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A Message to the North Pacific Union as they Discuss Ordination Today


Ladies and Gentlemen,

One more brief comment to add to my previous comments on the issues for consideration at your meeting today.  In addition to the opportunity to comment on Women’s Ordination in the North Pacific Union Conference, I want to respond to the “Unions and Ordination to the Gospel Ministry” document sent from Elder Wilson, presumably to shut down any action by the NPUC on women’s ordination.  In spite of the claims made in this document, I encourage you to fully engage the Union in its role in deciding how to move ahead on equality in ministry.  Whether or not the NPUC decides to ordain women pastors at this time, the NPUC should make full use of its entire decision making authority, including its constituency, in discussing these matters that are so critical to the NPUC’s mission.

My own impression of the General Conference document, is that the General Conference is attempting to maximize its own authority; pushing the limits to the point of sacrificing the full role of Unions. The document rests its arguments on traditional practice, and the lack of a gender inclusive reference to ordination. That’s it. There is no reference to a policy specifically limiting ordination to men, or specifically excluding women. If there were such a policy, it would have been stated. In the absence of such policy, the GC is inserting its own preferences, along with a claim for “highest authority.” The NPUC can respond respectfully to this document by making its own independent evaluation of the issues and policies involved – that is the Union’s role. There is nothing rebellious or disrespectful by a proper exercise of authority.

Seventh-day Adventist organization is not a hierarchy, with authority flowing from “corporate” (the GC) to the “subsidiaries” (Unions). We are a system of overlapping constituencies, operating within agreements of goodwill, recognizing and honoring the participation of each.

I’m an attorney, but not a church law attorney. I’m a former union and conference executive committee member, but not a church policy expert. Mostly, I’m a very concerned layperson looking for the NPUC to exercise its full role, involve its constituency, and move ahead with the full equality of its women and men pastors. (And forgive a bit of humor and overstatement – in the words of Lincoln – “save the Union.”)

Blessings in your work at the meeting.

Brent Stanyer
Spokane, WA


Brent Stanyer is a member of the Adventist Forum Board, which publishes Spectrum Magazine.

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