« May 2012 « Union News
Executive committee considers women's ordination
After nearly two hours of discussion and prayer, the Pacific Union Conference executive committee on March 15 reaffirmed their strong commitment to the ordination of women pastors. The committee agreed that the next steps will require careful planning, so they decided to put specific actions in place at their next meeting on May 9. In the interim, union administrators have been working with local conference administrators and others to develop proposals for specific actions. The discussion in the Pacific Union was marked by near unanimity on the need to begin recognizing and utilizing all those God calls to ministry, regardless of gender. The discussion focused on how to make a change while maintaining the unity of the church, and on determining what changes can be made within the limits of authority assigned to the executive committee by the Pacific Union’s own bylaws.
Union administrators reminded committee members that the union does not ordain anyone. Local conferences hire and supervise pastors, and local conferences select candidates for ordination according to local conference policies. But local conferences submit the names of ordination candidates to the union executive committee for approval. A vote at the union level to approve the ordination of women pastors would not override local conference policy, but it would mean that the union would intentionally approve the ordination of women pastors when and if a local conference asks approval for a woman to be ordained.
It was noted, though, that a new policy on the ordination of women would not require much, if any, change in union procedures. For at least 15 years, the union executive committee has combined into one list all candidates for ordination or commissioning, and has voted approvals for “Ordination/Commissioning” without regard to gender. Conferences have then “ordained,” “commissioned,” “ordained/commissioned,” or “ordained-commissioned” their candidates according to local conference policy — which has differed from conference to conference. A vote to affirm the ordination of women would officially signal to conferences that the executive committee would not reject requests for ordination for women. The executive committee may or may not vote such a policy at its next meeting.
The union executive committee includes 48 people, all of whom are elected at constituency sessions. The 19 ex officio members include the seven local conference presidents, the four union officers, the three union ethnic ministry directors, the union director of education, the presidents of the two schools of higher education and the presidents of Adventist Health and Pacific Press. The other 29 members include 18 laypersons and 11 pastors or conference employees. See the list of current members at http://paucadmin.adventistfaith.org.
Later in the day, the executive committee approved the ordination of Morris Barnes Jr. from the Southern California Conference.
In other business, the committee approved the following for ministerial scholarships: Dena (Josie) Ascencia, Shiphraw Fepuleai and Mark Tatum, from Southeastern California; Junseok Lee and Myoung Kwon, from Southern California; and John Wheeler, from Northern California.
Since the union does not employ youth ministry specialists, the committee approved local conference personnel to represent the Pacific Union at NAD planning sessions: Erik VanDenburgh, youth; Bob Wong, Pathfinders; Craig Heinrich, camp; Benjamin Lundquist, young adults; Ron Pickell, Adventist Christian Fellowship (university); and Scott Ward, Adventist Christian Fellowship (high school).
The committee approved a $15,000 annual evangelism budget for the Native Ministries coordinator. They also voted Evangelism Endowment funds for Urban Missionary Training ($20,000), Evangelism Mt. Vernon ($4,700) and Discipleship Destination Project ($10,000).
The committee will meet next on May 9 on the campus of La Sierra University.