Netherlands Union Conference Votes to Extend Postponement of Ordination of Female Pastors

On Sunday, December 3, the Netherlands Union Conference (NUC) Executive Committee voted to extend its current postponement on the ordination of female pastors.

The Netherlands Union is a long-time proponent of women’s ordination, having voted in 2012 to support it, and then in 2013 becoming the first Union in Europe to ordain a female pastor. The NUC held firm to its decision after the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio, issuing a statement that the GC decision would not change the NUC’s commitment, and that “Female pastors will continue to be ordained in the Netherlands Union Conference.”

However, in April 2017, the Executive Committee “decided to postpone the ordination of female pastors until after October 2017 to contribute to the process of dialogue and reconciliation” within the Adventist Church. This decision aligned with the Trans-European Division’s commitment to work with the GC to find a solution to the women’s ordination issue that would work in Europe. As reported previously, the situation within the European divisions is more complex than in other world divisions due to legislation under European Union law that requires men and women to be afforded equal opportunity for advancement.

The hope seemed to be that a path forward would develop out of the GC’s 2017 Annual Council held in October. However, with the 14-page “Procedures for Reconciliation and Adherence in Church Governance” document sent back to the Unity Oversight Committee for more work over this next year, and the subsequent departure of Elder Thomas Lemon as chair of that committee, a solution for reconciliation has not yet been reached.

The Netherlands Union’s April decision to postpone the ordination of female pastors was made by its outgoing Executive Committee, which had served from 2012 to 2017, and had voted to ordain women in the first place. The December 3 decision re-affirms “the decision made by the previous Executive Committee, to refrain from ordaining female pastors for the time being,” according to a letter sent on December 7 to NUC churches.

The letter, written by NUC Executive Secretary Enrico Karg, states that the decision to re-affirm the postponement was based on two factors:

First…The newly-elected Executive Committee systematically analyzed what events occurred since practicing the ordination of women in 2013, in order to see what gains and what losses have developed since, and how this has effected the development of the church at large, as well as what serious challenges this has brought forward.

After a long and exhaustive session of reflection and analysis, the current Executive Committee reached the conclusion that the previous Executive Committee, under the present circumstances in our field, has acted wisely to postpone the ordination of female pastors for the time being.

The second factor that the current Executive Committee took heed of was a request made by the Division Executive Committee of the Trans-European Division (TED EXCOM), to all of her Unions, to refrain from taking actions that would otherwise jeopardize the intended request to the World Church to enter into (real) dialogue. In short, this means two things: situations as a result of actions taken in the past are to be left untouched, and as of now to refrain from issuing new actions outside of policies as is currently established.

The letter goes on to state that the motion passed by the Netherlands Union Executive Committee will honor the request of the Trans-European Division and “refrain from undertaking escalating actions until the Year End meetings of the Executive Committee in 2019” and that the NUC will “temporarily refrain from ordaining female pastors.”

According to the motion, this extended temporary postponement will “pave a way for dialogue…in the hopes of having all parties reach a permanent solution. The Executive Committee of the Netherlands Union will, however, keep on investing in the full equality of both female and male pastors.”

The letter reaffirms that “Both the current, and former Executive Committee of the Netherlands Union have in no way changed their position that equality of female and male pastors is a must. Following this, the administration wants you to know that all possibilities to reach full equality will, without any hesitation, be embraced. The methodology for reaching this has changed, but the position hasn’t.”

The original letter (in Dutch) and the English translation are included in full below.

When asked for comment on the Netherland Union’s decision, Karg stated:

After an exhaustive analysis of the events that happened after we ordained a female pastor in 2013, we could only reach the conclusion that the matter of WO will not be settled at a Union level. The issue at hand is a Goliath. And as a Union, we cannot go near Goliath. The Division can. They are our David. If you cannot reach Goliath yourself, at least allow for David to have stones. The willingness of the Netherlands Union to enter into dialogue with the world church is our stone, and we will hand it over to our David for now.

