Netherlands Union Conference Votes 88 to 76 to Continue Ordaining Women

In a specially convened session, the Netherlands Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NUC) has voted down a measure that would have rescinded the union's May 30th, 2013 vote in favor of ordaining women. The motion was introduced by a group of NUC members, who felt the union's policies have drifted from the stance of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church.

On the 30th of August, 2015, 82 concerned members of the Netherlands Union got together to draft a manifesto expressing displeasure with the direction of the NUC. The “Members Manifesto” called for a special constituency session at which the group could share its concerns, which in the manifesto ranged from the "homosexual lifestyle" to "emerging church theology."

On October 11, the group sent the manifesto with 789 signatures (there are approximately 5,700 members in the NUC) to the union board (executive committee). The group also shared complaints about the official church magazine, local churches not following the Church Manual properly, worldly music being played at national events, pastors not quoting Ellen White enough, and the use of the "wrong" Bible translation in publications.

The NUC leaders studied the manifesto, and on November 23, announced,

In the Netherlands Union Conference’s Constitution it says that the Union Board must call an extra-ordinary session if more than 500 members request this. The GC Working Policy requires this request to be made through business meetings of the local churches. While the way that this session was called goes against the GC Working Policy, the Union board recognises the signal that this manifesto gives. The extraodinary session will be on June 5 2016.


The constitution defines that an extraordinary session can have only one piece of business. Because the members manifesto wants to talk about the strategies and policies of the Union in the broadest sense, the Union Board is still formulating the precise piece of business. They will attempt to find one topic that fits the request that 790 members made, yet is still valid according to the constitution."

The union board stated, "The conclusion drawn is that there is especially a need for clarity around authority and powers within the various ecclesial levels. The final agenda is worded as follows: "The decision-making of the church were in relation to the role of women in the church."

While the group maintained that the union was out of line with GC Working Policy, the union board pointed to its published language on women's ordination that demonstrates harmony with denominational policy:

All in all there is therefore no explicit prohibition in the Working Policy against ordaining women. The way in which a power struggle has developed within the church, where the possibility of finding solutions in close consultation have disappeared, goes against the principles of the Working Policy. More importantly, the non-ordination of women goes against the policy concerning discrimination. In actual fact it goes against the Fundamental Beliefs, number 14 to be precise which deals with equality. These are some arguments that argue that the Dutch Adventist church is in fact in harmony with the Working Policy.”

During the June 5 extraordinary session, the group introduced a lengthy motion quoting Ellen White's statements on not subbornly maintaining private judgments and on the authority of the General Conference in session, and saying, "if the EC (executive committee) wants to go forward to seek variance for women ordination to the ministry it will first seek foundation for such proposal at the membership of this union, even at local church level."

The full motion was posted after the meeting on the website, a self-described "outreach ministry with a bookstore and publisher, located in Groningen, Netherlands." The document included an amendment to the motion (the group considered it a hostile motion), written in red. After much discussion, the motion was voted down, 88 against and 76 for the motion. The immediate upshot is that the union will continue ordaining women, as first voted in 2012, and reaffirmed in May 2013 and again in July 2015 after the San Antonio General Conference vote on ordination.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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Congratulations to our brothers and sisters in The Netherlands Union Conference for addressing straight-on the issue with transparency and openness.


Thank you, SPECTRUM editors for reporting in such detail.

If anything, the close vote demonstrates how much the issue is a cultural one. While the original decisions to maintain European standards and understandings of equality came from a largely European leadership, large parts of the Dutch membership do not have a European background.

Thus far the Dutch were able to handle diversity within their midst quite admirably. With such a forced vote - and such a close outcome - this will become more difficult. All the more important to have a gracious, wise leadership. The report clearly suggests: that’s what they have in the Netherlands.


Let’s face it.
The Vote [if we want to call it one] at SA2015 was a stacked deck against the discussion of Women Ordination to begin with, and began at the opening of the session.
We had the huge voting block to begin with. Whole groups REFUSED to let the individual voting be anonymous. The various groups WANTED to see who voted what and therefore cause PRESSURE to vote the way they were “encouraged” instead of being able to vote their conscience.
There were hecklers and booers
It certainly wasnt conditions for the Holy Spirit to speak to each person and allow each person to follow the leadings of the Spirit. It was mob rule.
And the Silver Springs group appeared to be OK with all this stuff going on.

EDIT6/8-- Further down the comment alluded to “the priesthood of all believers”.
This is NOT just a New Testament idea.
If one will take the time to read the Old Testament, the WHOLE Israelite Nation — Man, Woman, Child – was to be a Kingdom of Priests. NOT just the tribe of Levi.
They were to be Priests to the surrounding nations and to each other.
The IDEA of BOTH Men and Women to be Priests – or in 21st Century speak, Pastors – was in God’s mind from the BEGINNING!
DID the TOSC group ever discuss THAT??? Did they just look at Paul, and nothing else?
If we think about every Man, Woman, Child, this includes ALL. All the continuum of what it means to be human. This would include whether what one sees in the mirror every day matches with what the Brain is or not.


