German Unions Respond to the GC’s Latest Documents and Committee Creation


(Spectrumbot) #1

Editor’s Note: This week the North German Union and South German Union presidents issued a joint statement in response to the General Conference’s latest documents and creation of five compliance committees. The response from the German Unions originally appeared on the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany’s website. An English translation follows:

Statement by the Presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany on the Documents of the Unity Oversight Committee of the General Conference

The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (ADCOM) voted and published on Tuesday, July 17, two documents1 recommended by the Unity Oversight Committee that will be submitted to the Executive Committee in October 2018 for acceptance.

The documents describe a church legal process for Unions, associations and/or their leaders who are not in conformity with our rules or beliefs.

In addition, we learned from an unofficial source (Spectrum magazine) that at the same time a whole system of so-called "Compliance Committees" had been set up, to which the ADCOM (GC Administrative Committee) gave far-reaching authorizations. Each of these "Compliance Committees" is staffed by about a dozen people, almost all of whom are church employees.

As regards the documents and the establishment of the “Compliance Committees,” we respond as follows:

0. Fundamentals

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide church, the foundation of which are the local churches. In order to lead a universal Church, we have therefore given ourselves a representative system to guide the Church as an organization and as 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 resolutely oppose.

1. Our Understanding of the Church

The Church is based on the call of Jesus to human beings: "Come and follow me" (Mark 2:15, 10:21, John 1:43, 12:26). Thus, every person is encouraged to enter into a personal relationship with God. The ‘yes’ of people to God is a free decision and first describes a relationship of trust between two persons: God and the individual.

Every believer lives by his faith, a life that is equally committed to freedom and commitment, maturity and solidarity, self-determination and responsibility for others.

Where people profess and follow God together, they form a church, a church based on biblical principles and values. Communal life is organized by persons, spiritual gifts, and teaching (Acts 6, Ephesians 4, 1 Timothy 3, 2 Timothy 1:13-14). Structures are important to the well-being of a community. They have a serving character and give orientation.

Nevertheless:

  • The central understanding of the Church as the Body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 12) and as an organization is that we are united by faith in Jesus. That means:
  • Faith: In the church as an organization, each individual always lives first "by faith", i.e., 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 the conscience, the whole community must work to find ways to develop them, as the New Testament confirms: Acts 15; Romans 14:15; 1 Corinthians 10.
  • Jesus: He is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3), the cornerstone (1 Peter 2), who carries everything and holds it together. The community is a dynamic, living building and not static.

2. Unity in the Church

The unity of the church is accomplished and guaranteed by Jesus alone. (John 17, 20-23)

The quality of this unity is unmistakable: "As you, Father, are in me and I in you, so shall they be in us..."

Unity, therefore, is first an undeserved gift, founded solely in God, and thus stands before any human effort. For many reasons, there is no complete correspondence between this unity of God and a concrete ecclesiastical framework. Nor will it be realized in this world, even within our church.

With Jesus, unity and love, trust and freedom, are considered together, and only then does God, the Redeemer, become known. As the Seventh-day Adventist church, we can confidently follow this path of unity in diversity.

In our responsibility to our churches in Germany, we are guided by this understanding of the church and on unity, because that is the essence of the church.

Conclusion

  • 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. We expressly distance ourselves from this.
  • The existing rules in our church are sufficient to intervene in cases of problems or conflicts. The existing instruments and procedures give us a lot of room to maneuver.

For this reason, we decidedly reject the documents presented by the World Church leadership and the establishment of the “Compliance Committees,” because it does not meet our understanding of church, and how to lead a church.

As part of our mandate as members of the GC Executive Committee, we will work to ensure that the proposed regulations in these documents are rejected.

Werner Dullinger, President, South German Union Johannes Naether, President, North German Union

Notes:

1. “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” and “Terms of Reference for Compliance Committees.”

###

The original statement in German is included below (it is also available on the German Church’s website here):

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Editor's Note — Sept. 8, 2018: The links to the Adventist Church in Germany's website have been updated.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/8977

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

A well reasoned and timely response worthy of Martin Luther.


#3

Ich wünschte, ich könnte eine ähnliche Aussage von der NAD lesen.


(Andreas Bochmann) #4

Indeed that would be nice. At the same time, the point of comparison are the Union Conferences. This is important, as Union Presidents are elected by their constituency and (in the past) were accountable to them. Divisions on the other hand, are “departments” of the General Conference. The dynamics here are different. Thus it is the Union Conferences who need a clear mandate by their members what to decide and how to speak up; as well as some support by letter and prayer in these difficult and hazardous times.


#5

Thank God for the independent Adventist press.

The very members of the GC Executive Committee have not apparently officially received the “Compliance Committees” document from the ADCOM for prayerful consideration. What kind of leadership, strategy, and business operation principle is that?


(efcee) #6

Thank God for reason, compassion grace, unity and the Christ-like spirit expressed by our leaders in Germany.


#7

Mr. Bullinger/Naether, I am greatly encouraged by your stand for what is right and support you.


#8

Danke, Andreas, für die Aufklärung!


