5 Ways to Respond to the GC Vote

Last Wednesday, fifty-eight percent of General Conference delegates from around the world voted against the motion that would have allowed individual divisions to decide whether to ordain women to the gospel ministry.

The outcome of the much-awaited vote has been welcome news for many.  For others, it has brought sadness, dismay, anger, and frustration.  The explosion of emotion on Twitter alone in the aftermath of the business meeting has attested to how invested those of us on all “sides” have been in this debate.

And while last week’s vote has officially settled matters, it is clear that the question remains for many: where do we go from here?  How will we, or I, or they, respond to the vote?  Here are a few suggestions.

1.  Study it out:

How has this vote evoked both disappointment and affirmation?  Why does the Adventist Church care enough to devote an entire day to this topic?  Why is my Facebook feed blowing up?

If you don’t know the answers to these questions, now is the time to study the topic yourself.  It’s time to own our church and form informed, Bible-based views on the issues of ordination and women in ministry (and many others).

2.  Hold the applause: 

Elder Mike Ryan’s steely handling of the Wednesday business meeting has forever endeared him to many of us.  In the wake of Wednesday, it would be wise to continue to heed his appeals to hold the applause: to eschew competitive or “my side won/lost” attitudes.

Rather, we’ve sought the Lord’s will together and we must trust that this outcome is an answer to our sincere prayers for guidance—not the score for an Adventist Superbowl.  Trust that He never withholds His guidance from those who sincerely seek.  “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

For all those who’ve ever received a “no” to a genuine and heartfelt prayer request, perhaps you can relate to the disappointment that some feel now.  Rejoice simply because the Lord has led His people; this, publicize.  But there is no Biblical support for indulging competitive attitudes, biting comments, or bitterness.

3.  Be a missionary:

As discussion and debate continues about Wednesday’s vote, we may find ourselves failing to demonstrate concretely why this issue matters at all.  Any principles regarding the order of the church facilitate its ultimate goal: mission.

That’s hopefully why we all care so much.  It’s time to get off Facebook and Twitter and make real sacrifices to share Jesus with those who are dying for lack of an Everlasting Hope.

Need ideas for how to reach out?  Check out some of the opportunities we’ve listed on our website:

GYC 1 Million GLOW Challenge


Mission Service & Training Opportunities

4.  Believe in your church: 

Many have remarked that it is God’s calling or ordination that matters, not “manmade” policies.

But consider this: the church is God’s beautiful bride.  Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, tells us that the union between man and woman is analogous to the union between God and His church (Ephesians 5).  And Jesus is the “head of body, the church” (Colossians 1:18).

Believe and trust that God works on this earth through His church as embodied in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the remnant church of Bible prophecy.  The organization and order of our body reflect the leading of God.  As Ellen G. White noted in the context of the early organizational efforts of the church,

“[This church structure] has been built up by His direction, through much sacrifice and conflict.  Let none of our brethren be so deceived as to attempt to tear it down, for you will thus bring in a condition of things that you do not dream of.  In the name of the Lord I declare to you that it is to stand, strengthened, established, and settled” (CET 197).

The General Conference assembly is a part of this divinely-built church structure.  Note the authority which is invested in its decisions:

“Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans should be followed.  But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered.  Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body” (9T 260).

It is time to thoughtfully reconsider how personal opinion and the wisdom of the “general body” relate.

Take hope: God loves His church and leads His church.  Ellen White’s remarks on the disappointment of 1844 give us courage that Jesus knows the pains and disappointments of the church, “Not one cloud has fallen upon the church that God has not prepared for; not one opposing force has risen to counter work the work of God that He has not foreseen” (CTr 340).  He is leading.

5.  Trust in Jesus:

Surrender your “truth” to Jesus, Who is the “way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).  We need to worry less about seeing this debate to our desired end and entrust it to the Savior.  Jesus’ death has guaranteed that truth will prevail in this universe.

If you believe that Jesus is on the side of truth, and if you believe that the Lord is leading this church, you’ll join me in supporting the decision of the world church last Wednesday in word and deed.  Pray for unity, that the world may know Jesus and His love (John 17:23).

We’re up for more suggestions on how to respond.  Tell us in the comments below.

  • ratu tawakelevu laweloa

    The issue in here is ordination of Woman as PASTORS and LEADERS . The bible and the spirit of prophecy states that this POSITION is only for MAN. Other areas of the ministries woman can be ordained to but not for pastors and leaders.