Distorted Priorities

1.So you feel insulted that unions do not toe the line over Women’s Ordination but indifferent if a Division tolerates fraud and Ted Wilson appears to have colluded with it. What if the 2015 vote was not God speaking or the Holy Spirit moving but rigged by Ted Wilson by persuading the likes of Paul Ratsara to deliver the vote?

2.People say Ted Wilson is a busy man as the world spiritual leader of Adventists. So what should he do first? Come clean over the SID and apparent fraud and take care of it, or punish Netherlands Union whose tithe pays his wages and jetset lifestyle? -Edgar


The Working Policy has not be changed. It has yet to include that ordination is limited to men only. Also read the FB which declares equality of all.

Unless and until the Working Policy has been changed to reflect the voting at the G.C. in 2015, it was NOT changed in the Working Policy which is still the guide within the denomination. Those changes are not made by membership popular vote.


The GCSA vote was only about what Divisions can/cannot do. However, Unions have their own constituencies who can vote on matters not otherwise prohibited. This some Unions have done re: ordaining pastors equally. There are neither policies nor Scripture prohibiting the ordination of women. If there were, the GC could have made those Unions reverse their actions. This hasn’t happened or even been attempted.

Understanding church structure is key. One good resource: “Who Runs the Church?”

Again. No doctrines, Scriptures, or policies have been violated by the Unions that have voted to recognize women pastors equally. That’s why the church hasn’t disciplined those Unions.

In fact, failing to equally recognize women pastors violates Fundamental Belief 14:
"In Christ we are a new creation; distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.

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I do not understand where this information comes from. Anyway it is a big lie. We have only voted for a motion and an amendment on the motion. Where do you get your information???

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Divided on the question. Would be better to see a much higher majority of “yes.” This isn’t a strong “yes.”

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  1. This group did not follow GC policy to call for a meeting but the NUC graciously allowed the meeting to happen anyway
    2.As Elaine pointed out there is no policy about the gender of those ordained. We will apparently have to keep reminding people that church policy is made if and only if the item is included in the constitution, 28 FB, church manual, and/or GC policy book. The first three items happen only in GC session, the last by GC at Fall or Spring Council.
    3, These omnibus manifesto makers should consider Philippians 1:18 and John 13:35 and Acts 15. We need to make room for different ways of doing things.
  2. “Wrong” Bible translation? S i g h.

Here we have the typical “pick and choose” theology. It’s ok to bear false witness, plagiarize PhDs (even mulitiple) and get blessings from TW, but once bring up WO, you are all against the Bible.

I would rather be against the working policy than the Bible.


I am a Dutchman, I agree with the 88. Working policy. Is not even close to the 10 Commandments. The Dutch beatThe Spanish and they have fight left against oppressive leadership. Tom Z


This article does not present truth. The motion was detabled, lost, because it didn’t met the 2/3 majority condition the chair had laid upon it. And, Yes, the amendments were indeed hostile. This was even officially confirmed by the chair immediately after submission, but he demanded that they would be discussed and voted. This was a violation of the RoO, but then, we have 20 years’ experience of strange restrictive procedures at sessions. THANK GOD they were voted down, but by that time only half an hour was left of the 2,5 the EC has so graciously granted the members. Apparently some people got really scared about the voting of the amendments, with 87 against and 86 in favor!! Mind that under the in favor are at least 41 union employees. This tells something about how much the policy of this union is sustained by members.

We were all astonished about what happened at the submission of the motion. The chair unilaterally renamed the motion from “Motion on proper authority” into “Motion of annulment” otherwise it would not be set as last in queue. After the voting of the amendments the chair, again unilaterally, stopped the debate on the motion, without having the delegates vote for ‘end of discussion’. The sub motions were neither allowed to be discussed separately, delegates were not allowed vote on that chair’s decision either.

The session was simply high jacked. But then, we have had 20 years of experience of high jacked sessions and goggled delegates. This time, we thought that the RoO would be a more honest procedure, but alas. Honesty suffices to say that to many it was a new order and probably also to the chair, but he had two parliamentarians as helpers. It should not have happened.

The Manifesto was not a burb of bigot members. It was legally called for on basis of our Constitution and Bylaws. There are many, many concerns in this field, and it saddens me to see that people who can only give credit to hear say, form a very long distance, would claim to know our fractured church. And publish an article without verifying. You could have asked for balance by asking the initiators of the manifesto for proper information. You could have send an email, for the mentioned website is mine.

I don’t know who is your source, Jared, but this is highly biased. This will discredit Spectrum Magazine in many ways. The source expresses only wishful thinking of some rebellious people here in the Netherlands. They have submitted two motions to reaffirm the illegal 2012 action, but their motions were not tabled, due to their own delaying tactics. Now they seem to seek unwarranted attention via a lost motion. Really pathetic, isn’t.

I want to bring to the attention of the Spectrum readers, the guidelines on credentials of the Trans European Division (TED). While the advocators of WO claim that the GC WP is not clear on gender. TED guidelines E 05 10, part of the TED WP is very clear. Elder NG said in San Antonio, “If the vote is NO, current policy stands”. Well here under an extract from that WP, that is current policy as of today.

