Posts Tagged: Women’s Ordination

Revisiting Ordination

Warning–this post is not about gender! Sorry to disappoint some of you. This post is about the process or rather the requirements for ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. It is a post that I hope will help us also to explore the question, “What are we ordaining people to?”

Several years ago I wrote a blog post entitled, “The Mess We’ve Made of Ordination.” In that post, I argue that one of the messes surrounding the process of ordination is a lack of consistency in policy across the North American Division in who does and does not get ordained.

I want to affirm the North American Division for attempting to rectify this problem by recently establishing guidelines that they are recommending to all Seventh-day Adventist conferences in North America to consider prior to ordaining any pastor. These guidelines are based upon the seven core qualities discovered in research done by NAD ministerial which they believe are the foundational qualities for an effective pastor. These core qualities are as follows:

  1. Character
  2. Evangelism
  3. Leadership
  4. Worship
  5. Management
  6. Scholarship
  7. Relationship

Here is the problem though, based on these seven core qualities and the descriptions provided by the North American Division, I am not qualified to be ordained. Why? There are two core qualities for which I do not meet the set standard.

Management and Relationship.

Let me start with the management. In the not too distant past I was at lunch with one of the associate pastors on our church staff. We were meeting to discuss the future and to provide feedback for one another on the growth each of us needed.

As we sat there in a crowded Panera, my colleague said to me, “Chad you are a great leader. And I think you could be even better if you let someone else on the team manage.”

I asked her to expound on her thought,

“Well, you are great at casting a vision and empowering us all to serve in our various roles. You do a good job of getting people on board with a plan and helping people to become inspired and find their gifts. But your managerial skills hold you back because you don’t do well in making sure we complete every task, or that we as a team follow through on all our plans or goals. You try, but because it doesn’t come easy for you, it wears you out, and you have to spend more time doing management, which you don’t do well when you should be doing other things related to leadership. You need to let someone else manage.” 

Wow what an insight!

The second core quality that I do not meet the standard is the final quality: relationships. The description of this quality is as follows: “relating well to others regardless of faith, age, ethnicity, personality, or gender.”

I fail in this quality because I do not relate well to individuals regardless of age.

I do not relate well to kids and or youth. Yes I can get by, but the description is “relate well.” I look at those that work with youth and kids and I am amazed. In our church we have a pastor (who works in the Adventist HealthCare system) named Costin and when he talks to the adults they love him, he is a favorite adult Sabbath School teacher, but he is also a favorite of the children to provide the children’s story. If he is an example of relating well, then I do not measure up. Even my own wife agrees I should leave the work with children and the telling of the children stories in the hands of more capable individuals.

Based upon these two analyses of two of the seven core qualities of an effective pastor and the characteristics upon which are the basis for ordination then, I am a.) not an effective pastor and b.) it was ill-advised to ordain me years ago.

I’d become discouraged by these two revelations, but I’ve read the Bible.

And here is what the Bible teaches. First, the word ordination never actually appears in the Greek or the Hebrew (the two primary languages of the original Biblical text). Second, what we have accepted as the process by which we ordain, the laying on of hands, and the structure of leadership: pastor, elder, deacon while assumed by most to be a straightforward Biblical model is not so straightforward. (For more on this topic read the excellent paper, “The Problem of Ordination,” by Darius Jankiewicz).

What the Bible does teach is that people were asked to “fill the hand” (Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 & 9). That is the translation for the Hebrew word in the Old Testament that some have translated ordain. This term seems to reference the handing over of duties within the temple to certain people called by God. I also read about individuals being “consecrated” and “appointed” to the priesthood (Numbers 3:10) but others were also “consecrated” and “appointed” to other tasks in the temple service (Numbers 3:36). The same word “appointed” or “consecrated” but different roles. I read about the laying on of hands over Joshua in Numbers 27 which in the Hebrew is also referred to as a “commissioning.” (Interesting commissioning actually is in the Bible but not ordaining 🙂 ) And in Exodus 31:6 artists were “appointed” to work on the crafting and care of the temple structure; again the same Hebrew word used to “appoint” or “ordain” the priests.