(ROBIN VANDERMOLEN) #9

Kudos and congratulations to our SPLENDID German brethren for their bold statement t

This entire “compliance” issue is merely a code word for Inbred misogyny and the church hierarchy’s allegiance to the heinous heretical “headship “
dogma, which is anti-women. The “compliance “ all revolves around our womens’ ordination issue, which multiple study groups have opined is not in theological dispute.

What is also not in dispute, is that our women pastors have an efficient GLASS CEILING, where none can ever aspire to be a conference nor Union Conference President. Apparently some of our brethren are threatened by female authority figures!

The Methodists have been ordaining their women pastors since 1956.
Many are now conference presidents or Bishops (the equivalent of our Union Conference presidents).

Katherine Jefferts Schori was the PRIMATE (head) of the Episcopal Church from 2006-2015.

The odious optics of our prolonged contention on this issue just amazes our Protestant brethren who dealt with this issue effectively eons ago.

Angela Merkel, has been the German Chancellor since 2005. She is also the de facto head of the European Union.

The German men apparently have sufficient strength in their masculinity not to be threatened by a female authority figure!

We wish this were true of our leadership in Silver Spring!


(Hugo Mendez) #10

As our former president, John F Kennedy, would have said,
“Ich bin Deutsche”.


(Elmer Cupino) #11

Thank you and may reason prevail.

Are there any more unions whose officers are willing to stand for principles and refuse to be coerced and corralled into subjugation?


(Sam Geli) #12

I hope we are listening to what our German church leaders are telling us in this response. Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. Let’s be wise!


(Stefan Burton-Schnüll) #13

Just a note… the links provided in the article link to the Swiss Union.

The SDA church in Germany is here.
And this is the link to the statement on their website.

On a personal note: Vielen Dank Johannes und Werner für die Stellungnahme! Gottes Segen euch beiden, und liebe Grüsse in die alte Heimat.


(George Tichy) #14

YES! The Germans have prior experience with leadership that make Beautiful Statements (BS) but end up wrecking the system. They saw Hitler doing this to their country, so they can easily recognize the dirty maneuvers when they happen.

It’s obvious that those two German leaders have guts and determination, and are not afraid of the GC’s bullying pulpit. They know they will have to fight this abuse perpetrated by the GC.

Sometimes I wonder if, like Trump now, soon Ted Wilson will ask each employee (then members too) to take a polygraph test to verify if they are totally submissive to his leadership. After that, those found in rebelion, will be “dismembered.”

I am getting nervous here. Where are the statements from the Unions in North America??? Will they also voice their determination to oppose this Machiavellian move to create a 5-group task force targeting the freedom of conscience? Or are they going to just throw our Unions (the members) under the bus?

The time to Repeal & Replace those black suited guys upstairs is way past due!!!


(George Tichy) #15

Ditto!!! Very well said.


(Adventist Australia) #16

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide church, the foundation of which are the local churches. In order to lead a universal Church, we have therefore given ourselves a representative system to guide the Church as an organization and as a community of believers”

Exactly…so why are they not complying with the 2015 GC decisions?


(Robert Lindbeck) #17

I applaud the stance of the German Union Presidents. It is always hard to be the first on record. I hope more stand up now to be counted.
In politics, a very dirty business, if a backbench member of the party (one without portfolio) tells the leader it is time to go, the leader rarely listens. When members of the leaders cabinet (Division Presidents, Departmental Leaders) tell the party leader it is time to go, he usually listens. When he does not have the support of his co-workers he can see the writing on the wall. That is unless he is totally blinkered an oblivious. Time for the President’s cabinet members to step forward as men or women of conscience.


(Carlo Schroeder) #18

What the GC has become is not what is meant to be, hence, the GC is only a forum to communicate ideas and recommendations which can or not be used. Secondly, the GC has no constituency as per say, because all who are present is invited, it is not like they are members of the GC. Also, it is no one’s right to assume something which was never theirs in the first place, assumption is the mother of all our problems. And last, but maybe more radical, if the post of president was regarded as not in according to God’s will, according to EG White, then whoever is presenting themselves as the president might be in deep trouble, because that is surely non compliance.


(George Tichy) #19

This GC group, under the encouragement of its President, is doing the impossible to usurp a right that belongs ONLY to the Unions. They are behaving like little infants jumping to take the candies from the adult’s hands. Foolish to say the least.

As a pattern, the GC does not benefit the local Churches at all. Nothing. This time it’s worse, because they are actually disturbing the peace at the whole denomination with their dirty tactics:

  1. Kicking TOSC results into the trash wasting way over $1mi.
  2. Putting to vote an infamous question in 2015.
  3. In 2016 talking about some idiotic/fake “one year of grace.”
  4. In 2017 trying to induce people to sign a dirty document without even giving them time to read it.
  5. In 2018… creating a KGB-like task force to start an inquisition in the Church.

All this, and more to come, only to secure discrimination of women in order to retain the power/control in the hands of a bunch of insane males??? Those people MUST GO!!!

What happened to our Church that the top leadership became so sick/repugnant? Don’t they have a conscience? Are they doing any spiritual work these days, or is it now a full time politicking job???


(Raul Friedmann) #20

The German Unions have done something that seemed impossible: to give a polite and correct response to the announced disaster being brewed by the General Conference.