North German Union Responds to Annual Council Warning

Editor’s Note: The North German Union of Seventh-day Adventists released a statement on October 18, 2019 in response to the Annual Council vote on October 15 to warn this Union, along with several others, for taking “actions that are not in harmony with Working Policy and practices on credentials.” Read more about the vote by clicking here.

An English translation of the motions is provided below (translated to English via DeepL.com and Google Translate):

Seventh-day Adventist Church

North German Union

Public statement by the Executive Board of the NDV on the "warning" issued on October 15, 2019 by the Executive Committee of the General Conference.

The Executive Committee of the General Conference (World Church Directorate of the Seventh-day Adventist Church) has issued a warning at its autumn meeting on October 15, 2019 to the North German Union and other unions for their ordination practice with 164 votes in favor and 124 against. This warning also applied to Adventist church leaders in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Two North American unions (Columbia Union Conference and Pacific Union Conference) also received a warning based on their practice of women's ordination.

On the history of the North German Union:

On April 23, 2012, the NDV Assembly of Delegates decided with 160 votes in favor and 47 against that women pastors could be ordained in the territory of the North German Union, just like their male counterparts. The starting points for the previous detailed discussion were three existing standards: a) the social standard of an anti-discrimination law in civil and labor law, b) the federal law, passed in 2006 as the General Equal Treatment Act, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, sex, and above all, c) the biblical standard, which is stated in the Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief #14, "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."

For ordination/commissioning practice:

Because the Working Policy of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church does not provide for the ordination of women to global gospel ministry, the NDV's Executive Committee took into account the decision of the Assembly of Delegates by proposing a way of gender equality of pastors in the NDV area, which the Working Policy of Seventh-day Adventist Church provides: In addition to the ordination for the worldwide Ministerial Credential, which is reserved for men only, the Working Policy has a second form of full assignment to pastoral service (Commissioned Minister Credential), which is also used worldwide for women and men. The only difference is that the first form of full mandate has global validity, the second only national.1

The first appointment is called "ordination," the second "commissioning." Both are full appointments to the ministry service. The NDV Executive Committee decided for its area of responsibility to exclusively provide for both men and women the second form of full assignment, commissioning (Commissioned Minister Credential). This creates equal opportunities for pastors in the NDV area.

Reason for the warning:

In its most recent decision, the World Church Leadership has issued a public warning to the North German Union because the NDV no longer uses the ordination (Ministerial Credential) for the worldwide ministry of preaching, which is reserved for men only, but for pastors, according to the guidelines of the World Church, the commissioning alone (Commissioned Minister Credential) is practiced. A general suspension of the ordination (Ministerial Credential) is not compliant.

Evaluation of the NDV board:

1. The board of the North German Union sees the warning of the world church leadership as not justified. The NDV practices a regulation of "commissioning," which on the one hand exercises the equal treatment of female and male pastors, on the other hand corresponds to a regulation of the guidelines of the World Church. An obligation to "ordination" is not given in the policy of the World Church.

2. The warning of the World Church Leadership has been made in the context of the "Procedure for breaches of rules" adopted in 2018. The procedure provides for regulations that were not applied in this case. Contrary to the public presentation of the chairman of the world church leadership, the NDV was not told in advance in any official correspondence known to us as being in non-compliance with the rules. Rather, the NDV President learned only a few days before the event of a possible warning for non-compliance. In our opinion, this practice does not reflect the 2018 resolution, nor the spirit of fairness and Christian respect.

3. We regret the fact that, before the President of the World Church Leaders presented the request to the delegates to issue a warning, there was no hearing of the respective Union, e.g. of the NDV President, in which the facts could be presented from the perspective of the Union concerned. This should have at least taken place, in a timely manner, before the decision-making body.

4. We consider it questionable whether it is in accordance with the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 18:15ff to give a public warning such as this without first having sought solutions in a smaller circle.

The NDV measures to deal with the warning:

1. The Executive Committee of the North German Union will examine whether and in what form an objection can be raised against the warning issued by the World Church Leadership (as foreseen in the procedures adopted in 2018).

2. Together with the Inter-European Division (EUD), the Executive Committee of the North German Union will analyze the situation that has arisen and agree on measures to promote the unity and development of the World Church.