Deacons in the New Testament were “chosen” and “turned over responsibility to them” through the laying on of hands to care for widows and make sure people had food.

Paul and Barnabas were “set apart” to be missionaries to Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas then “appointed” (Acts 14:23) elders not to be missionaries, but to oversee the churches that had been established. And by the way they were not set apart with the laying on of hands, but the Greek word indicates through a show of hands, in other words, “let us vote” if these persons should lead us.

And Paul sent Titus to Crete, not to establish a church or to oversee a church, but to straighten out a church (Titus 1:5).

The point I am trying to make is that we use many examples in the Bible to support the idea of ordination but each of these examples illustrates a significant point: the ordination of an individual is not limited to specific roles or functions.

So if we as a church are going to say these seven qualities constitute the picture of a qualified ordinand, we must be ready to say, first, most of our pastors that are ordained do not currently qualify and second if we apply these seven core qualities then we are creating a box around the function and expectations of calling to the work of ministry that the Bible never stipulates.

I’ve already illustrated how I don’t fit the model, but let me give another example: one of the pastors on staff at the Spencerville Church, where I also serve, is currently not ordained. He is not ordained for what I would ascertain two primary reasons: first, and foremost he does not possess a theological degree. Second, he does not preach, though some in the conference office has pushed for him to preach on multiple occasions. Under the structure of the core qualities of a pastor his lack of preaching would disqualify him from meeting the core quality of worship: “facilitating an enriching corporate worship experience that brings people into the presence of God.” Now, I would put forth that he does help facilitate this by establishing our online church community which has 100’s of participants each week and even more during the time of COVID-19. But even if he had no role in the actual worship service, would this mean he is less called, less appointed, less qualified to be ordained than I am? Was God wrong in designating the title of consecrated and appointed equally to the priests, the guards of the temple, and the artists of the temple?

Would not our current structure and the structure recommended and endorsed by many conferences stipulate that only the priests in the above set would qualify for the standard of “consecrated” “appointed” or to use our vernacular “ordained.”

I applaud the church for trying to build clarity and consistency around ordination, it is what I was asking for years ago when I wrote the blog post I referenced above.

But years later I realize even when trying to build clarity and consistency we fall short because we are trying to prop up a model, a concept that is not Biblically supported at least not in the way we have framed it.

How would I fix things?

The church could acknowledge what we are doing in regards to the establishment of what we call ordination is not really Biblical, and state directly and honestly, “since we struggle with nuance in the church, we are going to establish a basic one size should fit all model.” If they did this I would probably complain less; I believe every business has a right to say, “this is what we expect of our employees.”

Or a second option, we could go back to the model of Acts 14:3: χειροτονέω.

χειροτονέω: stretch out the hand, for the purpose of giving one’s vote in the assembly.

(Henry George Liddell et al., A Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996, p. 1986.)

χειροτονέω might be a little dangerous for some because it puts power into the hands of the local church people guided by a few leaders.

In the example of lacking the qualifications for ordination I mentioned above, I would guess if we went to the assembly in which this pastor serves and we asked for a show of hands of how many believe he is a pastor called by God and faithfully serving as he has been called in the area he has been called, fulfilling the duties he has been called to, that most the hands would go up and he would be χειροτονέω–appointed by vote–or as we like to call it ordained.

Luckily for us, the pastor I am speaking of took a theology class (he’s getting his masters in pastoral ministry) from Dr. Jankiewicz, in which he came away realizing ordination–as we do it is not Biblical–so he is not stressed about when or even if he is ever ordained.

Me, on the other hand, until one of the above two scenarios, takes place or maybe a better idea comes along, I think I will continue to poke at this bear.

Multifarious Thoughts on Women’s Ordination

I’ve jotted down some thoughts based on a response to a friend this week on the women’s ordination issue and then I just went a little crazy Seth Godin style (not that I am the genius of Seth Godin just his free flowing style):

Something to remember in regards to the women’s ordination decision at San Antonio this summer is that a “yes” vote isn’t forcing anyone to go along with the ordination of women. No church, no conference, no Union, no division will HAVE TO ordain female pastors with a “yes” vote.

A “no” vote actually does force people to go against their beliefs.

