After 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.