Male Seventh Day Adventist Pastors request a downgrade in their credentials in protest against the decision not to ordain women.
Several male pastors belonging to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the United States have chosen to give up their credentials to demonstrate their solidarity with female members of the clergy who cannot be ordained. This move comes after the global denomination of the church voted against granting permission to regional conferences to ordain women. As of now, women who serve in the clergy can hold the credential of “commissioned” at the most, while only men can be ordained, which is at a higher level in the hierarchy. Both these ranks draw the same scale of pay.
Among those who have requested, and received a downgrade in their credentials are Pastor Mike Speegle of Fulton, Maryland; Pastor Kymone Hinds, of Memphis, Tennessee and Pastor Furman Fordham of Nashville, Tennessee. This deprives him of several privileges, such as ordaining deacons, deaconesses or elders. Pastor Courtney Ray of Inglewood, California, says teachers at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which is a seminary for the Seventh Day Adventist church, too are in support for women being ordained.
However, Dan Weber, a spokesperson for the church in North America says there haven’t been a lot of requests from American male clergymen to have their credentials lowered. Any change for them can happen only at the level of nine regional territories that cover the U.S. and Canada. Although the church has a faithful following of 18 million globally, less than 7% are found in the United States, where such “progressive” thought has taken root. Little wonder then, the vote was outnumbered 1,381 to 977 in July.
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Some say this could be the beginning of reform. Other churches like the Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America now ordain women, but only after there were protests of this nature within their own fold only a few decades ago. The Church of England, although it has been ordaining females as priests, moved towards ordaining women as bishops only recently.
Much of the resistance to ordaining women is based on ideology – and tradition. According to the Book of Exodus, Aaron, the brother of Moses, is regarded as the first High Priest, established by God Himself, and all positions relating to the priesthood have typically been held by men ever since. The Roman Catholic Church, the biggest in all of Christianity with 1.2 billion faithful, has not ordained women for more than 2000 years.