I can see how folk can be convicted that women should not be ordained. How can I see this? I see it because I see in the Bible that there is no absolute “yes” nor is there an absolute “no” to the ordination of women.

In the writings of Mrs. White there is no “Thus sayeth the Lord” either for or against the ordination of women (which by the way should say something to us when she has commentary on every issue under the sun…and above the sun too :)).

For these reasons I can understand why some would come to the conclusion against women’s ordination because in the absence of these absolutes from the Bible or Mrs. White people must come to a conclusion from a multitude of variables. And it would be arrogant to assume the variables that have lead me to my position should be the same for everyone else.

Can I ask my brothers and sisters that oppose women’s ordination, with the absence of a definitive “yes” or “no” in these two authoritative places, are you able to likewise see how I could get to my conviction?

Do you my friends and colleagues that see this position different than I do believe that I can be, that I am a Biblically faithful Seventh-day Adventist even if I believe women should be ordained? If your answer is “no” then we have of course no place to work from, because you’ve chosen to place ordination at a level I have not, at a salvific level. However, if your answer is “yes, I can see how you could come to a different conclusion on WO’s than I do.”

Not that you agree but you can see how I could reach the conclusion I’ve reached, absent of definitiveness in the Bible or the writings of Mrs. White.

If you can see this, and if you do believe I can be a Biblically faithful Adventist while still believing that women should be ordained; why wouldn’t it make sense to support a decision that would allow me and people like me to serve in conjunction with my convictions and would in no way force you or people like you or your church to operate outside of your convictions?

A “yes” vote on women’s ordination is the only vote that does not force anyone to practice ordination outside of their convictions. No individual. No local church. No conference. No union. No division. A “no” vote forces individuals. Local churches. Local conferences. Unions. Divisions to function outside of their convictions.

I don’t believe a “yes” vote should be cloaked in the framework of “a vote for unity.” It makes it sound like if we don’t vote “yes” then those of us that support women’s ordination will rebel.

I believe a “yes” vote should be cloaked for those in opposition to women’s ordination in the framework of “a vote for acceptance.” Not acceptance of women’s ordination personally, but acceptance of other Biblically faithful Adventist’s having a different conviction.

I believe more individuals in support of women’s ordination should also state their opposition to the ordination or acceptance of practicing LGBT clergy within our denomination. Not because I want to oppose something that isn’t even on the table, but because this is the accusation and scare tactic being used Stephen Bohr and others to undermine the cause of women’s ordination.

Do I deny that there are some that do have this agenda? Absolutely not! But the world should know the great majority of us in favor of women’s ordination in North America do NOT have this position that Elder Bohr and others are insinuating.

I wish that those in favor of WO would stop saying that if we don’t vote “yes” on this we are going to lose our young people. For one, we’ve already lost a majority of our young people and it has nothing to do with WO. For two, a large percentage of young people I’ve talked to and asked, “would you leave the church over this issue?” have said, “no. I wouldn’t be happy, but no I wouldn’t leave the church.” The other large percentage has said, “What are you talking about? 🙂 ”

I think the millennial mind is a unique thing none-of-us should speak definitively on! It is as bad of argument as all the baby boomers that have said to me, “If we want to get the young people we need this type of music.” Here is what the millennials say to that:

Blogger Amy Peterson put it this way “I want a service that is not sensational, flashy, or particularly ‘relevant.’ I can be entertained anywhere. At church, I do not want to be entertained. I do not want to be the target of anyone’s marketing. I want to be asked to participate in the life of an ancient-future community.”

Millennial blogger Ben Irwin wrote: “When a church tells me how I should feel (‘Clap if you’re excited about Jesus!’), it smacks of inauthenticity. Sometimes I don’t feel like clapping. Sometimes I need to worship in the midst of my brokenness and confusion — not in spite of it and certainly not in denial of it.”

The scare tactic of “we will lose our young people if we don’t ordain women” is just as bad as “this will open the door for LGBT clergy.” Both are not helpful to the discussion.

I believe everyone on both sides of the discussion should watch this sermon by my friend Kessia Reyne Bennett. She lays out well her position, a good position, “that it is not a woman’s right or anyone’s right to be ordained.” ORDINATION is NOT a RIGHT

A “yes” vote is the only vote that has the potential to make the statement: “we agree to disagree now lets move forward with mission.”

