Pacific Union Equal Ordination Resources

The ordination of men and women equally in the Pacific Union Conference

In March 2012, at a regular quarterly meeting of the Executive Committee of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, a lay member moved that the Executive Committee begin immediately approving requests from local conferences for ordinations to the gospel ministry for both men and women. After much discussion, the motion was tabled until the next meeting on May 9.  At the March meeting, an ordination study committee was appointed to study how to implement the ordination of both men and women within the policies of the church and within the authority of the union. The Union bylaws committee also met and recommended a bylaws change. On May 9, the executive committee heard the reports from both of these smaller committees, then voted to call a special constituency meeting on August 19 to consider the issue.

Initially, legal counsel and the bylaws committee advised that the Executive Committee could not approve ordinations without regard to gender unless the Union bylaws were changed to say the Union would "generally" follow voted world church policy. The reason that the executive committee could not vote to ordain women without changing the bylaws was that the bylaws said the union will comply with all GC policy, and GC policy was thought to not permit the ordination of women. When church administrators pointed out that there is no GC policy limiting ordinations to men, the response was that even though there is no such policy, the assumption that there is a such a policy is so widespread that the union would be best advised to proceed as if there were such a policy. The executive committee decided that the issue was contentious enough that the union should make no change without being sure the constituency supported a change.

Before the special session the same legal counsel advised that while the Executive Committee did not have the authority to approve the ordination of women without changing the bylaws, the delegates to a constituency session did have the authority to vote to approve the ordination of women, with or without changing the bylaws. They explained that since the constituency delegates create and modify the bylaws, the constituency delegates may choose at times to act out of harmony with their own bylaws. (This principle was illustrated at the 2010 General Conference session, where the delegates voted to not change the bylaw that says all departmental associates must be elected at GC session, but a few days later voted — contrary to GC bylaws — to elect the associates in the ministerial department at the next Annual Council. The action was contrary to the bylaws, but the constituency has the authority to vote exceptions.)

On August 19, 2012, the delegates to the Special Session voted (79% to 21%) to "approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender,” but the delegates did not vote to amend the bylaws to say the Union would "generally" follow world church policy. That motion, which required a 66.7 percent positive vote to pass, received only 65.3 percent. The documents below represent the discussions that took place before, during and after the August 19 Special Session.

Some of these documents are available en español.


- Pacific Union Conference Special Session -


- Documents and Videos -

Video Resources: What do Authority and Headship Mean in the Bible?

  • Video: History of Ordination, at Sligo Church July 28, 2012, by Darius Jankiewicz, Ph.D, Associate Professor of Historical Theology, Andrews University Theological Seminary
  • The Upside Down Church, at 2013 Georgia Cumberland campmeeting, by Stan Patterson, Ph.D. Assoc. Prof. of Church Leadership; Chair, Department of Christian Ministry, Andrews U.

Does Church Policy and Church Structure Permit a Union to Decide Who to Ordain?

Recent Sermons on Women's Ordination

Is the "Headship Principle" Biblical?

Is it Biblical to Ordain Women to Ministry?

A. Recent Studies on Women in Ministry

B. The following papers were written before the current discussion regarding ordinations without regard to gender. The inclusion of these papers here does not imply that the authors do (or do not) support the action of unions to approve ordinations without regard to gender.

History of Seventh-day Adventist Women in Ministry



- GC Statements and Study Committee (2012-15) -

General Conference 2015

GC Statements of Concern

GC and Division Theology of Ordination Study Committee Reports

- Other Links of Interest -