The main topic up for debate this morning was the ordination of deaconesses. The issue of the ordination of female pastors having been kept off the conference agenda, this discussion was designed to provide a less controversial way of advancing women in the church.
The delegates took full advantage, approving changes to the Church Manual that went farther than the platform expected. At issue was a proposed new section of the manual that gave divisions the option of ordaining deaconesses if they wished.
But that proposal was rejected and instead delegates voted for amended wording that simply said that when local church officers are elected a “service should take place for ordination for deacons and deaconesses.”
Jeroen Tuinstra, from the Trans-European Division, proposes an amendment regarding the ordination of deaconesses.
Speaking to SPECTRUM, today’s chairman of the General Conference Session floor Vice President Lowell Cooper said that the delegates voted effectively to regularize the ordination of deaconesses worldwide, which was more radical than anticipated. “They went further than was recommended in the original motion and I did find that surprising,” he said.
As might be expected, the debate on the floor ranged far and wide, with many suggesting that the measure was a slippery slope toward the ordination of women ministers. But on this occasion the fearful argument for the extreme failed to gain traction. The delegates were intent on going as far as they could today.
The applause on the floor when the amended motion was won was the loudest thus far at the General Conference Session. It gave a sense that the leadership could win the vote for women’s ordination if they really wanted.
Keith Lockhart is co-author of Seeking a Sanctuary: Seventh-day Adventism and the American Dream.
Photos: Gerry Chudleigh/ANN