Table of Contents
It has recently come to my attention that there is a great deal of honest and sincere confusion regarding the governance of the Seventh-day Adventist Church – confusion, even among a large number of church leaders over if church governance is set up in such a way as to allow, or not allow, the General Conference “in session” to have an entirely clear path to dictate to unions or their conferences on the topic of ordination in particular (despite the bylaws of the unions and conferences themselves continuing to state that they must follow all “Working Policies”, not just doctrinal policies, determined by the General Conference in session; Link). Although confusing for many and seemingly contradictory, there still seem to be a great deal of well-meaning very sincere and honest discussions on this issue (such as the 2016 article by George Knight entitled, The Role of Union Conferences in Relation to Higher Authorities) – the outcome of which is not, at the present time, entirely clear to me.
While those like Knight explain the history and reasons for the existence of Union Conferences as a buffer between the General Conference and the individual conferences, a buffer that Mrs. White was particularly pleased to see put in place as a check against dictatorial “kingly” powers of the officers of the General Conference, it doesn’t seem to be as clear that the General Conference “in session” should also be buffered by the Unions in the same manner – that the Unions should still have independent authority on the matter of ordination or any other general policy issue in the face of the world church in session or the “Working Policy” established by the world church? After all, the world church in session is a large representative decision-making body that Mrs. White herself said as late as 1909, “shall have authority” (Link). She went on to explain that, “When, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body…” (Link). For me, that seems to include unions and regular conferences as well since this language reaches all the way down to the individual member… at least when it comes to non-fundamental policy issues which would allow one to function in line with GC policy without injury to personal conscience. However, the original language of the General Conference action in 1877 says:
“The highest authority under God among Seventh-day Adventists is found in the will of the body of that people, as expressed in the decisions of the General Conference when acting within its proper jurisdiction; and that such decisions should be submitted to by all without exception, unless they can be shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience.” – General Conference Action, 1877
What does the phrase “within its proper jurisdiction” mean if there are no limitations to the decision making power of the world church within the church body? – especially in the light of the subsequent phrase, “should be submitted to by all without exception”? It would seem like the world church in session does in fact represent the decentralized powers of the decision making body of the entire church and therefore should have authority over the entire church that it represents – which is its “proper jurisdiction” as reflected in the Working Policies of the General Conference. On the other hand, it also seem that on the issue of ordination, in particular, that the “final authority” as to who is ordained under the “Working Policy” has been given to the Union level of governance within the church (not to the level of the General Conference) to act as a buffer against too much centralized power within the church. In this way, checks and balances within the church governance structure are formed – which may not be such a bad thing. Yet, the Working Policy of the General Conference seems to be clear that all other organizations within the church, including unions, must adhere to these basic working policies that have been set in place by the world church in session as they make their decisions on ordination and all other policy issues:
“Administrations of all organizations and institutions within a division’s territory shall be responsible to their respective executive committees/boards and operate in harmony with division and General Conference Executive Committee actions and policies.” (Bylaws of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Art. 1, Sec. 4)
“The General Conference Working Policy shall be strictly adhered to by all organizations in every part of the world field. The work in every organization shall be administered in full harmony with the policies of the General Conference and of the divisions respectively. . . . All conference, mission, or institutional administrators shall cooperate in maintaining these policies as they affect the work in their respective organizations. Only thus can a spirit of close cooperation and unity be maintained in the work of the Church in all parts of the world field.” (B 15 10, par. 1)
A potential problem, however, is that, although male-specific language is and has always been used in the Working Policy of the world church regarding the ordination of pastors, there is nothing in the Working Policy that specifically forbids the ordination of women to pastoral ministry. Since no such specific policy exists forbidding the ordination of women, some argue that there was therefore no valid reason to vote on giving permission – that the failure of the “in session” vote to authorize such ordination, on three separate occasions now, results in things remaining as they already were – i.e., that women’s ordination continues to be neither specifically authorized nor forbidden in the Working Policy of the world church.
Of course, there are those who argue that the ordination of women as pastors should not be allowed because of historical precedent and common perception as to the intent of the Working Policy since the Working policy only mentions men as being ordained to pastoral ministry (similar to how the language of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is directed at men – yet still somehow applies to women as well). However, it is also true that neither precedent nor perception form actual policy. Technically speaking then, the General Conference has yet to explicitly forbid Union Conferences, in its own Working Policy, from ordaining women as pastors. Still, I doubt that a correction of this little technical oversight on the part of the GC would quickly and easily bring the all of conferences and unions into line on this particular topic…
In any case, since honest confusion remains between many honest and sincere members as well as leaders of the church, I have therefore decided to continue to pay my tithe to my local church in support of the Northern California Conference until these issues are worked through in more detail so that greater clarity on the issue of church governance is generally realized.
