Author Topic: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95  (Read 7616 times)

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LindaRS

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The following is the transcript of the business meeting at the 1995 GC session which voted on the NAD request to allow that division to ordain women to the ministry. You will note that some history of the the desire to ordain women is given, the two formal presentations are quoted in full as are the remarks by the delegates. Some of those are notable and of interest. I have placed those remarks in emphasis using font color.
_________________________________________________ __________________________________

Thirteenth Business Meeting
Fifty-sixth General Conference session, July 5, 1995, 2:00 p.m.

M. G. KUYENDA: [Opening prayer.]

C. B. ROCK: Welcome, delegates and friends. We will now come to order, please, and engage in the business of this afternoon session. And while we are being seated, I'd like to take a little time to lay the groundwork, and bring us up-to-date concerning the paths, that have brought us to this consideration.

The first mention of women's ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church on an official level occurred in 1881. At that time there were 39 delegates present at the General Conference session, and the General Conference Committee numbered three: Elder George Butler, General Conference president; Steven Haskell; and Uriah Smith. The interesting dynamic is that these 39 delegates were gathered from two countries- the United States and England. The membership of the church at that time was 16,000; 38 of these delegates were from the United States, and just one, J. N. Loughborough, came from England.

The matter of women's ordination was considered, and the following action was taken: "Resolved, that females possessing the necessary qualifications to fill that position may, with perfect propriety, be set apart for ordination to the work of the Christian ministry." And that is printed in the Review and Herald of December 20, 1881. But the action also carried the provision that in spite of the vote of the delegates assembled, the matter be referred to the General Conference Committee, the three people whom I have named, for implementation or further decision.

Nothing happened. There is no further indication, of which we know, that the General Conference Committee took this issue up and gave any formal response.

Nearly 90 years later, in 1968, the trail picks up again, when our believers in Finland requested officially of the General Conference that women be ordained. The answer came much later and involved the formulation of a study group in 1973 that met for many hours at Mohaven in Ohio (Camp Mohaven), and there, mainly with individuals from North America who were studying the issue, considered it in great detail, and continued their study through 1974. At the Spring Meeting in 1975, just prior to the General Conference session of that year, the issue was again considered in some detail. The results of the Mohaven studies were analyzed, and those discussions resulted in a decision by the world church that provided ordination, where the division found it applicable, or possible, or profitable in their situation, of deaconesses and women elders. But that did not end the process. Other study commissions were requested and organized, and functioned in 1977, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1984. And in fact, in 1984 at Annual Council it was felt that because of growing tension about what had occurred nine years earlier in 1975, something should be said about the matter of ordaining women elders, and it was confirmed in that year that local elders could be ordained in those divisions in which it was deemed appropriate.

But the process continued, and in 1986 and again in 1989 major study was given by commissions com- prised of 70 or more individuals who represented all our divisions. These individuals met together under the leadership of the world church president for detailed analysis of the question. In 1985, at the General Conference session in New Orleans, the review of the ordination of women also received detailed analysis, and that study simply eventuated in the suggestion that more study be done. So in 1990 at our world session the issue was brought to the table once more. Reports were again made from commissions that had reviewed the matter in detail, fairly and fully, and by a vote of approximately 75 percent to 25 percent of the delegates assembled, the world church body indicated that women should be given wide participation in all church activities, including soul winning and pastoral duties, but that since the church could not reach consensus regarding the matter of women's ordination, this process should not be engaged in throughout the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

And now, at this historic session in 1995, the matter is brought to us again, and we will have the specific wording of the issue in a moment; but having reviewed that trail that brings us from 1881 to now, may I suggest quickly a few points as to how we would like to handle our procedure and our discussion today.

First, may I remind you that as voted in our program, and as agreed upon at our procedural recommendations at the very first of this session, this meeting this afternoon will end at 5:00, and we'll try to hold to that as closely as possible. At that time we will vote the matter either up or down.

I want to suggest further that since this is such a sensitive issue, all delegates be seated in their division area. If you are a delegate and you are not now seated with your delegation, you should hasten to go there, so that only delegates and their spouses will be seated in these areas. If you are an onlooker or a visitor, and you are not a spouse of a delegate or a member of the immediate family, we would prefer that you sit in the areas provided for visitors.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 05:31:59 PM »
Now, in addition, there are one or two more quick matters of logistics that you should hear. The chair is exercising the authority provided in our Rules of Order, which allows the chair to set a time limit for speakers. Obviously we don't have time for everybody to talk. But you'll be happy to know that in anticipation of this moment, we have provided two individuals who will speak to the issue formally. The first will be Dr. Gerard Damsteegt, associate professor of church history and Adventist studies at Andrews University. He will make the case against the motion, and he will take approximately 20 minutes to do so.

Then Dr. Raoul Dederen, professor of theology emeritus and former dean of the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews Univeristy, will make the case for the motion. These two individuals will, we hope, summarize succintly the arguments and say much of what might be in our hearts.

After these gentlemen have spoken, we will open the floor for discussion, but the chair is requesting that since we are pressed for time and since this matter is so clearly outlined, we take off our battle helmets and beat our swords into plowshares, and not get ourselves embroiled in parliamentary procedure.

Let's as Christian brothers and sisters listen to what North America is requesting, evaluate it, and vote our conscience.

In a moment we will call upon A. C. McClure, the president of the North American Division. He and others will be assisting him in making the North American Division case of presenting their desires to you. About 4:45 p.m. we will take a secret ballot. Again the chair is exercising a prerogative here that I hope you will accept.

Just before the ballot, our world president will have a word to say. He will be talking about the issue of where we go from here in unity and related matters. After the vote, the Secretariat of the General Conference will see that the ballots are collected and counted, and with your patience, we will give you the tabulation just as quickly as possible.

At this time I'm going to call upon the secretary of the session to read the motion that Annual Council has asked to bring here without recommendation, and after that has been read and, I trust, seconded, we will begin discussion.

Shall we bow our heads for just a moment of prayer? Our Father in heaven, we pause now even before articulating this motion, this request, to pray that You will let Your sweet peace, let the spirit of Christ Himself, rule in our hearts. May the Holy Spirit be our guide, and may the decision here please heaven, and then, Lord, may our attitudes and charity toward one another be such that the world will know that we are Your people. In Jesus' name, amen.

L. C. COOPER: The motion reads as follows: To refer to the 1995 General Conference session the North American Division request that the General Conference in session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below:

"The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committee takes specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions." [The motion was seconded.]
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 05:34:24 PM »
C. B. ROCK: Now, Elder McClure, president of the North American Division.

A. C. MC CLURE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, fellow delegates, for this privilege of presenting before you a clear understanding, hopefully, as well as the rationale for the request that we have before us at this time. As has been noted, the request did originate with the North American Division, and was voted by the division committee at the 1994 year-end meeting. It was presented to the General Conference in Annual Council immediately following, and comes before you in an effort to help us address a problem that we feel is very real in some parts of the world. We make this request to the world church because we believe this is where this kind of issue needs to be addressed. Obviously the topic is one that has generated intense discussions in recent months.

Much has been written, both formally and informally. We have received hundreds of letters on both sides of the issue. We have read each one carefully, and personally responded to most of those. We've studied, we've prayed, we've listened to each other and to God, because we seek to know His will. For we have no other agenda. We therefore humbly ask that you give us a hearing today, that you suspend the views you may have brought with you, and that you prayerfully seek ways to help us address a dilemma.

