Editorial: Thank You, Pastors!
Editorial by Dave Weigley
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, a time when we have the opportunity to recognize and affirm the work and ministry of our pastoral workforce who have accepted the call to be “co-laborers” with Christ. What an awesome team of ministers we have across the Columbia Union Conference, and what a joy and privilege it is to serve with them in ministry. Let’s pray for them and encourage them—this month and every month.
This year our Visitor team chose to highlight women clergy* who serve in our union as pastors, chaplains, religion professors and ministry leaders. In 2012 there were about 20; today there are 40. It’s so inspiring to see how God is working in and through them as they use their unique gifts and talents to build the citizenship of heaven (see pp. 6-9).
This growth is not isolated. In Africa, for example, I learned about a woman who leads a seven-church district. In Southeast Asia, another woman pastors a multi-church district. In China, I recently met a woman who leads a team that has baptized 8,000 souls for Christ (see pp. 10-11). Wow!
And there’s more to come. There are 130 women enrolled in the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University (Mich.), and more in seminary programs at schools around the world. More than 150 women work as pastors across North America, and many more serve in other world fields. In addition, during the last five years, a number of outstanding women have been elected to lead ministries and organizations (see pp. 12-13).
When I learned about this growth, and in light of the conversation our church has been having that has created both affirmation and consternation, I was reminded of the counsel of Gamaliel.
Is it of God?
As far as we know, Gamaliel wasn’t a disciple of Christ. We have no record of him professing a belief in Jesus, yet he is significant to our Christian heritage for his counsel on how the authorities should handle Christ’s followers. In Acts 5:34-39, we find his counsel relating to the movement of the disciples in Jerusalem: “If this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (NKJV). The other leaders listened to his prudent counsel, and the work of God moved forward through the labor of the dedicated workers of the early church, and it grew and prospered.
We are the beneficiaries of their service and sacrifice, and as I think about the many women who today are also accepting Christ’s call and doing their part at all levels of ministry to help finish the work, I am encouraged and thankful. It’s evident, at least to me, that God is moving and working, and we are witnessing the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-29.
In these last moments of earth’s history, as we prayerfully seek the best way to advance Christ’s mission—and mission is what matters most—may His Spirit of grace and discernment continually be our guide.
Dave Weigley serves as president of the Columbia Union Conference.
*According to Seventh-day Adventist Church policy, women may serve as elders (voted in 1975, 1985 and reaffirmed in 2010) and pastors (voted in 1990). This policy did not change at the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio.
Read and share these stories from the October 2017 Visitor: