Church Leadership Sends Mixed Message about Theology of Ordination Committee

After two years of little action after the 2010 General Conference Session vote, the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church has just now established a theology of ordination committee. Adventist News Network reports that "four committee sessions, each meeting for up to three days, will precede the October 2014 report. Thus it will meet for a maximum 12 days in the next 760.

“We want an open process,” Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, told the group’s Administrative Committee, or ADCOM, before the vote was taken. As a part of this "open process" in forming this new committee "at least" 24 out of the 102 members will be women. Despite this call for "an open process" ANN reports that: "suggested names for the committee’s membership were requested from ADCOM members as part of the selection process." ANN writes that, "The Committee will have no world church officers on it other than chairman, vice-chairman and secretary, though the three executive officers will be ex officio members." No mention of what actually makes this process open was reported.

“When the process starts there are two issues that will be really studied,” said Artur A. Stele, head of the world church’s Biblical Research Institute and chairman of the new committee. “Number one, the theology of ordination, what ordination is or isn’t. Then, the second one, ‘What are the implications for Church practices with a special emphasis on women’s ordination?’”

This process seems to differ in emphasis and/or structure from one discussed in the past by church leadership. An article by ANN in October of 2011, states the following

The Biblical Research Institute at the world church headquarters will coordinate the process of studying ordination with corresponding Biblical research committees in each of the church's 13 world divisions, said church President Ted N. C. Wilson.

 

"This will be a very careful process," Wilson said. "We're letting you know how the world field will be involved."

Each division is asked to request their Biblical research committee to study the theology of ordination and its implications for church practices in that region.

 

Stele announced the timetable as follows:

In November 2013, each division committee at their 2013 year-end meetings will review the study made by their division Biblical Research Committee and recommend it to the Biblical Research Institute director for consideration by a Theology of Ordination Study Committee. The General Conference Administrative Committee will also appoint a Theology of Ordination Study Committee with appropriate division representation.

 

From December 2013 to June 2014, the Theology of Ordination Study Committee will analyze the materials received from the divisions and prepare a combined report.

In June 2014, the report will be reviewed by General Conference executive officers and later by with the President's Administrative Executive Council and the General Conference Administrative Committee.

In October 2014, the General Conference administration will process the report for Annual Council, which will review the report and, if needed, take any appropriate action.

It is not clear which process, the one reported in 2011 (BRI and division representation processed through the GC administration) or in 2012 ("open process" committee) is the actual way this matter will be explored. Or are they are really the same?

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Sat, 09/13/2014 | San Diego Adventist Forum
Terrie Dopp Aamodt, PhD

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