Trans-Europen Division Again Affirms Women in Church Leadership

The Trans-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists (TED) has issued a statement of support and affirmation for women leaders of the church during the division's Year-end Meeting. The division reported that "TED Union Presidents unitedly, regardless of practice in their own Union, wanted to send a strong message of support and affirmation to all women, whether in a local church leadership position, working as a Bible worker or pastor, or serving in an administrative capacity."

Given varying sentiments concerning women ministers in TED territories from Scandinavia and Holland to the Balkans, Baltics and Britain, the division determined to focus on leadership rather than the more divisive issue of ordination.

The division called its statement a "practical rather than theological document," and drew from "1 Thessalonians 5:12-18, affirming recognition of those who 'labour among you, and are over you in the Lord', to 'esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake.'"

The Trans-European Division's statement, "Affirming Women in Church Leadership," follows in its entirety:

AFFIRMING WOMEN IN CHURCH LEADERSHIP

The October 2015 Annual Council of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists recorded the following statement on behalf of its Administration:

“The vote taken in San Antonio does not change the Church’s understanding of the role of women in the life, mission and practice of the Church as supported by the Church Manual and outlined in General Conference and Division working policies.”

This statement gave assurance to women - in particular ministers and elders - who are called, gifted and committed to the service of our Church. It was also intended to discourage those who exploit the vote to hurt people and polarise the Church.

Leaders of the Trans-European Division affirm that:

We celebrate the tapestry of people in our territory, whose customs, culture and understanding, though diverse, have been woven throughout the Bible and Christian history, towards an appreciation of God’s inclusive grace.

We acknowledge that God appoints women and men to minister according to their spiritual gifts and education. He does this to fulfil His mission to share the ‘Good News’ to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.

We encourage women to prepare for Church leadership and pastoral ministry.

We will create openings and opportunities, where women’s giftedness is valued, to the benefit of the whole Church.

We applaud the courage and dignity which women display in fulfilling their calling despite those who undermine them. Furthermore, personal abuse and disruptive behaviour are un-Christian, and unacceptable, and will not be tolerated by Church leaders, who owe a duty of care to those who have been appointed to serve.

To this end:

Leaders of the Trans-European Division are committed to resolving differences through mutual respect, dialogue, thoughtful listening, heartfelt understanding, and submission to the guidance of the Holy Spirit who unites us.

We pray that we will be humbled to hear God’s voice in those through whom He speaks.

“Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7203
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About as close as you can get to saying we don’t accept the vote over ordination, but are committed to appointment according to gifts. Appreciate the deft touch in the statement.

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i agree…it actually has raafat kamal’s fingerprints all over it…

i’ve been impressed with his apparent gift for nuance…i wouldn’t be surprised, at all, if he becomes our next gc president…

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Kudos to TED and other divisions and conferences who have affirmed “women in church leadership.” I see no “grave consequence” for this “affirmation” other than one of these days there would no more presidents listed in the Adventist Yearbook.

http://www.adventistyearbook.org/default.aspx?page=ViewAdmField&Year=9999&AdmFieldID=SECC

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I wonder why they felt the need to somehow repeat their first statement? It looks as if the first one wasn’t strong enough and the personal abuse and disruptive behaviour have not ended but continued…

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Marianne,

The first statement was made by the GC Annual Council.

Now the TED builds on that.

I am impressed how much good these statement that affirm the role of women can do and have done over the past few months.

However much I would like to see women affirmed in Adventist ministry, without technical and unnecessary reservations, I think that much has been achieved by the TOSC Study process and its aftermath.

I trust that in the near future, the stories and testimonies of women in ministry will be made front and centre in many contexts.

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Nice words. And more nice words.

But the reality is that the worldwide church doesn’t want women in positions of leadership. Particularly ordained leadership. And it doesn’t matter how many times the divisional or union leaders say nice things about women, the reality is that women are only wanted by the church at large, in subservient roles.

So why all these nice statements about women. Is it because they fear that the action of the world church has rendered the Adventist message as irrelevant in the western world, and the leaders are impotent when it comes to hauling their portion of the church out of the mire that it has fallen into. Can they see the writing on the wall - of funds drying up, of people leaving the church, and their ability to do anything about diminishing through reduced resource and political clout. And that this is the best (although paltry) way they have of holding the church together.