The Netherlands Union is comprised of almost 6,000 members, 59 churches, 26 current pastors, and 19 retired pastors. Three of the current pastors are female, and two of the three are considered ordained, while the third is considered commissioned. The total population in the Netherlands is over 17 million.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

A continuation of Women as 2nd Class Citizens of the Seventh day Adventist church.
AND by the MEN of the Seventh day Adventist church.
Continuing to wield and show their power against the Holy Spirit in the Call of Women.


The split is coming. The Netherlands Union seems as determined to push ahead with WO as was free Australian parliament this week to push ahead with marriage without regard to gender and to dismiss all protections for religious liberty or for anyone who thinks differently. (Almost 40% of the Australian population who think differently - and it could be more if you take into account the deliberate sabotage of the vote by some - have been marginalised and essentially told that their heads are on the chopping block.)

A spirit of rebellion is in the air, and those involved can’t see it. They are convinced they are right acting on their “conscience” in the interests of equality and fairness and who could argue against such? Such is the blindness of the modern progressives.

@petersomerset The only way to solve WO is to do what I thought TOSC was going to do - get together and do an in-depth Bible study (go from Genesis to Revelation with a fine-tooth comb) to determine what the Biblical qualifications for ordination are and who is entitled to it - and to spell this out in great detail, quoting all the relevant Bible texts. This would be the starting point for any further discussion on the matter. Obviously TOSC did not do this. (Perhaps the BRI should get onto it?) You simply had different people from different persuasions present papers detailing their views on ordination, and with a roughly 50/50 split for/against, consensus was never going to be reached. (Perhaps the delegates to TOSC, rather than being hand-picked to represent roughly 50/50 for/against, should have been selected to be roughly representative of the make-up of all the world Divisions. (Isn’t is strange that most TOSC members were North Americans?) Then consensus would have been reached AND it would be representative of the world church AND it the outcome would have had more clout.)

As a proud Dutchman —my grandfather was from the Netherlands,——
I am dismayed that the Adventists in this progressive country are not following the SPLENDID example of the PACIFIC UNION CONFERENCE in promoting fair and equal treatment for their female constituency…

Dutch people have always been in the forefront of EQUAL TREATMENT for their citizens /voters.

They were among the first countries to endorse same sex marriage, thereby allowing Dutch LGBT taxpayers the same legal tax /estate / inheritance /adoption rights as their heterosexual siblings and cousins.

As a frequent visitor to Amsterdam, one of my favorite European capitals,
I observe that in addition to the ANNE FRANK HOUSE, and it’s condemnation of Nazism, the Dutch also memorialize the multiple thousand of gays whom the Nazis exterminated, in addition to the Jews and the Gypsies.

( Some of the anti gay and homophobic posts on Adventist blog sites would indicate a similar extermination impulse amongst some Adventisst posters.).

Many years later, Australia has finally, with an overwhelming positive citizen vote, and an almost universal parliamentary endorsement,
recognized that their LGBT taxpayers deserve equal legal/ taxing / financial protections as their heterosexual relatives.

Fairness, egalitarianism, simple democracy, basic HUMAN RIGHTS,
are in an INEXORABLE, relentless, unstoppable march in the modern civilized world.

One would have hoped that the savvy Dutch would have hitched their star to this unstoppable bandwagon.


Let me congratulate the Netherlands Union Conference on this most recent action and the restraint they are showing! A bull-headed approach to global dictates will never produce any forward movement on this front. Nothing would be gained by all the world wandering after the example of the Pacific Union Conference nor of the Columbian Union Conference.


I believe that this issue of how we affirm, bless and consecrate those who are in pastoral leadership among us will never be settled until our global communion makes a deliberate move to reframe the discussion. We need a new paradigm of understanding the theology of pastoral leadership. And we will only achieve this once we have understood the revolutionary teaching of the priesthood of all believers and thus develop a truly biblical theology of the laity.

The emphasis should never be on the rights of men to be heads in the church of God. Christ alone is our head! Neither should the emphasis be on the rights of women to an equality with men in pastoral leadership. Rather the emphasis should always be on the right of God Himself to choose who He will employ in pastoral leadership. And if God chooses an individual as His leaders (be they men or women) who are we to resist.