Originally Posted (10/17/16):
I’ve never posted anything in this forum outside of the topic of creation. However, some events within the church are so important and so pivotal that they cannot be ignored in any forum dealing with important issues within the church. So, in this line, I feel compelled to report on the decision of the Northern California Conference (NCC), at it’s constituency meeting yesterday, to act independent of the General Conference (GC) and in apparent conflict with its own bylaws and the bylaws of the Pacific Union Conference:
Before the special session the same legal counsel advised that while the Executive Committee [of the Pacific Union Conference] did not have the authority to approve the ordination of women without changing the bylaws, the delegates to a constituency session did have the authority to vote to approve the ordination of women, with or without changing the bylaws… [The legal counsel] explained that since the constituency delegates create and modify the bylaws, the constituency delegates may choose at times to act out of harmony with their own bylaws… [since] the constituency has the authority to vote exceptions. (Link)
And, this is exactly what happened. On August 19, 2012, the Pacific Union delegates to the Special Session voted (79% to 21%) to “approve ordinations to the gospel ministry without regard to gender,” but the delegates did not vote to amend the bylaws to say the Union would “generally” follow world church policy. That motion, which required a 66.7 percent positive vote to pass, received only 65.3 percent. So, the Pacific Union bylaws remain the same – stating that the Union will always follow voted world church policy (Link). Of course, this they are not doing… contrary to their own current bylaws.
Now, I was a delegate at the constituency meeting for the NCC held yesterday in Lodi, California (at the Fairmont Seventh-day Adventist Church). Outside of general business of the conference and its financial reports, the main issue of the day concerned the conflict between the NCC and the GC policies on women’s ordination – with the NCC being in favor and the GC being against. Because of this conflict, a motion was forwarded by the Anderson and Sacramento Central Churches as follows:
Submitted by: Anderson Church and Sacramento Central Church
Pastors: Murray Miller and Chris Buttery
- WHEREAS, the words of Jesus admonish us to be “one” as the Father in Heaven and He are one (see John 17:20-22) and one of our fundamental beliefs states that “differences between male and female must not be divisive among us” (Fundamental Belief 14);
- WHEREAS, both the Church Manual (page 31), and North American Division policy emphasize that “all subordinate organizations and institutions throughout the world will recognize the General Conference in session as the highest authority under God” (NAD Working Policy B01 20 3);
- WHEREAS, on Wednesday, August 22, 2012, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the Northern California Conference [hereafter referred to as NCC] Executive Committee, time was spent debriefing the actions and decisions of the Pacific Union Conference Special Constituency Session held August 19, 2012. Out of that discussion, the motion was made that the NCC will recommend to the Pacific Union Conference candidates for ordination without regard to gender;
- WHEREAS, the May 18, 2014, NCC Constituency Session voted to refer the duly introduced agenda item of women’s ordination to the NCC Executive Committee for an official statement;
- WHEREAS, the NCC Executive committee voted to affirm their previous decision of August 22, 2012, to recommend to the Pacific Union Conference candidates for ordination without regard to gender;
- WHEREAS, the July 8, 2015, General Conference Session voted down a motion that would have allowed each Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church® to decide for itself whether to ordain women to the gospel ministry in its territory (which includes the Northern California Conference);
- WHEREAS, we have been admonished by both the General Conference and North American Division Presidents to comply with the 2015 Session’s outcome;
- WHEREAS, Article VII, Section 7 of the NCC Constitution states, “The Executive Committee shall have the authority to adopt rules and regulations for the conduct of its affairs and the affairs of the Conference, provided that the same are not in conflict with these Bylaws or those of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, or of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists,” and at present Executive Committee votes conflict with General Conference policy;
We now vote to retract the Executive Committee votes of August 22, 2012, and December 3, 2014, in order to be in harmony with the World Church as represented by the General Conference session of July 8, 2015. We will continue to support women in ministry with the exception of issuing a ministerial credential and thus abide by the outcome of the vote of the World Church.
