ST. LOUIS — The Seventh-day Adventist Church elevated a woman Monday to a top leadership post for the first time in its history.
Ella Louise Smith Simmons, 57, will serve as one of nine vice presidents.
“The church as an organization cannot be efficient until it allows all people to contribute in ways that God calls them to contribute,” she said. “The church is taking a step in the right direction.”
Simmons last served as provost and vice president for academic administration at La Sierra University, an Adventist college in Riverside, Calif.
Some 70,000 Seventh-day Adventist members are meeting in St. Louis for the group’s worldwide conference, which is held every five years. Church president Jan Paulsen was re-elected to his post Friday.
The Christian denomination has grown from more than 3 million members in 1980 to about 14 million baptized members in more than 200 countries, according to church statistics.