Our current system of ordination and credentials is overburdened and broken. Through the years, an innocent method of identifying and affirming our representative pastoral and evangelistic leaders has often morphed into a sinful method of creating status and distinction between the ordinary Christian and the extra-ordinary Christian leader, between the so-called laity and the so-called clergy. But from the beginning, it was not so.

In an essay commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Reformation William Dallman wrote, “The OT distinction between priest and people, clergyman and laymen, is at an end. Christ, our high priest, has made all Christians priests unto God. All Christians are God’s clergy, and there is no special clerical order in the church… The church is a goverment of the people, by the people and for the people, and all the Christians are the people.”

In the same collection of commemorative essays, C. Abbetmeyer wrote, “The external organization and administration of the early church was such as befitted the royal priesthood of God’s children. In that community of brethren all were of equal dignity. Each member had for himself access to the Word and the heart of God, and to all conjointly had been given an office, the ministry of the Word.”

All in the faith community are called, whether leaders or people. Our calling is enfolded in our gifting and all have been gifted. Those with leadership gifts have been gifted with these gifts by God to enable them to lead. God gives the gift of discernment to some so as to identify such people and call them to lead.

It occurs to me that Adventists in our most well developed and sophisticated egalitarian societies have as much to learn here about the divine order as those in traditional Roman Catholic societies as well as in tribal societies. Perhaps this is exactly why revisiting a truly biblical theology of the laity (the whole people of God) is such an important step in solving this global Adventist conundrum.

Great to meet you here Pago! Your suggestion that Adventists work through all the Scriptures for guidance and a solution to this conundrum has already been completed by Bertil Willander and the Trans-European Division as their contribution to the TOSC process. All 900 odd pages of it. It’s conclusions have been ignored in most quarters.

The reason I suggested that Adventists give further study to a comprehensive study of a theology of the laity was that so many in traditional Roman Catholic societies and tribal societies as well as in sophisticated Western societies imagine wrongly that ordination propels the individual into a different clergy class, distinct and separate from the laity.


The best way to explain the way politics (church, national or personal) is done in Holland is to allow the Dutch to explain themselves, as in their one line tourguide:

“The politics of the Netherlands take place within the framework of a parliamentary representative democracy, a constitutional monarchy and a decentralised unitary state. The Netherlands is described as a consociational state. Dutch politics and governance are characterised by a common striving for broad consensus on important issues, within both the political community and society as a whole.”

Is anyone surprised by this Dutch executive committee action? Church and Dutch politics parallel each other in “striving for a broad concensus”. Where is the part of the story that actually has David doing his thing because it is the right thing to do. “Biblical David” was not looking for “concensus” before attacking Goliath. If progressives are looking for their “cajones” they need to look elsewhere. This “Dutch-boy David” needs others to lead the way prefering “broad concensus”.


And we wonder why Jesus has not come yet . . . and some still blame God.

The last time I did the right thing I didn’t consult a committee for an excuse not to do it.

Where is NOT the SDA church ‘in shambles’ due to ‘mismanagement’ ever since the reorganization of the early 1900s failed to produce enough ‘rebels’ against the tyrannical leadership of the mere men we place on ‘high horses’, by choosing to obey them rather than God ? Unless individual freedom of conscience leads to individual freedom of action – all ‘in Christ’ – there is no ‘Gospel’. . . .

