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Visitor Publishes Special Issue on Ordination, Members React

Story by Celeste Ryan Blyden
Published 7/11/12

This month the Columbia Union Conference published a special issue of the Visitor magazine themed “Weighing the Issues: Why We’re Advocating for Women’s Ordination.” According to Visitor editor and publisher Celeste Ryan Blyden, the objective with this special issue is threefold:

1. To help members know why the union’s leadership is advocating for women’s ordination,
2. To educate readers on the history surrounding women’s involvement as ministers and our church's actions around this issue to date, and
3. To answer the most common questions received in response to the union’s announcement last month that a special constituency session is planned for July 29 to seek approval to ordain proven ministers without regard to gender.

To facilitate the wider conversation, the communication staff also set up special web pages in English, Spanish and French so interested members can review the special issue, access additional resources, link to related documents and share comments.

Members Weigh in on Ordination Discussion

People across the Columbia Union are talking about this special issue as well as  the union’s announcement that it will hold a special constituency session July 29. “The July issue of the Visitor reminds me of the best days of [Seventh-day] Adventist communication. It deals with an issue that many a church member is talking about and wondering what actually is at play, but doing [so] in the spirit of openness,” wrote Potomac Conference member Rajmund Dabrowski on the union’s website. It also caught the attention of Tara VinCross, Pennsylvania Conference pastor, who emailed: “When I got [it] in the mail yesterday, I read every article!”

Comments are coming via email, Facebook and on the union’s website where, to date, more than 75 have been posted on a comments page designed to facilitate a wider conversation on the matter, including this one from Joann: “I never for one moment believed that there was any leader in this church that would stand up for righteousness/justice though the heavens may fall.  And here they are before my very eyes—my own union leaders.  It brings tears to my eyes each time I think about it.”

On Facebook the number of people talking about the Visitor rose by 140 percent and the total reach increased by 182 percent.  Not everyone was sharing positive feedback. “When I read the announcement of the special constituency in the CU Visitor I was stunned, and felt somewhat ashamed, that my union would take upon themselves the authority to decide on an issue that clearly is not in the best interest of church unity,” wrote Vince. He and several others shared suggestions and counsel.

Overall, nearly 1,500 new visitors logged onto the union’s website during the last 10 days, most to read the articles related to this subject. To join the conversation, visit

COMMENTS POLICY: The Columbia Union Conference Visitor encourages quality conversation and welcomes your thoughtful comments. All comments are subject to approval and will not be edited. Please limit your comments to 500 words or less.

Join in the discussion:

Dwayne Turner
2012-07-13 10:00 AM

The Spirit of Prophecy Quotes provided on this website....are captioned in a misleading way, "Ellen White Quotes on Women in Pastoral Ministry".  Yet, the quotes do not speak of "Women in Pastoral Ministry" in the context of women being pastors, but women laboring in the field beside their husbands, who are ministers, and being paid wages for their labor; as their husbands are being paid.  It does not, in any way, talk about women being pastors over a church.  Since the discussion here is about women being Pastors, and women being ordained as Pastors, the clickable caption you have posted 'Ellen White Quotes on Women in Pastoral Ministry' is misleading.  If it was properly captioned, it would read, 'E.G. White Quotes on Pastor's wives helping their husbands in Pastoral Ministry'.  What bothers me is that no reading of this entire section can lead one to conclude that God was endorsing Women as Pastors.  Yet, it is being billed as such.  Also, the proper reference is 5MR pg. 325.

Quote #2 bears the caption, 'The foundational premise that undergirds all of Ellen White's Counsels about women in ministry is that neither men nor women  can do alone the quality of work that the two can do together'.  This is once again misleading.  The caption on the section of Evangelism that you are quoting reads, 'Both men and women called to do Bible Work'.  The information in this section follows suit, by discussing "Bible Work In The Home", Not "Women being Pastors of Churches".  You are using these quotes, applying them to Women holding the position of Pastor, when they simply don't apply!  No reading of these quotes, forward or backwards, yields the results that you are alleging can be found in the readings. This is as painful as Sunday-keepers substantiating that Sunday worship is legitimate because the disciples came together and broke bread on Sunday (Acts 20:7), Paul preached to them (Same Passage), and in another instance Paul came and collected offering on Sunday (1 Cor. 16:2).  Put it all together, they say, and you have Sunday worship.  Painful!  And the quotes that have been used to justify what you are doing are just as painfully applied as the "Sunday worship" justification texts.  

What I see happening in this whole discussion is:  The quotes on this subject, contained in the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy, that speak plainly to this issue, providing no ammunition for those in favor of Women's Ordination, are being explained as "not saying what you think it says" and are therefore being "devalued".  Meantime, quotes are being provided that do not speak directly to this issue, but are being "billed" as speaking directly to this issue; hence, these quotes are raised to the level of being "the smoking gun!"   

Please brethren, God's people deserve better than "smoke and mirrors"!  They need unequivocally "Thus saith the Lord".  In fact, it is time that people demand a plain, "Thus saith the Lord."    

To date, that has not been provided.

Kay Rosburg
2012-07-17 1:27 PM

Contrary to your belief that all women working "in the field" during Ellen White's lifetime were wives of minister husbands, there is ample evidence of women working as ministers themselves, without their husband's being a minister.  The fact that you stated the following "....women being pastors over a church" (my italics added) says a lot about how you feel ministers have some type of authority OVER a church.  My understanding of pastoral ministry is that all ministers, regardless of gender, so even men, are called to be "servant-leaders" of their congregations, not autocrats to wield authority over the members.  Your statement seems to exhibit a misunderstanding, or at least a completely different opinion, of the ministerial role.

Dwayne Turner
2012-07-17 4:59 PM

Sister Kay.... should we dialogue on this forum, I will only respond to "what you say", not "what you didn't say."  You said  that I have a "belief" that all women working "in the field" during Ellen White's lifetime were wives of minister husbands.  Sister Kay....where in my post do you see me saying that or even implying that?  That's a "strawman argument"!  I wrote with respect to the quote that has been offered by the Columbia Union Visitor (5MR pg. 325), as a quote to substantiate women as pastors and being ordained.  That's all!  That's the full scope of what I said.  

Now to the substance of it.  

Would you be able to represent that quote as, in fact, meaning what the Vistor is saying that it means? 

As to the other of my words you cited, "Women being pastors over a church".  You say that by me using the word "over", it indicates how I feel about minsters having "some type of authority over a church." From that "one word" you were able to deduce that I believe in pastoral dominance, autocratic rule, and have a basic misunderstanding of the pastorate.  Sister, forgive me for being expressive but, ALL THAT FROM ONE WORD???!!! 

When I use the expression "over the church", I simply mean "leader of the church".  You would  agree that ministers occupying the role of "Pastor" are leaders of the churches that they pastor.  

My Sister, for any and all subjects you may sight I believe just what the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy say on the subject.  

Does the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy speak of Pastors "lording it" over the church?  No! So I don't believe in it!  

Does the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy speak in favor of Women as Pastors over a church? NO! So I don't believe that either!