I’m afraid a “no” vote at this juncture will keep this issue alive another 5 or 10 years and thus continue to be a distraction to the mission of the church, at which point the next generation will vote “yes” but we will have already lost those 5 or 10 distracted years.

I say this not because I plan to go against the church if it votes “no” but I believe there is too much momentum in support of women’s ordination at this time and many will keep it alive ’till the General Conference in 2020 or 2025.

That said if the vote is “no” I pray for God to give those of us in favor of women’s ordination holy amnesia and silent lips, ’till it is time to set the agenda for General Conference 2020 and then kindly request again the World Church’s support of our conviction.

May God shock and humble us all in San Antonio!

Okay I’m done.

For the Sake of The Gospel: A Solution to End the Women’s Ordination Debate

This is a wonderful video short illustrating the value of the moderate view, on what has been the most hotly debated issue in The Seventh-day Adventist Church over the last three years. There have been some (like myself) that have been staunchly in favor of women’s ordination. There have been others that have been staunchly opposed to women’s ordination. Then there is a group that has a preference and believe the ideal is male leadership within the church, and it is from within this group I believe the largest contribution to the entire debate has been made. A contribution that if embraced will hopefully end the debate, or at least tone down the rhetoric, but more importantly will move us forward as a church FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL!

Oh and Nate Dubs I’m proud of you for using your gifts in this way!

Watch and see what you think:

Ten Most Read Blog Posts for February 2014

In this past month of February, my blog was viewed more times than any other month in it’s history and more times than the entire first year (2011) of “Outside the Pulpit.” This was due to the fact that three of the blog posts are in the top ten viewed of all posts in the 3 1/2 year history. So here are the most viewed posts on “Outside the Pulpit” for February 2014. Thank you for being a reader of this blog! I hope if it is a benefit to your life that you will share it with others.

If you missed any of the following posts I hope you will enjoy your read.

The Top Ten:

  1. “Why the Recent Rhetoric in the Church Makes Me Want to Shout About “Spiritual Formation” This post was not only the most viewed post of this month, it is the new number 1 viewed blog in “Outside the Pulpit’s” 3+ year history.
  2. Help! Adventist Ed is Dying: I was criticized by some for this article and I believe some of the criticism was fair, a point I made then about that post and I make it again here about the opinions I had in this post, “Take ‘em or leave ‘em as a parent that will soon have three kids in Adventist Ed, these are my thoughts.” They were just my thoughts.
  3. How I Hope Adventists Will Respond to the Kenneth Copeland/Pope Francis Video.
  4. Why I Get Defensive
  5. Please Count! This post to me is so important and can be a real help to folk, I hope more will read it!
  6. Please Move to The Middle
  7. A Response to Elder Stephen Bohr’s “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah”: This post was written back in October of 2013 but due to of course the nature of the ordination debate and the attention it continues to receive this blog has remained well read each month.
  8. Faster Pastor’s Episode # 7: “Is Christmas Compatible w/ Christ?” This was the most recent Faster Pastor Episode we did and also the most viewed of any of the episodes we have done. Dr. John Reeve joined us and we were blessed by his insights. David has moved off to Australia that may actually make it easier for us to do more Faster Pastor’s since he’ll be more permanent and not roaming all over the world now that he is the Senior Pastor of a church down there.
  9. Glad to Know I’m Still a Child of The King: I’m always a little saddened that my spiritual posts are not nearly as well read as my “controversial” posts. I guess that is just human nature. Though I hope we all realize, a controversy will never enhance our lives only the love of Jesus will. With that in mind I hope you’ll read this post for the first time, or 2nd time if necessary!
  10. The Superiority of Adventist Education–Please Read & Respond: This post was written back in 2011; yet at times it still pops up in the top ten list. What can I say? People are passionate about Adventist Ed, as well they should be!

Those are the top ten. Some new posts coming soon in March. Thank you again for being a great group of readers. I’d love to have you share any or all of these posts if you feel others would be interested.




