Franco-Belgian Union Approves Statement in Favor of Women in Ministry


(Spectrumbot) #1

On Wednesday, Novemeber 11, the Franco-Belgian Union Conference Executive Committee met in Paris and approved the following statement, which it released on its website in French. The following translation has been provided for English readers. The original text follows below the English translation. -Ed.

Begin Translated Text: Following the vote of the July 2015 General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist World Church in San Antonio, Texas, the administration of the Franco-Belgian Union Conference spoke about the outcome of this vote on the evening of July 16 in an article in ANN/BIA (see: http://www.adventiste.org/actualite.html/663).

Four months later, the Administrative Council of the Franco-Belgian Union met in Paris on November 10 and 11, 2015 and approved the following statement:

Considering the numerous stages at which the organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, during sessions of the General Conference1, has propagated various theological commissions to examine the ordination of women in pastoral ministry;

Considering the work of the Biblical Research Committee of the Inter-European Division and the unanimous vote of its executive committee (Madrid, November 2013) recommending the ordination of women to pastoral ministry;

Whereas the vote in San Antonio2 denying the 13 administrative divisions of the Adventist World Church the opportunity to to "make provision for the ordination of women to pastoral ministry" was not in opposition to the pastoral ministry of women or the ordination of women in the local church (elder, deacon);

Considering the document 172-15G of the General Conference named "An Appeal and Appreciation to all Church Entities and Members from the General Conference and Division Officers Regarding the 2015 General Conference Session Vote on Ordination”;

Whereas Adventist universities and programs of theological study have always allowed women access to the same academic degrees as men (bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate);

Considering the history of different designations for women in pastoral ministry (Bible worker, assistant pastor, pastor, etc.);

Whereas female ministry enriches the Church in the pastorate, and is a part of preventing racial, ethnic, sexual, social and cultural discrimination (see Working Policy, BA60 05);

VOTED:

To take note of the vote of the San Antonio General Conference Session, which was part of a democratic process of the consultation of the delegates in accordance with Seventh-day Adventist Church policy;

To recognize that the result of the vote does nothing to change the understanding that in the life and mission of the Church, women, just as men, can be ordained for pastoral ministry;

To reaffirm the ministries that women have within the Church, [contributing to] its growth and its theology; showing them our gratitude for their variety of talents, skills, sensibilities, and the ways they complement, bless and enrich the body of Christ;

To encourage women to [enter] pastoral ministry;

To invite all local churches to ordain to deacons and elders regardless of gender;

To foster a process of gradual attitude changes within the various administrative and ecclesial structures to achieve ordination regardless of gender;

To seek Church unity amid diversity in concert with the General Conference, whose structure has proven valuable as attested throughout the history of the Advent movement, of which we are a part:

To invite the Franco-Belgian Union and its three federations of churches:

1. To appoint leaders at all levels of the Church based on their spiritual gifts and skills without regard to gender;

2. To continue to encourage churches to facilitate the consecration (ordination) of the woman pastors as elders of the local church;

3. To work within the current administrative framework to find ways for women in pastoral ministry to grow and flourish in the exercise of their vocation under conditions identical to those of their male counterparts;

4. To create the necessary conditions to allow women pastors to get the same wage rate as an ordained male pastor through administrative assessment and procedures;

5. To prevent misunderstanding about the vote of San Antonio, by attesting to the appreciation of the Union and all its federations for all women involved in Church activities, both as lay members and as women engaged in pastoral ministry of the Gospel."

Approved by the Executive Committee of the Franco-Belgian Union Wednesday, November 11, 2015. John Paul Barquon, Secretary General.

Notes 1. The sessions of the General Conference of 1950 in San Francisco, 1975 in Vienna (Austria), 1990 in Indianapolis, 1995 in Utrecht (Netherlands).

2. Vote on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, at 18:15: number of voting delegates: 2363 (including 17% women), Result: 977 YES, NO 1381, 5 abstentions.

Original Text in French:

Après le vote de la session de la Conférence générale de l'Eglise adventiste du septième jour de San Antonio (Etats-Unis), en juillet dernier, les administrateurs de l’UFB se sont exprimés dès le soir du 16 juillet dans un communiqué transmis par le service de presse BIA au sujet du résultat de ce vote (cf. http://www.adventiste.org/actualite.html/663).

