Seventh-day Adventist world church leaders are set to discuss the theology of ordination and the ownership constituency of a university among other agenda items later this month at the 2014 Annual Council, a meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist world church’s Executive Committee.
The theology of ordination will likely be the key discussion of the seven-day meeting. The denomination has engaged in a two-year study of the matter, which has implications for ordination and how it relates to gender. While the Adventist world church currently only ordains men as ministers, it does have women who served as licensed ministers.
This month’s meeting could be the last time the matter of ordination is officially deliberated before potentially being set as an agenda item for next year’s General Conference Session, which is held every five years and is the denomination’s top governing body.
“I would encourage each church member, and certainly each representative at the Annual Council and those who will be delegates to the General Conference Session, to prayerfully review [studies on ordination] and then ask the Holy Spirit to help them know God’s will,” Adventist Church President Ted N. C. Wilson said in an interview with the Adventist Review last month.
Annual Council is set to begin at the denomination’s world headquarters the evening of Thursday, October 9 and run through Wednesday, October 15.
Also on the agenda is an October 15 constituency meeting of Oakwood University, a historically black university in Huntsville, Alabama, United States. Oakwood has operated as an institution of the denomination’s General Conference world headquarters since its establishment as an industrial school in 1896. Constituents will vote whether to accept a request from the Oakwood Board of Trustees to transfer the university’s constituency to the Church’s North American Division.
The Oakwood Board voted the request for transfer on August 6.
“Oakwood University would also join the emerging NAD portfolio of major institutions, such as Pacific Press Publishing Association, whose missions specifically focus on the advancement of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's work in North America,” Oakwood President Leslie Pollard said in a statement.
Annual Council will also hold a Council on Evangelism and Witness, which highlights outreach projects in each of the world’s 13 divisions and attached fields.
Executive Secretary G. T. Ng will deliver his annual report on membership and analysis of growth trends throughout the denomination. During a Leadership Education and Development training workshop, Ng will also deliver a presentation on the stewardship of church offices. With many church executives coming to the end of a five-year term next July at GC Session, Ng says he’ll encourage an appropriate perspective on what it means to hold a Church office and be subject to election.
“Elections are often a taboo subject, but we need to think about our term of office as one we are to vacate,” Ng said in an interview. “For those who are then elected to the same office, it is considered a new term.”
Annual Council delegates will also examine suggested edits to the 28 Fundamental Beliefs and the Church’s Mission Statement.
Delegates will also hear reports from various Church departments and institutions, as well as presentations on health. The Adventist Church has long emphasized healthful living, and Annual Council organizers said the presentations will help leaders continue to live and demonstrate principles of healthful living in their own career as Church executives.