Swedish Union of Churches Responds to General Conference Warning

Editor’s Note: The Swedish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists released a statement on December 1, 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.

The following statement originally appeared in both Swedish and English on the Union’s website. The official version in English is provided in full below:

Statement on the Warning

The Swedish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists has received a warning from the General Conference Executive Committee for the Union’s endeavour to achieve equal treatment of men and women in pastoral ministry in our territory. In light of the warning, the Union leadership and the Union Executive Committee wish to affirm our position in the following points.

Background

At Annual Council 2018, the General Conference Executive Committee voted on a process for dealing with non-compliance with the Church’s Working Policy. In accordance with this process, the Swedish Union has been in dialogue with the Trans-European Division (TED). The purpose of this dialogue has been twofold: to identify which aspects of the Union’s decision regarding pastoral equality are in non-compliance with Working Policy, and to find alternative ways to proceed. The conversations have been conducted in a positive and constructive spirit. In June 2019, the General Conference administration unexpectedly requested that the TED report any non-compliance and recommend sanctions for the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian and Swedish Unions. The unions were also requested to respond with their views on these reports and recommendations. The TED and the unions in question considered it too early to draw any conclusions from their conversations and recommended that no sanctions be given at this stage.

Therefore, the unions in question were taken by surprise at Annual Council 2019 when the General Conference administration recommended that they be warned for being in non-compliance with Working Policy. The unions were informed of the proposed warning the afternoon before it was to go to the floor. In addition, the proposed warning did not specify what non-compliance issues were being addressed. Therefore, the Swedish Union was not given the opportunity to defend or explain its position before a decision was taken, except for a brief four-minute statement after the recommendation had been presented. During the negotiations, General Conference President, Elder Ted Wilson, explained that an ordained pastoral ministry is fundamental to the Church’s organization. The warning has been issued because the unions in question have ceased to ordain pastors. Instead, pastors are given the alternative credential offered within Working Policy.

The warning has been appealed due to the legal uncertainty of the decision. The process decided in 2018 had not been completed. Consequently, the General Conference Executive Committee did not have sufficient background information to make its decision.

Clear policies and organisation regarding the credentials of pastors are important to the Swedish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. However, these policies can ensure the Church’s ability to fulfil its mission only when they are based on fundamental biblical teachings regarding church leadership and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and when they meet the needs and conditions that exist where the Church operates.

We Affirm…

Equal treatment of male and female pastors was voted by the Swedish Executive Committee in March 2016 and confirmed by the Union Session in July 2017. In view of the warning, the Swedish Union Executive Committee wishes to make the following affirmations:

1. We affirm the Bible’s authority and its clear call to all Christians to fulfil the Great Commission;

2. We affirm the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, its Fundamental Beliefs, and its prophetic role in proclaiming the three angels’ message of an eternal gospel, true worship of the Creator, and righteousness by grace through faith;

3. We affirm that God in His Word makes no difference between men and women in the calling to fulfil the Great Commission. We base this on the Old Testament prophecy that God in the last days would pour out His Spirit upon all – men and women, and on the New Testament teachings on the gifts of the Spirit to the Church, the priesthood of all believers, and the examples of women in all the roles of the Church;

4. We reaffirm the temporary order adopted by the Swedish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to equate the pastoral ministry within the framework of the Church’s Working Policy and in accordance with its Fundamental Beliefs on “Unity in the body of Christ” (no. 14) and “Spiritual gifts and ministries” (no. 17). The divergent order is temporary until the Union and the General Conference have found a satisfactory solution regarding the credentials of pastors;

5. Finally, we affirm all the men and women, employees and members, who respond to the call to serve God in these last days and in the community in which we live by making Jesus known and loved and His second coming a desired event. We do not allow tensions or differences between us, in different parts of the world or within the congregation, to prevent the Spirit of God from using us as members of Christ’s body.

The Executive Committee of the Swedish Union of Churches Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on December 1, 2019.

Official Statement in English:

Official Statement in Swedish:

This statement, in both Swedish and English, originally appeared on the Swedish Union of Church’s website.

Further Reading:

North German Union Responds to Annual Council Warning, October 18, 2019

Image: Wikipedia

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10070
3 Likes

The Swedish and other Unions have admirably sought to find a creative way to prevent conflict but this has been rejected by Ted Wilson as not conforming to the intention of working policy.

Thus it has been escalated to a question of the force of authority vs. deep, Biblically based convictions.

It is a sad day when arbitrary power bulldozes conscience.

24 Likes

Best thing those Unions could do is proclaim independence and move forward on their own. I mean, it must be enormously frustrating and tiring dealing with this train going backwards in time, Ted Wilson’s train. Come on, who has time in our days to deal with a persistent retrograde mentality like that?

And thinking that he may put us through a third term? Oh my!!! :open_mouth:

11 Likes

I need a little help. In part 4 of the affirmation, is the sentence beginning with “The divergent order is temporary…” intended to indicate that in order to have peace in the family and until a satisfactory arrangement is hammered out, the Swedish Union will comply with the GC’s wishes? If not ,what is it indicating?

It is pretty clear to me that either the world church concludes in 2020 that Ted Wilson is leading us down a dead-end road and effects a change in leadership or, if he is given another 5 years, the church as we know it will cease to exist. What cannot bend will break. What a fool’s errand Ted Wilson has been on.

16 Likes

The SDA church finds itself in the same situation many other denominations have already gone through. Will the church recognize that they cannot force individual consciences…or will they continue down the road to schism then falsely and arrogantly call it, “The Shaking”?

Such a “Folly of Fools” Ted Wilson has been to the SDA church.

