30 1 Dec 2021
Regional Conference Presidents in 2015 with Elder Ted Wilson
All Regional Conference presidents are in favor of moving towards ordaining women to the ministry according to the Office of Regional Conference Ministries (RCM) Executive Director Elder Dana C Edmond in a video of Nov 13. The video livestreamed on YouTube entitled Leading Change: Women's Ordination is part of a monthly Regional Ministries’ topic-based interview program called First Sabbath. Elder Darriell Hoy, Communications Director at RCM confirmed that a poll of the presidents of regional conferences took place at meetings in August. The RCM is a communications and support network for Regional Conferences throughout the US.
Elder Edmond said, “The leadership in all of our regional conferences across the board is supportive of women's ordination. … I believe all across North America the overwhelming sentiment in the circles where I’ve been” is supportive of women’s ordination instead of commissioning. It appears that the conference presidents will begin by educating their constituents. Speaking at the Nov 13 program, Elder Cryston Josiah, Vice-president of Central Sates Conference, discussed how he had prepared a 40-slide summary of the North American Division Theological Study of Ordination to educate his constituents prior to holding a conference constituency vote, which was over 80% in favor of women’s ordination. Elder Hoy stressed, “Constituents have a role to play. If it's something that you believe in, constituents have the opportunity to speak with their leaders and say, ‘This is something that we would like to see happen in our conference.’”
There were other signals that Regional Conferences were ready to ordain women. In 2020 Alleghany East Conference a regional conference in Columbia Union Conference, which ordains women, held its first ordination since the 2015 General Conference vote. These ordinations were heavily supported by the late Henry J Fordham III, then president of Allegheny East Conference. It was Central States Conference, the only regional conference in Mid-America Union Conference, that initiated the Union constituency vote on September 12 which passed with more than 80% in favor of equally ordaining men and women. Elder Kimberly Bulgin was the first woman ordained under the new policy on October 23, 2021 in her New Beginnings Church, Wichita Kansas, which is in the Regional Conference.
Elder Edmond cautioned, “We want to be fair and allow (conferences) to work through the process, because … there is a different dynamic in all of them. We don't want to make it sound like there's a lack of courage, or they are afraid of political consequences.” “Sometimes we can make it harder for people to do what it is they are trying to do” by impatience and false claims of inaction.
Both Elder Edmond and Hoy discussed that they had been in contact with administrators in Africa and met women pastors working there. According to them the administrators they talked to in Africa do not have a problem with ordaining women in the NAD.
Six of the nine Unions in the North American Division have Regional Conferences which supervise predominantly black churches within the territory of other conferences. The Regional Conference Ministries cannot vote to ordain women because administrative governance belongs to the local Union Conferences. Two Unions, Pacific and North Pacific Union Conferences, have Regional Directors instead of regional conferences. Canada does not participate in the regional system, but Bermuda does as a region conference in the Atlantic Union Conference.
The support by presidents of the Regional Conferences, which are interspersed through all demographics of the United States, is an encouraging development for women’s ordination in the Adventist church. It is significant that Regional Conferences, who are also fighting racial injustice, think it is the right time to take this courageous step for women in ministry. And their power is illustrated in the action taken by Mid-America Union to ordain without respect to gender.
Women Ministers Count in NAD!
In a reversal of policy that thwarted efforts for documenting the number of women pastors, Elder Heather Crews, Association Director for women clergy at North American Division Women’s Ministerial Association, has an almost complete count of women pastors employed by the North American Division. With only one conference yet to confirm their estimate, the count stands at just shy of 150 women employed in ministry in Adventist churches. The count does not include an additional 80-85 female chaplains. This is not just a counting in preparation for the General Conference, plans are in place to maintain an ongoing database.
Counts of women pastors occurred in 2006 and proceeding the 2015 General Conference but many groups, including the Association of Adventist Women, have been frustrated records were not maintained at the Union or Division level. Most conferences would not share the number of female pastors, citing privacy. Therefore, an estimate of the number of female pastors was impossible.
