Delegates to the ninth regular quinquennial Mid-America Union Constituency Session gathered on Sunday, Sept. 12, in the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska for the purpose of receiving reports, celebrating mission achievements and voting church business. At the direction of the Mid-America Union Conference Executive Committee from a vote taken in November 2018 and reaffirmed in April 2021, the agenda for this session included a discussion of pastoral credentialing for both men and women pastors serving in Mid-America territory. The MAUC Executive Committee first voted “to support the ordination of women in pastoral ministry” on March 8, 2012, but no subsequent action was taken during the past nine years.
After a review of the history of this topic presented by Elder Gary Thurber, president of Mid-America Union, a recommendation was brought before delegates. Thurber explained that if the recommendation was approved it would be entirely up to a local conference as to whether they ask the Union Executive Committee to approve an ordained or commissioned credential for their female pastors to carry. He also clearly stated that because of the vote from the General Conference on this matter, the female pastor’s ordination credential would not be recognized by the world church, but would only be valid in Mid-America territory or any other conference in the NAD that has chosen to ordain its women pastors.
As with any large gathering of members, there were differences of opinion among delegates. An orderly process allowed delegates to voice their comments at microphones placed on the floor, and the discussion proceeded respectfully.
Following the hour-long discussion, 82 percent of delegates voted in favor of the following recommendation: The Mid-America Union recognizes the right and responsibility of each local conference to prepare and recommend names for ordination, and will consider all recommended persons for ordination as submitted by the respective local conference Executive Committees.
In his remarks following the vote, Elder Gary Thurber thanked delegates for their participation and expressed appreciation for the gracious spirit in which the discussion took place. “I hope we will keep our arms around each other and when we go from this place, we will send a message to our churches that the Mid-America Union Conference is Seventh-day Adventist to its very core and loves the world church and is thankful to be a part of it,” Thurber said.
Thurber also stated that he is grateful for each female pastor in the Mid-America Union. “I hope more than anything today they know how important they are to our mission and that their pastoral leadership is vital to our territory,” he added.
excerpt from Mid-America Union Outlook News, September 13, 2021, Brenda Dickerson