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16 Female Pastors Approved for Ordination

Story by Visitor Staff
Published 11/8/2012

Bill Miller (right), president of the Potomac Conference, presents Debbie Eisele, a pastor at Sligo church in Takoma Park, Md., with her ordination certificate.
Following the Columbia Union Conference Special Constituency’s historic July 29 decision to ordain pastors without regard to gender, the union executive committee voted to approve the ordination of 16 women pastors. The women include Allegheny East Conference’s Rosa Taylor Banks, Brenda Billingy, Paula Olivier and Lisa Smith-Reid; Ohio Conference’s Linda Farley, Lori Farr, Sandra Pappenfus and Carmen Seibold; and Potomac’s Karen L. Cress, Sharon Cress, Jennifer Deans, Debbie Eisele, Cherilyn O’Ffill and Sonia Perez. The vote included emeritus credentials for Chesapeake Conference’s Charlotte McClure and Josephine Benton, the first female pastor presented for ordination in 1973.
The ordination approvals took place just days before this year’s General Conference Annual Council, where a voted document regarded the actions of the Columbia Union (along with that of the Pacific and North German union conferences, whose constituents also approved inclusive ordination) “as serious mistakes.” The statement also said, “The world church does not recognize actions authorizing or implementing ministerial ordination without regard to gender.”
Shortly before the Annual Council discussion, the union’s three officers, Dave Weigley, president; Robert Vandeman, executive secretary; and Seth Bardu, treasurer, released a statement appealing for understanding stating,  “We believe that God calls whom He chooses and our responsibility and privilege is to fully recognize His proven calls … While we in no way wish to force others to take this step, we believe it is necessary in our field and in the context of the culture in which we minister.”
Despite the world church’s response, Celeste Ryan Blyden, union spokeswoman, says union leaders are encouraged. “Thanks to the courage of the leaders and constituents in three unions, after 17 years, this topic is back on the agenda of the worldwide church,” she said. “It’s being studied, discussed, preached about, prayed about, and will be a priority for the leadership in 2014. That’s progress, that’s movement, and we are encouraged.”
The world church recently launched a study on the theology of ordination that is now expected to explore women’s ordination as well. Two union representatives—Stephen Richardson, Allegheny East Conference Ministerial secretary, and Pennsylvania pastor Tara VinCross—will participate in the North American Division’s study committee.

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

Pastor Dwayne Turner
2012-11-14 7:55 AM

Columbia Union just won't give it up.  No amount of appeal from your fellow brethren, in and outside of the Union, will be heard.  This is a shame!  It seems that by hearing opposition, you are only encouraged to go on; thinking that you are pioneering something that will lead the church to start becoming more "progressive" in our thinking.  The problem is that we who believe that the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy should give clear-cut guidance on all issues don't find cultural considerations any rival to "Thus saith the Lord".  You have to be steeped in culture to experience pressure to conform to culture.  Therefore, you continue to operate as a parachurch organization on the subject of Women's Ordination and as a part of the church on other issues.

Here's the problem...

What's to stop Columbia Union local Conferences, Local Churches, or individual Pastors from pursuing issues that are not in harmony with the church?  What if any of these aforementioned entities are equally as convicted that "they are right!"?  On what basis will Columbia Union seek to discipline them?  Can't they just follow the courage of their convictions, without regards to the counsel of the Columbia Union?  This is a sad day in the church!  

Make no mistake about it, your haste to move these unauthorized ordinations forward is to get out ahead of the completed WO study of 2014, and to have hopefully established some kind of "normalcy" with women being ordained.  Thereby, I believe you hope that the World Church will just "throw up their hands" and accept that this has been in effect for some time, so why "rock the boat".  This is why PUC moved quickly after their unauthorized vote as well.  WO was unbiblical and non-SOP based 100 years ago, today, and will always be unbiblical.  

Additionally, the angle of "does the bible forbid the ordination of women" is a most dishonest approach to a study.  You ignore the "revealed word of God" to try and discover the "unrevealed word of God"; with the willingness to press forward with WO if there is nothing clear cut to forbid it.  

Since this site, unexplainably, only allows one comment per person, would someone please tell me what is the household structure expected to be when the wife is the pastor of the church?  Who is the spiritual leader of the home?  Does her husband still retain that designation?  If "daddy" is still the spiritual leader of that home, do you really think that the children see it that way, seeing as though "Mommy" is their pastor.  Is mommy daddy's pastor, while daddy is mommy's spiritual leader.  If daddy is mommy's spiritual leader, does daddy have a Pastor?  Any takers to these questions?, please provide quotes from the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy.  I see much counsel in the Spirit of Prophecy pertaining to a home where the Husband is a pastor; but none pertaining to the reverse? Would someone please give an "honest answer"?

Daniel Masela
2012-11-22 11:07 AM

I feel encouraged that the work of Christ is moving forward. Thank you Pastors McClure and Benton for leading the effort. May God bless the Columbia Union Conference.