But, phooey on this ‘rebel’ – me – and my ‘high horse’.
Let’s see what God’s own ‘SOP’ ‘rebel’ still has to say in agreement with the ancient words of James against such double-minded doubt in God’s ability to lead individuals “in Christ” – even in the Netherlands – correctly:

Conferences Being Leavened.
"Those working in places far off from Battle Creek have made a mistake by depending on a few minds in that place. These men do not know the situation of the cause and work in different localities. Let those who are on the ground in these countries remember that God has given them brains and intelligence to use their talents. If they err in some things as they work in their own borders, they are not to be blamed. Those who would blame them have perhaps committed greater errors. Let these men put their trust in God, asking wisdom of him who has promised to give to all who ask him, and upbraid not. {SpTA09 33.1}

God is a God at hand, not afar off. “Come unto me,” said Christ, "all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. O how differently from this have the men in Battle Creek felt and acted when consulted. They did not show the meekness and lowliness of heart manifested by the great Teacher and Saviour of men, but have shown, instead, a selfish superiority, an overbearing spirit. By this they showed that Jesus did not abide in their hearts. Thank the Lord, all are not of this spirit; but the conferences are fast being leavened with this self-righteous sense of superiority. {SpTA09 33.2}

Let those in different countries walk by faith. Let them inquire, Am I serving the men at Battle Creek, or am I serving the Lord? They are to feel their individual accountability to God, not to men who give evidence that they themselves need to seek the Lord for wisdom. As the Lord’s delegated servants seek him for wisdom, he will answer their prayers. Those in distant countries who are on the ground should consult together, pray together, opening the word of God for counsel. Where two or three are agreed together, this word declares, as touching anything they shall ask in the name of Jesus, it shall be done for them. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Bow down before God. With reverential awe approach the throne of grace. Present the word of God, which is “not Yea and Nay, but Yea and Amen, in Christ Jesus.” {SpTA09 33.3}

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” “Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (see James 1) “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing: but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your minds and hearts through Christ Jesus.” {SpTA09 34.1}

Who will be first in the SDA World Church to risk rebellion against mere SDA mankind and distrust their organizational ‘laws’, and disbelieve their ‘another Gospel’ (Galatians 1:6-9) . . .
in order to simply trust & obey God and Their ‘laws’, through believing & living ‘Their Gospel’,
". . . in Christ Jesus" ?:

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek (nor American, nor Australian, nor ‘proud’, nor ‘humble’ Dutch),
there is neither bond nor free,
there is neither male nor female:
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”
Galatians 3:26-29

Who will be first ? . . . apparently not those who look for help, instead, to that very same rebellious church organization which ironically opposes and exalts itself against such Good News.

The lonesome Christ was NOT a mere ‘Protestant’ against the ‘orthodox’ organized corruption of His Father’s House.
He merely did do the right thing according to His Father’s will, without deferring to any mere human will. Christ was, and still is, the ‘first’ and the ‘last’ to ‘risk rebellion’, and He rode no ‘high horse’ in doing so 2,000 years ago. Yet, corrupt, merely human leadership obeyed Him and ran from the church, while He stayed, and lived the Gospel.

“. . . and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:1-3

Do SDAs who are ‘in’ that ‘Christ’ need to wait for corrupt ‘corporate’ church leaders – and their ‘we have a law’, and their false-male-warrior-messiah ‘gospel’ – to crucify Christ, again, before we ‘get it’, and follow Him in the best path of action ?

‘Corporate’ ‘banking’ and ‘churching’ don’t mix.
(This adulterous ‘mix’ goes at least back to ‘1888’ in SDA history, See
Wounded In The House Of His Friends, chapter 11, Achan in the Camp, by Ron Duffield,
See also, entries regarding, ‘Henry, Archibald R. (or ‘A.R.’)’, and ‘Lindsay, Harmon’ in,
The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, by Denis Fortin, Jerry Moon)


Why do some concluded that when the Holy Spirit amounts a individual for service, and that individual is female somehow it equates to lesbian and transgender individuals. To me we are not discussing gender orientation, rather service to God, how the Holy Spirit can reach the world in the best way possible. It is also important to recognise that the other side, also mixes up the issue. When we mix up concepts trying to show how inclusive one is, and then forgoing our real reason, then we also create an misunderstanding to what the real goal is, and that is equality in service, and equality in being male and female. God does not need us to defend his name, our function is sharing the love of God.

P.S. usually those who are most aggressive towards an issue, usually are hiding something.

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as a grandson of a Dutch immigrant too, I’m glad the brakes were put on in this move to rebellion. I’m aware of how left wing & secular Dutch society sadly is these days—but that is no excuse to bring militant feminism & cultural Marxism into Adventism.