First, we want you to know that the North American Division is very much a part, a loyal part, of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. We have an unshakable commitment to church unity. We're every bit as supportive of the mission and unity of this church as we are pleased to see so much in evidence in other parts of the world. I want to assure you that we do not wish to cause a problem. We do not wish to embarrass or to divide the body of Christ. We abhor anything that would bring dishonor upon the church, the church that we love. Our concern is linked to mission. And it is in that setting that we come to you today.

I also want to assure you that our support of the world church is not linked in any way to this issue. Whatever the outcome today, we will continue to be a responsible part of the world family and carry the share of the load that we have been blessed by the Lord to provide.

I am a servant of this church, and I will do everything in my power to keep us together. Please understand that this request is not an ultimatum, but rather a heartfelt appeal for understanding, for recognition of what we see as a significant missiological need.

Now, as a world community we have agreed on a body of doctrine that is nonnegotiable. The central beliefs of this church are anchored securely in Scripture and are not open to amendment. They are clearly stated in the 27 fundamental beliefs, and we would ardently resist any effort to tamper with those beliefs. In the matter of theology we see no alternative to global uniformity.

In order to accomplish our mission in a large and diverse world, there are some things of a nondoctrinal nature that we allow to be done differently from one division to another. That list is a long one. I will not attempt to rehearse it here; you are acquainted with some of those issues. We're asking only that where it is helpful to the mission of the church, freedom be given to the world divisions to make such a decision.

Now, you may recall that the early church discovered that there are areas that are clearly ecclesiological- that is, concerning those matters that are not required in Scripture, but that relate clearly to how the church functions. In our church these are shaped by broad theological principles, by the Spirit of Prophecy, and are then agreed upon by the body of the church as policies. So you see, it is to these kinds of issues we are speaking.

It's these kinds of issues that Jesus, in Matthew 18:18, referred when He made that dramatic statement to the leaders of the early church: "Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

One further observation before we get to the heart of the matter. You will see, from the wording of our request, that we are not asking other parts of the world church to do exactly as we are doing. Our objective is unswerving fidelity to God and to His Word while still recognizing diversity within our unity.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 05:36:41 PM »
We believe it is important to grant to each member or region of the body freedom to do that which will enable its mission. And rather than weaken the fabric of the church's structure, we believe it will strengthen it, because this will establish a precedent that anytime there is a proposed deviation from the normal practices of the church, such a request will come before this body. So instead of leading to disunity, it provides for a maintenance of unity through a decision in this body.

We believe that gender-inclusive ordination, while perhaps not appropriate in some places, will be helpful in North America. As has already been referenced, more than a decade ago the General Conference in Annual Council voted to ordain women.

In 1984 the General Conference voted that in divisions in which it was acceptable, women could be ordained as local elders. Now, here is the wording of that action: "Voted, to advise each division that it is free to make provision as it may deem necessary for the election and ordination of women as local church elders."

You probably are aware that since that time hundreds of churches have elected women as local elders, with more than 1,000 now serving as ordained elders of local churches in North America. In addition, there is an uncounted number outside the North American Division serving in a similar fashion. For instance, Italy. In many of those congregations it would be a paralyzing blow to deprive them of those leaders.

Now, this action by the Annual Council of the General Conference that divisions be given the authority to make a decision on ordination was truly precedent- setting. I submit to you that it has not caused a significant problem for those parts of the world in which the practice has not been followed. But it has permitted North America, and some other parts of the world, to address what many see as a serious need for accomplishment of mission in their territory. And it has recognized a vast range of gifts that God has given to women as well as to men. Now, we believe it is not the intent of the world church to reverse that decision. To say those women who have served nobly, some for more than a decade, that their church no longer recognizes their gifts or their ordination would be indefensible.

Our sisters who stand with us in ministry deserve the same acknowledgment of their call that the church confers on their male colleagues. Now, I recognize that some of you may have been struggling over a concern with theological implications. I too was unclear on this matter for some time. But after much study and reading, praying and listening, I must tell you that I am a convert to this position.


If we believe for a moment that our request constituted a compromise or that it was even a prelude to a compromise, under no circumstances would you find it on this agenda. But beloved, when Scripture makes no such gender distinction, how can the church, which takes its commitment from Scripture, continue to make that distinction? In fact, when the Holy Spirit gives ministry and gifts to the church, we believe it is that church's obligation to acknowledge and affirm those gifts.

We have clear statements like this one from our prophet: "The refining, softening influence of Christian women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth. Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should be appointed to visit the sick, to look after the young, to minister to the necessities of the poor." And then she adds, "They should be set apart to this work by prayer and laying on of hands." This is another means of strengthening and building up the church.

Now, I want to make sure that you understand the motive of the North American church in making this request. You may rest assured that it is not driven by any kind of feminist agenda.

Our motive is simple. God has given lavish spiritual gifts to the church, irrespective of gender. We need all of those gifts to fulfill the gospel commission, and it violates no scriptural teaching that the rite of ordination be extended to anyone who meets this criteria. Gender is not one of those criteria. We are not asking the other divisions to join us where it may not be acceptable. We are simply asking that you grant to each division the same permission that was granted them by the General Conference at Annual Council on the matter of ordination of local elders. We believe that it is a responsible request.

Now in closing, allow me to speak pastorally for a moment There are those who fear that if this permission is granted, it will divide the church. I do not believe the church is that fragile. But I assure you, whatever our decision is here today, there will be some who will be profoundly disappointed; some may even fear the worst Some may even give up on their church, whichever way the vote goes. My fellow believers, we must not allow this issue to divide us.

There are some who would draw a line in the sand and tell us that the liberals are in favor and the conservatives are against. I would submit to you that that is an artificial and erroneous distinction. The issue we are deciding here today is not who is conservative and who is liberal. Rather the issue we are deciding here today is what we believe is God's will for His church at this moment in history, and that may be different from what was right for the church five years ago. Godly men and women have debated and disagreed for centuries on decisions the church has made. My dear fellow delegates, we must use this moment to model for all who are watching how strongly Christians may disagree and still leave the debate with their arms around each other. So whether you vote today with the majority or with the minority, I hope you will see it as your role to be a healing voice so that Jesus' prayer for unity in His church may find fulfillment in our day.

Now, in the next few moments you will hear from two highly respected Adventist scholars. I urge you to listen carefully and prayerfully, asking God for the gift of discernment, knowing His will. Let us not attack. Let us listen and respect their opinions. Let it be said that when this church came together in Utrecht around a potentially divisive matter, the Holy Spirit had His way, God made clear His will to the body, and the church, our church, the church we love, came from this debate strong, better able to accomplish its mission and more closely united than ever before in its history. I thank you. [Some of the quoted material in this speech was neither identified nor verified.]
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 05:42:11 PM »
C. B. ROCK: I wonder if the body would permit the chair to allow the gentleman at the podium just a few minutes. The former president of the division has been asked by the present president to take three or four minutes. Would you agree with me? If you tell me to tell him to sit down, I'll have to tell my mother's youngest brother to sit down. And I don't want to do that, so I'll take a little liberty. Would you take three minutes, Elder Bradford?

CHARLES E. BRADFORD: I am speaking not just as a North American; in fact, I am speaking as a son of Africa. We are all seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and I do hope that when we come to the end of our discussion the brethren can stand up and say, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us."

I do not set an argumentative mood. I join Elder McClure because I think it is proper. I would simply say that the Holy Spirit, brothers and sisters, is the one who selects and chooses people for ministry. Ordination is not a right Ordination is a ceremony, a selection ceremony, a recognition ceremony. God has already chosen as His minister the one who is ordained.