14 Likes

My interpretation: It sounds to me that they are saying that they are “diverging” from GC orders and will continue to “credential” until the GC can accept it or give them a better option.

4 Likes

Yes, my interpretation is also “diverging” from GC orders and
so they may maintain EQUAL STATUS among Pastors who are
men and women will provide EACH with the same “credentials”.
And SINCE the GC says NO WOMEN CAN BE ORDAINED,
nobody is considered “Ordained” in the Swedish Union.
However, ALL have the same “powers” as IF ordained.
But Ted doesn’t like that. The GC wants women to be lower
than men in their Pastoral duties.
The Swedish Union says, NO!!

5 Likes

Proclaim Independence? What would that look like… once they have made this declaration?

“If (TD) is given another 5 years, the church as we know it will cease to exist”. -----YEAH !!!

1 Like

Absolutely, Steve…TW is going to destroy any credibility in the Scandinavian countries that Adventism ever had. Egalitarianism is a deeply engrained social value in those countries. Forcing any of these countries to accept what their culture and consciences say is discriminatory and/or Biblically wrong is going to backfire on any evangelistic efforts that Adventists try now- and in the future.

9 Likes

What about being an independent SDA Union? Why not? Probably would need to change the name for obvious reasons, but the Unions being chastised (aka “warned”) could create a Worldwide Association of Persecuted SDA Unions. And the GC could then create new “official” Unions to replace them at will. How would that work, uh? People would have an option according to their personal preferences…

I fully support a strong reaction against the KGC’s attacks to the Unions.

1 Like

I ask that question because any separation from the SDA Church means you start from scratch. There is no entity of the SDA Church that can operate separate from the SDA church, but remain intact. People leaving would amount to just that… people leaving with their own personal belongings… but none of the properties/monies/assets associated with the SDA Church. As one who is within the PUC… I’m sure you recall the PUC meeting (held in Arizona a few years ago) where the leadership of PUC wanted to have a vote based on the possibility of dissolution. The proposal was to divide up the assets of the Pacific Union proportionately, among the member Local Conferences, in the case of dissolution of the said Union. This motion, of course, was tabled… and, though I was not there, undoubtedly contemplating the illegality of such a proposition was a driving force behind tabling the motion. The fact is, they tried to redirect their assets away from the SDA Corporation in Silver Springs, Maryland… who owns any and all assets of any dissolved entity of the SDA Church. So there is no such thing as “A Union going independent” … only individuals within a Union territory can do this on their own… which is a much, much more difficult prospect for becoming a viable entity. The only thing any Union officers or personnel would own is their personal belongings… not even the desk they work on.

2 Likes

All who speak truth to power on these issues might be thought Degenerate Seventh-day Adventists by the catholic (world-wide) GC of SDA and could then mount an exhibition of their embattled egalitarian credentials in a Salon des Refuses (to mix metaphors and confound locales).
Seriously, the Swedish Union in its (his/her/their) statement of mission in the above theses shows plainly a profound understanding of the gifts of the Spirit, prophecy, the three angels’ messages, the everlasting gospel, and the eternal covenant. A resounding Amen! to them and to their reconciling efforts! It is evident that our brothers and sisters in Sweden are and have been seeking to proclaim the good news, the truth as it is in Jesus. Going through channels must be too slow for the leadership at the top; they need to engage some angels to get the news across quicker! The prophet Daniel could make some recommendations, thereupon, I would think.

3 Likes

Why does it feel like we are moving the church back into the dark ages instead of forward to the glorious coming of Jesus. So incredibly frustrating. May God forgive us out sins…

5 Likes

Independence ? That’s not biblical

What have they produced from early farming Scandinavians that built the country to this new age leftist current culture shift
Enters greta and her parents . Art majors

1 Like

Dear AfricanAdventist,
Greetings!
I grew up in Africa, so I have a special place in my heart for the homeland of my childhood.
Could you tell me more about your thoughts on this subject? I think that they are important to be heard, and I am glad that your voice is back after a year, and that you are involved here again. I am fairly new to this forum, and had not read anything from that you wrote before. God bless you for being a fervent and engaged SDA member and believer in the second coming of the Lord.

4 Likes

G-
The Swedish Union of SDA could be “independent”, but STILL be
SDAs. Much like Baptist groups that are STILL Baptist, but just
DO NOT belong to the Southern Baptist Convention.
They still promote Baptist Evangelism. Still support mission work.
But they ALLOW women pastors. This one 500 member group is
All Inclusive. And back in January had a lovely same-sex wedding
with at least 450 in attendance to the event. Even made Front
Page paper news with a picture in color.
The association they belong to celebrated its 25th anniversary in
April. There are quite a number of congregations just here in GA
that belong to it. 4 here in Macon.
I personally see the Independence of the Swedish Union of
Seventh-day Adventists as being a viable and successful event for
the future of its desires to evangelize and introduce people to
God and have a relationship of some type with Them.

3 Likes

Yes, I know that there is a big gap between my hypothetical proposal and the possibility of it happening. The only hope is that in about 8 months things can change. Or not! All depending on, 1) Electing a new President, and 2) Hoping that the new President will be of a different kind than TW.

Realistically, I believe that TW will get a third term. The Unions that decide not to discriminate women will not split, and will continue being attacked by the GC - and more ferociously. I wonder if the plan includes any kind of document that every member will have to sign in order to renew their membership. If something like this happens a large exodus may happen. Unfortunately, this is the direction we are going to.

Since I am a heretic anyway, all this doesn’t bug me; nobody touches my freedom and I go to church to worship God not the Church or the GC President. I am only sorry for those who venerate the Church and will be confronted with the options of either, 1) Being “faithful”, or, 2) Being “truthful.” A true dilema! :worried:

4 Likes