3. The NDV Board will, as stated in its 2016 document “Opinion on Ordination,”2 continue to focus on the real underlying concern that racial, cultural, educational, national, social and societal differences, as well as differences between men and women, not be divisive in our church (based on Fundamental Belief #14 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church). Therefore, we will continue to promote and implement the equality of pastors within our world church.

Johannes Naether, President

Friedbert Hartmann, Vice President

Dieter Neef, Treasurer

Position of the South German Union:

The executive board of the South German Union fully agrees with the evaluations of the NDV regarding the subject of the warning and the procedure.

Werner Dullinger, President

Jens-Oliver Mohr, Vice President

Dieter Neef, Treasurer

Footnotes:

1. See document "Levels of Pastoral Assignment" at https://www.adventisten.de/utility/dokumente-und-stellungnahmen/

2. See document "Statement by the NDV on the ordination of women serving ministry as pastors" (2016) at https://www.adventisten.de/utility/dokumente-und-stellungnahmen/

The original statement in German is included below and is also available on the North German Union website here.

Image: Wikipedia

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9956
7 Likes

This non compliance measure is only digging a deeper hole of division by the world leadership

This statement is well expressed. The compliance action was assumed, but never formalized to the Union in question here BEFORE it went to the church council. From the beginning, the non compliance was out of compliance with itself, invalidating the warning. Secondly, indeed, there is no such policy saying that only commissioning pastors is out of policy, and thus deserves notice of non compliance.

The men forcing this issue from the top down, and that is exactly what is being done, are blinding themselves in their feelings of being personally affronted by unions that have decided in overwhelming measure, to ordain women. This isn’t being led of God.

Fighting against God is hard to do.

22 Likes

So simple; ANY practice targeting equality of males and females will always be repudiated by the discriminators at the GC. Those people are psychologically disturbed and spiritually very weak. They hide behind a skirt called Church, and abuse their power. They need to be repealed and replaced by vote asap, otherwise the ship will completely sink.

25 Likes

Personal conscience is a human right given by God. Ted Wilson’s opposition to the exercise of this God-given human right is in the spirit of the Anti-Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer refused to bend the knee to Adolf Hitler. The NDV should continue to refuse to bend the knee to Ted Wilson.

The NDV’s fine statement is a recapitulation of the three little words of Martin Luther: “Here I stand.”

The Ted Wilsons in the closing days of Earth’s history do not negotiate. They do not listen. They do not make peace. They do not meet others half-way. They always and everywhere seek to wear you down, crush your will, and void your conscience.

May God continue to pour out the Holy Spirit upon the NDV.

36 Likes

Excellent statement. How tragic that TW and the GC just plow ahead with their ill-conceived policies that showcase both ignorance and contempt.

24 Likes

Thank you, SPECTRUM Team for translating and publishing the statement here. I do believe it is a strong, clear, and well justified reply to what happened at A/C.

In my filter bubble it does receive a lot of support - and there is primarily head shaking and disbelief when people see the videos of the event.

37 Likes

The Horrible thing is that it is NOT ONLY our President who was
behind all this Warning and Public Embarrassment of these Church
Leaders [and their constituents who VOTED their WILL], but the
whole GROUP of officials at the General Conference Level.
They were NOT ASHAMED to stand up in front of those 285
delegates and do this Shameful ACT.
This shows how embedded in our leadership it is that they will
not listen to the Spirit of God, NOR will honor the grass roots
leadership in the local churches of those Unions.
What they did was a “slap in the face” of ALL the members of
those Unions who agreed upon what they VOTED.
Similar to a Middle Ages Inquisition event for Huss, Jerome, Luther,
and others. At least they didn’t have an outdoor bondfire!
It is SAD to think of Mark Finley as being involved in this event!!!
Have known him for decades.

21 Likes

Don’t they have more important thing to do at the annual council?

18 Likes

Apparently………not.

9 Likes

Such a well reasoned response to an unreasonable action of the GC. I applaud them for the position they have taken. Perhaps other unions will have the courage to follow suit.

My only question is a governance issue. If everyone both male & female is commissioned, how does anyone become a Conference or Union president in the German Union? Unless things have changed, I thought GC policy requires that Conference & Union presidents be ordained. To allow commissioned pastors to advance to leadership positions, would that not also require a change in denominational policies? If so, let’s get it done!