Most probably, after some persuasion, Spectrum is baffling honest for once in presenting a news item. Finally a sound analysis of the Exec - the authority in this matter is not at the Union level!
Indeed it takes the courage of a David to admit that one knows something has been left to go extremely wrong in this field, because of ego and power clash.
The Church in Holland lays in shambles at present by mismanagement in the past 20 years; and all those talking from their high horses in USA, Australia or other rebellious fields, should hold their peace. They don’t know how members have suffered by coercion and manipulation in the past years - and not only because of this issue.
Yes, the Dutch are known for their independency of thought, but also for their law abiding and common sense – to know when enough is enough.
Some dreamers won’t stop, though. it’s winning a power fight at all costs.
We’d better continue to bring this Union Exec before God’s throne for more strength to stand for what is right.
Besides, in heaven there is no ordination, but the work that we have done - men and women - not for Church positions, but for the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ - goes ahead before us to eternity. We will meet our deeds there…

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i think this is a prudent, commendable course on the part of NUC…even though they know they’re in the right to ordain women, they’re exercising restraint for the sake of weaker church members in africa and elsewhere who aren’t where they are spiritually, along the line of paul’s counsel in Rom 14:13 - 15:1…NUC is demonstrating a desire to be part of a world body that includes cultures different from their own…

i don’t think we can be used by god to carry adventism to the world if all we can deal with is people who think like we do…sticking to one’s guns for the sake of so-called principle regardless of the feelings and conscience of others is spiritually immature and self-centered…it’s overlooking the larger principle of yielding to one another for the sake of everyone’s collective advancement…

what NUC might consider doing, while they put ordaining women on hold, is to actively reach out to headship areas in the church and bring them up to their level gradually…of course headship areas aren’t thinking they’re operating on a lower level, and so humility here is of the utmost importance…but interaction during this reconciliation time has the best chance of avoiding hard feelings due to misunderstandings and wrong assumptions…because WO cannot be resolved through argument, it’s best to let an atmosphere of love, mutual respect and clear thinking point out the truth…sometimes truth can be sensed intuitively, rather than rationally…

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This approach is foundational, but is it functional? How do we accept Biblical qualification when Moses prohibited men from the priesthood if their gonads were crushed (might make them too feminine) or they were disabled? Priest were only to marry virgins, all the rest were disqualified (but who would know if they lied?). Men had to retire at 50 and needed to wait till their 25th birthday to began ministry. Of course women could not come to worship with men when they were fertile. This could make it difficult for wives to stand beside their husbands in ministry before God. The reality is–there can be consensus as to what is “Biblical qualifications” for ordainment. Culture can trump Biblical commands, everyone agrees to some extent!

I only wonder what will it take (or how long) for the SDA Church to finally eliminate DISCRIMINATION OF WOMEN from our midst. It’s a shame that we have an administration that is so compromised with the HEADSHIP HERESY that they keep fighting in favor of such a condemnable practice.

I am kind of disappointment with the postponement at NUC; I really believed they were more committed to the cause of eliminating discrimination of women. But I also understand that it’s not easy to fight a manipulative organization when it was " occupied" by headship supporters, especially if they have deep ties with the Russians…, oh, I meant, with the LGTarians!!! :wink: …Sad!

I wonder what Dr Cupino, @elmer_cupino would comment on this issue, especially considering a reluctance that now appears to be based on fear rather than on principle…
@harrpa @robert_sonter @timteichman


There is no compelling evidence to support this policy but everything to contradict it. From the early days when TW threatened “grave consequences” to as recent as the AC when he “prophecied” to return in a year or two with his revised infamous “14-page document” in spite of the 184:114 vote, TW has shown nothing but threats. TW’s sense of empathy has atrophied fueled by his undying faithfulness to the Headship theory. Anyone who believes “this extended temporary postponement WILL pave a way for dialogue” may contact @GeorgeTichy and myself. We have portions of the Brooklyn Bridge for sale.