German-Swiss Conference Joins German Unions in Opposing GC Documents


(Spectrumbot) #1

Editor’s Note: On October 2, 2018, the Executive Committee of the German-Swiss Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted to support the joint statement made by the North and South German Union presidents in September. An English translation of the German-Swiss Conference’s statement is included below in its entirety:

The Executive Committee (Vereinigungsausschuss) of the German-Swiss Conference (DSV) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church decided on October 2 by majority vote to respond to the comments of the two church leaders in Germany, Werner Dullinger (Süddeutscher Verband, Ostfildern) and Johannes Naether (Norddeutscher Verband, Hannover). The statement of September 6, 2018 warns against the development of the worldwide Adventist Church "towards a hierarchical church structure."

Two-stage canonical procedure in case of differences The criticism is the publication of the documents "Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions" (World Church Leadership) and "Terms of Reference for Compliance Committees" by the Administrative Committee (ADCOM) of the World Church (General Conference) of the Seventh Day Adventists, July 17, 2018. Both documents are due to be submitted to the World Church Executive Committee in mid-October for approval. They describe a canon law procedure on how to treat the subordinate church leaders (supra-regional conferences / unions and regional conferences) as well as their leaders, if they do not conform to decisions of the world church leadership.

At the annual meeting of the Executive Committee in 2016, a two-step approach was adopted for dealing with church leaders who fail to implement decisions of the world church to bring them back into line. Accordingly, in a first step, various consultations and dialogues will be held at different levels of the Church, and the relevant church leaders, including through a pastoral letter, will be urged to restore consistency with the decisions of the universal Church. If the matter cannot be resolved and the differences concern beliefs (Fundamental Beliefs) or decisions or guidelines of the World Church (Working Policy), the second stage should be initiated with procedural steps.

However, the document on the conciliation of church affairs presented to the Executive Committee in 2017 titled "Procedures for Reconciliation and Adherence in Church Governance: Phase II" after extensive discussion and with 184 to 114 votes was referred back to the "Unity Oversight Committee" who had drafted it.

Revised document As of July 17, 2018, a revised version is now available for the Executive Committee to decide on its autumn session from October 11 to 17. It proposes, inter alia, that the administrative committee of a conference / union or conference seek to find offenses of its own initiative and report it to the next higher office. Should diverging resolutions not be reversed, the head of this administrative unit could be subjected to disciplinary measures, such as caution / warning, public reprimand, up to exclusion from the Executive Committee of the World Church Leadership (General Conference), to which a union president belongs ex officio. The so-called "Compliance Committees" with far-reaching powers are to act in case of rule violations.

Discussions as an expression of a democratic process “The publication of these documents and the decisions of the GC-ADCOM (Administrative Committee of the General Conference or World Church Leadership) in this case have in the past few weeks, created waves in the world community and especially in Europe,” writes Pastor Stephan Sigg, President of the German-Swiss Adventists, in an accompanying letter to the church leaders and pastors to the decision to join the opinion of the German church leaders.

“It is not a bad sign that processes and decisions at the level of the Adventist world church leadership are being discussed by church members, employees and committees. As long as this is done in a fair and objective way and in the brotherly spirit, it is even an expression of a vital community and a healthy democratic process," writes Pastor Sigg. The Apostolic Council of the First Christians (Acts 15:1-29) exemplifies "that in the end it is always a matter of brotherly struggle, in the spirit of the biblical gospel and the mission to make decisions guided by the Holy Spirit."

Question of women's ordination to the pastoral ministry as a trigger The process for the mediation of church affairs was triggered by the discussion about the ordination of women pastors, stated Pastor GT Ng, Secretary General of the World Church leadership, in 2017. There are supra-regional church leaderships (conferences) that have ordained pastors and are therefore not in accordance with the decisions of the World Church (General Conference Plenary Assembly). Nevertheless, the procedure for the mediation of ecclesiastical affairs is much more than the regulation of the question of the ordination of women, says Ng.

Unity in diversity In their statement on the two documents published on July 18, Werner Dullinger and Johannes Naether, who are also the president and vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany, emphasize that the local churches are the foundation of the worldwide Free Church of the Seventh-day Adventists. In order to lead a universal Church, Adventists would have given a representative system to guide the Church as an organization and a community of believers. "In the recent initiative of the world church leadership, we see a threatening development towards a hierarchical church structure, which we will strongly oppose."

Where people profess and follow God together, they formed a church, a church based on biblical principles and values. In the Church as an organization, every individual always lives first "by faith," which means from his personal knowledge, which God gives him and from his free and independent decision of conscience, which he meets before God. If structures oppose conscience, the entire community must work to find ways to develop them further, as the New Testament confirms, emphasize the two German Union Presidents.

