Shadows of the past resurfaced briefly during today’s afternoon session. As some may recall, in 1995 the GC Session voted against a proposal to allow for the ordination of women as ministers in the SDA Church. This was due mostly to the fact that a large majority of church membership, and thus also delegates, are from third world countries with diffent cultures and gender roles. This is an explanation, not an excuse.
In 2000, the issue was ominously absent. But today it was suddenly, although indirectly, back on the floor. The motion in question was a bylaw amendment stating that the GC president should be “an ordained minister of experience”. Apparently, this had not been the case before. As women cannot be ordained, this effectively excludes women from taking this office. It further excludes qualified laypersons. As one speaker pointed out, we have had competent, reelected presidents for many years without this clause.
The motion carried. In itself, it may be a good idea. I do not find ordained ministry directly mandated biblically, but on the other hand it’s not a bad idea–and as long as we have it, it is appropriate that the GC president is one. The real issue here is the same as in Utrecht–ordination of women. And unfortunately the mood on the floor today does not bode well for that happening anytime soon.
I guess this is one of the disadvantages of the pursuit of unity. I take comfort in the assurance that the Kingdom of Heaven is very much inclusive–and that we won’t have to be the ones to decide. I just hope that my female counterparts won’t be so discouraged that they will not continue bringing out the gospel to those who need it.
Separately, president Bush is visiting Denmark today. When Clinton visited five years ago, I was also in America. It seems we’re avoiding each other 🙂