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Legal Opinion Contests North American Division Vote on Commissioned Ministers

In a letter that is both affirming of women ministers and apologetic to the General Conference Executive Committee, North American Division President Dan Jackson wrote to his Executive Committee today to give a first-hand account of the continued dispute between between the North American Division and the General Conference over the issue of commissioned ministers being elected conference presidents.

Under discussion since 2009, the NAD wanted to change the wording of its “E-60 Policy “ from “ordained minister” to “ordained/commissioned minister,” which would allow a woman, who is a commissioned minister, to be elected as a conference president.

The North American Division Executive Committee has voted affirmatively on the issue three times, even after the rejection by the General Conference’s Executive Committee to the request from North America for permission for a variance.

In the letter Jackson says that NAD retained legal counsel to review the General Conference Constitution, Working Policy, and Church Manual “in order to verify the governance role of the NAD in terms of its’ relationship to the General Conference.”

He writes, “The results of this review were provided to us on January 3, 2012 and clearly support the opinion that the North American Division Executive Committee does not have the right to establish policies which are out of harmony with the General Conference Model Constitution or General Conference Working Policy. The conclusions that NADCOM has come to are the following:”

a) From 2009 through 2011 the North American Division Committee did not have the authority to vote a policy (E-60 – with the inclusion of the word ‘commissioned’) that was out of harmony with the General Conference E-60 Policy.


b) The editors will be directed to omit the word ‘commissioned’ from the E-60 Policy contained in the 2011-2012 edition of the NAD Working Policy.

However, Jackson is not content to just let the issue go with the findings of the attorneys regarding the relationship between the General Conference and the North American Division. He says, “While we have, as a Division family, philosophically supported women in leadership at three successive Year End Meetings the time has now come for us to become practical in our application of philosophy and belief. “

He calls on the conferences and unions to “become more intentional in the development of pathways to ministry for female pastors. We must also develop intentional methods of mentoring women who can take on executive leadership positions within our conferences.”

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