Dr. William G. Johnsson was the Editor of the Adventist Review from 1982 to 2007. Based on his 40 years of study and observation on the ordination issue, he urges the Church to take the logical and biblical step of recognizing women’s ordination. In 1990 the General Conference recognized that God has given His stamp of approval to women as ministers; so who are we to withhold official recognition? Dr. Johnsson issued this statement before the 2015 GC Session, saying “We cannot go back, we must go forward.” He explains as follows:
“For the past 40 years the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been preoccupied with the role of women. I have followed developments with great interest and now, looking back, have reached a settled conviction: we need the involvement of women in all phases and at all levels. Therefore, the vote at General Conference Session in San Antonio calls for a resounding Yes in order that the mission of the world church can go forward and unity be preserved.
“Women did not force themselves upon the Church. Beginning in 1976 the Church took a series of steps to bring us to where we are today: we authorized women elders at the local church level, then encouraged women who felt called to attend the seminary. We opened up places for them to serve alongside their male counterparts, and eventually authorized them to perform all the chief functions of pastoral ministry: preaching, baptizing, officiating at the Lord’s Supper, and conducting marriages.
“Only in one respect were women ministers kept separate—they were not ordained like the men.
“Three General Conference Sessions discussed the role of women: in 1985 (briefly) and at length in 1990 and 1995. During the last five years yet another commission has focused on the same issues. The time and expense involved in all these deliberations has been large. It is time now to bring matters to a close and to move on.
“While the Scriptures do not provide unequivocal direction in this matter, I believe that the Holy Spirit does. “By their fruit you will recognize them,” counseled Jesus concerning the true and the false (Matthew 7:16, NIV). After 40 years we can see clearly the fruitage of women in ministry, and it is wonderfully, powerfully of God.
“If God has given His stamp of approval to women in ministry, who are we to withhold official recognition? We cannot go back, we must go forward. We must vote Yes in San Antonio.”
For more statements from respected elder statesmen of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, see www.AdventistElders.com/news. Also see the important sermon by Dr. George Knight on the biblical meaning of ordination and what the vote is really about.