It is now almost a week ago since the Mid-America Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists took the final step in a process that will allow for women pastors in their territory to become ordained ministers. Already in 2012 its executive committee voted that it supported the “ordination of women in pastoral ministry, but it took nine more years before this in-principle-decision has received concrete form. On September 12, the constituency meeting of the Mid-America Union approved with an 82 percent majority that in the future all names that the conferences will propose to the union for ordination will be considered, without consideration of gender.
With this historic decision the Mid-America Union, which comprises the states of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and part pf New Mexico, joins the Pacific Union and the Columbia Union as pro-WO unions—in spite of the continuing opposition of the General Conference against ordaining female pastors. The union president, who was re-elected, strongly supported this move towards implementing full equality between male and female ministers. The president of the North-American Division, who attended the meeting, indicated that he was “challenged” by this vote, but was personally supportive of it!
It now remains to be seen what this new development will do to the dynamics of the women’s ordination debate. Will it encourage some of the other six unions in the USA to also take a similar step? Will it help unions elsewhere in the world (including my own union, the Netherlands Union of Churches) to do what many feel should have been done a long time ago? Will the “compliance” issue flare up during the upcoming Autumn Council of the GC executive committee? Or will the GC president realize that this will only bring further commotion?
The media-people of one of the conferences–de Rocky Mountain Conference–reported in “real time” op hun Facebook page as the debate was taking place and the vote was taken.Shortly after the Mid-America vote was taken, the first comments by others were posted on Facebook. It did not take long before the independent Adventist media channel ADVENTIST TODAY placed the story on its website, soon followed by the other prominent independent media channel SPECTRUM. Both published a short article, reporting the facts. Both organizations are known to be fiercely pro-women-ordination, but their reporting was factual without become overly jubilant and triumphalist. This could also be said for the reporting on the Mid-America Union’s website. As could be expected, Fulcrum7, the critical website on the right side of the church, was quick to denounce the Mid-America decision as terrible rebellion!
However, until the moment that I write these lines—some five days later—the official news channels of the denomination have maintained a deafening silence. Neither the Adventist News Network (ANN), nor the Adventist Review website, have even mentioned the pro-WO decision of the Mid-America Union. One may wonder why. . . Have they perhaps been instructed from above not to give any publicity to this development? Must they be part of an effort to down-play the importance of what happened a few days ago during the Nebraska constituency meeting? Is this yet another indication that the official news agencies of the church cannot “tell it as it is”, but must be selective in what they report and howAdventist Today and Spectrum. They may be too liberal in the eyes of many church members, but at least they keep us informed when the official news media choose (or are forced) to remain quiet.