Members Debate, Pray About Upcoming Constituency Meeting
Story by Taashi Rowe
People from across the Columbia Union Conference, outside the union and even around the world are talking about and praying for the union’s special constituency meeting slated for Sunday. At the meeting, delegates will consider a request from the union executive committee to approve ministerial ordination without regard to gender.
After the July issue of the Visitor
reached members with the cover story “Weighing the Issues: Why We’re Advocating for Women’s Ordination,” there have been a flood of comments. So far there are 161 comments on the union’s website and Facebook
page and comments have poured in from as far away as South Africa, France and India. Pastor Daniel KalapalaIa, who labeled himself as “a friend and well wisher from Vijayawada, India” wrote, “Trust the Spirit of God will prevail and guide the church in the right direction.”
Here in the Columbia Union, discussion has been plentiful and passionate in some conferences and decidedly less so in others. Below are snapshots of what is happening around the union:
During the divine service at Chesapeake Conference’s New Hope church
in Fulton, Md., pastors presented information to congregants, distributed copies of the July Visitor
, included articles on the subject in two of their bulletins and placed a statement and additional resources
on their website. At another, more traditional church nearby, one of the Sabbath School classes dispensed with the lesson and discussed the July Visitor
at great length.
leaders have posted some information and resources on their website. They also invited a professor from Andrews University (Mich.) to share information about the role of women in ministry at Sligo church
in Takoma Park, Md., this Sabbath, starting at 3:30 p.m. Sligo church also held a special prayer meeting on Tuesday where “the emphasis was not that the matter would be voted but that God’s will would be done. We also took time to pray for unity,” said Don McFarlane, the church’s administrative pastor. Several speakers, including Josephine Benton, Sligo’s first woman pastor, shared their experiences. Throughout the evening, attendees also prayed for women in pastoral ministry and in leadership at all levels of the church.
In the New Jersey Conference, James Greene, executive secretary, with the full support of his fellow officers, wrote a letter, to General Conference leaders in response to their appeal for unity
. In the letter
, Greene writes: “If Martin Luther and the other reformers had heeded the advice and counsel of the church leaders, during the time of the reformation, to cherish church unity over what the Bible teaches, there would not be a Seventh-day Adventist Church today. It was because of these reformers, willingness to place Scripture above church policy and practice that the great protestant reformation took place.” He also added, “I am convicted that the Bible and doctrine must take precedence over policy and that true unity comes not from strict adherence to church policy, but from adherence to doctrine and the mission of our church.”
On Monday the Mountain View Conference
Executive Committee resolved: “Following the scriptural mandate of the priesthood of all believers, and as directed by its constitution and bylaws, intentionally chooses to continue its long-held commitment of supporting, encouraging, empowering, and celebrating the involvement of all members, regardless of gender, in church ministry. However, we will do so only in harmony with the Seventh-day Adventist World Church, as expressed by actions taken during the General Conference in business session.”
Pennsylvania Conference leaders not only placed resources on their website
that shared both sides of the issue, but they also made room at three of their town hall meetings, which were intended to prepare for their upcoming constituency session, to discuss at length this special Columbia Union constituency session. During one particular meeting, the discussion, slated for only one hour, went on for three hours. Ray Hartwell, conference president, has also blogged about the topic
The topic of women in ministry also came up at a recent Allegheny East Conference
(AEC) town hall meeting. In addition to that discussion, attendees also prayed that the union delegates would heed the Holy Spirit’s moving. At AEC’s Metropolitan church
in Hyattsville, Md., pastors Brenda Billingy and Marquis Johns visited each Sabbath School class and distributed copies of the July Visitor
. They also said a special prayer for the session and are planning another prayer at tonight’s prayer meeting.
leaders held a special town hall meeting with delegates and outlined the history of women in ministry, gave information from both sides of the argument and encouraged delegates to read more on the subject. The conference’s Mount Vernon Hill church
in Mount Vernon also included an article supporting the ordination of women in their newsletter.
And in the Allegheny West Conference, President William T. Cox Sr., simply said, “The officers and members of the Allegheny West Conference are in prayer as we consider the vote for ordination of women. Our prayer is that God’s will will be done and His name will get all of the praise.”
How to Get Session Results
The Columbia Union Conference Special Constituency Meeting July 29 is only open to registered delegates, but Columbia Union leaders are considering streaming presentations from the meeting. During the meeting, Visitor
staff will share updates via Facebook and Twitter. Following the meeting, we will release a statement and full report via email, website and in the August Visitor
– Sign up at www.columbiaunion.org/emailnews
– Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you all for sharing your comments. In anticipation of Sabbath and in preparation for the meeting on Sunday, July 29, we will be closing down comments on this story starting, July 26. You may resume posting your comments on the new story that will be posted on the results of the meeting. Please join us in praying for God’s Spirit to guide and His will to prevail.