The Association of Adventist Women has also made a request for divisions to be required to count the gender of their membership because numbers matter. Being counted contributes to the feeling that everyone counts. Obstruction of access to census information can lead to distrust. The AAW highly commends the NAD for making this information available, so it is clear to everyone that women ministers count.
Nerida Taylor Bates
Regional Conference Presidents all support Women’s Ordination
May Roselee Chilumbi, Zambian Pastor Dies
Pastor May Chilumbi, one of the first Adventist female pastors in Zambia, died recently at the age of 70 years old. A lifelong Adventist she studies as a secretary right out of high school and worked for several years as a administrative assistant for the minister of state and then head of state. She then worked for Zambia State Insurance and Bank of Zambia.
In 1991 she became a literature evangelist for the Central Zambian Conference and from 1992 to 2000 was the Assistant Publishing Department Director. She had a missionary credential. She went on to completed her degree in theology from Rusangu University in 2013. Her fellow minister said she was the sort of woman that when she saw a problem, she would make a correction. She got her degree and she wanted to go further, others were discouraging her because she was a woman, but she didn’t mind. Her lifelong interest in education was shown in her recent completion of her Master Guide. In her capacity with the Pathfinders she was remembered as a mother, a sister, a grandmother, a teacher and an evangelist.
Her daughter said that she was a wonderful mother, in fact, she was a wonderful mother to many. She taught us how to sit at the feet of Jesus inviting many into their home and taking children to school. Her grandchildren said she was a wonderful combination of warmth and kindness, laughter and love. The SID Ministerial Association Secretary said we worked together, and we knew her to be an open-minded and ever smiling person.
Unfortunately in the past year illness set in an on the 7th of November she passed away. May is survived by two children, 5 grandchildren and one great grandchild.She will be greatly missed. She was available at any time to undertake the job assigned to her. She was a wonderful woman of God who served the Lord faithfully until the very end.
AAW Banquet Bestows Awards
The Annual Meeting of the Association of Adventist Women (AAW) concluded with its traditional banquet, Oct. 30. Some 50 AAW members and dignitaries attended, including William G Johnsson, former editor of the Review, Craig Jackson, Dean of LLU School of Allied Health Professions and two former Women of the Year, Joyce Hopp, PhD and Elsie Chan. All have CVs of distinction much too long to recount here.
Nerida Taylor Bates, MD PhD, President, began the evening wearing a dress with the world map adorned with a sequence for each place a women pastors. Lovely music accompanied with appropriate slides was provided by Paulette Hamlin and Giulian Bratosin. Two speakers shared from their roles.
Charles Sandefur received one of the Champion of Justice awards for his work with EnditNow. He described the efforts involved in establishing and continuing a program to prevent the abuse of women, a world-wide problem.
Helen Hopp Marshak was one of three Women of the Year (WOY) Awardees. She spoke of the “hesitant leader”. Now as Dean of the LLU School of Public Health, she describes herself as a hesitant leader. However, her CV tells a far different story. She encouraged women to put aside their hesitancy and become leaders at all levels of the SDA Church.
The lovely meal was served at Najwa’s Mediterranean Restaurant in Loma Linda with tables adorned with centerpieces of sunflowers. The evening was on Zoom with connection to New Zealand to hear from another WOY Awardee, Dianne Sika-Paotonu, PhD, Immunologist researcher in rheumatic heart disease in the South Pacific. The internet failed to pick up the third WOY Phyllis Ware Lee, MBA, President and CFO of Central States Union, USA. Henry Fordham, III, Past President of the Allegheny East Conference received the second Champion of Justice Award. Sadly, Elder and Mrs. Fordham passed away in a house fire very recently. His son, Donovan, spoke very highly of the outcomes of his father’s support of women in ministry.
Catch the entire evening on the web, along with the four vespers on YouTube.
Elder Chuck Sandefur, new Champion of Justice, giving his address entitled God is Just.
Drs Joyce Hopp and Helen Hopp Marshak, both winners of WOY awards and Deans of School of Public Health Loma Linda University