In a landmark event, the West Venezuela Union Conference hired for the first time in its history a female pastor to take charge of a district. Anyuanett Morales became the first women to be a pastor in this tropical country, joining the around 10 women pastors currently working in the Inter-American Division (IAD).
Four years ago another country belonging to the IAD took the same decision. In 2011 the Guyana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists commissioned its first female pastor. Margaret Rasmusson, who was an ordained elder for a number of years, became the senior pastor of the Olivet Seventh-Day Adventist Church in D’Urban, Backlands. Dr. Hilton Garnett, Conference’s president said “…we have been ordaining female Elders for years. Our ladies have been making significant contribution to leadership”.
Anyuanett Morales, who also have been an ordained elder for several years, was born in February 18, 1953 in the City of Bolivar. Afterwards she studied Biology, and for several decades she worked as a Biology Teacher in the General Rafael Urdaneta Adventist High School, in the City of Barcelona (don’t confuse it with the Spanish city of the same name). She worked as a lay member, and later as an ordained elder, in several ministries in her local church, including leading the Pathfinder Ministries, organizing concerts of Christian Music and ADRA door-to-door collections, preaching in evangelistic meetings and conducting a Summer Bible School.
Anyuanett Morales was put in charge of a district with 12 churches in the province of Delta Amacuro. Although there are unavoidable challenges that a women pastor must face into a culture dominated by male-chauvinistic paradigms, she is hopeful and confident: “Venezuela is a male-chauvinistic country, but the Lord Jesus Christ is leading our steps. The best thing to do is not expect anything, just develop your ministry. Nobody is going to stop you because you have the presence of Christ in your life”, she said. “Do you think that is easy?, Not at all, but we must not focus on the negative [things] because the positive [things] are bigger”.
The inter-American Division was one of the few divisions that take no position during the TOSC meeting. According to the testimony of several members of its Biblical Research Committee there was no consensus because half of the member supported Women’s ordination, and the other half opposed it. IAD decided to accept whatever decision taken by the world church.
Dr Israel Leito, IAD president, advocates women in ministry. Right after the negative vote in San Antonio about women’s ordination he sent a letter to all female pastors and theologians by email. In that letter he claimed: “I want to assure you, my fellow workers… that there is no highest calling that the one you received from the Lord. Being a pastor and serving the Church of God as a minister is the supreme calling that the Lord bestows on humans beings. The vote taken in San Antonio must not affect in the least your perceptions about this sacred calling from the Lord. […] I can assure you that the Division values your Ministry and will do everything possible to help you to be successful female pastors”.
Anyuanett Morales has a lot to do in her new ministry. One of her first task as a pastor is to promote an evangelist campaign called “100 Días de Poder” (100 Days of Power) which will be starting on January 8 and ending on April 16 with a huge gathering in the city of Caracas. Ted Wilson will be there.