Vote: Women can be presidents

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Seventh-day Adventist conferences and missions in North America can be led by a male or female minister, members of the division executive committee voted overwhelmingly on November 7 during year-end business meetings.

While the worldwide Church has stopped short of granting women full ordination as pastors, their call to ministry is recognised in some regions by the granting of “commissioned” status. A move to change the North American Division’s (NAD) working policy to allow commissioned pastors to hold the position of conference/mission president, was put on hold from last year.

This ... is an issue of equality and opportunity

“There was a request from the president of the General Conference to pull it back because there was a desire to have a broader discussion… on the role of women in ministry at the meeting of the executive committee prior to the General Conference,” says NAD president Dan Jackson.

But during the 2010 year-end meetings of the NAD, the issue was once again addressed, with an almost unanimous vote in favour of changing the wording of the policy, which now reads: “Inasmuch as the conference/mission president stands at the head of the ministry in the conference/mission and is the chief elder, or overseer of all the churches, a conference/mission president should be an ordained/commissioned minister.”

Daniel R. Jackson, president North American Division

According to a statement from the North American Division (NAD), “This … is an issue of equality and opportunity for all leaders who hold the commissioned minister credentials.” The year-end meeting also recommended that the General Conference vary the language of its model constitution to “accommodate the unique needs of the NAD.”

NAD president, Dan Jackson, denies that the move is merely symbolic: “I think we have a number of women, a number of treasurers, a number of college presidents in North America who are skilled individuals; who have the ability to lead conferences and some of who, I believe, in time, will be conference presidents.”

In 2008, the Adventist Church reported having 4,197 ordained and licensed ministers and 5,224 churches in the NAD, which comprises the United States, Canada, Bermuda and the islands of Saint Pierre et Miquelon.