I see no future for the Adventist church in the western world. It is better to hock it off while it is still worth something, rather than continue to labour with a lame duck.

Joselitocoo: The graphs you include show a significant decline in growth rates for the european divisions from already low rates, whereas the philippines continue to show reasonably steady growth rates. It supports my contention that the Adventist church is increasingly irrelevant in the western world.

Statistics I have compiled elsewhere show that adventists in europe have declined from 1 adventist for every 1908 people in 2004, to 1 adventist for every 1987 in 2014. 17 of the 50 countries that make up the european divisions have gone backwards.

Further number crunching shows that between 2008 and 2013, the amount of tithe declined in 7 of 22 unions, and the tithe per capita declined in 9 unions. Either a turnaround job, or a sell it of job, needs to be undertaken.

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Bill –
Part of the Transition – and this may be true in the TEDivision — there is and has to be a period of “brain washing” of both the leadership and the laity.
In one union we had the affirmation of Pastors and Interns by laying on of hands with no Ordination Certificate weather a man or a woman – given equally.
In this case they have gone a step in a similar direction — Affirming women in leadership. Another step in the “brain washing” procedure.
It seems to me they have seen the “need” to have both men AND women in Leadership, in fulfilling the WHOLE Gospel Commission — Teaching all things I have commanded you AND BAPTIZING in the name of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Both Leadership of a Church, Both Organizing of a Community of Believers, Baptizing into the Body of Christ [without having to have special permission from a group of men]. Affirming that it is OK for any Woman to have ANY position in the church, even to be able to have the Title of President.
The TEDivision have gone WAY beyond anything the North Americans have done. And have gone WAY beyond anything that has been stated in San Antonio or allowed from Silver Springs.

EDIT–
Joselito–
It is true our Lady President was allowed to Attend the GC. But she was NOT allowed to attend as Our Lady President. She was forced to arrive “hat in hand” and NOT function as Our Lady President. And apparently No One from the NAD made a fuss, and no movement to Elevate her to her rightful place at the GC Table of Delegates.
PS— AND there have been no forthcoming apologies for NOT doing that.

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With/out ordination, the number of women and men pastors in the west doesn’t seem to make a difference as far as improving the ratio of members to pastors compared to what has often been referred to as our third class divisions. Incidentally, correct me please if I’m wrong. Regarding mission funding, conferences are independently self-supporting.

If we were an educational institution, a teacher to student ratio closer to 1:1 (more ordained/licensed clergy:less parishioners) would be ideal. It’s the ‘advanced’ divisions model. The opposite is true in third class divisions, however.

TED + IUD = 262,955 members; 1,770 pastors
NPUC (North Philippine Union Conference) = 297,181 members; 307 pastors

Such as electing a woman conference president, with/out benefit of ordination; her name and position being published in the yearbook?

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Hi Marianne

This collective statement was crafted with the involvement of all Union Presidents, subsequently the full TED Executive and Invitees to the quadrennial constituency meeting. ( The October statement was essentially a statement on behalf of BUC and TED leaders following their listening exercise in the BUC)

Leadership is a possibility space for about 50,000 Women in the TED. The Ordination argument applies directly to a few hundred people at the moment.

Our view is that attention to the larger cohort will result in a healthier community where full acceptance and participation in various aspects of ministry will become inevitable.

Our challenge was to reflect an affirmation common to a majority of well meaning Adventists, while being clear that the bigotry of a small minority is unacceptable and subject to correctional action.

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Thank you for clarification and we are proud of you!

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Thank you.

Still deeply saddened and disgusted at the disrespect engendered toward Sandra Roberts, conference president, and her treatment as a persona non grata. Just looking at the page in the SDA Yearbook again (link posted by Elmer above) re-ignites the painful antipathy toward the female gender. It is a slap to the dignity of women and their individual callings. May God forgive us.

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Hi Harrpa

In our consultation with Women in Ministry in our patch, the quest for Ordination / positional authority was a lesser priority to the need for cooperation, respect and acceptance. Their appeal was for us to be advocates for their dignity and professionalism, and to deal with those who undermine their simple desire to perform their duties.

