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William Fagal

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Articles by William Fagal

Church Bulletin for Evangelistic Service (July 1946)

Too many times our methods of evangelism do not measure up to the message we bear.

Possibilities and Drawbacks (August 1947)

Paper presented at Columbia Union ministerial institute.

"Truth for Youth" Evangelism (February 1949)

A look at one of the most popular present-day evan­gelistic approaches--the field of youth evangelism.

The Strength of Quietness (April 1956)

Surveying the stress of the Ministry.

True Worshipers (March 1956)

What kind of men is God seeking "to wor­ship him"?

Ideals for Mothers (May 1959)

The monthly shepherdess column.

Divine Pity (March 1962)

Have you ever thought about how much a question reveals about a person? For instance, when a child says, "Where's mommy?" you know "mommy" is the cen­ter of that child's life. But have you ever thought about the questions God asks us?

Thanksgiving (November 1960)

Ingratitude is one of the most common of hu­manity's faults. Thoughts on Thanksgiving.

A shared ministry (August 1987)

The way his wife fulfills her role may make or break a pastor's ministry. Kind of a scary challenge, but many examples show that it can be met successfully.

Did Ellen White call for ordaining women? (December 1988)

What was Ellen White's belief regarding ordination of women? Are the statements some cite in favor of ordination really relevant to the issue?

Did Ellen White support the ordination of women? (February 1989)

If no direct support for ordination of women can be found in Ellen White's writings, can we perhaps find evidence that she supported it in her actions?


hat 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 writ
ings, and therefore neither endorsed nor
explicitly forbade ordination of women
(see "Did Ellen White Call for Ordaining
Women?" Ministry, December 1988),
can we perhaps discover her attitude by
studying her actions? This article will ex
amine 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historical documents and events in an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 pas
tors 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 certifi
cate that was used read "Ordained Min
ister. " Several of her credential certifi
cates 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 "Bio
graphical Information Blank" for the
General Conference records. On the
blank for Item 19, which asks, "If or
dained, 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 de
nying that God had chosen and equipped
her, but she indicated that there had
never been an ordination ceremony car
ried out for her. l
Why then do some of her credentials
say "ordained minister"? The fact that
"ordained" was sometimes crossed out
highlights the awkwardness of giving cre
dentials 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 ordi
nation ceremony. In actuality, the
prophet needed no human credentials.
She functioned for more than 25 years
prior to 1871 without any.
Licensing of women ministers
A number of women received ministe
rial licenses from the Seventh-day Ad
ventist Church during the late 1800s and
early 1900s. Most of these were the wives
of ordained ministers, and most of them
apparently were engaged in personal la
bor similar to that of a Bible instructor
today. Some notable exceptions are
Minnie Sype, Lulu Wightman, and ap
parently Ellen Lane, who functioned ef
fectively as public evangelists. But to
date I have seen no evidence that women
served as the leaders of churches. Further
research may shed more light on this
Some have suggested recently that the
circumstances surrounding the licensing
of women as ministers in the Seventh-
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