ONE in Christ began as a call for the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) of Seventh-day Adventists (1) to immediately recall the credentials from all its pastors who hold the Ordained/Commissioned Minister Credential and replace them with the Ordained Minister Credential and (2) to immediately begin the process of amending its policy documents to provide for the ordination of all qualified pastoral candidates without regard to gender.
ONE in Christ celebrates the long-standing commitment of the SECC to full gender inclusiveness in ministry. This has included the endorsement and support of the Gender Inclusiveness Committee, a significant lay task force and the creation of a single, regular ministerial credential—the Ordained/ Commissioned Minister Credential. All regular pastors in the conference, whether female or male, received this credential. All pastors who were selected to transition from intern to regular status, whether female or male, underwent an undifferentiated, ordination/commissioning service with the traditional “laying on of hands.” However, as significant and unique as this was, it was not sufficient. The SECC needed to take the logical and necessary step to finally complete the process. It needed to give all its ordained/commissioned ministers the Ordained Minister Credential and to conduct all future authorization services and rites for all pastors, whether female or male, as regular ordination services that include the issuing of Ordained Minister Credentials. On March 22, 2012, the SECC Executive Committee took this step by overwhelming voting to immediately remove the word “commissioned” from the credentials it issues to its pastors, with the effect that all its pastors, regardless of gender, are considered to be ordained ministers.
ONE in Christ is pleased that the Executive Committee of the Pacific Union Conference (PUCon) of Seventh-day Adventists on March 15, 2012 voted to support its 1995 call for the ordination of women to the ministry and to enact the details of its support at its meeting on May 9, 2012. At the May 9 meeting, the PUCon Executive Committee voted to call a special constituency session on August 19, 2012, to take actions that will result in authorizing the ordination of pastors without regard to gender. On August 19, 2012, the constituents of the PUCon overwhelming voted to authorize the ordination of pastors without regard to gender. The PUCon Executive Committee is now prepared to process recommendations for ordination candidates from its local conferences accordingly.
ONE in Christ is disappointed that the North American Division (NAD) has felt it necessary to reverse the action it took in the fall of 2011 to extend the responsibility of serving as a local conference president to persons who hold commissioned minister credentials. This would have included both men and women. Commendable as this would have been, it would not have been sufficient. It would not have dealt with the root problem—the continued failure of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to recognize the right of both men and women not only to function in the gospel ministry but also to receive full ecclesiastical authorization and rights. More encouraging is the declaration by the NAD president, “The North American Division and its Unions and Conferences (as local circumstances permit) must become more intentional in the development of pathways to ministry for female pastors.” Of course, only those “pathways to ministry” that include the full authorization that ordination alone provides will enable “female pastors” to fulfill their divine calling. Union Conferences within the NAD have begun to positively respond to this challenge, starting with the constituency actions of the Columbia Union Conference and the PUCon.
ONE in Christ sees the ultimate biblical mandate for the ordination of pastors without regard to gender to be Paul’s foundational declaration in Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (NRSV). In Christ, we are without distinction regarding ethnicity. We are without distinction regarding social status. We are without distinction regarding gender. We are one in Christ. This is a foundational principle that must prevail in the face of any potentially contrary biblical material.
ONE in Christ invites all Adventist members and pastors everywhere to join this campaign to authorize the ordination of pastors without regard to gender throughout the Adventist world. To register your endorsement of this movement, please sign the online petition form by clicking on the petition button. Thousands of you signing this petition will make a significant and effective statement. The power for change lies with the people in the pew—with you. We are ONE in Christ. We will Ordain Now Equally.