IAD Leader Responds to Recent GC Vote on Allowing Division to Approve Ordination Without Regard to Gender
Allowing Division to Approve Ordination Without Regard to Gender
Today, with permission, I share with you a letter from Elder Israel Leito, president of the Inter-American Division, sent to administrators and directors. It restates the position of the church toward female pastors, elders and deaconess following a recent vote at the 2015 General Conference session related to allowing division to ordain pastors without regard to gender. Given the vote, what does it mean for the church? I have provided a caption and sub-topics for easy reference. I believe you will find the information helpful.
Greetings and Results of IAD Polling
Dear Colleagues in the Ministry:
During the height of the discussions on the matter if Divisions should be allowed to approve ordination without regards to gender, the administration of your Division has chosen to remain silent. We did not want to be involved in this so divisive issue, and therefore lose sight of the mission given us by the Lord.
Furthermore, when preliminary polling of the unions’ leadership in the IAD indicated the church was split right down the middle, with 51% in favour and 49% against. This has guided us to stay out of the debate regardless of personal opinions, for we lead a united church and should not be the reasons of divisions.
It has always been and always will be the opinion that whatever the world body says, that is what we will do. The vote in San Antonio was clear, that the world church is not yet ready to grant the thirteen world divisions the privilege to move in a different way from each other. Therefore, the church in Inter-America accepts and will abide by the action of the world church, indicating that Divisions are not allowed to move on their own on the matter of ordination.
Clarifying the GC Vote
Our World president has made it very clear, however, that this vote does not change anything, and all previous actions limiting or approving anything on this matter remain intact. This means that:
Women can prepare and serve as pastors or any position of leadership in the church not requiring ordination.
That leadership position as president, is the only position specifically requiring ordination to the ministry, and therefore, should remain only for those who have been ordained to the gospel ministry.
That qualified, and prepared female leaders can hold any other position in the church.
That all previous General Conference decisions on the matter of ordination of female elders, deaconesses, etc. is, and will remain in effect, therefore, any congregation that wants to elect a female leader as church elder, is totally free to do so and have such leader be ordained as a church elder, deaconess, etc.
That female pastors have the full backing of the world church to serve as church pastors, departmental leaders, institutional leaders, etc., and they can be commissioned as ministers.
That as commissioned ministers, if also ordained as a church elder, they can perform in all matters of ministry, leaving only two issues that require an ordained minister to perform. These are: organizing of new churches and officiate as presiding minister in a wedding.
The rich history of unbiased approach of women in ministry in the Inter-American Division indicates that, we believe and practice the Spirit of Prophecy indication that “There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon his heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.” –Southern Watchman, Aug. 1, 1905. Christian Service, p. 254.
This clear Spirit of Prophecy teaching is also extended to all female members of God’s family, who, having received the call from the Lord, dedicate their all to service.
There are so many congregations in our Division, where women are elected and are ordained as church elders, they are holding positions of senior leadership in institutions, and also church organizations, and the IAD is one of the very few Divisions, following the good example of the General Conference, that has elected a female vice president, who is serving the church with great distinction, and effectiveness.
Refocusing on the Mission of the Church
On behalf of the world church, and on behalf of our beloved world leaders, we ask all sides of this discussion to remember that the debate is over, and to refocus energies on the mission of the church.
Jesus is coming soon, and by God’s grace, we will not allow the enemy to cause distractions from the great work we have to do. Let us not push where the church has clearly indicated we should not go. But also, let us not hinder, and be a stumbling block, where the church has clearly indicated it is part of acceptable ministry practices, like the ordination of female elder, etc.
Sadly, agitating against this clear indication of the church that, it is OK to ordain female elders is as serious as moving to the ordination of female pastors without world church approval. The church is clear, we should not ordain female pastors, but neither should we agitate against the clear decision of the world church for ordination of female elders and deaconesses.
May the Lord bless you, my dear colleagues, and that your ministry result in what it should always be, a great blessing to the congregations you serve.