Our repeated statements may just be words to some, but we trust that they are the appropriate words, when persistently and spiritually stated will become owned by the centre ground.

Those who undermine anyone appointed to service will show their colours over time. Our challenge is to hold the high ground with a vision and narrative of what might be.

One commentator observed that in the 1800’s we addressed Slavery, in the 1900’s we addressed totalitarianism, and in the 21st century gender parity will be the big project. In this context, we are 15 years into a longer objective. This thinking was behind the opening paragraph on the moral trajectory of our Biblical understanding & European culture, which is independent of what may be happening on other continents.

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Indeed, these words are an indictment. We have come to a state where we are not only arguing about “roles” any longer (let alone “calling”), but about “dignity” and “professionalism”… @Victor I deeply appreciate what the TED is doing, as well as your candid revelation. At the same time find it very troubling that such clarifications are needed. To even question dignity and professionalism of women places is quite beyond words…

If I read your statement correctly, you are referring to women here … and thus by implication have returned to the topic of calling (which in the past has been confirmed by means of ordination). “Duties” here not self-imposed, are not role-prescribed, but rather are a consequence of God’s calling. Woe unto us, if we deny God’s calling.

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Hi Andreas

If we think about this problem in the context of the full ecology of leadership in our church, rather than some mystical entitlement for the few, then the way forward to takes a different complexion.

In every congregation, there are about 25 appointed fields of leadership, (welfare, music, stewardship, witnessing … General Eldership and Preacher, Pastoral oversight, etc)

There is scope for excellence, learning and development in every one of them, to the extent that such abilities can be shared locally, clear through to international arenas.

I suspect that when we develop respect and equal opportunity for the full range of disciplines, such that leadership becomes vested in a dynamic ecological whole community, rather than a kingly head, we will experience a different response.

The failed argument of SA, failed us all because it focussed on special privilege for the few. If we are all a royal priesthood under Christ, we need a better idea of what leadership in that context looks like.

We don’t have time to keep arguing which gender gets to be a Conference President, while imposing growth limitations on half the field. It is the wrong argument.

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Can you help me to understand what you are trying to say here?

When you say ‘improving’, do you mean there should be less members for each pastor or more?

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I agree. It seems an unfortunate reality that the TED and others are having to counter the toxic message of the GC toward women.

To be honest, I think the formal church in ‘advanced’ nations are becoming increasingly less relevant and influential. The gender disparity is merely one symptom of this.

We live in a time where traditional ‘push’ strategies are becoming obsolete. For any service or product, consumers are their own experts, influencers and decision makers. They do there own research. By the time they approach any supplier, they have pretty much made up their minds.

The church is a supplier like anyone else.

To gain clients (or souls), a business has to establish a good reputation. It has to do this by augmenting value and therefore its brand. It is not about ‘pushing’ its own agenda, but being relevant to the agenda of its consumers /participants.

So it is now about influencing rather than telling; dialogue versus monologue, listening rather than shouting; ‘sell the sizzle, not the sausage’.

The church needs to understand that it’s message is not about what it is saying, but what is being heard and felt.

So, back to women’s ordination, and the need for the TED to affirm women. I think it is really important, and as you can see, they care about what is being heard and felt, rather than pushing some erroneous agenda.

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Nor do I. If you look at the most advanced communities in the development world you won’t see much Adventism. I live in one and Adventism will be gone in 1 generation. No doubt. Adventism is a Victorian ideal that the world is moving away from. Adventism only appeals to a culture during “adolescence”, but it becomes rapidly irrelevant when one opens the mind, grows, and gets to know God’s ideal more.

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The very crux of the matter.

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So true. We do not have time to argue about gender but affirm anyone’s calling by the Holy Spirit to spiritual leadership. More than two thirds our members are women. It’s a no brainer to supply women pastors who are called to minister to this group of members. Our seminaries include women “called” to serve as spiritual leaders. It is so offensive to consider them disposable, lacking in professionalism, and not quite right for service. Thank you for again affirming women in church leadership at every level.

God help our church, which seems to be shooting itself in the foot over and over and over again.

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