Paulsen: Include Young Adults
in Church, Women in Ministry
BY ANSEL OLIVER, Assistant Director for News, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
astors play an important role in including young adults in church life and encouraging women employed in ministry, Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, said in a live September 13 telecast from Simi Valley, California.
Paulsen received comments and addressed questions from nine ministers in the United States and Canada during the unscripted show, Pastors: In Conversation, at the Adventist Media Center. Topics included age differences in congregations, women's involvement in ministry, meeting the needs of several cultures in one church, and funding for local churches.
IT'S A LOCAL MINISTRY: At the first in a series of unscripted conversations between Adventist world church president Pastor Jan Paulsen and pastors around the world, Paulsen reminded a group of pastors not to expect world church administration to dictate their ministry. Change, he said, "happens in the local church." [Photo: Rajmund Dabrowski/ANN]
"You are a very trusted, very important part of our church's workforce," Paulsen said in his opening remarks to the ministers. "You represent some 22,000 pastors around the world who minister to 25 million Seventh-day Adventists and others who may come to our church on the Sabbath to worship."
Several times the world church president asked the ministers for each others' thoughts in response to questions during the boardroom-like discussion.
Responding to a question of age differences in church, Paulsen said that young professionals in their 20s and early 30s are a "vastly underused" segment in some churches.
"Look, if they don't take responsibility now, who's going to look after it [the church] tomorrow when you and I are gone?
"I could talk for the rest of this program on just this one issue," Paulsen said 27 minutes into the hour-long show.
"This is not something that can be regulated from an office such as mine," he said. "It happens in the local church."
Paulsen asked pastors to trust young men and women who show spiritual maturity, elect them as elders and not wait until they are 50 years old.
Carlton P. Byrd, a pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, brought up the challenge of conducting evangelism at local churches, sometimes with insufficient funds. "Salvation is free, but ministry takes money," he said.
Paulsen responded by describing the church's tithing commission, a group of more than 100 members from around the world meeting to examine the church's use of funds. He said he didn't want to guess what the commission was trying to do, but suggested the group was considering channeling more funds to local churches. Paulsen urged patience in waiting for their report which he said would be presented in October, 2009.
Three women joined the discussion, including host Bonita Shields, a former local Adventist church minister and current editor of youth bible study guides.
Ann Roda, a pastor from a Fulton, Maryland church, said when many young women tell her of their interest in ministry, they feel the church is "seemingly hostile," and ask why they aren't given the same recognition as men.
Paulsen acknowledged the frustration and said the question is often a "euphemism" for a more pointed one: "'Why don't we ordain women to the ministry in same way as we do men?'"
"You all know we've been around this one a few times," Paulsen said of the world church's history of discussing the topic beginning in 1990.
The world church, he said, has never taken the position that the "concept" of ordaining women is rejected by the Bible or the writings of church co-founder Ellen G. White. "It's just a question of 'can we make this major change and still hold together as a global community?'"
RANGE OF PASTORS: The nine pastors at the September 13 telecast represented the church in North America's diversity. During the hour-long program, they asked questions ranging from the role of young people in the church and women's involvement in ministry to how ministers can best serve multicultural congregations. [Photo: Rajmund Dabrowski/ANN]
Paulsen told Roda his response to women interested in ministry: "Respond to the call God has placed in your heart. Train for ministry, seek the profession, become engaged in it." He pointed out that many women already effectively serve as pastors in local churches, including his niece. He also called for women to be paid equally to men and acknowledged many women around the world are not asking to be ordained, but to function as a "legitimate minister."
"So many local churches are not open to receive them. ..."I think this is very, very unfortunate. They are part of our spiritual community."
"They are as trained and gifted and skilled as any man could possibly be. ...Please, use them," Paulsen said.
Several pastors, including Andre Flores from Provo, Utah, asked about methods for reaching many cultures within one church.
"You have many cultures that may be together in the same church, but they call each other 'brother' and 'sister,'" Paulsen said. "And when you really get down to it they share a common identity... I find it around the world."
Jim Hiner Jr., a pastor from Minneapolis, Minnesota, said he sought support from elders representing different cultures to help him understand the expectations of various communities in his church.
Paulsen responded to another pastor's question of training and resources available for intercultural ministry: "You need to find out, 'how can I make the Bible ... come alive to my particular culture, or my basket of cultures which I have to minister to in my church?'"
Many of his responses put the responsibility on pastors to make their own decisions regarding their ministry.
Several times, during a discussion of balancing work and family, Paulsen suggested scheduling family time in a weekly calendar. "The family will suffer if all you have for them is the leftover time," he said to questions on the subject from Eddie Polite from St. Louis, Missouri, and Franklin David from Silver Spring, Maryland.
Pastors were selected to represent the church in North America's diversity of cultures, gender and church size. There are about 3,500 ordained credentialed Adventist ministers in the U.S. and Canada.
The program was seen internationally on the church's Hope Channel. Similar discussions are planned for 2008 in Europe, Africa and South America.
"More of my colleagues in leadership need to be involved in this kind of thing. I can only reach so many," Paulsen said in his concluding remarks.
Retired PUC President Malcolm Maxell Dies
D. Malcolm Maxwell, president emeritus of Pacific Union College (PUC), passed away on October 1, 2007 at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 73 years old.
PRESIDENT EMERITUS: D. Malcolm Maxwell, 73, who served 18 years as Pacific Union College president, died on Oct. 1 He was the first PUC alumnus to head the Seventh-day Adventist-owned college. [Photo: PUC]
Malcolm was the first PUC alumnus to serve as president and had the longest tenure of any president at 18 years. He retired from the presidency in 2001 but continued to work at PUC as a professor in the religion department until 2006. In April 2007, Malcolm and his wife, Eileen, were in the process of moving to Scottsdale to be near family when Eileen passed away.
Malcolm graduated from PUC in 1956 with degrees in theology and biblical languages. He completed his master of arts in systematic theology at Andrews University and earned his doctorate in biblical studies, specializing in New Testament, at Drew University. At Drew, Malcolm was honored as a Rockefeller Fellow and Drew University Scholar.
Maxwell taught religion at Union and Walla Walla colleges. After 13 years in the classroom, he stepped into administration, serving as academic dean and vice president for academic administration at Walla Walla College. In 1983, he accepted the call to serve as president at PUC.
“In many of our opinions, Dr. Maxwell was the greatest president to ever serve PUC,” stated Richard Osborn, PUC president, in an email address to the PUC campus. “His legacy will live for many decades.”
On campus, flags were flown at half-mast for one week, and a memorial service is expected to be held at the Pacific Union College Church.
He is survived by daugher, Wendy Elizabeth Maxwell; son, Donald Kevin Maxwell; grandchildren, Bradford, Christopher, Sydney, Sydnee, and Alec; brothers Lawrence Maxwell and Graham Maxwell; and sister, Deirdre Maxwell Smith.
To view a slideshow of Maxwell reminiscing about his time at PUC, click here.
-- by Julie Z. Lee, Pacific Union College/AR Staff