A Response to Elder Stephen Bohr’s “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah”

Elder Stephen Bohr recently released through his ministry, Secrets Unsealed, an article entitle, “Reflections on Deborah & Huldah.” The purpose of Elder Bohr’s article is to refute, “the women’s ordination advocates” whom “take exceptional, out-of-the-ordinary cases and make them the norm to be followed in all situations.” In this instance he is addressing specifically the lives & ministries of Deborah & Huldah as related in scripture.

Elder Bohr loves Jesus and I know he loves the church. Many individuals have been blessed & will continue to be blessed by his ministry, and I praise the Lord for all that Elder Bohr does that helps people to fall more in love with Jesus.

While it is known from those that read my blog and know me personally that Elder Bohr and I disagree on this particular subject, I am not in this post attempting to prove that the ordination of women to the Gospel ministry is the correct position. The purpose of this post is to address specifically the errors I see in “Secrets Unsealed: Reflections on Deborah & Huldah.”

Within this article I found a number of leaps in logic and assumed deductions made by Elder Bohr which is the very thing he is criticizing those who support women’s ordination of doing.

First off on page 7 of the 3rd Quarter Secrets Unsealed publication Elder Bohr points out that the time of the Judges in which Deborah the prophetess lead the people of Israel was not the ideal organizational system. On this point Elder Bohr and I do not have argument. Elder Bohr then states that the ideal, what Mrs. White referred to as the ‘perfect organization’ is the system of leadership that was established under Moses (Exodus 18), again I agree. What seems to be Elder Bohr’s focus though of the perfect system is that Moses chose all men, men over thousands, hundreds, fifties, & tens. I would like to ask Elder Bohr is the perfection of the system in that men were chosen or the specific structure of governance that was chosen? If the system was perfect because of men, then he is right we are out of line and should not allow women to lead over men. If the system was perfect because of the structure, then guess what? We are still out of line! Because the system of governance that we have at least in my church is not of a Moses figure, but rather as the church in business meeting as the final word, and then the church board, etc.. We do not have a central Moses figure as the head. Even at the highest levels, Elder Ted Wilson does not get the final say, he as he has always stated does and will submit to the collective decision of the church. Could it be that when Mrs. White speaks of this being the perfect organizational system that she is speaking of the principle of “shared leadership” “shared burden” rather than men were chosen or even the exact structure? Would this not seem like more sound exegesis of all of Mrs. White’s writings and this specific text of scripture?

Elder Bohr continuing along the thought line of the time of the judges being an unusual point in Israel’s history (pp.8-10), which I would agree it was definitely a time of Israel in a constant back and forth limbo with God, Bohr states that Deborah’s “service” (he seems to want to completely stay away from acknowledging her as any ind of leader) was “outside the norm.” Bohr points out that Deborah was one out of 17 judges and he says, “What stands out in this list of seventeen judges is that only one of them was a woman!” He then in the next several pages sets forth in positioning arguments to show that she really wasn’t a leader but the people simply saw her as that. He seems to put forth great effort to show the actual leader was Barak, I deduce this from his statement on page 9 where he says, “all the judges from Othniel to Samuel served as military leaders, Deborah being the lone exception!” Bohr then on the last full paragraph of page 9 says, “Deborah was a perceptive woman who provided wise prophetic counsel to the military commander, Barak…Contrary to what pro-ordination advocates claim, Deborah did not summon and lead Israel to battle but rather advised Barak to do so.” Page 10, “It will be noticed that Deborah provided support for Barak’s efforts not he hers.” So in Elder Bohr’s heart I would ask who was the true leader? Deborah the one named by the Bible as judge or Barak as would be more acceptable to the idea that women can’t or should not lead men? To go with the latter would seem to be trying to force scripture to fit with an individuals ideal rather than allowing our ideals to be conformed to scripture.

