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The Process Matters: A Delegate Reflects on the Ordination of Deaconesses

I wrote What Happened?: A Delegate Reflects on the Mechanics of the Wilson Election. Lest I get a reputation from my single contribution to SPECTRUM of being what the Aussies call ‘a whinging pom’ let me share another slice of life from the delegate’s floor at Atlanta.

We’re slowly and carefully working our way through the modifications to and the reorganisation of the Church Manual. All the information was in our hands well before the GC Session and we’ve had plenty of time to consider what is being proposed. So, we’re off to a good start. Pencils sharpened, spectacles cleaned, notebook at the ready. Pedant’s corner, here we come. I love it.

Monday saw us address the issue of a suitable ordination service for deaconesses. The double act of Armando Miranda and Homer Trecartin proposed an addition to the Manual, under the heading of ‘Organizing a Church’ following a section on the ordination of elders. The addition/reorganisation stated that a “similar but shorter service should take place for ordination of deacons and induction for deaconesses.

Deaconesses may be ordained in divisions where the process has been approved by its executive committee”. We had considerable debate on the issue and then a fellow Trans-European Division delegate, Jeroen Tuinstra (pictured) from the Netherlands, suggested a simpler reading of “[a] similar but shorter service should take place for ordination of deacons and deaconesses”.

Less is more?

Now, regardless of where you stand on the role of women in the modern Adventist Church what happened next must warm the cockles of every Adventist democrat’s heart.

The chair, Lowell Cooper, clarified Tuinstra’s motion and made sure that the delegates understood the scope of the proposed change. This he did with great clarity. Both Trecartin and Miranda looked nervous about the proposed amendment (you don’t get to be Chair and Secretary of the Church Manual Committee without a deep understanding of the power of words) but, bless them, they took it on the chin and accepted the will of the delegates who – to the considerable astonishment of the lady sitting next to me – voted overwhelmingly for the amendment.

Now that’s why I’m here in Atlanta!

The attentive reader can probably deduce that I was in favour of the motion (and secretly I’d like us to have gone much further). But trying ever-so-hard to be objective I’d like to think that – regardless of this particular motion – the process was the winner.* The official Church body had proposed a form of words; those words had gone through umpteen committees around the various Divisions and finally surfaced at the GC Session. The delegates found those carefully selected words wanting and proposed something else. And that was that. We made a difference.

I was very impressed with the leadership on Monday. Pastors Lowell Cooper and Gerry Karst were excellent Chairs. Homer Trecartin and Armando Miranda were equally excellent communicators of some rather complex ideas. Hat’s off to them all.

If only they were in charge of the Nominating Committee process.

But – back to this particular motion. I know that there are Adventists out there who think that we’ve lost the plot (again) and are flirting with the Dark Side (see the comments following the ANN coverage). So let me ask the doubters this question. We started Monday’s session with a strong and impassioned request for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our work. This amended motion was the result. Was God with us? Yes.

Today we are all Dutchmen.


Steve Logan, Ph.D., is an engineering consultant specialising in fluid mechanics software. He is a member of the British Union Conference Executive Committee and a trustee of ADRA UK (which brings him great joy!)

*On Wednesday morning the same process passed a motion (on Fundamental Belief #6) that I opposed. But the process again worked, even if I, personally, didn’t like the outcome.

Photo: Gerry Chudleigh/ANN

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