P. GERARD DAMSTEEGT: It is a privilege for me, brothers and sisters, to address you at this awesome occasion. Let us pray. Lord, send Your Spirit. Touch our hearts. And whatever we do, may it be to Your glory, and may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, 0 Lord and Saviour, our Redeemer. Amen.

Let me first of all state that I strongly support the involvement of women in God's work. Women have unique gifts needed to finish the work. They can reach people men can never reach.

Even though I cannot agree with the North American Division request, I truly and deeply sympathize with them. What is the dilemma the church is facing? Some years ago the Annual Council voted that women ordained as elders can perform all the duties of ordained ministers. Yet they cannot be ordained as ministers. And of course the result is a very unhappy one. No one really likes it. And some accuse the church of unfairness, discrimination, and injustice. How can we now together solve this dilemma and yet preserve the unity of the church?

Two options were cited by the NAD president. The first was to begin ordaining women as elders. The second was to request that each division have the freedom to ordain women as ministers. The NAD leadership has strongly chosen the second option. They sincerely believe that this is the way to preserve unity. Why can't I support this request? Simply because the request conflicts with three of our biblical doctrines: the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, and the doctrine of the unity in the body of Christ.

In order to understand this fully, we have to see the full implications of this request. It's not simply a matter of laying on of hands. There is good counsel in the Spirit of Prophecy that women be ordained for a special work, and they could do a tremendous work. But the issue is: ordination to what? That's the issue.

And so the present request, if approved, presents a major change in the structure of church leadership. It rejects the generally held Seventh-day Adventist view that the Bible teaches clear differences in function between men and women within the church. It assumes that the Bible allows women to occupy positions of spiritual headship in the church, such as head of the local church, conference president, union president, and General Conference president.

What is the test of our doctrine and practice? The Bible clearly reveals in Isaiah 8:20: "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Now we, as Adventists, are very fortunate, because about 100 years ago, in 1888, we had a conference with lots of tensions. And there the Lord revealed that the Bible must be our standard for every doctrine and practice. It is the Word of the living God that is to decide all controversies, including the one this afternoon. And so we are dealing with a significant practice, the practice of appointing ministerial leadership in Christ's church. So therefore, friends, we are on good terms. God's Word must be our focus. We are a Bible church.

The statement is often made that the Bible doesn't say anything about it and that we can just go ahead! Does the Bible speak to the question of the right of women to occupy positions of leadership with full ecclesiastical authority? And that is a phrase that the Spirit of Prophecy associates with ordination.

Let me refer to the history of our church. Early Adventists were strongly reform-minded, and they supported reform movements, such as the abolition of slavery, women's rights, and temperance. But there is one reform movement that was opposed. Ellen White rejected the women's rights movement. Why? The prophet warned that those who felt called out to join the movement in favor of women's rights might as well have severed all connection with the third angel's message. The Spirit, the Scriptures, are plain upon the relations and rights of men and women. So does the Bible address this issue? Very clearly it does.

And so now let us look at our three major doctrines. First of all, the request conflicts with the doctrine of the church. What does the Bible teach on the relationship between men and women? Genesis clearly reveals that in nature men and women are created in the image of God. Second, Jesus reveals that before God we're all exceedingly precious. God shows no partiality, because we're all one in Christ Jesus. Therefore, friends, there is neither Jew nor Greek, there's neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female. On this we all agree. However, are men and women the same in every sense? It is clear that the Bible teaches that all have the same value and standing before God, but that they are different in their functional roles. And the North American request overlooks this fundamental Bible teaching. First Timothy and Titus clearly present this teaching, which directly addresses our situation.

Let us look at the message in the first book of Timothy, chapter 1, because it is a timeless message for the church. Timothy was instructed to teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables that cause disputes rather than godly edification. And so the Lord provided counsel concerning how to rescue churches from division and heresy. Inspiration gave Timothy a plan, not only for the first century, but for the church until the Lord returns. Inspiration says again that these instructions are put forth so that we may know how we ought to behave in the church of the living God.

Let us now analyze in this book the principles of authority in the church. Early Christians encountered something similar to what we are facing today. In certain places women interpreted the freedom of the gospel as a freedom to exercise the spiritual headship role in the church. Paul's response was swift: "I do not permit a woman to have authority over a man." What does the Bible teach, in specifically those chapters, about God's great plan for spiritual headship? There are three major biblical arguments. First of all, we look at Christ's creation order before the Fall. Paul bases his first theological reason on Christ's creation order. Adam was formed first, then Eve. It's interesting that Jesus' actions here had nothing to do with culture specifically.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 05:44:07 PM »
Second, Christ's order after the Fall. His second theological reason is based on the order of sin. Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Again, brother and sisters, it has nothing to do with a specific culture.

Finally, Christ's order after the cross. These role distinctions in the Old Testament that Jesus instituted are not canceled by His redemptive work. God's Word proclaims clearly in Corinthians that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Thus priestly headship of the man in the home and in the church is still in effect during the Christian Era.

Now let us look at the qualifications for an elder or overseer. What are the requirements for spiritual headship? Immediately after the admonition that women do not have the spiritual authority in the church Paul immediately points to who has the authority-namely, the elder of the church. What are the characteristics? An elder must be blameless. Second, he must be the husband of one wife. It doesn't say spouse of a husband! He is to be of the male gender. Here the Greek word for husband is aner, which is always a man, never a woman. So to appoint a woman as an elder based on the Bible is unbiblical. Third, and this supports the whole argument, the elder must be one who rules his house well, having his children in submission with all reverence. Why? If a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God? Home leadership qualifies for spiritual headship in the church. This is not a cultural custom, but a divinely ordained principle ("as to the Lord"). And so, what is now the line of authority in the doctrine of the church? Remember what we have voted as fundamental belief 11, that the church derives its authority from Christ, who is the incarnate Word, and from the Scriptures, which are the written Word. So the authority structure is based on the Bible. How does it work? It's very simple.

Christ as the head of the church delegates His authority to the leaders of the church in harmony with the Bible. Then in harmony with His order of creation, Jesus assigns the position of an elder or overseer to a man, not to a woman. Any change in this divine plan for His church will result in the derailment of a mission- driven church.

My second reservation is that the request violates the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. Remember that in this doctrine it says that "the Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of his will" and "the test of experience." Frequently people tell me that Paul was biased in his culture. The real question is, friends, Can we trust the Bible writers? Yes, because God is the author of the Bible, and therefore the Bible is "the infallible authority as a rule of faith and practice." It's not affected by human prejudice or human pride. The Bible therefore is trustworthy and unbiased.

Now the question is How do we interpret the Bible? Simply: "The Word of God is infallible; accept it as it reads." We have had plenty of counsel about the danger of modifying God's instructions. "The very beginning of the great apostasy was in seeking to supplement the authority of God by that of the church. Rome began by enjoining what God had not forbidden, and she ended by forbidding what He had explicitly enjoined." "True faith consists in doing just what God has enjoined, not in manufacturing things He has not enjoined." What we need as Seventh-day Adventists, friends, is submission to the Word of God, not reinterpretation. You know, friends, we are a part of the remnant church, and the remnant church is a movement at the end of time that is still to reveal the characteristics of the New Testament church, even in the authority structure of church leadership.

My third reservation is that the request destroys the doctrine of unity in the body of Christ. Our doctrine says simply, "Through the revelation of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures we share the same faith and hope," and results in one witness to all. Did you see the connection between the revelation of Jesus in the Scriptures and the result of approving the request? What is it? It allows the use of two conflicting biblical methods for Seventh-day Adventists. One method follows the New Testament, the Protestant Reformers, the Adventist pioneers, including Ellen White. This approach favors the plain meaning of the Bible in its regulations for church leadership. The other method sets the stage for the approach of the fallen churches of Babylon since 1844. This new approach to the Bible is strongly influenced by the trends of today's culture. Male spiritual headship is not politically correct.

