North German Union Votes to Ordain Women and Men Equally to Pastoral Ministry

Editor’s Note: On April 25, 2021 the North German Union voted to ordain women and men equally to pastoral ministry. The full press release originally appeared in German on the Union’s website and was also distributed by the Adventist Press Service.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11203
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The United Methodist Church has been ordaining their clergywoman since 1956 !!
So the North German Union is belated in their decision to ordain their women clergy.
The American Episcopal Church was headed by a woman, Bishop Katherine Jeffers Schori from 2006-2015.

When will the a North German Union elect a women president to lead them ? After all, their country has been led by Angela Merkel for many years !

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I support the public affirmation, blessing and consecration of Adventist women in leadership roles, within the Adventist movement, wherever world divisions freely choose this for themselves. This is what may be called the A, B, C’s of Adventist leadership. Each of the world Divisions is at a different place concerning the ordination of women. In many regions of the world it would greatly assist the mission and ministry of believers. In others it would not.

The “Consensus Statement on an Adventist Theology of Ordination” suggests nothing that would prohibit the appointment of Adventist women as pastoral leaders. Further, it explicitly states the fact that “while ordination contributes to church order, it neither conveys special qualities to the persons ordained nor introduces a kingly hierarchy within the faith community.”

On the contrary, headship theology as it is currently advanced in Adventist circles, seeks to impart special qualities to the ordained. This may be acceptable in other faith communities that adhere to a sacramental theology.

In such faith communities ordained persons are regarded as a reverend clergy class, distinct from the people of God. Some in this clergy class even wear a ring symbolizing the fact that they are husbands and heads of the bride of Christ.

Adventists, on the other hand, acknowledge only one bridegroom and head, Christ, with only one body. We are not divided between the so-called clergy and the rest – the laity. We all are part of the “laos,” though some are gifted with leadership gifts to lead.

Appointing people as Adventist leaders is not about a “woman’s right” to serve in pastoral leadership. Nor is it about a “man’s right” to be head of a whole congregation - whatever that may mean! Rather it is about “God’s right” to gift whoever he wishes for leadership. And if God’s calling is enfolded in his gifting who are we to resist His will in this regard.

Places as diverse as Africa, Asia and Europe have explicitly and pointedly called on Adventists to recognize the need for cultural sensitivity as we design and implement rites created to publicly affirm, bless, and consecrate Adventist leaders of both genders.

Let us then, all move creatively and boldly into God’s future, empowered by his Spirit.

My support for the affirmation, blessing and consecration of Adventist leaders, whoever they be, is firstly about “God’s right” to gift whoever He wishes for leadership. It is not about a “woman’s right” to lead, or indeed about a “man’s right” to be head of a congregation or an ecclesial organization – such things being not being anywhere near the full picture.

We thus easily become muddleheaded when equity, justice and discrimination are top of mind as we consider these issues. The issues are first and foremost missional and charismatic in nature.

May God grant leaders within the Advent movement the gift of discernment to discern God’s will for the whole people of God!!

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This is precisely the point that so many miss and fail to realize that it is up to the Holy Spirit to distribute to those He deems qualified.

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So a Union with a mere 19k members decides to force its decision to ordain its women to the worldwide ministry. The West Zimbabwe Union has 300k members. The GC session vote rejected the ordination as recommended by the theological study. So this Union vote is in bad faith, abuses regional independence. The African unions may as well independently vote for polygamy against GC. No unity was displayed by NDV. GC aught to use its teeth & stamp down this flagrant violation. This is a very bad precedence

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I think you are missing the point as this was decision to recognize or not the Holy Spirits calling of service whether male or female. At its heart is the question of whether to accept that it is the Holy Spirit alone who has the ability to dispense spiritual gifts.

A church which chooses to reject the Holy Spirit calling of those He decides and failure to recognize this calling to service by those He chooses is in direct opposition to His authority.

The question one must ask is do we obey the will of men or that of the Holy Spirit?

Which is a great offense in the eyes of God disobeying the vote of the GC session or voting to deny that it is the Holy Spirit job to choose?

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Are you referring to the TOSC study? I don’t think that was the conclusion of this study or of any of the previously funded studies (there have been many) previous to that one. Can you clarify this?

Certainly the West Zimbabwe Union is not forced to ordain, as you seem to claim with your word “force.” The North Germans can move ahead to ordain both men and women as the Spirit is leading them. Do you have a document to prove that you have to comply with what the Germans are doing? Please supply.

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You remember correctly. The TOSC released three position papers, which were consolidated into the final report. Although no consensus was reached, a straw poll of the committee members showed that 66% supported allowing ordination. This article by Dr. John Brunt, who was on the committee, reflects on how ANN misconstrued one of the three positions – the one he endorsed – thus skewing the numbers.

And then the reports weren’t even distributed at the General Conference, and thus two years and $1M USD were flushed straight down the toilet.

(To be honest, even with his explanation, I still don’t really understand what the point of Position #3 was. It seems like all they did was split the Position #2 vote to add like two unnecessary sentences, giving the GC an out to say “no majority position was reached.”)

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One step at a time, Robin.
I hear your point, though. Why are we so excited about something that should be normal by now? Generally in our denomination, all steps are important to keep up with reality because we seem to be always behind…

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As I understand it, the GC did make accommodations related to the issue of polygamy…and then had to make another one. I hardly think that is an ‘apples to apples’ comparison to the German folks deciding to embrace justice and fairness in ordaining men and women. And frankly, I am surprised you would use that soapbox to make your point.

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It is encouraging to see the church making small steps in the right direction. Let’s hope in near future, the will be further progress in practicing more biblical pattern of ordination, such as churches deciding who to ordain, not unions or conferences, or defining ordination to perform a specific function, rather than lifelong license to perform rites and ordinances. It was the church in Antioch along with the Holy Spirit who decided to separate Barnabas and Saul to ministry, not the general conference in Jerusalem. Regardless, this is a step forward.

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