I am a woman pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today the world church voted “No” to letting each world division decide on the issue of ordaining women to the gospel ministry. People are asking me from everywhere – what does this mean? And what will you do now? Well. Let me answer those questions…
1. What does this mean? It means that the Unions in the North American Division will continue to ordain women elders and women pastors (Biblical ordination makes no distinction) as they have done for years and years already. Under the bylaws of the constitution, they still have that right, and have been very clear about their plans to exercise it, since they find both the Bible and Ellen White to support it. President Dan Jackson specifically plans to double the number of women we now have in ministry in the next 5 years. But when we are ordained – as we will be – there will now be fights, name calling, side-taking, accusations of dissension, and our ordinations will become a point of theological debate instead of what they should be: a celebration to simply recognize the fact that God Himself has called us to ministry. And by definition, that’s all ordination means: we recognize God’s call on a life. Because no man, woman or organization can put that calling there. That job is God’s and His alone.
2. What will I do now? Well, that part is much more simple: I will keep talking to Jesus. I will keep reading my Bible. I will keep baptizing your children. I will keep marrying your sons and daughters. I will keep dedicating your babies. I will keep speaking the hope of Jesus into the lives of His people every single time I am given the opportunity and the honor. I will keep teaching your teenagers and I will keep wrestling with your young adults. I will keep opening the scriptures with you in study, seeking the face of Jesus and begging for His help. I will keep writing books and I will keep telling stories and I will keep encouraging my children to embrace this church I call mine. I will keep standing beside your hospital beds just minutes before you are wheeled into surgery. I will cry with you beside the gravesides of your loved ones as we cling to the fact that this world was never our home. In short – no matter what you decide to call me – I know who I am. So I will keep serving those that God has placed in my path. Because that’s what ministry is: SERVICE. We talk so much about authority, authority, authority – but the heart of ministry? It is only service. Even the word “ministry” in the NT, is used to describe someone who waits on you at the table.
So I will keep waiting tables. I will keep washing feet. I will not abandon my church in the hour when it needs me most. And I will be ever, Ever, EVER prayerful that neither, my friends, will YOU. Stick with us. Stay in our midst. Roll up your sleeves and jump into the trenches beside us because WE NEED YOU. There’s work left to be done. Tables to be waited. People still to hear the gospel. And Jesus is coming soon.