What are the effects of those two conflicting methods of biblical interpretation? It establishes two conflicting theologies of church leadership. Ordination will not have worldwide validity any longer, and some fields will not recognize the leadership in other fields. Approving leads toward division, not unity; toward national churches, not a world church; and ultimately to congregationalism. For unity, Seventh-day Adventists must follow the Word of God.

What will I do? If this assembly approves this proposal, remember that God calls for unity in Christ. I will stay with the church. Where else shall I go? The messenger of the Lord says, "Stay with the ship; it will go through." It may be damaged, but I will stay with the ship. There is no better place. And you know the future for Bible-believing Seventh-day Adventists is great. Let me share with you a promise in The Great Controversy: "The Lord will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible and the Bible only as the standard of doctrine and the basis of all reform. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils . . . the voice of the majority-not one or all of these things should be regarded as evidence for or against points of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept we should demand a plain 'Thus says the Lord' in its support."

What about all the arguments that we constantly hear? Yes, it is good for unity, so therefore approve it. Friends, unity cannot be kept by a policy contrary to Scripture. It brings confusion and drives people to independent ministries.

Second, some will proclaim, "I had a call from the Lord. The Lord told me to lead out in the church and take charge of the whole church." Remember, not every call or gift comes from God. "Test the spirits to see whether they are of God."

What about the argument of fairness and justice? Remember, the Bible is our standard to judge what is fair and just. We must follow the Bible, not the standards of society.

And so in summary, why can I not support this request? Because it is out of harmony with three Seventh-day Adventist doctrines. First of all, it conflicts with the doctrine of the church by instituting an unscriptural structure. Second, it violates the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures by not accepting Scripture as it plainly reads. And third, it destroys the doctrine of unity in the body of Christ by introducing an unbiblical practice that nullifies the worldwide validity of ordination.

Remember, friends, that we have always considered ourselves the continuity of the Protestant Reformation. Is this still so today? When Luther, the great Reformer, was confronted with a choice between human opinions and the Bible, he said, "Unless I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture I cannot and will not" change my views. From a humble beginning Seventh-day Adventists have had the same conviction. Will they still continue as successors of the Protestant Reformation and bring us to a grand and glorious climax? The actions of this afternoon will certainly reveal the true spirit of this teaching in our church. May God help us is my prayer. [Some of the quoted material in this speech was neither identified nor verified.]
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 05:46:26 PM »
RAOUL DEDEREN: Let's bow our heads for a word of prayer, please. Our gracious Father, You have guided this church through difficult times. You have granted us the Spirit that will open doors before us and close others. We ask You, Father, to grant us the same Spirit today, so that we may understand Your Word. In Jesus' name we ask. Amen.

I suppose that by now you are quite confused. You have heard a very honest Christian tell you that after studying the Bible carefully, he has come to the conclusion that this is a very commendable motion to submit to this assembly. And you've just heard another very honest and sincere Christian tell you that after studying the Scriptures, he has come to the opposite view. No wonder you are confused. And I'll tell you why the confusion is there. The confusion is there because there is not a single statement in the Scripture that addresses this issue. That's why the confusion is there.

As you noticed, neither Dr. Damsteegt nor Elder McClure was able to quote a statement in the Scriptures saying that women should not be ordained to the gospel ministry. What has been happening? What has happened is very simple. And I hope that we are open enough to listen to what the Spirit may have to tell us today, and that is that we have been acting on the basis of inferences.

We read certain texts that we regard as truthful, and rightly so, and out of those texts that do not deal with the issue that we are concerned with, we draw conclusions that we think apply to an issue that the Bible is not concerned with. We do that quite often. Seventh-day Adventists do not hold any monopoly on the Bible. There are reasons we are in this confusion. There are differences that exist among us, between and among very sincere Bible students, and I don't think I need to establish that this afternoon. The reason there are such differences is that some among us insist on some very specific passages of the Scriptures, and rightly so. And others among us, not denying those specific passages in the Scriptures, want us also to look at the principles that flow from the development of Scriptures. Let me give you an example. How often it happens, even outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that someone will come to us, quote a specific biblical passage, such as "We are not saved by the observance of the law, but we are saved by grace," and then ask us, "Do you believe that? Is that the Word of God, or is it not?" Yes, but there are principles in the Scriptures that help us to understand that statement. Or we meet the person who tells us, "Jesus Christ nailed the law to the cross so therefore we should not be keeping the seventh-day Sabbath." That's fixing it on a specific passage and forgetting the rest of the Scriptures, which we call upon immediately by saying that this text is to be understood in the context and in the overall revelation of Scriptures.

Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, I have been around this question long enough to know, and I'll be able to show it to you if you want to ask me questions afterward, that this is where the main difference is. How can we reconcile the views of those who stick to certain biblical passages (which, by the way, do not exist) and those who look at the overall principles of Scripture to understand those passages that some regard as addressing the issue of ordination to women to ministry? The task that has been entrusted to me is to explain why I do believe, as a student of the Scriptures, that ordination of women to the gospel ministry is not in contradiction to the Scriptures.

The most powerful and consistent argument used against the ordination of women to the gospel ministry is what is called the "order of creation." Proponents go back to Genesis and draw out of the book of Genesis statements that indicate that man existed before woman, that man was created first, and that woman was taken out of man. Therefore man holds a precedence in time (certainly) and also, they say, in leadership. How shall we apply that to ordination?

Then we move to the third chapter of the book of Genesis, when after the Fall God pronounces a judgment. Notice that the judgment falls equally upon the man and the woman, on both of them, but then comes the statement used by those who want to insist upon the headship of man over woman. I read in Genesis 3:16 the well-known statement: "To the woman God said, "'I will greatly multiply your pain in child bearing.- That has to do with the home, not the church. "In pain shall you bring forth children." That is also in the context of the family: "Yet your desire shall be for your husband. He will rule over you." It is a husband/ wife relationship. And I wonder how wise it is to use the husband/wife relationship as a model to impose the same kind of headship to the man/woman relationship in general, whether in society or in the church. That is the principle that I believe happens to be at stake. As we listen to what the book of Genesis tells us, there is no doubt about it.

I would like, however, to mention to you that according to Ellen White, this did not exist at the beginning. She tells us, for instance, in the third volume of the Testimonies to the Church, page 484, "When God created Eve, He designed that she should possess neither inferiority nor superiority to man, but in all things she should be his equal." "In all things ... his equal" means that we cannot speak of an order of creation. We can speak of an order of the Fall, no doubt about that. There were radical changes occurring after the Fall. However, and this is where some among us disagree from what others have to say, 4,000 years after the Fall comes the redemption in Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Galatians 3 the apostle Paul, after telling us that although some have used the law to obtain salvation, everyone should understand that no one is justified before God by the law (for it is through faith that one is righteous), he comes to the conclusion that the distinctions that the Jews drew before the coming of Christ have disappeared, and he comes up with the well-known passage. Maybe the passage is too well known to still have much effect upon us, but I ask God that we reverently listen to what the apostle Paul is saying, for Paul tells us that what Jesus Christ has brought about is a new understanding of human relations. The cross has brought down the wall of separation on a national level, for Paul says, "Neither is there Jew nor Greek." The same thing happens on the social level. There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

I wonder why my colleagues do not share the view that I am expressing here. Why they do not call our attention to the fact that in this passage Paul is not using for man and woman the same words that he is using in all the other passages we have heard of. He uses two very clear words that speak of male and female. Paul doesn't say there is no husband or wife. Of course Paul continues to believe that within the family, as a result of sin, we still have the distinction between husband and wife, with the husband in a leadership position. And this is what I believe he is doing when in 1 Corinthians 11, under the influence of the understanding of Genesis 3, he tells us indeed that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is her husband. The term is different here. And then he states in 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9, "The man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." Here Paul is using the terms that are translated in the Scriptures as husband and wife.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2014, 05:47:00 PM »
I do not believe that to use the biblical model of the husband over the wife, as a model to be imposed upon the general relationship existing between all men and all women in the church, is correct. I do not believe, as some have claimed, that the Old Testament subordination of woman to man is repeated in the New Testament, except in the context of the family.

