Women Who Minister

August 27, 2015 | Max Torkelsen

Editor's Note

Some members within the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) wonder if the recent world church action regarding ordination has diminished hopes for a sense of equality and value for women in ministry. Pending further discussion on the topic, Max Torkelsen, NPUC president, wishes to convey his affirmation of women who minister in countless ways throughout the Northwest. 

I am the proud son of a remarkable woman who stood by my father’s side, supporting him and his ministry for every day of the more than 60 years they were married. I am the proud husband of an irreplaceable woman who has shared my life and ministry for nearly 43 years. I am the proud father of two remarkable women, who consistently amaze me by what they’re able to accomplish on any given day. I am the proud grandfather of three extraordinary grandchildren — the oldest and the youngest of which are the sweetest little girls, full of life, mischief, curiosity and determination. I live my life surrounded by strong, capable women and, as a result, have a deep-seated respect for their abilities.

I once read a quote attributed to Mahatma Gandhi that said, “Man can never be a woman’s equal in the spirit of selfless service with which nature has endowed her.” While I have met individuals of both genders dedicated to selfless service, there seems to be something inherent in the way women put aside their wants and needs to help others. The ladies in my life prove this every day. And looking more broadly, I see this truth manifest in the women of our church.

Women are indispensable to the life and mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Ordained or not, they consistently show their selfless spirit in their dedication and support of our church in serving as pastors, Sabbath School teachers, clerks, church treasurers, community service leaders and more. When you honestly consider what it takes to keep our churches going — to provide vibrant ministry, meaningful community outreach, order and organization, to create a welcoming place — it cannot be done without women playing an active role. In many churches, these positions are held by women a majority of the time.

Before returning to heaven after His resurrection, Jesus bade his disciples to “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28: 19–20, KJV). In reading this verse, I see no restriction on who is to go and to teach, winning hearts for God. Man or a woman, adult or child, ordained or not, there is a role for each one of us. God needs all of us to fulfill His Great Commission — we must not lose sight of that goal.

And so to the women who serve within the North Pacific Union Conference — thank you, from the bottom of my heart. The jobs that you do, the roles that you fill, the ministries that you perform day in and day out, are noticed. They are necessary. They are appreciated. The kingdom of heaven will be richer and fuller because of you. You are called by God, as we all are, to love Him and love one another. Until Jesus comes and the work is done — our church needs you.