Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | ANN staff

Seventh-day Adventist church officials in Denmark voted this week to halt the ordination of all new ministers until the General Conference Session in July 2015.

Going forward, the church’s Danish Union “will not distinguish between genders when appointing pastors, and wishes to see equality between genders in all areas of responsibility,” a statement voted at the union’s May 12 session said.

The statement turns to the Bible to build a theological foundation for the move, beginning with mention that God created mankind—both men and women—“in His image and therefore equal.” The statement also challenges the roots of the “special priesthood reserved for men” by explaining that Christ’s sacrifice negates any need for a human priest, or intercessor.

“All of Christ’s followers—both men and women—were lifted up to be a ‘chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, to declare His praises,’” the statement said, referring to a passage in the New Testament book of 1 Peter.

Suspension of ordination is effective until 2015, when General Conference Session delegates could take action on the findings of the Theology of Ordination Study Committee. Established last year, the committee is tasked with delivering a report to the 2014 Annual Council, a business meeting of the church’s top governing body.

The committee is a direct response to a request during the 2010 General Conference Session for a church-conducted study of the Biblical theology behind ordination.

It first met shortly after independent actions taken by two of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s union conferences—Columbia and Pacific—both of which voted to ordain pastoral candidates without respect to gender. Top church leadership has since reiterated its request that unions await the conclusions of the committee.

Delegates to the 2014 Annual Council are widely expected to recommend any action on its findings to the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, Texas.

There are slightly more than 2,500 Adventists in Denmark.