As I said a moment ago, the large majority of the passages in Scripture dealing with man and woman deal with the relationship between husband and wife. Even in the famous passage that has been read a moment ago from this platform in 1 Timothy 2, it is interesting that my colleague did not read the rest of the text. I would like to read it to you in 1 Timothy 2: "I do not permit woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent." But at the same time the same apostle tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 that the woman is to be asking questions of her husband. I suppose that in the Christian church the liberty given by the gospel to men and women probably disturbed a certain number of women, especially in Corinth and in Ephesus. It went, as we say commonly, "to their heads," and they aggressively grasped their new freedom and became an object of embarrassment in their behavior to the apostle. For reasons known to Paul (under inspiration, no doubt) and for reasons well known in the community, Paul exhorted the women not to teach over men.

My brothers and sisters, tell me, have we followed the instruction? Can you assure me that we have never transgressed that specific statement "I permit no woman to hold authority over man or to teach"? Do we not have women in teaching capacities, even if only on the Sabbath school level? First Timothy 3 states that elders are to be husbands of one wife. But it also adds that they must manage their own households well, keeping their children submissive. Brothers and sisters, are we really following that? Tell me, can you assure me that in our worldwide church we have only married elders? Are you telling me that we never bring into the eldership single men? Or men who are married but have not children? We ought to be careful as to how we understand this. We ought to listen to what the Scriptures are assuming and not necessarily prescribing. And I fully agree with Gerard when he says that the training of children and maintaining a household is excellent preparation for the office of elder, but this is not an absolute criteria even among us. Why do we make one aspect of the list of qualifications a must and feel we can do without the other? We do not even follow the instruction in 1 Corinthians 11 dealing with women, how they should behave in the church and that they should be veiled. We have decided under the guidence of the Holy Spirit that this is to be understood in the sense that Paul intended it to be understood for our generation.

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile." That was very difficult to change in the early church. There were promises; there was a covenant; there was circumcision. They knew that, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and thanks to the ministry of Paul, the early church made progress on that point.

How about "neither slave nor free"? Do you know I hear it said here by my excellent colleague, "We need a statement in the Scriptures in order to do what we do." On what basis have we decided that we should be antislavery? Jesus accepted slavery; the apostles accepted it. They never raised a finger against it, not one. They told the slaves to be submissive to their masters even if they were Christians.

Jesus used the relationship of the master and slave in His parable without raising any question about it. We have decided there should not be slaves anymore. Where is the biblical statement? We go for the principle, and that is right. Neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free. With time I think we can understand: neither man nor woman, either.

The Bible does not explicitly address the issue of ordination of women to the ministry. I would like to see the statement. I think there is no conclusive statement in the Scriptures.

The exegesis of those passages is so divergent among us. What do we need to do? We need to bring the thing to the chruch, as we are doing here. The church is to decide, just as the church did in the early days in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15. The issue was circumcision. This subject was at the very heart of the Jewish covenantal relationship. There were specific passages that could be quoted by those who wanted to stay literally to the Scriptures. Specific passages of Scripture regarding circumcision said that here is a sign forever and ever for all your generations to the end of time. But there were also other passages in the Scriptures that sowed the seed and said that one day the remnant will come also from among the nations, not just Jews. The eunuch would even fmd room in God's household. So there were two groups of passages, the literal statement and the spirit of Scripture.

The early believers brought the issue to the church at Jerusalem. At a meeting of the council of the church, they debated. The success is found in the book of Acts. They came to a conclusion. This is what we are doing here, but we should be guided by the Spirit and try to maintain unity. Because as my two colleagues preceding me have clearly said, the unity of the church is unquestionably a revealed doctrine, and we must stay by it. This is the unity that Jesus Christ has wanted. May God help us to understand that and be guided by His Spirit as we come to a conclusion. [Some of the quoted material in this speech was neither identified nor verified.]
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2014, 05:51:00 PM »
C. B. ROCK: I think that all of us can say thank you to Dr. Damsteegt and to Dr. Dederen. What beautiful presentations! If you have your tennis shoes on or roller skates or bicycle or whatever means you want to use to get to the mike, you may do so now. [Delegates line up at the microphones.] We'll go as far as time permits. You may want to question the North American presenters, or you may want to question the two designated position persons.

JUSTO MIRANDA: The Spirit of Prophecy could not be mistaken that in final times the foundations of our faith would be shaken. It is because of this that we listen today to two brilliant presentations. But we don't have to be afraid, because Christ goes ahead of His church. I feel that today we will maintain ourselves loyal to God, loyal to the Scriptures, and loyal to the Adventist faith.

DEBORAH HARRIS: I've tried to read much of the material on this topic, but I finally realized that it's really quite simple. I believe that when God calls you, He ordains you. And whether or not a ceremony acknowledges that is a moot point for male and female. Something happens to you when God calls you. There is a fire. There is a drive. There is a passion. There is a sense of mission that does not need or wait for the approval of man, because you just can't help yourself. I submit that ordination is not the issue here, but rather fairness. Are we willing to be fair in dealing with those who have been called of God, be they male or female? I think that we're dealing with only a small part of a bigger problem, which is fairness in all areas among God's people. We ask for equal opportunity for free development, equal access to advantageous position, equal wages for equal work. Women should have justice as well as praise.

SAMUEL KORANTENG-PIPIM: I represent devout young people, particularly young women of my division. We do not believe that the ordination of women to the role of elder or pastor is biblical. How has this action of ordaining women brought unity in the North American Division? If not, how can we recommend it to the worldwide field? We are being told that even though the Bible may be silent on what is very clear, we must move as the Spirit leads. How can we test the Spirit's leading unless we test it by what the Spirit has already revealed in the written Word? I am against the North American Division proposal.

WENDALL SERRANTO: There is tremendous growth in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To ordain women to ministry is not to usurp the authority of men, but rather to complement and supplement.

GABRIEL BOAKYE-DANKWA: This is a church of the Bible. Therefore, if the issue of women's ordination has not been proved to us from the Bible and the Bible alone, we must reject it. We need to go back to our roots. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder and teach the whole world what we believe. We cannot allow North America to ask us to permit the ordination of women there. When a pastor is ordaind he is ordained not for the local field, but for the world field.

EDUARD PABST: Mr. Chairman, you asked for fairness for the delegates. And I support that. We want fairness for the women in the church also. Therefore, I support this motion, because it's not a theological question. Today women may be ordained as deacons or elders, and I judge it fair to provide the possibility for women to be ordained as pastors, too.

PEDRO MEGO: We need to keep in mind that both men and women are God's most precious creation. He gave a responsibility to the pair, and that is the responsibility of establishing a home. In that institution men and women have a function, or a responsibility, that needs to unite them more than ever. An enemy is trying to destroy the home. I am sure that a Christian woman who is loved by her husband, who is loved by her children, will be content in preparing the new servants of God. And she knows that in sustaining the new child in her womb during the months of pregnancy and even during the first few years, nobody can replace her ministry or take her place.

