This week, the Theology of Ordination Study Committee convenes for its fourth and final meeting to discuss the ordination of women. The study committee will finalize a report to the General Conference, which will be reviewed and discussed at the 2014 Annual Council. The Annual Council will decide what to refer to the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas. The Adventist News Agency (APD) in Switzerland today published a story about Jan Paulson, and his comments on women’s ordination. An excerpt appears here:
Pastor Dr Jan Paulsen, former President of the General Conference (headquarters of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist church) spoke in the Seventh-day Adventist church Stuttgart/Germany about the church’s challenges in the 21st century. He stressed that the decision about the ordination of women as pastors was one of the top priorities. A wide range of committees in the world church have tackled this question for the past 40 years. In 1990 the General Assembly of the General Conference (World Council) and the supreme decision-making body denied the right of women’s ordination. When the Adventists in North America asked for permission to ordain women as pastors in their area of responsibility, the majority of the world council meeting in Utrecht in 1995 rejected the request again. This very same question is again on the agenda of the General Conference General Assembly in 2015 which is scheduled from 2 to 11 July in San Antonio, Texas/USA. On fears that a decision to ordain women could divide the church, Paulsen replied: “Perhaps so. But equally, not to ordain women has the same probability to divide our church.” It is, therefore, important to find a solution which is acceptable to both parties. All arguments – whether for or against – have been presented and exchanged and the problem cannot be postponed again.
According to Paulsen, there are, however, a number of additional challenges for the church. Despite cultural differences and theological challenges it was necessary for the global church to preserve the unity and identity. A global community of faith faced the difficult task of integrating their spiritual values into the practical aspects of daily life in many different cultures. It was necessary to resist the ‘easy solution’ to withdraw from people who had completely different values of life into ‘the own perfect world.’ Paulsen cautioned: “Either the public accepts us as part of society and sees that we want to be an active part of life in the political community, or the public considers us as an irrelevant sect which dissociates itself from all others. Our world may no longer be interested in God, but it is a world full of people whom we, under no circumstances, can leave to fend for themselves.” Adventists should therefore live out their values, prepare people for the future, such as by way of education, and act as peacemakers.