Quatre mois plus tard, le Conseil d’administration de l’Union franco-belge réuni à Paris, les 10 et 11 novembre 2015, fait la déclaration suivante:

Considérant les différents paliers mis en place dans l’organisation de l’Église adventiste du septième jour par les différentes sessions de la Conférence générale1, en donnant naissance à différentes commissions théologiques pour examiner le principe de consécration (ordination) des femmes au ministère pastoral ;

Considérant les travaux de la Commission de recherche biblique de la Division Intereuropéenne et du vote unanime de son comité exécutif (Madrid, novembre 2013) recommandant la consécration des femmes au ministère pastoral ;

Considérant que le vote de San Antonio2 n’accordant pas la possibilité aux 13 Divisions administratives de l’Église adventiste mondiale de « prendre des dispositions pour la consécration des femmes au ministère pastoral », ne s’oppose pas au ministère pastoral des femmes ni à la consécration des femmes dans l’Église locale (anciennat, diaconat) ;

Considérant le document 172-15G de la Conférence générale nommé « Appel et gratitude de la Conférence générale suite au vote de la session 2015 » ;

Considérant que dans les universités et les facultés adventistes les études de théologie ont toujours été ouvertes aux femmes pour accéder aux mêmes diplômes académiques que les hommes (licence, master, doctorat) ;

Considérant les différentes appellations des femmes à cette vocation pastorale dans l’histoire de la dénomination (lectrice biblique, assistante pastorale, pasteur, etc.) ;

Considérant que le ministère féminin est une richesse pour l’Église au sein du corps pastoral et qu’il ne peut s’inscrire dans une discrimination raciale, ethnique, sexuelle, sociale et culturelle (cf. Working Policy, BA60 05) ;

VOTÉ

de prendre acte du résultat du vote de la session de San Antonio de la Conférence générale qui s’est inscrit dans une procédure démocratique de consultation des délégués présents conformément aux règlements de l’Église adventiste du septième jour ;

de reconnaître que le résultat du vote ne change pas la compréhension du ministère des femmes dans la vie et la mission de l'Église, que les femmes, tout comme les hommes, peuvent être consacrées anciens d'Église tout en exerçant un ministère pastoral ;

de réaffirmer les ministères que les femmes ont au sein de l’Église, dans sa croissance et dans sa théologie en leur manifestant toute notre gratitude pour la variété de leurs talents, de leurs compétences, de leurs sensibilités, et de leurs complémentarités, des véritables bénédictions enrichissant le corps du Christ ;

d’encourager les femmes au ministère pastoral ;

d’inviter toutes les églises locales à consacrer à l’anciennat et au diaconat sans distinction de genre ;

de s’impliquer dans un processus qui permettra une évolution progressive des mentalités au sein des différentes structures administratives et ecclésiales, pour arriver à la consécration sans distinction de genre ;

de rechercher l’unité de l’Église dans sa diversité en lien avec la Conférence générale dont la structure s’est avérée positive par tous les témoins de l’histoire du mouvement adventiste auquel nous sommes attachés :

d’inviter l’UFB et ses trois fédérations d’églises :

1. à nommer des responsables à tous les niveaux de l’Eglise sans distinction de genre en raison de leurs dons spirituels et de leurs compétences ;

2. à continuer d’encourager les églises à faciliter la consécration des femmes pasteurs à l’anciennat au sein de la communauté locale ;

3. à travailler dans le cadre administratif actuel pour trouver des moyens permettant à une femme exerçant le ministère pastoral de progresser et de s’épanouir dans l’exercice de sa vocation dans des conditions identiques à celles de ses homologues masculins ;

4. à créer les conditions nécessaires pour permettre aux femmes pasteurs d’obtenir le même taux de salaire qu’un pasteur consacré selon les procédures d’évaluation administrative en vigueur ;

5. à éviter l’incompréhension au sujet du vote de San Antonio, en témoignant de l’appréciation de l’Union et de ses Fédérations à toutes les femmes impliquées dans les activités de l'Église tant au niveau des membres que des femmes engagées dans le ministère (pastoral) de l’Évangile. »

Comité de l’Union franco-belge du mercredi 11 novembre 2015 Jean-Paul Barquon, secrétaire général

Notes 1. Les sessions de la Conférence générale de 1950 à San Francisco, de 1975 à Vienne (Autriche), de 1990 à Indianapolis, de 1995 à Utrecht (Pays-Bas). 2. Vote du mercredi 8 juillet 2015, à 18h15 : nombre de délégués votants : 2363 (dont 17% de femmes), Résultat : 977 OUI, 1381 NON, 5 abstentions.