REINHARD RUPP: In full harmony with church policy and our biblical conviction, since 1990 some divisions have ordained women as church elders, while others have not, according to circumstances. This obvious difference in practice and maybe understanding did not and does not destroy our unity in Christ. So it is clearly possible to take a different stand in one question without being divided as a church. If we literally follow the New Testement, we must for instance exclude women and church members from the Communion service. Clearly the 12 apostles and only 12, all men, took part in this service.

VIOLETO BOCALA: I oppose the idea that the issue of ordination of women be decided by each division and not by the world church, because this will destroy the harmony of our worldwide organization. For example: a woman is ordained in one division. When she is in that division she is recognized as ordained. But when she goes to another division, she is not recognized. We are making second-class ordained ministers out of our women if we go in that direction.

JOSE VICENTE ROJAS: I represent teenagers and young adults in the North American Division. The Adventist intercollegiate association in North America (whose president is here) and many other young adults across our division feel very strongly about this issue. Not in any negative sense, but in love for their church. I come from North America, and I would like to say that North America is not a bad place. It is just misunderstood. We represent young people-some of the most criticized and condemned people today.

LIGIA PADILLA DE ALOMIA: I represent the laity of the South American Division. I have worked and brought many souls to the church, for which I am very grateful to God. But I believe that in order for my work to be recognized it does not require a title. I don't need any special license to win souls. We have marched in unison. Why divide ourselves now, simply for the pleasure of an earthly right? I love my Lord Jesus. And I will live for Him, and He is the only head and representative of the church on earth.

R. ROBERTSEN: In 1 Corinthians 12:28 Paul lists the offices of the church according to rank. Prophets are listed as being more preeminent than administrators, pastors, and teachers. The office of the apostles disappeared as they were laid to rest during the first century A.D. In the New Testament, God Himself called women to function as prophets. The word "prophet" signifies one who speaks for God. As prophets, these women were called by God Himself to occupy the highest and most important office in the church after the departure of the apostles. The Old Testament Levitical priesthood was done away with at the cross. And the apostle Peter informs his readers that the whole church is a royal priesthood. R. ROJAS: I have always fought for family unity. I am a layman converted to Jesus Christ. For 12 years my dear wife has given me all the time I need to preach the name of Christ. We promised before God to continue preaching the gospel of Christ. We don't need titles; we don't have to graduate from a university. We need to preach Christ. This is our mission.

E. SHEPPERD: I am an attorney, and I deal with attorneys all the time. The legal environment with which I deal states that race and gender within the United States of America is not to be counted against anyone for anything that they would try to do. If the thing we were discussing here was the fact that someone was Black or from a different country, there would be very little, if any, discussion.

M. D. WALTER: I was disappointed in our speakers this afternoon in not bringing up one particular facet of the question. We have not yet defined ordination. Ordination has its roots in the birthright, part of which was the spiritual leadership of the family and of the clan. This was superseded by the firstborn, then the Levites, and I believe that in our times it is with the pastorate. Until we can define ordination, I think we are only talking about an action, without understanding the meaning. Ordination, I believe, is a role, not a ministry.

VICKI BALLOU: I think it is important to remember that the defenders of the Holocaust used the Bible to defend their atrocities. This is not a theological issue; it is in fact a cultural issue. In some countries women can't drive cars. In others they not only drive cars but pilot commercial and military aircraft and fly in space. In some countries women cannot vote; in others they've been elected to the highest office of their nation. In some countries women not only cannot own property, they are property. In other nations the women are among the wealthiest in the country. The role of women is obviously cultural, and it differs from culture to culture.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2014, 05:54:52 PM »
LUIS G. CAJIGA: We rejoice this year because more women work in ministry. We want our lady evangelists. In Puerto Rico we have one who has won more than 1,400 souls in 11 years. Every Adventist-adult, child, youth, or woman-has been ordained at their baptism. Ellen White says that in being baptized, each one enters into the kingdom of God as a missionary. No church board, no official pastor, has to decide this. The baptism does it automatically. There are pagan customs that we must avoid. The Romans had the vessels in their temples. The Greeks had their women in temples. The Babylonians and the Egyptians and others had their priestesses, but the Christian tradition is that the priesthood is reserved for the man. Not because the woman is not capable; she can do great things. But we must watch out and avoid the customs of Babylon.

NOELENE JOHNSSON: I stand here to speak in favor of the motion. I would like to remind all of us that under God we are one. We have a motto that we've been upholding this week-"United in Christ"-which means that we are one in the Spirit. I would like to make a plea for unity here, that we listen to the Holy Spirit; that we let the Holy Spirit work through us. I've heard so many spirited speeches here. I see that the Lord is blessing the ministry of those who speak against this motion and those who speak for it. This leads me to believe that maybe the Holy Spirit is not as tied up in this as we are, and that perhaps the Holy Spirit is comfortable with us, whatever our point of view. If there is one Spirit, and the Spirit unites us, the Spirit will lead us to the same place. I appeal to this body to trust the Spirit.

ANDRE MAKONG: I am not here to dismiss the role of women in the service of Christ. As a pastor active in the field, I know what kind of support and work they do in the service of the gospel. However, this evening I am grieved by the presentations that have been made by the theologians. Why only one division and not all divisions? Can something allowed for certain Adventists be forbidden to other Adventists?

Second, why does this question come up now? The Christian church has spent 2,000 years in silence on this question. I now make an appeal to the conscience of the Adventist people around the world.

ESTELLA GREIG: There are some times that the Bible does leave out something, and we need to have the Holy Spirit help us put it in. All of us would say that there's nothing more central to the doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church than the Ten Commandments. Look in Exodus 20, which says, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's" (verse 17). Nowhere in that commandment does it say to me, a woman, you should not covet your neighbor's husband. But I read myself into that text as surely as any man who is a member of this church. I believe the Holy Spirit would have us read ourselves into the text. The Holy Spirit has worked with not just our church, but the Christian church throughout the ages.

PAUL YEBOAH: The North American Division president led us to understand that this issue is not theological but administrative. The very fact that Dr. Dederen and Dr. Damsteegt are sitting here, two of our leading theologians in this church, shows me that he believes it is theological. If it is theological, the only way we can approach it is to go back to the Word of God. Any other means will fail. Some of us strongly believe that women cannot be ordained into the ministry. Not because they are not competent or educated, or that they are inferior. We believe they are equal. The reasons are not even cultural, because when you become Adventist, the Word of God transforms you above your local culture and prepares you in faith and service. We believe women cannot be ordained, because there is not one word in the Bible to support it. God Himself never ordained a woman priest. Jesus, with all His closeness to women, never ordained a woman apostle. Paul, who spoke so well of women, never gave us direction to do that. Ellen G. White never did that. And therefore when I come here I become very uncomfortable to see that this church is spending time debating this.

R. ERNEST CASTILLO: As an Hispanic I have the privilege of working in the North American Division. I have the privilege of working with our Anglo brothers, our Asian brothers, our African- American brothers, and of course, with our Hispanic brothers. We do have certain specific and unique challenges. It is a very diverse division. The recommendation that the North American Division is bringing today is a special recommendation. The North American Division is requesting help with this special need.

GUY NEMBHARD: I have found out, after 35 years in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that this church's foundation is based not on scholarship, but on "salvationship." I honestly believe that we are to let God speak, and God has not spoken to us on the subject of the ordination of women. I believe if we are planning to meet Jesus someday, women, men, boys, and girls are to work together for one purpose, and that is to hasten the coming of Jesus Christ. I do not support the ordination of women, because the Bible does not support it.

