So many voices have been heard, and yet not. So, many arguments have been presented, and yet, we are not finished arguing. So many women are working in ministry, and VERY few of them were at the Annual Council meeting on Sunday. I watched, and I listened, and I suddenly understood that I was holding a grudge against all the people in favor of the proposal represented. I was snorting, laughing at the people in favor, feeling they insulted me and all the people not in favor of the proposal discussed.
What was being discussed and voted over? Well, basically unions, divisions, and conferences that do not follow policies will now be reported and it will, after some procedures, be decided whether the "church administrative units and church employees are in compliance."
While sitting on my sofa, listening to the introduction for the meeting, snorting and shaking my head, my husband made me aware of my attitude.
And that, that really saddened me. Who have I become? Why am I holding a grudge towards so many people, just because we disagree on one matter?
Well, it boils down to a few thoughts and feelings, which explains, but doesn’t excuse.
I have worked as a pastor for a short time. I am a female in a male-dominated work place, but that does not bother me because most of my colleagues are supportive. I love my work even though I am not ordained — that does not make a difference in my daily work. But, this conflict or debate, that springs from the question of whether unions should decide for themselves if women can be ordained or not, it affects me on a more personal level. It is difficult to describe, but the issue is just a bit discriminating and badly handled. Really badly handled, all of it.
The conference must have known how divided the church has been on the matter of compliance, and women’s ordination, and I know leaders have tried to come up with suggestions of alternative ways to solve these disagreements, or…problems. So, why continue on and vote on something that will fragment us (even further) as a church?
Furthermore, it annoys and troubles me that even though we now should "continue forward with our mission," a huge part of the church will have to swallow a big camel (I am not sure if that makes sense in English or other languages, but it does in Norwegian, and I think you get the point anyways!).
If the document and proposal had been turned down, another huge part of the church would have to "swallow" this camel. Point being, I don't think we are finished with this yet, and actually, I don't want it to be finished. There must be other ways to solve these issues in order that we are more free to evangelize in the most productive way possible in our unions, but still are able to serve God together.
There must, because I cannot stop thinking and talking about these issues, because I live in one of the world’s most secular countries, and I have to care about these issues in order for people to find Adventism relevant.
I will not speak on behalf of anyone else, that has been done too much over the last couple of days, but I think it is important that I express my opinions in a female pastoral role, and also as a young person. Many people have contributed to the discussion, I am just putting a more personal vibe to it, hoping that other young people and female pastors feel that we can stand together, show acceptance to the people that differ from our opinions, and still stand firm in our conviction.
Am I looking forward to see what happens next? Probably not so much, but who knows? These are exciting times and I am looking forward to see God lead this huge church, no matter where.
And last, who have you become? Let's help each other to not hold a grudge.
Guro Edvardsen is a youth pastor in Oslo, Norway. This essay originally appeared on the author’s blog, and is reprinted here with permission.
Image courtesy of Guro Edvardsen.
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