As Elder Bohr moves forward in his arguments he moves into a position that I am not personally comfortable with, and that is that the authority of the prophet is submissive to the position of leadership, “Thus the prophets inspired the leaders but did not usurp their legitimate authority. This is the role of a prophet.” (p. 11) Bohr asserts correctly that even Ellen White submitted to the authority of the church, i.e. the male authority of the church. He states that this proves that prophets do not have authority over leadership, thus Ellen White a woman did not have authority over any man, thus she nor any other female prophet is an example that one can use in supporting the authority over men. I believe all this proves is that Ellen White was a better person than the rest of us 🙂 She was humble and willing to submit, not because they were men, but because that is what God called her to do in those instances. Bohr states that a prophet does not usurp or have authority of and over an “elder, a pastor, or a Conference, Union, or General Conference president.” I would strongly disagree with this position as I would hope most Seventh-day Adventist ministers would, male & female! Every prophet in the Bible from Deborah to Isaiah to Huldah & John the Revelator, I submit to each of them as they were inspired individuals that are part of Holy Writ. In like manner I submit to the testimonies of Ellen White as she also was an inspired individual. If Mrs. White were alive today and she was sitting in my congregation and got up to speak against me, would I because of my position as an ordained minister of the Gospel have the right to dismiss her? Would it be acceptable of me to ask her to be quiet because I have a higher position of authority over her? I say absolutely not, because I DO NOT have authority over her. In fact if I were to say, “get out of my church and go to Australia” if she did this, it would not be a sign of her affirming my authority or my male headship, it would simply be her following the example of Jesus. Jesus whom in like manner if I were to say, “get out of my life” would also submit to my wishes. NOT because I have authority over Him, but because He honors the wishes even the wrong wishes of His people. A prophet who stands in the highest authority within the church is the first representative of Christ and thus performs and acts in like manner of Jesus. I believe this thread of thought that Elder Bohr carries throughout his article is a dangerous premise to stand upon and it is not helpful in a church that is already undermining & or strongly questioning the authority of prophetic truth!

Elder Bohr in his continued refuting of Deborah throws in the statement, “Notably, God called two males to be His prophets before Ellen White, and neither of them accepted the call so God chose the weakest of the weak as His prophet. He chose the most unlikely of candidates–a poor, sickly, young, unstudied woman!” It seems here that Bohr is implying that God would prefer to not even have women as prophets, but almost He is forced to, to make a point, or because men said “no” again a premise I am uncomfortable with. But let us just say this premise is true; whom, whether Stephen Bohr or myself or any other individual could say that God is not once again calling women to step-up in the place of men to a position (for the sake of argument pastoral ministry) that God originally set aside for men whom have dropped the ball or refused the call? Isn’t this what Elder Bohr is arguing that God called Deborah to Judge, even Ellen White to be a prophet because men were not fulfilling their role? So would Elder Bohr based on his own argument be comfortable in saying that God would never at this point in history call a woman to step into a role that Elder Bohr originally sees as set aside for men? I would not be comfortable with such an assertion unless I had had a direct revelation from God. Elder Bohr states and I agree that simply because a woman served as a judge and prophetess it automatically concludes that a woman can be a “priest”/pastor. Elder Bohr you and I agree on that and I think it is a leap in logic to make this the sole premise of women’s ordination, however, the absence of a woman in the priesthood does not eliminate God using women later in history as pastors & elders. And I think that is the point that you actually prove yourself in the fact that you acknowledge though timidly and it seems regrettably that Deborah was a judge, but the only female out of seventeen. Thus though it was the exception she was still a woman God called to judge, I would say “lead” Israel. It had never happened before, yet God allowed it.

Elder Bohr’s argues against this however, “The Bible allows for gender inclusiveness when it comes to prophets, but it does not allow for this in the case of elders or pastors. In fact, there is not a single instance in Scripture of a woman prophet who was one of the twelve founders of Israel, a member of the council of the seventy, a Levite, a priest, a king, an apostle, a deacon, an elder, a bishop, a pastor, or a husband of one wife!” I could have just smiled at this entire statement accepted that we see the meaning of this differently and moved on until Elder Bohr threw in that last statement, “or a husband of one wife!” If we were to apply this literally then that would mean that any man that has never been married could not be a minister. That is not a position I know of anyone holding. This cannot be applied literally as one of the qualifications for a pastor, elder, deacon unless we are going to truly apply it across the board!

Later Elder Bohr asks the question, “Is the role of a ‘prophet’ interchangeable with that of an elder or bishop/pastor? Were prophets called by God to be leaders in Israel? I would simply say “yes” to this question which seems almost foolish. Let’s mention a few that we believe had inspired prophetic gift and were also leaders: Moses, David, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, John the Revelator to name a few.

As you can see there is much I find in error and contradiction in this article by Elder Bohr, maybe some of my very countering points are untenable and others may point that out to me. I am open to learn.

In conclusion I want to say this, I am absolutely okay with Elder Bohr having a different position on this issue than I do. I do not think that undermines or devalues his ministry. One of the great things about a being a Seventh-day Adventist is that there is a very large umbrella under which hopefully we all operate. We have yes fundamental teachings which should be held onto with a tight grip, but in areas in which there is no clear “thus saith the Lord” I am glad we are able to have cordial discussion & even disagreement. I would simply pray that no matter our position we would all agree to not be disagreeable in the midst of our disagreements.

In 2015 hopefully much of this will be decided and the money & time many of us are spending…maybe even wasting on this debate will be put to the greater mission of telling people about Jesus’ love, Jesus’ truths that reveal His true character, & Jesus’ soon coming!



Elder Ted Wilson: Unwilling To Sit On the Sidelines

So I am currently in New York City for NY13 the worldwide thrust of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to reach New York City. I have to admit I came here with some skepticism, not sure what I would be doing or why I am here. But I came, because I was asked and I felt it an honor to be requested to represent the North American Division in this initiative, so here I am.

And I have been taking mental notes some good some not so good…

A good I have observed is our evangelistic speaker for these meetings, Elder Ted Wilson.

What I am so impressed with, as are so many others, he is fully engaged in this initiative!

Something I keep hearing over and over again from people that have been serving the Adventist Church a lot longer than I have is, “Isn’t it great to see a General Conference President preaching and leading a full campaign!” People that have served in the General Conference offices for a number of years are expressing their appreciation of Elder Wilson not just casting the vision, but actually helping to carry out the vision of reaching New York. As one GC official said, “He could do what has been done,  set the vision and say ‘now go do it.’ But he is actually out there with us.”

What I am seeing is that Elder Wilson isn’t content to sit on the sidelines, he is passionate about reaching New York City. He is not going to tell others to follow the counsel of Ellen White to minister to this the most diverse city in the world, without also doing it himself. He isn’t just someone that goes around and talks about what should be done and the ministries that should be done he is actually doing those ministries and doing very tangible things to make those ministries a success!

Unwilling to sit on the sidelines.

He, and his wife Nancy, are even attending the classes for the Field School daily. He said, “I have a lot to learn.” So he is at each class learning.

As I watch Elder Wilson, I think back to the last time we were at some meetings together. A very different environment. The Pacific Union Special Constituency Session on the bylaw changes regarding the ordination of women within that Union.

That day as I once again was observing our General Conference leader, I was disappointed that he was there. It wasn’t because I have a different point of view on the topic and disliked that he disagrees with me, (I’m actually one of those folk that thinks its okay to disagree and state it with conviction trusting that we can both still love Jesus) I was disappointed because I felt that it wasn’t a very presidential move of him to be there when the whole world knew that he would get voted down. It felt to me like a very unsound move politically.

But as I think about Elder Wilson’s presence here at this event I think I understand more and actually now respect his presence at the former event.

Here is what I am concluding: If Elder Ted Wilson is passionate about something, if he is convicted about something, he is not the type to just sit on the sidelines and let everyone else do the work.

He was/is convicted on his position regarding women’s ordination. He is convicted on his position regarding reaching New York City…

…In both instances he acted on his conviction.

Unwilling to sit on the sidelines.

I don’t believe it is fair of me to affirm one and renounce the other.

I admire, I appreciate, I trust a leader…

…who stands for his convictions no matter how politically painful it may be to take on Union that has clearly stated their views.

….who preaches a full evangelistic campaign just like the rest of us pastors do, no matter how exhausting it may be.

I admire, I appreciate, I trust Elder Ted Wilson…

…not because we share all points of view in common.

…because I know his convictions by his actions.

He is a man unwiling to sit on the sidelines.

And that is a leader I can follow!

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