RAQUEL SANTILLANA: We women feel that we are called by the Lord, and we are asking the church to recognize that call. We are not asking for special powers, because this is not what ordination means in our church. We are just asking for our church to recognize the call of God upon us.

TED N. C. WILSON: The request before us from the North American Division is a very potentially divisive proposal. The request could even be more difficult than the actual subject it wishes to address. This request could set in motion widespread factionalism within the worldwide church at a time when we must look for unity in Christ. To allow one or two divisions to deviate from the world church on a major matter could lead to widely varying church doctrine, belief, and practice. Personally I have held for many years that the ordination of women as local church elders and as gospel ministers is a theological issue and that the Scriptures do not support this practice. The subject is not about equality. There is no question that men and women are equal. I believe that we are heading into the very last days of this earth's history. I believe with all my heart that Jesus is coming soon. The devil would like nothing better than to divide and conquer this church. We know from biblical prophecy and the Spirit of Prophecy that this will not happen. Christ, the unifying power through the Holy Spirit, will lead this church on to complete victory. I implore and ask every delegate here to consider carefully the difficult consequences of splitting this church. I would respectfully urge every delegate to vote against this request from the North American Division.

ROLAND NIKEL: For some years we have been ordaining women as elders. I cannot see any differences in ordaining women as ministers. How can we say this person has the Holy Spirit and another does not?

EMMANUEL OSEI: One of the reasons proposed for the ordination of women is that of empowering women in the ministry. But I would like to call attention to what other divisions have done, where women have been empowered to evangelize, to plant churches, to preach in the churches and win souls. These women do not ask for ordination, not because of their conscience but because there is no biblical principle or practice for that. We should also learn from the early Adventist pioneers who went from North America to other countries, some even to Liberia in Africa. They went planting churches, winning souls, but they did not ask for ordination to the ministry, not because of the culture of the Victorian age, but because there was no biblical injunction. We are hearing that people are appealing to 1 Corinthians and to the American Constitution. The church is to be guided by "Thus saith the Lord." It is not a North American church. I stand here and say that you should reject the North American request.

HUMBERTO RASI: I want to ask you, Brother Chairman, if your watch is running. In the introduction you indicated that at 4:45 p.m. you were going to call for some closing statements and a closing action. My point of order is to remind you of your statement and to suggest that individuals that are now waiting are probably going to repeat the points that were made earlier. I think the majority of the delegates have already reflected on this issue, have arrived at a certain decision. Let me urge the chair to bring the matter to a close.

C. B. ROCK: The chair hears. The chair wants to state that his watch is running, and so is his heart, and it's because of that that I shall now ask the gentleman at the "for" mike to speak, and that will at least even up the presentations. We are holding off as long as possible, but you are not just nudging the chair, you are shoving him, and he understands. But we will hear from the gentleman at the "for" mike before that vote is taken.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2014, 05:56:25 PM »
BENJAMIN REAVES: As I prayerfully and carefully consider this matter under discussion, the North American Division is simply requesting to follow the initiative of Paul. I hear concerns about fragmentation, but Paul makes it clear that our oneness is in Christ. Ethnic, social, and sexual distinctions are not to be the basis of exclusion or inclusion. Nor are those distinctions to be the basis of superiority or inferiority in any way. At Oakwood College we train hundreds of students, male and female, for ministry. They graduate exhibiting equal gifts and equal commitment. I am convinced that as this world church moves toward the climax of history, its full, united impact can be made only as the gifts of the Spirit, exhibited by every member of the body, are recognized, affirmed, and utilized in every area of church organization, ministry, and practice. I speak in support of this request of the North American Division to allow every church member to fulfill whatever ministerial calling their gifts and the Spirit's guidance lead them to embrace.

HUMBERTO RASI: I wish to move that we follow the outline you suggested at the beginning and that we accepted when we came to this discussion. I move that the discussion cease. And I suggest that we have a short period of prayer before we vote.

C. B. ROCK: The motion is that the debate cease. Is it supported? It is not debatable. We will now vote, and if it passes by two-thirds, we shall govern ourselves accordingly. [Motion to cease debate was voted by two-thirds majority.]

ROBERT S. FOLKENBERG: Vienna, 1975, General Conference session. Many of you seated here were present. You can remember that beautiful city. You can also remember how long ago it was. The world has changed a lot since Vienna. Some things have slipped from memory, faded from view. A younger generation is here--some of them were not even born when we met in Vienna, and they've heard about that General Conference session secondhand. They've heard about the debates. But those debates somehow seem distant. Those discussions were somebody else's agenda, not theirs. It seems true to them because they believe their elders, but it was still somebody else's agenda.

It was the year A.D. 31. The Lord had just died and ascended, and the disciples were told to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They could not go and complete the commission. They were not permitted to preach unless they had the unction of the Spirit. And in order to receive that power, they had to remain until they were in one accord. It was a never-to-be-forgotten day. The power that flowed through the apostles was dramatic. There were many converted the next day, and this little struggling band who had an inferiority complex suddenly saw their numbers swell to thousands. They could hardly believe their eyes. All because of the power of the Spirit. They documented the occasion. And then they went out. They reached out into Jerusalem, into Judea, into Samaria. Stephen died, and they went beyond the border into the uttermost parts of the earth, and they ran into problems.

Years passed. As they confronted the Gentiles, the meaning of what it meant to follow Christ needed to be revisited. About 20 years passed. About the same time since Vienna. They came back to Jerusalem. They came back to discuss something that was biblical, that was dogma, that was doctrine, that was truth, but they were not quite sure what to do with it. What impresses me is that after the vigorous debate, of which the Scripture gives only a faint glimpse, they were able to take a potentially divisive issue, take a position, and leave and carry out their mission. Their power was not reduced simply because they disagreed. There's one reason I believe the Lord was able to do that. There's one reason the Holy Spirit was able to be poured out through individuals that had different opinions. One reason: they loved each other. The apostle makes it clear that one of the characteristics of love is that you care more about somebody else's opinion than your own. I hope you heard me. A successful marriage is one in which one spouse is more interested in the happiness of the other than in his or her own happiness.

It was with fear and foreboding that some of us foresaw the approach of this debate this afternoon. I must tell you that I am pleased at the process and the decorum with which we have each expressed clearly our opinions. I take them as all honest, valid representations of the speakers' respective opinions. I am concerned that the positions we hold reflect the kind of selflessness that is demanded by the example of love of our gracious Lord, that He saw us as more important than Himself. We have each told the world what our respective opinions are, and we pride ourselves on holding our opinions close and cherish them in our individualistic societies. But I submit that the time has come for us to hold our own opinions up against that standard that I have just mentioned, up against the will of God, and the love of our neighbor, and the ability to accomplish the mission that God has laid upon us as a result of the power of the Holy Spirit accompanying our message. There is no one, male or female, ordained or unordained, who will contribute anything to the mission of this church unless it is accompanied by the Holy Spirit. And I would submit that it is time, before we vote, to submit cherished opinions to the Word of God, to His Spirit, to the high plateau of selflessness in which we consider the pain of our brother and sister more important than our own. And I invite you to pray with me.

