On March 12, the Mid-America Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists issued the following statement:
On March 8, the Mid-America Union Conference (MAUC) Executive Committee voted to support the ordination of women to pastoral ministry. The vote followed a thorough discussion, in which the 35-member body representing six local conferences also focused on the need to move forward in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist world church.
After the meeting, MAUC president Thomas L. Lemon testified that while the action was unplanned and unprecedented, he felt God’s presence at work within the committee. “To me, this means that we will no longer allow gender to prejudice decisions about candidates brought to this body for consideration,” he said. He emphasized that the group recognizes the authority of the world church and the need for harmony across administrative levels. “I consider myself a loyal son of the church that I have loved and belonged to for more than 50 years.” he said.
Since the meeting, some have wondered whether any female candidates are presently under consideration and if the union has the authority to ordain them. “We are not aware of any candidates, but at some point, one of our six local conferences may vote to recommend a woman for ordination,” Lemon explained. “As we do with all such requests, the union committee will then prayerfully evaluate the candidate on her own merits while making its decision.”
Lemon summarized the meaning of the committee’s action to be as follows:
- To affirm the priesthood of all believers, including women, in regards to the call to gospel ministry
- To support Seventh-day Adventist leaders, including those in North America, as they continue their efforts to follow the guidance of God’s Spirit regarding women in ministry and leadership
- To create a safe environment for local conferences to continue their own discussion of this subject to help them discern which candidates to recommend for pastoral ordination
Plans are being discussed by which the union will continue to study biblically the way forward, and our local conferences are encouraged to do the same for their fields. Union leaders are asking pastors and members across Mid-America to make this subject a matter of prayer so that the Holy Spirit, whose presence was deeply experienced by the MAUC Executive Committee, will continue to advance God’s kingdom in our territory.