    • Patience Boateng

      Thanks a lot Ratu kindly give me the chapter and verse in The Bible that states that, that POSITION is only for men. I’ve been searching for it. So kindly help me.

      • Daniel Shannon

        Try 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. When a woman can, in the eyes of God become the “husband” of one wife then you might be right. When is becoming unnerving is now we have some Democratic Congressmen want to remove the words “husband and wife” from our vocabulary! Now why is that?

      • gspowers51

        That’s a tired argument about one wife. Did God give us the reasoning brains of oxen and hearts of stone, like the Pharisees? THAT’s the point: Fidelity in marriage of leaders. And a former longest-serving REPUBLICAN speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives up on felony charges related to lying about paying hush money for a homosexual alliance, so please…Oh, Happy Sabbath.

  • There is a call for the faithful diciples to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1 : 3. That faith or “belief” was those doctrines of the apostles which the Apostolic Church continued in (Acts 2:40-46). There is a place to speak out in favor of Bible truth when those who are promoting error in the church. There is still the core issue of women elders/pastors that has not been addressed as of yet. Should we just let things be as they are and just get on with the mission? Is not standing for thre truth as it is in Jesus part of the mission? Did not Jesus say the the truth would set people free?

    Please search EGW’s counsel on the necessity of investigating every doctrine that we hold as truth to be sure it is the truth.

  • Thank you for this compassionate and mission focused piece. To your fourth point, Ellen White’s support for the authority of the General Conference was not unqualified, and she did not consider it an infallible source of authority.

    “[The General Conference] is working upon wrong principles that has brought
    the cause of God into its present embarrassment. The people have lost
    confidence in those who have the management of the work. Yet we hear
    that the voice of the conference is the voice of God. Every time I have
    heard this, I have thought that it was almost blasphemy. The voice of
    the conference ought to be the voice of God, but it is not.” 22Ms 37, 1901

    As a Seventh-day Adventist, the authority of the General Conference compels my cooperation but not my conscience.

    • Hmm, doesn’t she speak here about the General Conference as a smaller administrative or executive unit (GC AdCom, ExCom?) rather than of GC in Session? She uses the same language in 9T 260: “At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these *few men*, as the voice of God.”

      But then she continues: “But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected. God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority.”

      • How did those few men get entrusted with the general management of the work? The assembly voted them that authority. The root of the problem was decisions made in GC Session. When the wrong principles voted in at previous GC Sessions were replaced with a distributive authority model in the 1901 Session, she could again affirm the authority of the assembly, as in the last statement you quote.

        Jerry Moon has a great outline of the history on page 5 this seminary lecture handout: http://www.andrews.edu/~jmoon/Documents/GSEM_534/Class_outline/06c.pdf

  • Celia

    Genesis 3:16. No one is thinking of GODS response to the fall. This is why we (women) are placed in this position. Accept it and let’s wait for Jesus to return so we will once again be the side by side help meet we were created to be. Do the work. Spread the gospel as it was commissioned for ALL of us to do! Get over yourselves and the political correctness and gender rights. That has no place in Gods work or His church.

    • Adam Deibert

      You’re right, we’re not thinking of God’s response to the Fall; we’re confusing the consequences of the Fall with God’s response to our fallen state.

      God’s response to the Fall was to send His Son to make a way for us to be restored to His original design. If He hadn’t, the full effects of the Fall – eternal death – would still be in effect. Christ’s death and resurrection reversed this fundamental consequence of the Fall (see John 3:16). At the same time, in Christ the other effects of the Fall are also being undone, which includes breaking down the manmade barriers of class, race, and gender (e.g., Acts 10:34-11:17; Acts 15:-17; compare Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:10, 11; Ephesians 2:14). God’s response is restoration!
      Consider that, according to Sister White, man and woman were created as equals before the Fall: “Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal…” (Patriarchs and Prophets, 46). Yes, the Fall did damage this equality (Genesis 3:16); but like all things affected by the Fall, God’s response was to work toward the undoing of these effects. God’s response is restoration!

      In the spirit of studying this out, as enjoined by the author, we see a key example of this “undoing” of the Fall in the restoration of the priesthood of all believers – God’s original intent was that the whole nation of Israel would be a kingdom of priests to Himself (Exodus 19:6). As a result of Israel’s “fall” with the golden calf at Sinai, all Israelites except the Levites were cut off from the priesthood (Exodus 36:26-29). However, in and through Jesus Christ the priesthood has been restored to all who believe; Peter believed this so strongly that he actually took the very words of Exodus 19:6 and applied it to all who trust in Christ: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). God’s response is restoration!