Gracious Father, we have seen this day approaching for some time now. It has been a cause for apprehension, worry, and concern. It is so easy to foresee doom, gloom, schism, and divided opinions, and some a divided church. Lord, we know that this church is bigger than our opinions. We know that this message is mightier than this vote, for the cross of our Lord will triumph. You are going to come soon regardless of this vote. We are commissioned to proclaim the glorious news of assurance of salvation in Jesus and the glorious news of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives, but Father, forgive us wherein we have permitted our cherished opinions to be imposed on You so that our ideas might serve as egotistical obstacles that impede our hearing ability. Father, this afternoon we want to be in one accord. We may have diversity of opinion, but Father, may our diversity be based on a careful consideration not only of our ideas but of those who may think differently. Help us not to be judgmental of them. Help us to recognize that we might be at fault. And Lord, help us to break our hearts in humility before You, because otherwise, Father, we will be channels that obstruct the impulses from on high. And Lord, this afternoon we cannot leave here feeling that some group won and some group lost. We must be able to leave here with the assurance that regardless of the decision, Heaven won. We need to go from here in one accord committed to that which is most important, being one in Jesus at the foot of the cross, having a task to do, to warn a world of Your imminent return. Father, answer our prayer, we plead. In Jesus' name, amen.

C. B. ROCK: Thank you, Mr. President.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2014, 05:58:36 PM »
GABRIEL BOAKYE-DANKWA: Mr. Chairman, will you please explain or restate the motion? Some of us are confused about it.

C. B. ROCK: Let us take a moment and read the motion again.

L. C. COOPER: The item is a request from the North American Division that the General Conference in session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below: "The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committee takes specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions."

J. H. ZACHARY: I don't know whether this is an appropriate point of order, but you have not told us whether this motion requires a two-thirds or 51 percent majority to pass.

C. B. ROCK: This is a majority vote.

J. H. ZACHARY: Fifty-one percent?

C. B. ROCK: I am so counseled by the parliamentarian.

J. H. ZACHARY: That may be too divisive. I wish it were two-thirds.

C. B. ROCK: Well, some may wish it were 75 percent, but we will go by the rule of parliamentarian on this one. I understand we have a musical item that's going to be presented while the ballots are collected and counted.

LINDA SCALES MERCER: Actually, we're going to sing a few songs while we're waiting. We're going to begin with "All Hail the Power," which is number 1 in your delegate songbook. [Part of the song was sung.]

C. B. ROCK: Before we sing the next stanza, Dr. Beach, has a number of guests with him, I see. May we meet your guests?

B. B. BEACH: I was kind of taken by surprise. Once in a while it happens to me. Usually I'm accused of taking the brethren by surprise. But sometimes it works the other way. One of the blessings of a General Conference session is to have a number of guests in our midst, leaders of other denominations, or other world organizations, or Christian world communions. We've had about 20 special guests from different communions. Some of them have come and already gone. A few have not arrived yet, so they kind of come in relays. I would just like to take the opportunity of asking these special guests that are here in front right now to stand so that you can take notice of where they come from. The three that are here are from the Netherlands representing the old Catholic Church, the World Baptist Alliance, and also the World Council of Churches. We're very happy that these gentlemen are here with us, and we ask them to stand. [Applause.] We also have about 20 observer delegates or observer guests from a great variety of Christian communities. And we're honored that they have come and spent time witnessing and communing with us. Thank you.

C. B. ROCK: Thank you. We are recipients of some heart-wrenching news. Mr. President, maybe you would like to explain to the delegation. Always in the midst of business or even joy and recreation there comes sadness. And we are once again afflicted in that way.

ROBERT S. FOLKENBERG: Many of you are acquainted with Dr. Robert Pierson. Dr. Pierson was president of our university in Rwanda, the University of Central Africa, and is now working in the Africa- Indian Ocean Division office, a delegate to our session. A few moments ago he received some tragic family news. Just a little while ago in an automobile accident in the United States, three of his grandchildren died. You can imagine the grief. It is hard to comprehend the grief that a family goes through at a time like this. I think it would be very appropriate if we would invite Elder Mittleider, who just brought me this news, to ask for God's comfort on the Pierson family.

K. J. MITTLE,IDER: Shall we stand together? Our heavenly Father, words are so inadequate in a time like this to express what we desire, especially for the Pierson family. You know the work that they have done. You know their dedicated lives and the lives they have influenced. Today they have suffered a terrible tragedy in the loss of their three grandchildren. Be with them right now. Sustain them. And as brothers and sisters in You may we also be there to comfort and sustain. We're so thankful for the church family that makes us as one, and that we are all brothers and sisters together. We're also thankful for the knowledge that one day soon Jesus is going to come and restore that which has been laid to rest in Him. But Lord, right now it's so hard. The separation seems so final. And grant, Lord, that Your peace, Your comfort, Your power, will sustain them right now. This is our prayer in Jesus' name. Amen. [LINDA SCALES MERCER led the congregation singing until the chair was ready to announce the ballot count.]

C. B. ROCK: Thank you. We have the results of the balloting, and it has been observed, and probably rightly so, that while this is an exciting, rather emotional issue, the result should not cause us to explode into any demonstration that might make evoke an "us" against "them" kind of feeling as we leave here. So please be restrained as much as you can.

Total number voting: 2,154. Of that number, 673 voting YES, and 1,481 voting NO. Thank you. The church has spoken. Shall we stand?

R. A. ZEEMAN: [Closing prayer.]

C. B. ROCK, Chair
L C. COOPER, Secretary
D. A. ROTH, FRED G. THOMAS, and
L R. COLBURN, Proceedings Editors

Adventist Review July 7, 1995
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

Richard Myers

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2014, 08:08:09 PM »
Thank you, Linda for sharing this history. Elder Damsteegt's presentation was just to the point. And, he expressed a truth that is not being expressed very well in the TOSC meetings. He stated that we are to ordain women, but not to the office of pastor. And he presented the truth that it was not the GC session that approved the ordination of women elders, but the Annual Council
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ltvvaughn

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2014, 09:58:07 AM »
I pray that the decision at this upcoming GC Session will be as decisive.

LtV
LtV
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Richard Myers

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2014, 09:06:19 AM »
This move in 1995 to ordain women to be rulers of men seems to be similar to the provisions in the 2015 attempt.
What is the difference? 


L. C. COOPER: The motion reads as follows: To refer to the 1995 General Conference session the North American Division request that the General Conference in session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below:

"The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committee takes specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions." [The motion was seconded.]
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Mimi

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2014, 09:27:24 AM »
I can find no difference.

Note that Lowell Cooper is for the ordination of women as evidenced at the 2014 Annual Council.
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Richard Myers

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2014, 09:36:34 AM »
No, this has already been decided by the General Conference in session twice.  But, now it has been "thoroughly studied."  And, the church now has some conferences in full blown rebellion.
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ltvvaughn

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2014, 02:58:40 PM »
Given all that has happened to date, I seriously doubt that if WO is voted down, that the pro WO group will give up.  It hasn't happened in other denominations and I would expect no less in the remnant church.  The devil is not going to give up that easily.
LtV
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LindaRS

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2015, 01:54:33 PM »
Dr. Damsteegt has posted the articles and resources on his webpage that he presented to the 1995 GC session in Utrecht when he spoke against ordination of women to the ministry. You will find them listed under the heading Women's Ordination and the Bible and Presentations. They are at the bottom of the page.
O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah  10:23-24

Mimi

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Re: Women's Ordination Vote at 1995 General Conference Session 7-5-95
« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2015, 04:39:54 PM »
Given all that has happened to date, I seriously doubt that if WO is voted down, that the pro WO group will give up.  It hasn't happened in other denominations and I would expect no less in the remnant church.  The devil is not going to give up that easily.

No, they won't give up even though it WILL be voted down. I just know it will. From all appearances, the NAD is positioning itself to be quite an independent entity if this does not go their way, which it won't.
  For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89