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Did Ellen White Support the Ordination of Women?
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What does Adventist history show us about Ellen White and the ordination question? If she simply did not address the matter as an issue in her writings, and therefore neither endorsed nor explicitly forbade ordination of women, can we perhaps discover her attitude by studying her actions? This article will examine claims made on the basis of certain historical documents and events in an effort to see whether these can show that she supported ordaining women as pastors or elders. Some key statements by Mrs. White on women's role in Gospel work will be presented at the end.

Was Ellen White Herself Ordained?

There is no record of Ellen White ever having been ordained by human hands. Yet from 1871 until her death she was granted ministerial credentials by various organizations of the church. The certificate that was used read “Ordained Minister.” Several other credential certificates from the mid-1880s are still in our possession. On the one from 1885 the word ordained is neatly struck out. On the 1887 certificate, the next one we have, it is not.

Had she been ordained in the interim? Some have argued that she had. But the question is settled definitely by her own hand. In 1909 she filled out a “Biographical Information Blank” for the General Conference records. On the blank for item 19, which asks, “If ordained, state when, where, and by whom,” she simply inscribed an X. This is the same response she made to item 26, which asked, “If remarried, give date, and to whom.” In this way she indicated that she had never remarried, nor had she ever been ordained. She was not denying that God had chosen and equipped her, but she indicated that there had never been an ordination ceremony carried out for her. 29

Why then do some of her credentials say “ordained minister”? The fact that “ordained” was sometimes crossed out highlights the awkwardness of giving credentials to a prophet. The church has no such special category of credentials. So it utilized what it had, giving its highest credentials without performing an ordination ceremony. In actuality, the prophet needed no human credentials. She functioned for more than 25 years prior to 1871 without any.
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