Members and leaders of the Central States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists gathered at the G. Alexander Bryant Youth Center in Kansas City on Sabbath, Oct. 23, 2021, for the ordination ceremony of Pastor Kimberly Bulgin and Pastor Brian Irby.

Central States Conference administrators and a number of CSC pastors and their spouses participated in the ceremony, along with officers from the Mid-America Union Conference. The entire service, which was live streamed to every church in the Central States Conference that wished to participate, was filled with music, prayer, Scripture reading, smiles, tears and warm wishes. 

The featured speaker was Dr. William T. Cox, Sr., executive director of the Regional Conference retirement plan. “You never know what God has in store for you,” said Elder Cox. “You think you know, but you don’t…We are soldiers in God’s army and He is the one who gives the directions.”

After the sermon Elder Cryston and Sister Karen Josiah presented the candidates, and the prayer of ordination was offered by Elder Eddie and Sister Donna Polite. Elder Roger and Sister Ivona Bernard presented the credentials and gifts.  A number of other musical selections and prayers were shared, including a prayer in Spanish by Elder Pedro Vargas.

The Ordination Process

The process for pastoral ordination includes participation in a structured conference program that better prepares a candidate for ministry. The conference’s administration brings names to their Executive Committee, who votes them and sends them to the union Executive Committee. When that committee approves the recommendations, the local conference—as the employer—issues the appropriate credential.

On April 18, 2021, delegates to the Central States Constituency Session voted 83 percent in favor of asking the Mid-America Union Executive Committee to approve ordination of their female pastors.

As voted by 82 percent of delegates to the Mid-America Union Constituency Session on Sept. 12, 2021, the MAUC Executive Committee is now considering ordination recommendations brought by its conferences without regard to gender. Pastor Bulgin’s credentials will only be recognized in conferences that currently ordain both female and male pastors.

In reference to Pastor Bulgin being the first female pastor to be ordained in the Central States Conference, Elder Roger Bernard, president of the conference, said, “We are not asking any other conference to do as we have chosen to do. We are not asking anyone to go against their conscience. Bernard noted that not everyone in the conference approves, and that it’s okay to disagree.

“Central States has said that we need our women to work alongside our men in all phases of ministry because it is our desire to finish the work,” Bernard added. “With people dying from diseases and disasters and many walking off their jobs and picketing, I don’t know about you, but all I see is the end. And God is calling everyone to get on board and sound the battle cry and move forward in His name.”

“we need all hands on deck”

“I’ve always believed that God is the One who makes the decision on who is filled with the Holy Spirit,” said Elder Cryston Josiah, vice president of administration for the Central States Conference. “Joel Chapter 2 is our marching order for the last days. We need all the hands we have on deck to spread the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels Message. And because our church is made up of approximately two-thirds women, we would do well to utilize them in ministry.” 

Josiah pointed out that in the Review and Herald, Jan. 2, 1879, Ellen White says that “the refining, softening influence of women is needed in the great work of preaching the truth.” Josiah sees that statement as confirmation that in these last days we need all our saved and sanctified menservants and maidservants to finish the work.”

Elder Tonya Brown Anderson, vice president of finance for the Central States Conference said, “I think that because it’s been a male dominated world for so long you just do what’s been the norm when you don’t want to think about things. Sometimes it’s hard to do what God has called us to do. But Pastor Bulgin has been called to be a pastor and that doesn’t diminish her role because she is female.” 

Bernard added that he has gotten tired of the excuses used for not ordaining women, including headship theories. “Some men believe that when sin entered the world women became ‘lesser than’ men and cannot serve in certain roles. There has been this misnomer that women are somehow unequal to men after sin entered into the Garden of Eden. The Bible tells us to submit to one another, and only equals can submit to each other’s authority. Also, God says there is a difference between our homes and His house. God has the right to do what He wants to do in His house! 

In addition, Bernard pointed out that “there was a time in this church’s history when I as a Black man could not be ordained or serve as a president. There was a time in this church’s history when I as a Black man could not eat in the cafeteria of the General Conference or be treated at Adventist hospitals. We had to go to a Black hospital. It took the courageous voices of people to speak against that injustice before something changed. There were protests and people saying, ‘This is wrong and we can go no further with it’ before there was a change. And I think now is the time for us to do the same thing for our women who are not being treated fairly—who are paying the same fees to study for the gospel ministry and after graduating are told, ‘Yes, you can be a pastor but you can’t organize a church or ordain anyone or be a president.’ It’s time for us to see that we are at the end of earth’s history and God is calling everyone —men, women, boys and girls—to proclaim this last-day message and finish this work so we can go home. 