The unity of the church is worked and guaranteed by Jesus alone, not by human efforts. For many reasons there is no complete correspondence between this unity existing in God and a concrete ecclesiastical figure. In Jesus, unity and love, trust and freedom would be thought together, and only then would it come to the knowledge of God, the Redeemer. "As a Seventh-day Adventist free church, we can trust this path of unity in diversity," Dullinger and Naether are convinced.

Change of direction feared The documents and the work of the Compliance Committees mark a change of direction in the basic understanding of church leadership: In place of trust, tolerance, respect, conflict resolution and dialogue in controversy, pressure, control, surveillance and the stigmatization of individuals occur. This significantly increases the undercurrents of schism within the church and turns the effort/prayer for unity into the opposite. The documents and work of the Compliance Committees foster a spirit of mistrust, criticism, assessment, and judgment. This is contrary to the spirit of the gospel. The public stigmatization of people is unacceptable because it damages their dignity.

"The existing rules in our church are sufficient to intervene in case of problems or conflicts. The existing instruments and procedures give us a lot of room for maneuver," is the conclusion of the two German Church leaders. Therefore, they rejected the documents presented by the World Church leadership and the establishment of the "Compliance Committees" because they do not agree with their understanding of church and how to lead a church.

German-Swiss church leadership shares concerns In view of the recent initiatives and decisions of the administration of the World Church leadership, the Executive Committee of the German-Swiss Conference (DSV) of the Seventh-day Adventists essentially share the widespread concern about a growing centralization and bundling of leadership tasks and competencies from the world's fields and service levels to the General Conference (World Church Leadership), writes Stephan Sigg, President of the Adventist Church in German-speaking Switzerland, in the accompanying letter to the decision to join the opinion of the German church leaders. "Our faith community has enough regulations and tools to respond — and it does — in an obvious and constant contradiction to our religious or congregational orders at both local and relevant levels of government."

"As the Swiss-German Conference, we fully associate ourselves with the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church and support the elected leaders of the General Conference (World Church Leadership), as well as all common responsibility levels, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the hope of imminent return to our world, says Sigg.

The statement of the two German Union Presidents and the documents of the World Church Leadership (General Conference) can be found on the Adventist website in German-speaking Switzerland at: https://www.adventisten.ch/adventisten/dokumente-stellungennahmen/#c1611

Seventh-day Adventists worldwide and in Switzerland The Seventh-day Adventist Church has over 20 million adult baptized members in 215 countries worldwide. In Germany there are almost 35,000 members, in Austria over 4,200. At the end of 2017, 4,762 Adventists lived in Switzerland. 2,188 belonged to the "Fédération des Eglises Adventistes de la Suisse Romande et du Tessin" (FSRT) and 2,574 to the "German-Swiss Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church" (DSV).

Information on Adventists in German-speaking Switzerland: www.adventisten.ch Information about Adventists in Romandy and Ticino: http://adventiste.ch/

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The original statement in German appeared on the Adventist Press Service (APD) website.

Image courtesy of the German-Swiss Conference.

Further Reading:

Responses from Church Entities and Timeline of Key Events, Annual Council 2017 to Present

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9077

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

Come want may, the General Conference will have an Investigative Judgment. All these documents seem to have the weight of Pilates Wife.


(Kim Green) #3

"The unity of the church is worked and guaranteed by Jesus alone, not by human efforts."

Beautiful! Unity through diversity. The. Only. Way.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

On Christ the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand


(Kim Green) #5

Yes…all other ground…is…sinking sand. :slight_smile:


(George Tichy) #6

This is the clear voice of the people of our Church being spoken against this abuse of power being perpetrated by Ted Wilson and his minions at the GC. Just outrageous.

I hope several other Unions and Conferences around the world will still lift up their voices this week, telling the GC that they do not support this Machiavellian plan that TW wants to have approved at the incoming AC.


(Steve Mga) #7

I have the feeling at this point in time that the Southern Union will be compliant with whatever
Silver Springs wants to do.
In all of this discussion of Issues within the church – They have been quiet.
Not even making Snoring Sounds while they ALL sleep.
[Although a couple of years ago I did hear that my Conference personnel were friendly
to ALL Women.]
Don’t know what Tom hears from Calhoun.


#8

C.S. Lewis has an apt description of what the GC brethren
are up to:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims
may be the most oppressive.
It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral
busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity
may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good
will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own
conscience.” (God in the Dock, 1948)


(Cfowler) #9

The religious do-gooders are the worst! :scream: They want to be the Holy Spirit for everybody.

Woe be to those who disagree with them. They will be shunned, punished and condemned by them.


