This week at the Seventh-Day Adventists 60th General Conference Session which was held in San Antonio, Texas, the Christian denomination voted against the ordination of women. The vote was 1, 381 to 977.
In the last half century the ordination of women as clerics or preachers has gone from a laughable concept to something common place. It is no longer unusual to see a woman in a clerical collar or leading a synagogue in a talit.
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It has been 40 years since the Reform Jewish branch first began to ordain women as rabbis and 30 since the other liberal Jewish group the Conservative Movement followed suit. Some very liberal Orthodox rabbis, Such as Avi Weiss in New York, are now also offering rabbinical ordination to women.
But this is a small exception in the orthodox Jewish world and the Haredi community will obviously never do so.
Islam has no women Imams, but the Christian world has seen a number of Protestant sects accept the concept of ordination of women over the years. But none of the orthodox groups like the Greek Church or any of the Eastern Orthodox Churches do so.
The Adventists held the vote on the following resolution: “After your prayerful study on ordination from the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, and the reports of the study commissions, and after your careful consideration of what is best for the church and the fulfillment of its mission, is it acceptable for division executive committees, as they may deem it appropriate in their territories, to make provision for the ordination of women to the gospel ministry? Yes or No.”
After the vote, General Conference president Ted N.C. Wilson told church members, “Now is the time to unify under the bloodstained banner of Jesus Christ and His power, not our power. Now is the time to unify in our mission as Christ’s church.”
The result means that the individual regions of the 18 million member international group cannot choose on their own to ordain women.
This leaves the Adventists in the camp of more conservative Christian groups such as the Catholic Church and the Southern Baptists. More liberal groups like Episcopalians allow women to be ordained as ministers.
Garrett Caldwell, spokesman for the global church, told The Washington Post, “Some people support or oppose the question because it could lead to different other practices, and that would be a strike against unity. Some support or oppose it because of how they read the Bible. Some feel it’s a cultural question and one part of the church shouldn’t restrain the other. I don’t know if we can predict what will happen. I wouldn’t want to predict.”