Tuesday, July 7, 2015

To my SDA friends on the eve of the GC vote on women's ordination

[Norval F. Pease, 1972]
As you prepare for what may well be a watershed decision on women's ordination, I would like to tell you a story. I think it happened in 1972.

My husband was a seminary student at Andrews University. My father, Norval F. Pease,* was a religion professor at Loma Linda University.

My father had a short sabbatical, and my parents came back to Andrews to be near us and to enjoy their two baby grandchildren. One Sabbath afternoon we went to visit our dear friend Hedy Jemison.**

Now Mrs. J was a good and conscientious woman, but flexibility was not her strong point. And my father was a loyal and conservative SDA, but fundamentalism did not appeal to him. For some reason, that Sabbath afternoon the topic of conversation switched to women's ordination. Mrs. J, not surprisingly, was against it.

My father, with a twinkle in his eye, said, "I agree with you that women should not campaign to be ordained." He paused for that to sink in, then continued: "I think men should campaign in favor of women's ordination."

At that point Mrs. J excused herself to refresh our drinks.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that if my father were alive today, he would go to General Conference, and if he were a delegate, he would vote in favor of women's ordination.

*For those who don't remember my father: he had also been, among other things, a pastor, a religion teacher at the College of Medical Evangelists, president of La Sierra College, chairman of the department of applied theology at the Adventist seminary, chairman of the Loma Linda University religion department, and the widely read author of books such as By Faith Alone and And Worship Him.

**For those who don't remember Mrs. J: she was associate director of the White Estate at Andrews University in the 1970s and 80s.


Melody Kramer said...

Love it! Entirely agree.

Wonona D said...

I do remember your dad! He was a friend and colleague of my dad through the Southeastern CA Conference. Your dad was a very smart man. I believe my dad would have also voted for WO! Thanks for the memories! Wonona Schmidt Davis

Carrol Grady said...

My husband and I attended LSC when your father was president and admired him very much. Thanks for this great anecdote.

Wendy Maxwell said...

Hi Lavonne,
My dad, Malcolm Maxwell, would have been standing right up next to your dad. He believed passionately that women should be ordained - regardless of denomination.

Wendy Maxwell

Cathy Pezdirtz said...

What a heritage you have!

LaVonne Neff said...

Thanks, friends! Wonona, I remember you and your brother, my kindergarten classmate! Carrol, I'm pretty sure I babysat for you once or twice at AU, probably when I was in 8th grade. And Wendy, when you were about that age you babysat my two daughters. Does anybody have a network as vast as those of us who spent our younger years on SDA campuses?

Carol said...

I remember them both and smile as I picture this conversation.

O. Kris Widmer said...

Love the story. I was the little red-haired boy that lived across the street and 2 doors up. I remember once mischievously getting in your parents back yard...throwing a ball into the flowering trees and enjoying the petals that rained down like snow. Of course I got in big trouble...and had to go apologize. I remember him being gracious to me. Thanks for this story. I too would vote in favor of WO...if I had a vote. 3000 people making the decision for a 19,000,000 member church somehow doesn't seem right.

Monte said...

I took a class from him at La Sierra College; I think it was the last year that he taught a regular class in the theology program. This story clearly rings true ad reminds me of him! He put Jesus Christ and the gospel above all else!

Jim Londis said...

I remember them both LaVonne and am delighted to know your father was so supportive. I studied with him in 1962, long before the issue rocketed to the surface of Adventist life. We now have a GC president who, like Bush, wants to succeed where his father and Robert Pierson failed. Instead of uniting it will fracture as our recent history so painfully made clear.

Jim Londis