*NOTE: The English translation of the 2nd point to which the Union and its federation of churches have been invited has been edited to appropriately reflect wording of the original document: "To continue to encourage churches to facilitate the consecration (ordination) of the woman pastors as elders of the local church," rather than to ordain women as pastors of the local church.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7191

(jeremy) #2

at some point, i think we’re going to have to officially recognize that san antonio was a large, important mistake, certainly from the standpoint of the vote against divisional autonomy with respect to women’s ordination, but also from the standpoint of leadership allowing such a vote to take place, especially in light of the church-wide polarization leading up to it…if anyone thought their efforts to secure the no-vote would lead to unity, or even the desire for unity, and that the matter of women’s ordination would be laid to rest, i’m not seeing it…what i’m seeing, instead, is a steady erosion of respect for the general conference as an institution, despite the lip service…and i’m sensing increasing isolation of those unions and divisions whose delegates voted overwhelmingly no…

it’s all quite sad to see, actually…but this is what very wrong decision making produces…


(Danielle) #4

This is a significant first step: “2. To continue to encourage churches to facilitate the ordination of women in concert with local congregations;”

The higher up levels of the church may be blocking the way - but what is stopping any and every church with a female pastor from ordaining them. They may not have the official recognition from formal hierarchical entities, but in the eyes of the people who are being ministered to and the pastors and their families this is highly significant.

Jesus was beholden to no hierarchy or institutionalised structure. This would truly be in the spirit of Jesus. We don’t need to go around seeking the approval of men (mostly) in power.


Please note that with input from Franco-Belgian Union President, Luc Delameillieure (see comment below), this section has been edited to better reflect the original document’s wording. It should read, “To continue to encourage churches to facilitate the consecration (ordination) of the woman pastors as elders of the local church.” -Website Editor


(Andreas Bochmann) #5

Noteworthy:

  • Union #2 in the Inter-European Division (Italy, now France, Belgium, Luxemburg).
  • The Adventist world in the Netherlands as well as in France is very multi-cultural.
  • The movement for WO appears to come from the bottom, with small units (smaller unions like those in Scandinavia and the Netherlands) being first.

Especially the last point has interesting implications. “Bigger is better” … the megalomania of the Adventist church of the last decades - right to the point of shouting down minorities - may well be part of the issue we need to repent of and turn away from. It seems to me, we need a different structural model of working together as a church. But then … I am not the first one to notice - hopefully not the last one either.


(le vieux) #6

At some point I think were going to have to come to terms with the fact that it was voted not to ordain women, and that all of the Unions which are making these statements are rebelling against the will of the body. This can only end in disunity and hurt our mission. How can so many adults behave like such spoiled children? They didn’t get their way, and, instead of graciously accepting the will of the body, they’ve chosen to rise up against it. This will not end well.


(Cherry) #8

Birder,
Your words really don’t have much impact other then to annoy. Your prediction is bound to fail. Can’t stop revival and reformation and it is happening. Thank goodness Jesus is our example and we can follow Him when our leaders are a bit blind and stuck.


(Sharon) #9

I’m not sure why you think that people who disagree with the San Antonio vote are behaving like spoiled children. They are under conviction and feel obligated to act on that conviction. It was a mistake to bring the question to an open session of the General Conference. This should have been solved administratively. If it had been, we wouldn’t be in the awkward position of seeing Union Conferences trying to abide by a vote which they are convicted against while still following their convictions. Resorting to name-calling does nothing to solve the problem. It only widens the gulf.


(Marianne Faust) #10

Birder, do you really think one should act against one’s conscience? We are , above all, called to do what is right. Discrimination is wrong. I appreciate the courage of our sisters and brothers in the Franco-Belgian Union and hope the Germans will follow soon. With actions, not only words.


(Claude Lombart) #11

The title of this article is misleading. The Franco-Belgian Union did NOT approve a statement in favor of women’s ordination (which, in the current climate means pastoral ordination). All it does is to re-affirm the role of women at all levels of church life according to GC policy. This means they can be ordained as elders, and they are also authorised to pastor churches. They will therefore pastor churches as ORDAINED ELDERS, which is nothing new and does not contradict the San Antonio vote, as the title of the article seem to imply. I hope that Spectrum will take another look at their title so as to not mis-represent the actual vote taken.


Thank you for the clarification. The current title reflects this. -Website Editor


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #12

Liberté, égalité, fraternité is the French motto, with EQUALITY being the central,word. Discrimination is no longer politically correct in the western world. MAGNIFIQUE to the French/Belgian Adventists.

Adventism has placed itself in an embarrassing situation with the San Antonio vote. The millenials will vote with their feet, and the older members will allocate their giving so the GC will be bereft of funds, Not a happy outcome!

May the dominoes continue to fall!


