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Male Adventist clergy trade in their credentials in support of unordained women

Male Adventist clergy trade in their credentials in support of unordained women

iuAfter years of division, 8 JUL 2015 in San Antonio TX, the 60th general Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a denomination of approximately 18 million world wide, held a vote on women’s ordination. Preceded by an afternoon of lengthy and sometimes contentious debate, the vote was 1,381 to 977 against the ordination of women. The vote was carried by delegates to the General Conference from the more conservative areas of the Adventist Church, Africa and Latin America.

“Is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry?”

1,381 no / 977 yes

Currently the Adventists have two levels of credentials for clergy; ordained and commissioned. Women are restricted to the commissioned credential. Men can have either, but the goal is to be ordained. In recent years in the US, some of the 9 regional conferences in the US have ordained a few women. Fortunately, the two credentials provide equal pay.

Over the two months since the historic vote by the denomination that was founded by a woman, Ellen G White, male clergy in the US are taking a stand. If they can’t bring women up as their equals by ordination, they are stepping down to an equal level with the women by trading in their ordained credential for the commissioned credential.

By surrendering their ordained status, the men are also giving up some privileges. They are not eligible to preside over one of the regional conferences that make up the US church, nor can they organize or plant new churches. They are also barred from ordaining elders, deacons and deaconesses. The men who have exchanged their credential have been both leaders in local Adventist churches and professors of the Adventist seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs MI.

Information for this story was gathered on HuffPost Religion and the Urban Christian News.
Mike Speegle’s photo is from the New Hope Adventist Church Facebook page.

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JC Fisher

"the 60th general Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church ... held a vote on women’s ordination ... the vote was 1,381 to 977 against the ordination of women"

One wonders about the gender demographics of the Conference.

It's a profoundly bitter paradox, that the rule of democracy has traveled around the world, w/o the ethos of EQUALITY (Yes, yes: was it ever thus. The ancient Athenians didn't let women---or slaves---vote in their democracy, either). Kyrie eleison!

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Anne Bay

I am not very familiar with the Seventh Day Adventist church, but it's fascinating that it was started by a woman and yet women can't be ordained. Hard to believe that could happen. The men standing up for women's ordination in the SDA church are to be commended, although I don't think it does a lot of good. Who knows. The other thing is that once again the African and Latin branches of the church have managed to get the vote against the women. The Anglican church in Africa and a few other places is doing the same thing to the world wide Anglican Communion. The Anglican church in Africa has very different views on same sex marriage, women's ordination, women's health rights, homosexuality, etc. The Archbishop of Canterbury had a special meeting to address these problems and time will tell if they did any good. Even though General Convention passed same sex marriage, there are still differing views on the subject. Time marches forth there is no going back. My hope long term is that scientific study and research of human physiology will do away with the view that homosexuality is a "choice"-it's extremely complex and the most current research is illustrating it should not be in the category of a "choice" or a "sin"-human biology, anatomy and gender studies have come a long way in this regard. Keeping women from being ordained is tremendously rigid and prevents a lot of change from happening, in and out of the the churches that don't allow it.

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