There was a session of prayer followed by a 30 minute discussion where delegates made a long line to speak, for two minutes each, at the microphone (most in the line did not get to speak). Those who were able to speak to the issue during the 30 minutes were very passionate – on both sides of the issue. Those for women’s ordination argued that it would be a serious injury to women and to the church for the conference to refuse to ordain women pastors – regardless of the position of the GC. Those who argued in favor of the motion primarily pointed out that the key issue wasn’t really about the ordination of women pastors (who would remain pastors regardless of receiving an “ordination” certificate), but about church unity, order, and government.
After another session of prayer, a vote was taken and the motion was defeated by fairly good margin (211 Yes vs. 294 No votes). The NCC had just stepped away from the church body to chart its own independent path – for better or for worse and with the best of reasons and intentions.
Now, as the son of a pastor, I do sympathize with the leaders of the conference during this time in particular. In no way do I envy them their positions and the very difficult topics and decisions that are now on their plate. My thoughts and prayers are certainly with them.
It seems to me, however, that this vote was more serious and potentially has far reaching consequences that go well beyond what many imagine. Now, I for one strongly favor ordaining qualified women as church pastors (since women have long functioned as church elders and pastors and since Mrs. White herself was given ministerial credentials citing her “ordination” as a minister by the General Conference on multiple occasions – and especially since I see no clear Biblical reason not to do it given that we are now a “priesthood of all believers” with Jesus as our only “High Priest” – 1 Peter 2:5-9. For further information see Ty Gibson’s article: A Closer Look at Women’s Ordination). However, I’ve never been able to see official “ordination” as a fundamental issue for the church, nor is it listed among the Fundamental Doctrinal beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Ellen White’s name was among those voted to receive papers of the ordained ministers, although her ordination was not by the laying on of hands by men. The conference session closed on November 27 .” Ellen G. White: Volume 3—The Lonely Years: 1876-1891, By Arthur L. White, Page 377.
Rather than ordination by men, Mrs. White says: “In the city of Portland the Lord ordained me as his messenger…” Mrs. White, The Review and Herald, May 18, 1911.
Therefore, in recognition of the ordination by the Lord Himself, Mrs. White was given papers of the ordained ministers of the Gospel (see the following copy of one of those ministerial ordination papers):
In comparison, however, it seems like the order and government of our church is fundamental, set up at the beginning of our church by Divine guidance as a world-wide church with a world-wide mission. In other words, the SDA Church is not a “congregationalist” church. This is not to say that the SDA Church has reached perfection nor is it without error by any means. However, the order and government of the church has been setup by God as the most effective means of spreading the Gospel message to the entire world during these final days of Earth’s history. What then should happen if this or that part of the world-wide church body thinks itself more advanced than the rest of the body? Should it therefore think to break away from the body at large to act in an independent, and less effective, manner all by itself? – over a non-fundamental issue? What would happen to the organization of the church if all unions and conferences, or even individual churches or teachers or pastors, acted like this? It seems like God desires to lead the church in a united manner without one part running ahead of all of the other parts. In the words of Mrs. White:
God is leading out a people, not a few separate individuals here and there, one believing this thing, another that. Angels of God are doing the work committed to their trust. The third angel is leading out and purifying a people, and they should move with him unitedly. Some run ahead of the angels that are leading this people; but they have to retrace every step, and meekly follow no faster than the angels lead. I saw that the angels of God would lead His people no faster than they could receive and act upon the important truths that are communicated to them.
– Mrs. White, Testimonies, Vol. 1, p. 207
After all, is it not part of the bylaws of the Unions and the Conferences that, “All the policies, purposes and procedures shall be in harmony with the working policies and procedures of the North American Division and the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists” (Link)? And, is it not true that the General Conference, in session, has voted to disallow for the ordination of women, by Unions or Conferences, at this time? Is the conference vote to act independently on this issue therefore even valid? – without a change in its own governing bylaws?
The counter, as argued by Elder Garry Patterson (Link), is that the structure of the church (established in the 1901 and 1903 General Conference sessions, as clearly stated in policy B 05.6), “places the authority for the ordination of ministers at the union conference level of church structure. While it is true that the general level does establish the criteria for both membership and ordination, it does not have authority as to who may be accepted as members or who may be employed or ordained, so long as they meet the criteria established [by the General Conference].”
