Work of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee moved ahead this week with the issuing of two draft documents and announcement of plans for the coming months. The 64-page paper “Toward a Theology of Ordination” reviews Biblical texts and Ellen G. White statements about ordination with the intention of being an introductory document for the committee’s discussion. Secondly, a 700-word consensus statement on the theology of ordination gives a glimpse of what the committee intends to produce as a summary of its work.
Accompanying the draft documents was the announcement from the steering committee that it has decided, “in order to be as transparent and open as possible to select a working group of ten people who are not members of the steering committee and have been participating in the writing of the consensus statement, to review all the recommendations we have received from the TOSC members and Division Biblical Research Committees.” However, the names of the ten have not yet been released.
The group of ten is to include five people who support women’s ordination and five people who do not support it. Geoffrey Mbwana, the vice-chair of the TOSC, will chair the working group. And their work will begin immediately. They are set to meet at Andrews University May 21 and 22. Their first task will be to review recommendations from TOSC members regarding the two draft documents, and to come up with a second version of the consensus statement.
In June, the steering committee will review the work of the reading group, and prepare for the July meeting of the entire 100-plus member committee. “Our hope and prayer is that we will reach a consensus when we all meet in July this year,” TOSC Chair Artur Stele wrote in his message to the members of the TOSC.
The consensus statement as drafted uses gender inclusive language to leave open the question of the ordination of women to the ministry and not to support or oppose it, according to a note at the top of the document.
It describes the gospel ministry as “a special calling from God who in His grace chooses individuals and equips them with gifts in order to lead and nurture His people. . . . The quality of the life of such individuals evidences the fact that the Lord has called them to gospel ministry, and the church acknowledges this calling through the rite of ordination. Therefore, ordination is an act of commissioning that acknowledges God’s call, sets the individual apart, and appoints the person to serve the church in a special capacity.”
—Bonnie Dwyer is the editor of Spectrum.