The Mid-America Union Conference Executive Committee convened on Nov. 12, 2015 at the union’s headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska for its regularly scheduled session at the conclusion of the union’s Year-end Meetings. Mixed in with votes to receive the presented reports was a healthy dose of discussion ranging from topics regarding the distribution of tithe dollars to credentialing of commissioned pastors to an analysis of the church’s organizational structure presented at the North American Division Year-end Meetings by a specially formed Governance Committee.
While several motions are currently being revised and will be voted on by email, the MAUC Executive Committee unanimously voted the following motions:
1. Voted: To formalize our current practice of voting at the union level to include requests for both ordaining and commissioning pastoral candidates. Though NAD policy does not currently require our union committee to vote on commission credentials, it has been the custom to do so. This vote simply formalizes what the Mid-America practice has been.
2. Voted: Statement of affirmation of women in pastoral ministry as follows:
In the wake of the July 8, 2015 vote by General Conference Session delegates regarding the world divisions’ ability to decide for themselves whether or not to ordain women to the gospel ministry, the Mid-America Union Conference Executive Committee affirms the following clarifying statement on women involved in ministry:
A. NAD Policy L32 10 states: “A commissioned minister is authorized by the conference to perform substantially all the religious functions within the scope of the tenets and practices of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the members in the church or churches to which the minister is assigned and elected as a church elder.” This policy applies to both men and women commissioned pastors and has been in place for over 30 years. The vote last July did not change this policy.
B. The Mid-America Union Conference desires to be in harmony with the General Conference policies regarding ordained and commissioned pastors. Therefore, we affirm and support the needs of our conferences to credential and authorize their ministry team to perform their assigned pastoral responsibilities.
3. Voted: To ask the North American Division for a change in the flow of remittances from the conferences with the purpose to cease the “up and down” movement of tithe dollars earmarked by the NAD for education and evangelism. The request is that a proposal to accomplish this goal be presented at the 2016 NAD Year-end Meetings for implementation January 1, 2017.
Explanations and Affirmation
The purpose of this motion was not to change the amount of dollars each level of the organization has to carry out its ministry. This is only referring to dollars that, by policy and practice, are sent to the NAD and then come back in the form of subsidies. This was one of the suggestions given to the NAD Executive Committee by the Governance Committee.
In regard to the vote for affirmation of women in ministry, MAUC president Gary Thurber said, “The July 8 vote caused a great deal of confusion. Many people thought it was about the theology of ordination—it wasn’t. The question was whether or not divisions could decide individually on the issue of women’s ordination to best move their mission forward.”
Thurber added that some people thought it meant women could no longer serve as pastors. Hence, the Executive Committee voted the statement of explanation and affirmation intending to bring clarity regarding the current Seventh-day Adventist policy and practice.