Yet, it seems clear to me that the GC has established criteria that are not being followed by various unions and conferences around the world – despite elder Patterson’s argument that, “Unless and until the General Conference changes the policy by specific vote, any action contrary to that policy is a violation. Thus, the union conferences are not out of policy on this matter of gender inclusiveness in the ordination of ministers. The General Conference itself is out of policy by intruding where it does not have authority.” (Link).
I, for one (though I do not personally agree with the GC’s decision), cannot accept Patterson’s argument here in light of Mrs. White’s very clear statement, written in 1909, that specifically addresses this concept:
I have often been instructed by the Lord that no man’s judgment should be surrendered to the judgment of any other one man. Never should the mind of one man or the minds of a few men be regarded as sufficient in wisdom and power to control the work and to say what plans shall be followed. But when, in a General Conference, the judgment of the brethren assembled from all parts of the field is exercised, private independence and private judgment must not be stubbornly maintained, but surrendered. Never should a laborer regard as a virtue the persistent maintenance of his position of independence, contrary to the decision of the general body…
At times, when a small group of men entrusted with the general management of the work have, in the name of the General Conference, sought to carry out unwise plans and to restrict God’s work, I have said that I could no longer regard the voice of the General Conference, represented by these few men, as the voice of God. But this is not saying that the decisions of a General Conference composed of an assembly of duly appointed, representative men from all parts of the field should not be respected. God has ordained that the representatives of His church from all parts of the earth, when assembled in a General Conference, shall have authority. The error that some are in danger of committing is in giving to the mind and judgment of one man, or of a small group of men, the full measure of authority and influence that God has vested in His church in the judgment and voice of the General Conference assembled to plan for the prosperity and advancement of His work.
– Mrs. White, Testimonies, Vol. 9 p. 260-261 (Link)
As others have pointed out before me, many people have misunderstood what Mrs. White said in previous years about the authority of the General Conference officers not being as authoritative in contrast with the authority God has placed with His world-wide church in session. There is a very important difference here that Mrs. White makes very clear.
Yet, some have argued that there are “different levels of final authority” within the church body – which allows for independent action at different levels within the church (such as at the church or conference or union levels). However, as far as I can tell, at this current point in time the conference/union level of government within the church has not been given “final authority” on the question of the setting criteria for ordination – which I personally think is unfortunate. I wish the conference level had been given this authority on ordination criteria. That would have solved a whole lot of problems.
So, as it currently stands, the conference/union appears to be under obligation to follow the decisions of the GC in session when it comes to the criteria for ordination as a pastor within the Seventh-day Adventist Church – according to the bylaws of the union and the NCC itself. This is the reality of the situation – however much one may personally disagree with this decision of the GC in session.
Criteria for ordination, as noted earlier, have always been set by the world Church: initially by GC Sessions, but by the GC Executive Committee since 1930 when responsibility for the selection of candidates for ordination was devolved to unions, who would apply the criteria set by the world Church.
A Study of Church Governance and Unity, 2016, Secretariat, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (Link)
The argument that the conference may still act in an independent manner on this issue if it “can be shown to conflict with the word of God and the rights of individual conscience” could be used as an argument to act as an independent organization on any point of conflict with the world church. How can it be said then that individual members of the church need to support the local conference even if it is going against one of the fundamentals of the church while, at the same time, telling members that it is Ok for their conference to do this very same thing when it doesn’t agree with a policy decision of the world church? – and a non-fundamental policy decision at that? Is this not a clear inconsistency?
I honestly don’t see how those making such arguments are being consistent in their defense of the course of action of the NCC with respect to the world church? The NCC can remove itself from the governance and support of the GC as it sees fit, even over a non-fundamental policy issue, while the individual member should not follow suit – even when the issue at hand is actually fundamental to the world church as an organized body? I guess I just don’t understand that concept.
