Including Women - Power Struggle or Empowerment?

Speaker: Categories: Nov 19, 1988


[1hr, 4min, 55sec / 40min, 54sec]


Although Seventh-day Adventists trace much of their beginnings, endorsements of their fundamental beliefs and lifestyle, and their commitment to excellence in education and medicine to a woman, questions continue to linger regarding the "proper" role of women in church leadership positions.

In recent years the discussion has become more focused, more boisterous, and more critical. Symposia and seminars, sermons and brochures, broadsides and letters have wholeheartedly endorsed or vehemently decried what some see as a desirable trend in Adventism.

Support groups and non-profit organizations have formed to disseminate information and to educate and inform the church membership of what's at stake and what's happening.

This issue was originally to be presented by Lou Venden, Senior Pastor, Loma Linda University Church. His busy schedule, however, made that impossible. The opportunity to hear a woman pastor address this topic, with additional perspectives from her husband and a now lawyer college classmate seemed to be a most fortuitous switch.

According to Diane Forsyth, Loma Linda University Church Pastor, "About one percent of active Adventist ministers in the North American Division are women. 'How are these women doing?' is a trying question for women pastors who don’ t want to be on trial and expected to prove something."

"In March, 1988, just before the women's commission met," she adds, "a survey was taken in the University Church. Key historical dates related to the ministry of women at the University Church were given: First woman elder, 1977; first women pastor, 1980; first sermon by woman pastor, 1980; first baptism by woman pastor, 1986. Next on the survey came this gentle [or subtle] form of the 'How are they doing?' question: How much of a blessing have you experienced through this expanding role of women in pastoral ministry here at the University Church?"

It would appear that even among those most supportive of the "Women in Ministry" cause, questions still lurk as to whether women can pastor as effectively as men.

The November 19 FORUM meeting will review the experiences of women pastors through the eyes of an attorney (woman), a pastor's husband(!), and a pastor (woman). The format will include short presentations by each of the above, a panel exchange among the speakers, and a question and answer time following our traditional refreshment break.


Diane Forsyth is a graduate of Walla Walla College, 1974, with a degree in Theology. Her M.A. in Religion was earned at Andrews University, 1977. She has completed three quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Walla Walla, 1984-86. Prior to joining the pastoral staff at Lorna Linda University Church, she was associate pastor at Walla Walla College Church for seven years. She has completed a wide variety of professional development activities and has published articles and books for the denomination.

Her husband, Bob, is also an alumnus of Walla Walla with a degree in Business Administration, 1964. He has been involved in manufacturing since that time and is currently one-third owner and partner in Woodcutters Mfg., Inc., manufacturer of Blaze King Woodstoves which, in nine years’ time, has grown to be one of the largest woodstove manufacturers in the nation and is recognized as the industry leader in technology.

Fay Blix, another Walla Walla graduate, 1971, with a B. A. in English, earned an M.A. in English from the University of Washington, 1972, and her Juris Doctor degree from Western State University College of Law (Fullerton, CA) in 1983. She was admitted to California State .Bar in 1984. She is currently a partner in the law firm of Ching, Kurtz, and Blix in Santa Ana, CA. Work experiences also include Dean of Women, Walla Walla College, 1973-1980 and Chair, English Department, Canadian Union College, 1972-1973. She currently serves as head elder of the Irvine SDA Church.

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