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Columbia Union Reaffirms Request to Ordain Women

The following official statement by the Columbia Union Conference was published March 20. 

“At its spring meeting Sunday, the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee voted two items that will propel the subject of women in ministry to the top of its agenda this year, as follows:

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.

To ensure that these topics remain a priority on its agenda, the committee also requested that the AdHoc Committee present its report at the next union Executive Committee meeting. Between now and then, the AdHoc Committee, which will have representation from each of the union’s eight conferences, will work through five terms of reference:

  1. Review past history of Columbia Union practice.
  2. Review biblical and Spirit of Prophecy mandates regarding the role of women in ministry.
  3. Review Columbia Union Conference Bylaws and General Conference/NAD policies.
  4. Study and review cultural implications regarding women in ministry.
  5. Recommend to Columbia Union Executive Committee appropriate initiatives for supporting women in ministry.

More information will be released following the AdHoc Committee’s report to the Executive Committee on May 17.” 

This action by the home union to the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists makes it the third major constituent body in the past few weeks to move the Adventist Church in North America toward officially ordaining women to pastoral ministry. Both the Mid-America Union and the Pacific Union Executive Committees have boldy moved to support the North American Division that briefly opened the door for women’s ordination through the reaffirmation of the E-60 policy. Following that vote, The North American Division issued a letter apologizing to the General Conference for acting without the “proper authority.” In understanding the recent actions by these three unions it is vital to revisit point number six in that letter. 

In discussions held following the 2011 North American Division Year-end Meeting it was brought to the NAD Administration’s attention that Divisions do not have Constituencies, in that they are all (that is, the Divisions) parts of the same General Conference “whole” therefore they must act in harmony with the policies of the world church. In other words, Divisions do not have the independent right to develop policies which are out of harmony with the General Conference Model Constitution or voted General Conference Working Policy. While all Divisions have the authority to develop and implement policies related to their field, they may not act independently when it comes to voted General Conference policies.

Unions have constituencies. They have the legal power to change the policy about the ordination of women and are clearly exercising it. 

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