Working Policy and GC Session on Gender-specific Ordination

Despite the claim that the Church has no policy regarding WO, General Conference Working Policy BA 60 10 states that the position of ordination to the gospel ministry is limited by gender.

“Positions of service and responsibility (except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry*) on all levels of church activity shall be open to all on the basis of the individual’s qualifications” (GC Working Policy  p. 130).

“The appointment of individuals to serve as Bible instructors or chaplains, or in departmental or pastoral responsibilities, shall not be limited by race or color. Neither shall these positions be limited by gender (except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry*)” (GC Working Policy  p. 131).

“Employment opportunities, membership on committees and boards, and nomination to office shall not be limited by race or color. Neither shall these opportunities be limited by gender (except those requiring ordination to the gospel ministry*)” (GC Working Policy p. 131).

General Conference Working Policy L 35 “Qualifications for Ordination to the Ministry” exclusively refers to the male gender of candidates for ordination.

“The setting apart of men . . . “the man of God” (1 Kings 12:22) . . . the man of the Spirit . . . ‘No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God’ . . . ‘A man can have no greater honor than to be accepted by God as an able minister of the gospel.’—The Acts of the Apostles, p 328. The proofs of a man’s divine call must be clearly evident before the church sets him apart by ordination . . . ‘A true minister does the work of the Master. He feels the importance of his work, realizing that he sustains to the church and to the world a relation similar to that which Christ sustained. . . . Those who hear him know that he has drawn near to God . . . The Holy Spirit has rested upon him, his soul has felt the vital, heavenly fire . . . ‘The conversion of sinners and their sanctification through the truth is the strongest proof a minister can have that God has called him to the ministry’ . . . A minister is greatly strengthened by these seals of his ministry’ . . . ‘There has been too little done in examining ministers; and for this very reason churches have had the labors of unconverted, inefficient men . . . Those upon whom this responsibility rests, should acquaint themselves with his history since he professed to believe the truth. His Christian experience and his knowledge of the Scriptures, the way in which he holds present truth, should all be understood. No one should be accepted as a laborer in the cause of God, until he makes it manifest that he has a real, living experience in the things of God’ . . . Wherever possible the candidate should plan to have his wife present for the examination, realizing that ordination affects not only the individual but the entire family . . . When a conference/mission/field gives a young man a ministerial license it should be recognized as a pledge on the part of the conference leadership to foster that employee’s growth. And when a man accepts a ministerial license he should regard it as a pledge on his part to render the utmost service of which he is capable. Such a license, however, is not a commitment on the part of a conference that ultimate ordination is assured. It merely provides the opportunity for the licentiate to prove his calling. Although all cannot have the same conditions under which to develop into mature ministers, a man who is called of God will reveal his calling by his whole manner of life and the burden he carries for those who are still in the prison house of sin . . . Even when he reaches his retirement years he should feel the call of God to the same standard of life as he did in his most active years, ‘that the ministry be not blamed’ (2 Cor 6:3).”

This is contrasted in L 60 25 “Steps in Discipline of Ministers” which uses both male and feminine pronouns, except when in reference to ordination, in which case, only the male pronoun is used.

When discipline must be administered in the case of a minister, four aspects of the minister’s relationship to the Church may be affected: his/her credential/license, his ordination, his/her church membership and his/her denominational employment.

General Conference Secretariat notes that the Church in General Conference Session took definite action.

“The 1990 GC Session considered at length whether or not to permit female pastors to be ordained and took a definite action: ‘we do not approve ordination of women to the gospel ministry.’ Proposals came to both the 1995 and 2015 GC Sessions to allow regional variation at the division or union level of the gender-limited policy, but both were rejected. It is incorrect to assert that there is nothing in denominational policy to stop unions from ordaining females to gospel ministry. Such ordinations have been explicitly disallowed by a GC Session action, a decision reinforced by two other GC Session votes” (General Conference Secretariat Summary of a Statement on Church Governance and Unity 12). [1]

The Church’s stand on the matter is clear.


[1] General Conference Secretariat Summary of a Statement on Church Governance and Unity.