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5-2-12 North American Division Affirms Women Clergy
Report of the first organized conference for women clergy with NAD officers
Because of the financial and professional support of their Union and Conference Presidents, many of the approximately 107 women pastors in the North American Division were able to attend the largest conference for Women Clergy to date on April 23-26. It was held at the Adventist Frontier Mission Retreat Center on Lake Chapin, in Berrien Springs, Mich.
- Boosting the attendance to nearly 150 were chaplains, seminary students and Division, Union, and Conference administrators who were there to show their support of women in ministry.
On Tuesday, administrators joined the women clergy in small groups and listened as the women told their personal stories of God’s call to ministry. The women clergy were asked to articulate some of the times they had felt affirmed in ministry and to share circumstances when they felt disaffirmed. They also came up with positive suggestions as to how the NAD could enhance the role of female clergy.
Stan Hickerson, pastor of the Stevensville, Mich., Seventh-day Adventist Church, presented the early history of women in ministry. He noted the high point for women in ministry was in 1878 when in some conferences nearly 10% of the pastoral staff were women.
Ron du Preez,, a theologian and Michigan Conference communication director, shared his personal journey of how he came to his current understanding of the role of women clergy. He addressed some deeper insights on many of the texts used by those who object to women being pastors.
Dwight Nelson, senior pastor, Pioneer Memorial Church, pointed out that the Bible does not forbid women in ministry and further stated that since the Holy Spirit is blessing the ministry of women who are serving as pastors, we should follow the Spirit.
Darius Jankiewicz, associate professor of historical theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary on the campus of Andrews University shared his recent study of scripture where he concluded that ordination was not part of the New Testament Church. Furthermore, his historical study revealed that ordination began in the pagan world and developed over the centuries into a theology that puts the priests in a position of authority over the laity and limits the dispensation of God’s grace to the priesthood.
Dan Jackson, Division president, attended the meeting. He said, "It was my privilege to spend time last week with a very special group of godly, Christian, Seventh-day Adventist pastors just outside of Berrien Springs, Mich. These pastors were women and I was blessed to hear their stories, to witness their energy and to see their commitment to God's work. It was a moment in time where I was personally able to witness the fulfillment of the promise of Joel 2:28, 29 where we are told that God would ‘pour out His Spirit on all flesh.’ God be praised for the Spirit-filled women pastors of the North American Division."
Donna Holland, administrative pastor at the Beltsville, Md,, Adventist Church, expressed her reactions to the conference. She said, “I appreciated the Women's Clergy Conference because it provided opportunity to meet other women clergy and to learn more about what is being done to bring more equality between men and women clergy.”
“I’ve been to four of these conferences so far but this was the first time that someone from the NAD came," exclaimed Ann Roda-Hernandez, pastor for families at New Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fulton, Md. "It was absolutely amazing that the NAD leadership was there — Dan Jackson, the Ministerial Department team and some Union presidents. It was the greatest show of affirmation that I’ve ever seen from our church! It meant a lot to the women clergy and it was a positive and inspiring experience for us who have experienced opposition to our calling.”
- The conference also attempted to care for the whole person by providing time for early morning prayer walks, evening aerobics, presentations on health, time for sharing and laughing at our own bloopers in ministry, good food, and caring for the pastor’s family.
- The conference goals were fulfilled because the women left the event feeling more connected and empowered to do the work of their Master. The NAD staff also discovered insights for their own strategic plan to help carry the gospel to the world.
The Women Clergy Conference was planned by Esther R. Knott, associate ministerial director of the North American Division and associate pastor at Pioneer Memorial Church, on the campus of Andrews University. The event was sponsored by the North American Division Ministerial Department.
The NAD Ministerial team is working to upload the presentations and other highlights from the Women Clergy Conference. Watch NewsPoints for an update or visit www.nadministerial.org.