GUIDELINES FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE GC POLICY RELATING TO LICENCES & CREDENTIALS FOR PASTORAL EMPLOYEES IN TED, issued YEM Nov 2009, on p. 3, sub 3: Pastor with an Ordained Ministerial Credential, subparagraph Authorized Functions: Ordained MALE pastors and evangelists are authorised by the conference to perform all the functions of a pastor in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the ordination is HIS endorsement to serve as a minister of the gospel in any part of the world."

In sub 4 on p. 3-- Financial Remuneration: Ordained pastors and evangelists shall receive financial remuneration equivalent to peers who are commissioned.

On p. 4: Note on Commissioning of Female Pastors: At the present time the Seventh-day Adventist Church does NOT PROVIDE FEMALE PASTORS, evangelists or Bible teachers WITH ORDINATION that is recognised by all unions in the world church. In unions where the union executive committee has authorised female pastors, evangelists or Bible teachers, these may be COMMISSIONED and given the functions of a pastor with Commissioned Minister Licence or with a Commissioned Minister Credential.

Good day and God bless us if we strive to keep the church together and finish victorious, not one of us missing.


After a year has passed and San Antonio " aberration" has been seen for what it was, a mistake; we can now say that as time passes our views change. Our perception about women in ministry has become wider and wiser. It is only the unchangeable who have wasted precious time.

Muhammad Ali had a lesson for all of us when he said:
“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life”

In this quote, Ali explains how life is all about perception, and that as you grow older, your experiences should change the way you view life, giving you a wider and wiser perspective. However, if you still view the world with the same lenses at an older age, you’ve unfortunately remained pretty stagnant and have not grown or expanded yourself.

“The immediate upshot is that the union will continue ordaining women, as first voted in 2012, and reaffirmed in May 2013 and again in July 2015 after the San Antonio General Conference vote on ordination”. Congratulations to the Netherland Union Conference!


What you have probably “seen” post-SA, through Spectrum’s persistently progressive lenses, is that liberals are unable to take “No” for an answer (even after three unsuccessful tries), especially the part about Paul saying “No” to permitting “a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man” on account that “Adam was formed first, then Eve” (1 Tim 2:12-13). Thus, from atop the apostle’s unchanging perch and his high view of Scripture, the only “aberration” would seem to be this ongoing attempt to foist upon the Seventh-day Adventist Church culture’s low-view lust for gender androgyny—as in “Whoever was formed first, then Whoever” (1 Sam 0:0).

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What you’ve probably seen post-San Antonio is Spectrum’s persistent commitment to reporting news stories of importance to the Seventh-day Adventist Church–especially those stories that do not get play in official Adventist media. That is the value, even the necessity, of an independent Adventist press.


It is difficult to know how to react! One day we read about “concerned academics” wrestling with Adventist leadership. The next week we are reading about “concerned members” doing the same. Why is it that the “concerned academics” are considered right in their every concern, but the “concerned members” are considered misguided in their concerns?

The NUC have not shown any real ability to think outside the binary gender specific/ gender inclusive ordination. Their sister unions in Scandinavia and Friedensau have done more thinking and have escaped the old and brittle broken ordination paradigm to some degree.

Also, if is this lack of creativity concerning the ordination issue is any indication, perhaps Adventist leadership in the NUC needs to give greater consideration to member concerns about such things as “homosexual lifestyle” and “emerging church theology.”

Afterall, one can be a compassionate and thinking conservative. One need not be a lefty, trendy progressive.

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When I was little, women were told that Paul advocated for women to have their head covered in church. Anyone who interprets Paul’s writings as not cultural, and never changing, needs to explain why we changed our thinking on the wearing of hats.

I have asked this question many times but not one satisfactory explanation has been forthcoming.

Here are some examples of how times have changed for women:

* Women can wear a wedding band (with some exceptions)

* Women/Girls can now wear trousers whilst climbing trees (yes, amusing)

* Women can vote (Where I live we had the vote in 1893 )

* Women can own property

_* Women can use contraception to prevent from having 10 kids, thus having extra time in their day to have “authority over men” :wink: _

* Women now have the law on their side when it comes to any violence and/or rape by husband.

God never changes but our perception of his Word does, depending on our culture and our increased understanding of his Word.


Splendid Raewyn,
In South Africa where I grew up, it was imperative for women to wear hats to church. Also dresses rather than pantsuits/.slacks.
And every Adventist wife wore a wedding band.
We were told that wedding bands in “America” were neither worn generally, by Adventists nor non Adventists!
Because we were “.British” we were allowed to wear the rings!

What cultural shock, on arriving as an immigrant to USA, to see NO hats in church, women’s pant suits ubiquitous, and not only the women wearing wedding bands but the men also-- something the South African men would never wear – jewellery was thought to be effeminate!

BRAVO to the Dutch!-- I am so very proud that my grandfather was born in the Netherlands!


Should the policies of the church, if any, dictates what the Bible says about women Ordination, and on which the GC had stand in 2015?
I think What the NUC brethren had done could be best describe as obstinacy.