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Speaking of Women, Ordination, and Fundamental Beliefs in the Northern California Conference

With a constituency meeting slated for May 16, talk in the Northern California Conference is warming up on several hot button issues like the ordination of women and fundamental belief #6.

Churches can submit agenda items, voted in a church business session, for the constituency meeting. Several items have met the criteria and will be on the agenda.

Ordination is the first item on the list, but that motion did not come from the Sacramento Central Church where Pastor Doug Batchelor recently preached a sermon against ordaining women. Instead, the Auburn Church proposed that “should the issue of the ordination/commission of women to ministry arise at the upcoming General Conference Session that the Northern California Conference go on record as supporting the concept that the same language “Ordination” or “Commission” be equally applied to both men and women—at least in the North American Division.”

In the explanatory material accompanying the motion, the church said, “The present system of ordaining men and commissioning women is an exercise in semantics that is demeaning to both genders.” No attempt to argue the merits of the ordination of women is made in the motion. “What it (the motion) does is to acknowledge and formalize what is already recognized in practice, allowed in church policy, and established in the law – that both men and women can fulfill the same functions in the church and should be designated, as well as treated, the same.”

Northern California voted in 2002 to recommend the ordination of women to the General Conference, and issues the same commissioned/ordained credentials for men and women pastors.

At the March 21st conference organizing committee meeting, eight women were selected to be on the 21-member nominating committee—a record 38 percent.

Creation is a topic of concern to the Oroville Church. It placed two agenda items concerning this topic on the agenda, including a recommendation that the NCC vote a request that the General Conference Church Manual Committee rewrite Fundamental Belief #6 to reflect the more specific language found in “An Affirmation of Creation Report” and “Response to An Affirmation of Creation.” In the second motion on this topic, Oroville suggests that NCC “institute structures for accountability that will ensure that the pastors in our churches, and the faculty in our educational institutions adhere in their teachings and lives to the Biblical principles expressed in the “Church Manual” especially:

  • A literal Creation in 6 days. . .
  • The prophetic authority of the Spirit of Prophecy, and
  • Biblically appropriate sexual relationships.

And the motion requires that the conference report back to the constituency on what action is taken.

Two proposals on the agenda request that consideration be given to restructuring the conference. The Roseville Church suggests that study be given to realigning the conferences and the Pacific Union into a single Union Conference with a team of strategically distributed field personnel who directly interface with clergy and congregations.

With election of conference officers, consideration of changes to the educational funding system, and review of the conference finances, also on the agenda, the May 16 meeting could be a long one.

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