NPUC Votes No Special Constituency

But will foster opportunities for women leaders in all levels of church mission and ministry

by Steve Vistaunet

The office of the North Pacific Union Conference is in Ridgefield, Wash.
The North Pacific Union Conference encompasses the Washington, Upper Columbia, Montana, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska conferences.

Ridgefield, Wash., Aug. 19, 2015 -  Opinions regarding the North Pacific Union Conference executive committee actions today will likely be all over the map throughout the Northwest and beyond. But we wanted to make sure you had access to the following statement, which is also online at http://glnr.in/NPUCExecCommWO.

In its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, August 19, the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee voted 26-4 on the following motion: “We do not believe that convening a special constituency meeting about the ordination of women as pastors would be productive at this time for the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC). Therefore, we rescind our earlier action, (agenda item #43-14).”

The previous action on November 12, 2014, had called for such a session to convene within 120 days after the fall 2015 North American Division year-end meetings. By constitutional mandate the motion to rescind required a two-thirds majority of the voting delegates present.

In this week’s action, however, the NPUC executive committee members made it clear that their decision should not be construed as a lack of support for women in pastoral ministry throughout the Northwest and beyond. An additional motion passed by the committee stresses their belief in the priesthood of all believers and a clear intention to foster increased opportunities for women in pastoral and leadership roles within the NPUC.

That motion was worded as follows:

  • “We wish to acknowledge that the support in the NPUC for women in professional and lay ministry is very strong and to state the following shared convictions:
  • We affirm Christ as the sole Head of the church and the priesthood of all believers
  • We affirm the appropriateness and value of women serving as elders in local congregations
  • We affirm the appropriateness and value of women serving as pastors and in other professional leadership roles within the church
  • In line with the majority of members of the recent North American Division (NAD) Ordination Study Committee and the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee, we believe that there is no biblical or theological barrier to the ordination of women for professional ministry
  • We commit ourselves, in line with the current NAD strategic plan, to grow the number of women in professional ministry and to value, affirm and foster their leadership gifts. Our constituency will expect this commitment to be judged by actions and we look forward to reporting on progress at the constituency meeting scheduled for September 25, 2016.”

The discussion of these topics filled much of the committee's afternoon agenda. There was great diversity of opinion expressed in comments by committee members. The discussion was robust yet respectful, and representative of varied concerns throughout the Northwest.

Max Torkelsen, NPUC president, says union leadership will follow this directive from the committee and seek to make measurable progress toward fostering opportunities for women leaders in all levels of church mission and ministry. NPUC administrators recognize the calling of God upon women in ministry. They also understand there are intense opinions on varying sides of the ordination discussion.