(jeremy) #10

having read both the three-page Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions (Regard for and Practice) and the one-page Terms of Reference for Compliance Committees (Terms of Reference), i don’t agree with this letter’s point, or any of the previous union and conference letters’ point, that these initiatives represent “a threatening development towards a hierarchical church structure”…i definitely don’t agree with the assertion that the compliance review committees represent the church’s lapse into the papacy, the beast of revelation 13, or the FBI…

point 3 of Regard for and Practice specifically highlights a non-compliant entity’s prerogative to appeal its non-compliant status directly to a relevant compliant review committee, with its appeal being considered part of the work of that compliant review committee, meaning it cannot be ignored; and point 5, subpoint 3 of Regard for and Practice highlights a non-compliant entity’s prerogative to appeal through processes that already exist in the GC’s Working Policy…point 8 of Terms of Reference reinforces this appeal process open to non-compliant entities…

but as important as any appeal process, point 4 of Regard for and Practice explicitly states that the use of the compliant review committee process can be waived by an administrator at his or her or their prayerful discretion, with “existing General Conference working policies and guidelines” being used in its stead…this optional use of the compliance review committees, together with their built-in appeal process, using every means available, and with the object being christian reconciliation, while exercising “christian due process”
(Regard for and Practice, point 3), removes any suggestion of a top-down power grab on the part of the GC…

this is a far cry from coercion, or anything remotely akin to what martin luther saw…the compliance review committees, and related documents, represent a collaborative, comprehensive and OPTIONAL attempt to harmonize all parts of our church with “officially voted beliefs, policies, statements, and guidelines of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists”…the GC would be derelict to not seek to protect our beliefs and practices from erosion within a secular world…the stated purpose of Regard for and Practice “to
regard and honor the constituted decisions made by fellow church members and leaders” cannot be objected to by anyone who has any regard for the principle of the priesthood of all believers which, among other things, must mean coordinated respect for collective decisions…

but having said this, there is still the important question of whether san antonio was legitimate, given
GC WP B 05 and its provision of “final responsibility” on the issue of ordination to unions…this cannot mean responsibility for any scraps that are left after the GC has dealt with the issue…we either have a division of powers in our church, or we don’t…someone needs to look past the side show of the compliance review committees and lay this question squarely on the table at AC2018…we cannot talk of compliance when we don’t know whether the division of powers principle instituted at our restructuring more than a century ago still applies, and if so, what each church entity’s responsibilities really are…


(DENNIS HOFER) #11

There’s no ‘morning-after-pill’ for the offenses that have already been committed by the SDA GC.
The question is:
Will they finally be ‘man enough’ to face the consequences ? Or ‘skip town’ ?


#12

jeremy v. - The tactics of the GC (WHAT they do) in regards to the issues
in question is exacerbated by HOW they do things!
Their lack of transparency is alarming, to say the least.
For instance, how were the members of the various CC’s chosen/co-opted?


#13

This is one of the most interesting questions. The truth explains why the committees were populated and activated by GC leadership without authorization from the EXECOM: Control.


(Steve Mga) #14

Jeremy –
Sorry!! But I read a LOT of Double-Talk in your post.

  1. Administrator can disregard the Command of the Regard for and Practice if one
    offers a short prayer [of forgiveness?] first.
    Some other statements appear a LOT like Double-Talk.

(jeremy) #15

as i see it, the fact that these members have been named, as opposed to being shrouded in secrecy and sprung on a non-compliant entity only at the moment of meeting, means these members’ views can be researched and understood beforehand…obviously the GC has gone ahead and named members to these committees, which naturally means they’re going to select people they know…but the interactive nature of the CC’s mean that it really doesn’t matter who’s on the CC…the so-called non-compliant entity will obviously be free to select its own panel of experts, and any conclusion will need to factor in what is presented by the non-compliant entity…from the publicly available description of these CC’s, i don’t see any possibility for someone being railroaded or shafted by a pronouncement from a CC that hasn’t been assessed and countered by the noncompliant entity…

keep in mind that the CC’s are not going to be going out and looking for someone to haul in for an interrogation…i realize that this is the picture that’s been conjured up…but the reality is that the CC’s are merely one option that can be chosen, for instance by a union, if it sees one of its conferences is non-compliant in something…there may be a decision to resolve things without going the CC route…

well, this is double-talk that i don’t see as double-talk taken straight from the Regard for and Practice document itself:

“4. With sound judgment and prayerful discernment, administrators may use existing General Conference working policies and guidelines as tools for resolving matters of non-compliance.” Regard for and Practice, p.2.

keep in mind that on p.1 of this document, ADCOM “may” (not “shall” or “must”) refer a non-compliance matter to a compliance review committee only after a “conference and/or union and/or division and/ or General Conference” essentially requests it…your apparent notion that the Regard for and Practice document “commands” a compliance review committee interogation simply isn’t the reality…


#16

Thanks for your reply Jeremy.
All of these CCs (at ascending levels) appear to be a defamation
exercise where ‘the devil is in the detail’, with evidence gathered
by willing ‘informants’.
That is much like what the apostle Paul had to contend with during
his ministry.


(Spectrumbot) #17

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