(Thomas J Zwemer) #13

semantics what a wonderful game for Adminstrators acting as theologians. However there is little doubt about dires consequences. seems Ted is getting his full share. tom Z


(Elaine Nelson) #14

It is ironic that the large bloc of voters at S.A. were against each division making a decision on WO. Yet these delegates, surely have been taught that it will be a religious power in the future that will not allow them to exercise their own conscience; but that will attempt to force them to abide by that power’s decision on matters of religious belief.

They should rue the day when the tables are turned, as they surely will. When the divisions that choose to ordain WO and send their tithe to local conferences and not the world field, it will be noticed.


#15

In my home church in the US, the Sr. Pastor announced that the Youth Pastor, a woman would be ordained soon in a local ceremony.

I’ll note that the Youth Pastor is outstanding. She has significant education (multiple Master’s degrees), she has extensive experience in pastoral work her whole life (parents were missionaries and she has lived and worked throughout the world, both in her youth with her family as well on her own as an adult). From my point of view she has proven that she is excellent in the following areas: Counseling, preaching, administration and more. By education, work experience, worldwide mission experience and temperment, she is far better qualified for ordination than many male pastors I have met.


(Luc Delameillieure) #16

“2 à continuer d’encourager les églises à faciliter la consécration des femmes pasteurs à l’anciennat au sein de la communauté locale”

The translation of point 2 is not correct and should be: “To continue to encourage
churches to facilitate the consecration of the woman pastors as elders of the
local church”.


Thank you for clarifying that. The change has been made to the article. -Website Editor


(SurprisedByGrace) #17

I think the Norwegians have the best option: no ordination for either gender, and only have designations of pastor in training and full ministry pastors with a laying on of hands that simply signifies the Spirit’s work in the life of that pastor.


#18

It is foreign to me to mindlessly follow for the sake of following. This is a dangerous prospect. If we just stuff down our conscience to follow the pack then are we honouring the mind that separates us from all other creatures that God created? Were there more who would stand for conscience to exemplify our freedom in Christ!


(Reneanne A. Gale) #19

Hi there kjames,

I agree. The Norwegian model is a commonsense solution to the issue. Unfortunately, many administrators cling to the unstable pillar of tradition and many church members support them. Rene Gale


(SurprisedByGrace) #20

I would suggest members and leaders are all culpable when it comes to changing traditions in the church and resisting such change. The longer a church system exists the more difficult it is to break the bonds of tradition in order to become either more relevant to the dynamic society around them, or more in accord with Scripture’s revelation of truth. Hence, the very emotional debate over WO that continues in our denomination.


(Steve Mga) #21

It is a known fact that many Jewish and Protestant groups have a more elevated view of Women In Ministry than Seventh day Adventists do at this time.
Unfortunately, the REASONS for their elevated view of women is NOT ALLOWED in SDA thinking.
This is because they are looked upon as “BABYLON”.
Anything from the Babylonians is to be considered of the Devil. Of attempting to bring down the Church of Christ.
So our women are left in 19th Century religious, cultural, practices within the SDA church.
ANY Movement to bring the Church into 21st Century religious and cultural practices is looked upon as bringing in devilish practices. And is spoken and written loudly to ALL SDA members who will be within hearshot or reading. And any Vote, will force a Vote to Stamp It Out as seen at SA2015.

Edit-- Paul and Silas
Sometimes splitting the church can not be a bad idea.
In this case 2 missionary Teams.
Paul and Silas
Barnabas and Mark [Barnabas was from Cyprus anyway. Remember that Paul in his later days wrote to say that Mark was useful to him. So the personal training by Barnabas, and mentoring of Mark developed him into a great leader. And, allowed him to Create one of the Four Gospels that have endured for 2000 years.]
Splits are not always bad.
And, differences of opinions are not always bad.

EDIT-- Venezuela hires [commissions] a female pastor for the First Time in its History.


(Elmer Cupino) #22

Just like Paul & Barnabas did with “the will of the body” when they rebelled against the Judeans. Acts 15: 1-2 “Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them.”

It does not have to “end in disunity” as when Paul & Barnabas had “their sharp disagreement that they parted company.” Acts 15:39 “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.”

This is only possible when “passive-aggressive” believers hide behind popular reasons to mask their intent. Being in “sharp disagreement” need not end in hurting “our mission” as in Acts 15:39-41 “They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” Years later Paul finds the formerly useless Mark “useful,” as revealed in the apostle’s concluding epistle. “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministering” 2 Tim. 4:11.

Below is a link to a scientific study titled “No Fair! Children’s Sense of
Equality is Shaped by Culture,” considering factors that influence our sense of equality that can never be a part of the SDA principles of Hermeneutics.