So, regardless of my personal disagreement with the decision of the GC on this particular issue, I do not see how I can personally support any effort to step ahead of the church as a body on a non-fundamental issue like “ordination” – especially given that women have long been and will continue to be recognized as pastors and leaders in the church, receiving equal pay, and all the rest. Why then step outside of the church as a body over a documentation of human recognition of the Divine call of women who are already pastors and who are already obviously called by God to service? Where is the moral imperative here to split the church by stepping out ahead of the church as a body? Will this effort not lead to further disregard of the order and government of the SDA Church, as an organization, regarding truly fundamental concepts? such as the literal creation week or the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman? After all, Elder Garry Patterson specifically questioned the church’s use of specific language regarding the literal nature of the creation week in its statement of fundamental beliefs – despite this position being part of the very name “Seventh-day Adventist”. (Link),
I just can’t do it. I just can’t step outside of the church as an organized body to following the decision of the Northern California Conference on this particular issue. I feel that I must remain with the main body of the church, recognizing its world-wide nature and mission, despite some disagreements that I may have with it. I feel that it is vital to stay and continue to work through issues within the body of Christ rather than to take my marbles and go home – acting in an independent manner outside of the main church body and rejecting the concept of a Divine origin in its organization and advancement over time.
At this point I am, obviously, very torn. I’m having difficulty knowing what to do. I wish the GC itself would provide some guidance on this issue. So far, the best I can come up with is to return my tithe to the GC directly and let it distribute it back to the local conference as it sees fit. That way the responsibility will rest on the world church as to how to deal with the actions of the NCC on this fundamental issue of independent action. And, the world church specifically allows for such an action on the part of individual members. Under the “Official Guidelines” of the church regarding questions on tithing it says:
b. If members, for reasons of confidentiality, choose to send a portion of the tithe to the General Conference or their union conference, those offices may accept such tithe but shall send it without the person’s name to the member’s home conference for distribution to the world church. (Link)
I just see no other reasonable course of action and will recommend, as the head elder of my local church and a lifelong member of the church at large, that others do the same. I know that this has the potential to split local churches and seriously injure the conference itself, but I’m at a complete loss as to what else to do?
I feel so sad having to take this action. Such a thing has never happened in my lifetime or in the history of the SDA Church as far as I’m aware. It seems to me that the church is taking a needless hit here and that such divisions over non-vital issues are a serious distraction to the work that the Church has been called to do. It seems to me that a much better course of action would have been to stay with the General Conference on this issue, but with a note of duress, pointing out that our conference favors women’s ordination, but is willing to continue to work with the GC as the church moves forward and learns over time as we all follow the angels that are leading the church under God’s direction and providence.
J.N. Loughborough on Church Order and Government:
Many often quote the original founding fathers of the SDA Church as being opposed to church order and government. Consider, for example, the thoughts of J.N. Loughborough in his 1861 statement regarding the issue of Church order, government, and discipline:
The first step of apostasy is to get up a creed, telling us what we shall believe. The second is to make that creed a test of fellowship. The third is to try members by that creed. The fourth is to denounce as heretics those who do not believe that creed. And, fifth, to commit persecution against such.
– J.N. Loughborough, October 8, 1861, Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 149.7
However, these universally fail to reference Loughborough in his 1907 work, The Church, Its Organization, Order and Discipline. Although originally opposed to such constraints, it was John Loughborough, together with James White, who first started to realize the need for some sort of internal enforcement of Church order and discipline – i.e., a Church government. Quoting Mrs. White, Loughborough wrote:
“As our numbers increased, it was evident that without some form of organization, there would be great confusion, and the work could not be carried forward successfully. To provide for the support of the ministry, for carrying on the work in new fields, for protecting both the church and ministry from unworthy members, for holding church property, for the publication of the truth through the press, and for other objects, organization was indispensable.”
Loughborough, 1907 – Quoting Mrs. White (Letter 32, 1892) in which Mrs. White reviewed at length how the Sabbath-keeping Adventists were led to adopt church order (January 29, 1893, General Conference Daily Bulletin, 22.6.) – for some background to Mrs. White’s letter see: (Link)
Of course, those who were not considered to accurately represent the views of the early SDA Church did not receive “cards of commendation”. And what was the attitude of such persons? – according to Loughborough?:
Of course those who claimed “liberty to do as they pleased,” to “preach what they pleased,” and to “go when and where they pleased,” without “consultation with any one,” failed to get cards of commendation. They, with their sympathizers, drew off and commenced a warfare against those whom they claimed were “depriving them of their liberty.” Knowing that it was the Testimonies that had prompted us as a people to act, to establish “order,” these opponents soon turned their warfare against instruction from that source, claiming that “when they got that gift out of the way, the message would go unrestrained to its `loud cry.’
One of the principal claims made by those who warred against organization was that it “abridged their liberty and independence, and that if one stood clear before the Lord that was all the organization needed,” etc… All the efforts made to establish order are considered dangerous, a restriction of rightful liberty, and hence are feared as popery.