“And I am very proud to serve a conference that is willing to take a lead and move forward despite the ridicule and pot shots. They did that to Jesus, so why not us? My question is, When did we get so mean as a church that we attack each other when we don’t see eye to eye? All throughout this church’s history we have had issues we didn’t agree on. But I have not seen such a mean, demeaning and slanderous spirit, especially from a people who believe in Matthew 18 and especially at a time in earth’s history when our focus should be on doing ministry well—to reach those who need to know about Jesus.” 

“Today is a sacred, transcendent moment carved out in eternity,” said one person who participated in the ordination ceremony. Another attendee said, “It’s a historic day. I’m just praying that we will all keep listening to the Holy Spirit.”

Watch the livestream

Candidate Profiles


Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Pastor Kimberly Bulgin is a graduate of Andrews University with a bachelor’s in music education, and a graduate from Trinity Lutheran Seminary with a masters in music and theology. For over 15 years, Pastor Bulgin has been blessed to travel extensively throughout North America, Africa, the Caribbean and Europe spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ through preaching and singing.  

God called Bulgin to full-time ministry at the age of 22 while she was attending Andrews University. In 2013, Bulgin released her highly anticipated debut full-length album “God Chose Me” with much success. In 2016  she released her first devotional book titled Wild Worship: Setting People Free to Worship God.  

Bulgin is also the founder of The Love God, Love Sex Movement, a ministry that inspires women to love God, love their bodies and love sex without compromising their faith or values.   More about these ministries can be found on her website:    

Bulgin is currently the senior pastor of New Beginnings Adventist Church in Wichita, Kansas. As a pastor, evangelist, music educator, songwriter, pianist, workshop clinician and life coach, it is her desire to see hearts set free to wholeheartedly love God with everything within them. “God has given me the gift of teaching, encouragement and evangelism,” said Pastor Bulgin during an email interview with Hugh Davis, associate communication director for the Mid-America Union.

“By God’s grace, I hope that the spaces I serve in will give me room to build up others through teaching and clarifying the word of God, encouraging people who are discouraged, bound and ready to give up on the church, and minister to those who don’t know who Jesus is through creative, out-of-the-box methods.”


Pastor Brian James Irby was born in Springfield, Illinois to Alan and Paula Irby. He has one older brother, Mark Irby, who played an integral role in him accepting Jesus as his personal Savior.      

Pastor Irby fell in love with Jesus when he was 17 years old and soon after answered the call to ministry, enrolling as a theology major at Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. While serving the Lord in ministry at Oakwood, he fell in love with the former Carolynn Bishop and they were married in August of 2010. The Irby’s prayer has always been that God would use them as a unit in a way that would not be possible were they not together.     

Irby is a proud graduate of Oakwood University, with a Bachelor of Arts in theology. He later graduated from Andrews University Theological Seminary with a master’s degree in divinity. He has traveled to six different countries around the world preaching the gospel and spent two years serving at Carolina Adventist Academy in Whiteville, North Carolina.    

He began his pastoral ministry as an assistant pastor at Harbor of Hope Seventh-day Adventist Church in Benton Harbor, Michigan. There he experienced a fruitful ministry, focusing on evangelism and discipleship. In 2018 he had the privilege of accepting a call to pastor in the Central States Conference, and loves pastoring both the Philadelphia Church as well as the New Life Christian Ministries Company, both in the state of Iowa. He is also pleased to serve Central States as the Prayer Ministries coordinator.     

The Irby’s have two beloved children; Caleb (5) and Christynn (2).  Pastor Irby loves Jesus, spending time with family, and serving others. Irby said that his greatest hope is that he, his family and all would be saved to see Jesus when He returns.

“I’m really passionate about making disciples,” said Irby. “I love meeting new people, presenting the gospel to them and helping them grow in Jesus Christ.”

Watch the livestream

PC: Hugh Davis