In its meeting Tuesday, March 27, the Potomac Conference became the fifth North American Division conference or union to vote an action on women’s ordination during the month of March.
According to Dan Jensen, assistant to the Potomac Conference president for communication, it was voted unanimously “to request the Potomac Conference Standing Articles & Bylaws committee to begin a review process of its bylaws that would enable us to ordain women.”
This latest action adds to the one that was taken in January 2011, when the committee "voted, that regardless of gender, each qualified candidate for pastoral ministry should receive ordination….We will make this request at each Columbia Union Executive Committee until permission is granted."
On March 20, the Columbia Union Executive Committee passed the following action:
Whereas the North American Division (NAD) Leadership has encouraged each union to be intentional in affirming women in ministry, we vote to establish an AdHoc Committee to study the issue of women in ministry and recommend to the Columbia Union Executive Committee how we can be intentional in affirming women in ministry. In addition, we vote to affirm our previous action requesting the NAD to grant us permission to ordain women in ministry.
The latest action by the Potomac Conference would seem to indicate the conference is no longer waiting for permission from the Union or the Division to ordain women. However, on Wednesday, March 28, Jansen clarified the action saying, "No, the conference does not intend to move forward unless it can do so with the blessing of the Columbia Union. Our goal is to work through this issue in a way that is supportive of the church constitution and bylaws. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to clarify our position."
The Mid-America Union voted on March 8 to ordain women. Next came votes by the Pacific Union Conference, and the Columbia Union Conference. Each vote has recognized the local actions taken in the past to affirm women in ministry. Just last week, the Southeastern California Conference voted to convert its ordained-commissioned ministerial credentials to ordained.