Loughborough, 1907, The Church: Its Organization, Order and Discipline, p. 122.1 – Quoting Mrs. White from Testimonies for the Church. p. 650. Vol. 1.
To directly access these quotes by Loughborough, as well as the quotes of Mrs. White that Loughborough used:
- Mrs. White’s works are under “EGW Writings”
- Loughborough’s works, as well as the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald and the General Conference Daily Bulletin are under “Adventist Pioneer Library”
Women in Church Leadership Positions:
Regarding the topic of Women in leadership roles within the church, it seems like the leaders of the early Seventh-day Adventist Church had a very different take on the key passages usually used against women’s ordination (to include Uriah Smith, James White and J.N. Andrews) – such as 1 Timothy 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 11:3; and 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 – and other relevant passages:
January 2, 1879 by J.N. Andrews and James White (Link):.There are two principal passages cited to prove that women should not take any part in speaking in religious meetings. These are 1 Corinthians 14:34, 36 and 1 Timothy 2:12. But a careful study of the books of Corinthians shows that the passage first referred to can have no such application..The Corinthian church was in a state of great disorder. The first chapter shows that they were divided into parties in reference to the apostles themselves. The fifth chapter shows that one had taken his father’s wife, and others did not mourn over this act. The sixth chapter shows that they went to law with the world, and implies that they were guilty of violating the seventh commandment. The eleventh chapter shows that when they celebrated the Lord’s supper, the rich ate and drank until they were intoxicated, and the poor were waiting and suffering hunger..Now it appears from the fourteenth chapter when they were assembled in meeting, the women threw everything into confusion by talking among themselves, and acting with such indecorum as to be a matter of shame to them. So that what the apostle says to women in such a church as this, and in such a state of things, is not to be taken as directions to all Christian women in other churches an in other times when and where such disorders do not exist. [emphasis added].
May 29 1879 by James White (James White, J.N. Andrews, Uriah Smith editors):.
In the Sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, holy women held positions of responsibility and honor. The first case we will here notice is that of Miriam, mentioned in Exodus 15:20, 21: “And Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.”
Compare with Micah 6:3, 4, where the great God appeals to rebellious Israel in these words: “O my people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” Here we find a woman occupying a position equal to that of Moses and Aaron, God’s chosen servants to lead the millions of Israel from the house of bondage.
The next case is that of Deborah, mentioned in Judges 4:4-10: “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in Mount Ephraim; and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedesh-naphatali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying, Go and draw toward Mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun.“And I will draw unto thee, to the river Kishon, Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go; but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. And she said, I will surely go with thee, notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kadesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet; and Deborah went up with him.” Notice the following particulars in the foregoing statements:—.1. Deborah was a prophetess. She received divine instruction from Heaven, and taught the people..2. She was a judge in Israel. The people went up to her for judgment. A higher position no man has ever occupied..… And the dispensation which was ushered in with glory, honored with the labors of holy women, will close with the same honors. Thus says God by his holy prophet: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” Acts 2:17.
All who desire an opportunity for true ministry, and who will give themselves unreservedly to God, will find in the canvassing work opportunities to speak upon many things pertaining to the future, immortal life. The experience thus gained will be of the greatest value to those who are fitting themselves for the ministry. It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God (Ellen White, Testimonies. vol 6, p 322)..Young men and young women who should be engaged in the ministry, in Bible work, and in the canvassing work should not be bound down to mechanical employment. The youth should be encouraged to attend our training schools for Christian workers, which should become more and more like the schools of the prophets. These institutions have been established by the Lord, and if they are conducted in harmony with His purpose, the youth sent to them will quickly be prepared to engage in various lines of missionary work. Some will be trained to enter the field as missionary nurses, some as canvassers, and some as gospel ministers (Ellen White, Testimonies. vol 8, p. 229)..“It is not always men who are best adapted to the successful management of a church. If faithful women have more deep piety and true devotion than men, they could indeed by their prayers and their labors do more than men who are unconsecrated in heart and life” (Ellen White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 19, p. 56)..“If men and women would act as the Lord’s helping hand, doing deeds of love and kindness, uplifting the oppressed, rescuing those ready to perish, the glory of the Lord would be their rearward… Of those who act as His helping hand the Lord says, ‘Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord; men shall call you the Ministers of our God’” (Ellen White, Review and Herald, October 15, 1901)..