UPDATE at 9:20 p.m. CT: The Seventh-Day Adventists have voted not to allow women to be ordained. From the Washington Post:
Although the vote at a major conference was one of the most watched in years by the denomination, its specific purpose and impact were not immediately clear.
Leaders from the denomination, based in Silver Spring, Md., set aside all of Wednesday for discussion, pleaded for unity and encouraged all delegates to vote their conscience. For hours, people went to the microphone and spoke about how the vote could affect Adventist unity, women and scripture.
Dozens of Adventist women in North America already serve in various pastoral roles, even though they are not recognized by Adventists in the more conservative Southern Hemisphere — nor by some Adventists in the West. North American leaders have said they are aiming to double the number of female clergy from about 150 out of the continent’s 3,000 clergy members.
Some saw the vote as largely symbolic, proof of the gap between the varying cultures in the faith in different parts of the world, while others said it could be used to cause schism. Still others predicted that nothing would change for a faith that in its 152 years has resisted creating much doctrine and rules.
11:41 a.m. The Washington Post and other news outlets are reporting on the Seventh-Day Adventists’ General Conference, happening this week in San Antonio, which will include a vote on whether women can be ordained:
The question has special complexity for Adventists, who to this day revere one of their founders who saw visions — a writer named Ellen White — a woman described in documents from her lifetime as “ordained.”
Discussions about what it means to be ordained, what the Bible says about women’s leadership, what to do with women’s spiritual gifts and whether different regions of the 18-million-member faith can disagree culminate in a vote Wednesday. The vote is considered not only the main event of the July 2-11 General Conference, a meeting Adventists have only once every five years, but to some potentially schismatic.
Western Adventists say the ban on female leaders is holding back their ability to function in this culture, while proponents of the status quo say they read scripture as banning women from overseeing men.
Adventists also are expected to reaffirm two of their fundamental beliefs: that the world was created in literally six days, before God rested, and that marriage is between a man and a woman. These votes, which are not expected to be seriously contested, reflect a recent push by Adventist leadership to keep the faith firmly on orthodox grounds, experts said.
More coverage of the conference:
Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett