Eugene Prewitt, a member of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee, discusses the Bible, slavery, and women’s ordination.
Our pastors have given thought to an article recently published on the internet and offer this little response. The article in question proposes that the Seventh-day Adventist Church not follow the path of other churches by not splitting over the question of women’s ordination. We certainly desire that the church not split! But what is the truly pivotal question, the one which determines whether we are united or divided? And why does the author avoid it? We address this in “A New Path?” FIND IT HERE.
Dr. Damsteegt, Theology professor at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA, presents concerns opposing Women’s Ordination at Utrecht in 1995. The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds a General Conference Session every five years where Seventh-day Adventist delegates gather from around the world to be led of God in deciding matters involving the global conduct of the work of the church. The following was published in the General Conference Bulletin reporting events from July 5, 1995:
NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION REQUEST–ORDINATION
The chairman, Calvin B Rock, outlined the program for this business session dedicated to the request of the North American Division regarding ordination:
The president of the North American Division, Alfred C McClure, will make a 20-minute presentation giving the background and rationale of the North American Division’s request. Then P Gerard Damsteegt from the SDA Theological Seminary of Andrews University will give a 20-minute presentation on why he cannot support this request. Raoul Dederen, also of Andrews University, will then present the opposite viewpoint of why he is in favor of the request. It is hoped that with these presentations, the delegates will have a good overview of both sides of the issue. The floor will then be opened for discussion by the delegates and at approximately 4:45 p.m., the chairman will call an end to the debate and Robert S Folkenberg, president of the General Conference, will make a few remarks prior to a secret ballot being taken.
Voted, 1. To limit the individual speeches of the delegates to two minutes if spoken in English, and three minutes if a translation is given.
2. To support the program for the afternoon business session as outlined by the chairman.
Prayer was then offered by Calvin B Rock.
Following the presentation by Alfred C McClure, Charles E Bradford, former president of the North American Division, was asked by the chairman to make a few comments. After the presentations by P Gerard Damsteegt and Raoul Dederen, the floor was opened to debate by the delegates with the chairman alternating between delegates standing at the for and against microphones.
Shortly after 5 p.m. an action was voted to cease debate of the motion and Robert S Folkenberg spoke for a few moments, closing with prayer in which he asked the Holy Spirit to be present and to guide in the decision of the delegates. The motion before the floor was read for clarity as follows:
“Voted, To refer to the 1995 General Conference Session the North American Division request that the General Conference in Session adopt provisions on ordination as outlined below:
“The General Conference vests in each division the right to authorize the ordination of individuals within its territory in harmony with established policies. In addition, where circumstances do not render it inadvisable, a division may authorize the ordination of qualified individuals without regard to gender. In divisions where the division executive committees take specific actions approving the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, women may be ordained to serve in those divisions.”
Delegates were then instructed to turn in their secret ballot cards to their division representatives. A count of the secret ballots was made with the following results:
In favor of the recommendation: 673
In opposition to the recommendation: 1,481
Total number of votes: 2,154
By this vote, the request of the North American Division was denied.
Source: General Conference Bulletin, July 11, 1995, pg. 30 (http://www.adventistarchives.org/docs/GCB/GCB1995-08/index.djvu?djvuopts&page=30).