Male pastors seek “commissioned” status

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Michigan, United States

In a show of solidarity with their female colleagues, a number of male Adventist pastors in the United States have requested that their ministerial credentials be changed from “ordained” to “commissioned”. 

Since 1990, women pastors have been permitted by policy to have their ministry affirmed by commissioning but not ordination. Significantly, nine of the male pastors requesting a change in their status work for the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University, a General Conference (GC) institution. A well-placed source at Andrews told Record that the pastors have not sought publicity in making this request and that it was a conscientious rather than a political decision. 

Two local church pastors from Tennessee and one from Maryland have been more forthcoming about their request to change their credentials, telling Religion News Service that they were motivated by a desire to be equal with their female colleagues. All three male pastors have been granted their requests to be commissioned rather than ordained. In doing so they forego the opportunity to serve as presidents; to ordain elders, deacons or deaconesses; and to organise a church. And while ordination is recognised throughout the world Church, commissioned pastors are not necessarily recognised as such outside their own division.

In the months leading up to July’s General Conference session, at least two senior pastors in Australia requested commissioned status. A decision on the requests was deferred until after the GC vote on women’s ordination and is yet to be discussed by Church leaders in the South Pacific.