conference or two, at least here in the United States.

There is much talk about giving the young a voice, but folk the young need more than a voice they need to be in on the decision making process, they need at times to be the actual decision makers.

Let me ask what I believe is a very logical question: If the church is trying to figure out ways to retain the youth and young adults of our church would it not make sense for the young to be deciding what actions are going to be taken to reach & retain those demographics? Every successful business in the world has figured this out, why can’t the church?

Hear what I am not saying. I am not saying that we should put those of the older ilk out to pasture. We are a multi-generational church, so we should have multi-generational leadership…AT EVERY LEVEL!

People like Pastor Rodlie Ortiz should be sitting at any table at the highest levels of this church that are visioning and strategizing for church growth, if you don’t believe me ask Pastor Dwight Nelson. Pastor Anthony Wagenersmith I believe would be an asset to the Biblical Research Institute. He has a brilliant theological mind, before we were even out of seminary he was a grad assistant that was delivering lectures to other graduate students. Gina Creek, is a gifted writer, that writes in a unique voice; she should be at the Adventist Review or Signs of the Times or writing copy for The GC. Pastor Taj Pacleb is one of the most gifted traditional evangelists I’ve ever heard, why aren’t we tapping him for global evangelistic events or media posts? Pastor Benjamin Lundquist is in my opinion the most innovative youth and young adult leader out there right now. Every youth and young adult leader should spend time with him. These are just a few, the list could go on and on!

My point is the young adults are out there, out there ready to lead at the highest levels. Just like they were in the first 50 years of our church.

But their church isn’t inviting them to even consider such a step.

Their church, our church, my church just keeps talking about giving them a voice…

but what good are their voices if they are not being heard in the rooms making the decisions?

If their voices don’t actually have a vote when the decisions are made?

Please church that I love, be a church that truly represents ALL of us! Give us more than a voice!