Gender Inclusiveness: Promise or Illusion?


[57min, 14sec / 54min, 20sec]


It's likely that for many readers "Gender Inclusiveness" is understood as equivalent to "Ordination of Women as Pastors." That may be a part, but not necessarily all, of the meaning intended. How about women serving as local church elders, as teachers of adult Sabbath School classes, chairing church boards or Conference committees?

Some might wonder why this topic, if understood as the ordination of women, is even being discussed inasmuch as the General Conference action in Utrecht made very clear that the ordination question was not up for local (Division) interpretation. Others, equally committed to doing what's right, wonder what ever happened to the actions taken at the Southeastern California Conference constituency meeting in 1992. The October presentation by members of the Gender Inclusiveness Commission of the Southeastern California Conference should help to provide an updated perspective on both of these questions.

Dr. Penny Miller, who has served as chairperson of this commission, suggests that she and her colleagues will "share their thoughts on the issues surrounding the full inclusion of women in the life and ministry of the SDA church. Consideration will be given," according to Dr. Miller, "to historical, Biblical, and sociological factors associated with this issue. Recent actions and contemplation of [women's] roles in a preferred future will be explored."

What has been the response, thus far, to churches independently choosing to ordain their women pastors? Have these congregations been chastised by church administrators? Has there been a noted exodus from these congregations by protesting dissenters? How have younger SDAs responded? Do such independent actions by local congregations offer a note of optimism or pessimism for the young adults who will soon be the leaders of the church?' Should Adventist women be permitted, even encouraged, to pursue college programs leading toward the ministry? Should local conferences continue to employ women in ministry, serving in the same roles as their male counterparts, without offering them some hope of equal recognition of their calling from God? Would anyone want his/her daughter to consider a calling to the ministry as a calling from God?


Penny Miller, Ph.D., has chaired the Gender Inclusiveness Commission since its inception (1989). She is a member of the Southeastern California Conference Executive Committee and a faculty member at Loma Linda University where she currently chairs the faculty governance organization, IFAC. She is associate head elder of the Loma Linda University SDA Church. She was selected as 1995 Professsional Adventist Woman of the Year by the NAD Office of Human Relations and the Association of Adventist Women.

Larry Christoffel, M.Div., is the Pastor for Church Ministries at the Loma Linda Campus Hill Church. He is currently an active and contributing member of the Pacific Union Executive Committee. He, as well as all other presenters at the October Forum meeting, is an active participant on the Gender Inclusiveness Commission.

Carol Haviland, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of English, California State University, San Bernardino. She is an elder and member of the board of the Lama Linda University Church.

Carmon Ibanez, M. Div., serves as Associate Pastor of the Inland Spanish SDA Church with special emphasis in youth ministry. She has been a pastor in Southeastern for the past three years. She earned her B.A. in Religion at Pacific Union College, her M.Div. at Andrews University.

Maryan Stirling identifies herself as "writer, poet, feminist, and occasional preacher." A retiree, she lives in Fallbrook (CA) . She considers herself to be a "Forum-type" - - "Born to shiver in the draft of an open mind!"

Jim Walters, Ph.D., is Professor of Ethics, Faculty of Religion, Loma Linda University; executive editor of Adventist Today; editor of recently published, Choosing Who's to Live: Ethics and Aging; and author of a soon to be released book, What's a Person? An Ethical Exploration. (He will speak on this latter topic at our March 8 Forum meeting!)

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