      As we study it out, we find that the very first apostle of the resurrection of Jesus was a woman (Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:9, 10; Luke 24:5-10). In this we can see further “undoing” of the effects of the Fall in light of the resurrection – namely, that just as a woman was responsible for bearing a message of death (by virtue of the forbidden fruit), so a woman was the first to be entrusted with the responsibility for bearing a message of life! God’s response is restoration!

      As we continue to study these matters out, let’s keep a key principle from Sister White in mind: “Immeasurably superior in value to the productions of any human author are the Bible writings…but of infinitely wider scope, of infinitely greater value, are they when viewed in their relation to the grand central thought. Viewed in the light of this thought, every topic has a new significance. In the most simply stated truths are involved principles that are as high as heaven and that compass eternity.The central theme of the Bible, the theme about which every other in the whole book clusters, is the redemption plan, the restoration in the human soul of the image of God. From the first intimation of hope in the sentence pronounced in Eden to that last glorious promise of the Revelation, ‘They shall see His face; and His name shall be in their foreheads’ (Revelation 22:4), the burden of every book and every passage of the Bible is the unfolding of this wondrous theme,–man’s uplifting,–the power of God, ‘which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ 1 Corinthians 15:57. He who grasps this thought has before him an infinite field for study. He has the key that will unlock to him the whole treasure house of God’s word” (Education, 125 126).

      And again: ““The Bible is its own expositor. Scripture is to be compared with scripture. The student should learn to view the word as a whole, and to see the relation of its parts. He should gain a knowledge of its grand central theme, of God’s original purpose for the world, of the rise of the great controversy, and of the work of
      redemption” (Education, 190).

      Let us continue to work with God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to see His redemption – the restoration of all that was lost in the Fall – worked out in our hearts, in our lives, and among His people. God’s response is restoration!

      • Wow, thanks for this study. Really enlightening. This reminds me of the plant-based diet, which we rightfully hold so dear. It also makes sense only in this restoration (Back to Eden) plan.

        However, maybe we are again setting off to the discussion of the pro et contra arguments (I know you’re just responding to Celia, though). Would be interesting to talk about how can we decide what is healthy study that doesn’t distract us from uniting in mission, and when does it cross the line to become the opposite.

  • Joyce

    No matter what God may have inspired people to do, I believe many voted their personal preferences and biases, rather than following His will because He has gifted women the same as men. The church is not infallible; those who would affirm women’s contributions equally with men’s were simply outnumbered.

  • AlexSandra Golovenko

    I find it interesting that GYC’s first president – Andrea Oliver, and the current president, Natasha Nebblett – women!!! 🙂 – preside over the movement, preside over men, and yet, as the current president spoke at GC on July 8 – speak against women in leadership. Do you see inconsistency in this? The whole matter of ordination is about presidency! plain and simple. Not even most conservatives, like Doug Batchelor would object to women preaching, teaching, serving as evangelists. DB even commended women in Philippines where he recently conducted school of evangelism, being successful preachers and evangelists! Commissioned women pastors and women elders had been ministering in the Adventist church officially since 1985. The “ordination” is a qualification for presidency, that’s all! 🙂 and the objections to it are based on male headship, solely! We had attended GYC with youth from our district in 2007 (Minneapolis) and sponsored a whole bus load from our district in 2010 to Baltimore, financially supported YC in Eastern Canada as it started. We appreciate this grass roots movement, and pray that it would remain consistent with Biblical Christianity where there is no clergy and laity divide, but ALL believers are priests of the Most High (Isaiah 61:6) BE CONSISTENT!

  • Amen. This is the tone and the spirit we need.

    I personally was hoping for a Yes vote, but because of the reasons you listed, I decided not to spend my time arguing further, but rather trust in God’s leading and unite with brethren in mission. For more suggestions on how to respond, you can check this post, where I’ve jotted down the thoughts, impressions and resolutions I had in the post-WO vote days: http://on.fb.me/1OrBYWC. God bless!

  • “I have been shown that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any one man. But when the judgment of the General Conference, which is the highest authority that God has upon the earth, is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be maintained, but be surrendered. Your error was in persistently maintaining your private judgment of your duty against the voice of the highest authority the Lord has upon the earth.” — Testimonies for the Church Vol 3, Chapter 44

  • Elton Karuva

    how are you gyc