12 Likes

Let me sum this issue up as I see it. TW and the majority of the delegates at the AC consider women to be subservient to men. The only reason ordination is even a part of the discussion, is that ordaining women pastors (or as NDV does, not ordaining anyone, and commissioning male and female pastors equally) is proof that some conferences truly take male/female equality seriously. So, final word from the GC, men and women are not equal, women are held subservient to men, and anyone who questions that conclusion will be warned and potentially reprimanded. This does not come from the God I believe in.

23 Likes

Sadly, the votes last week show no change compared to 2015. The predicted “progress” has not come the pass. Is an exit strategy that creates two separate, but cooperating world churches at all a realistic possibility?

6 Likes

Not if TW gets his way, apparently. It’s not clear, though, how he can force compliance. Maybe things will just hang in limbo until TW is no longer president? AC sure did not engender much hope of a “peaceful” solution.

5 Likes

This is the key language. The unions that are pursuing equal recognition of women and men in ministry are not going to back up. These unions have constituencies who believe firmly in the concept. Those constituencies are not subject to or controllable by the GC or the GC Executive Committee. Without us constituents, this church does not exist.

So the GC and those parts of the world church who want to control us had better reconsider. It is past time when we should have been at a round table in dialogue about how to reach accommodation with each other.

15 Likes

Ted Wilson has multiple times in recent years referred to the “nuclear option “ of the GC dissolving the non-compliant unions.

I can’t help speculate that a “civilized” breakup perhaps would be a better solution.

8 Likes

It is likely that the only message that may lead ADCOM to stop their power play will be for multiple additional unions to join the current six. May God grant courage to presidents of such supportive unions to join the ranks . Several such voices of support were heard during the discussions on video. We must not retreat like the NBA in the face of Hong Kong struggles for liberty and equality.

12 Likes

Well guess what. Women only have as much authority as men are willing to give them. So all the “cry baby” complaining about what the bible teaches about male headship will not change the facts.
And as Gerald Wolfe said, “Just because you won’t accept it, won’t change it.”

Yes, men have abused this God given authority to Adam and all men but abuse of authority does not negate the principle of authority.

Equal in value does not equate to equal in all positions in government.
So, just as Christ is equal to the Father, He is still subject to His Father’s authority and must have permission to come to earth to make atonement for sin.

EGW affirms it along with the bible, but since you don’t believe in either one, there is no use quoting either.

1 Like

I’m confused. How did EGW confirm male superiority? And as for the Bible, it’s main point is that Christ is the head of the church, period, end story. No leader within the church has authority over anyone, Christ has all authority. You are misinterpreting Scripture.

21 Likes

The North German Union response feels like, in a time of hopelessness, fresh air, true leadership, integrity, and courage. Sacred words.

With the persistent initiator in this battle constantly bringing the issue to the agenda (since 2015 and before) through manipulation of documents, firing Thomas Lemon, refusing to pray for a woman in Australia’s commissioning service, announcing several weeks ago the dropping of compliance committees while all the time using such a committee to plan warning and rebuke, and frosting all of it by appealing to the “sweet, sweet Spirit” as the source of these deeds.

The Germans give me hope in their courage and words. Thank you.

22 Likes

Right! As a SS teacher for the past 13 yrs. this policy of denying women Equal Rights which by the way are Human Rights, in ordination makes it rather difficult to teach Scriptural facts that women are indeed equal when these topics arise in the quarterly lessons. Infact, the logical next question should be… are women even allowed to teach particularly when males are in the class? I have been patient with the GC, even stating that we must be calm, try to convince the SA and African delegates a chance to"catch up" to see how women are truly equal. I believe that it’s always best for women to be discreet and complete with wisdom and knowledge in such matters, but now this patience is wearing thin…with the constant political attacks on women’s rights in the US, and church policy. How terrible that men are using/blaming the “women problem” (“the woman you gave me”) to tear at the fabric of our church. I don’t want us to divide especially over this! Stronger together, but there will come a time when we are “shaken” and my belief in this prophecy stands. I fear this generation is on the wrong side of history…

7 Likes