Who Have I Become?

So many voices have been heard, and yet not. So, many arguments have been presented, and yet, we are not finished arguing. So many women are working in ministry, and VERY few of them were at the Annual Council meeting on Sunday. I watched, and I listened, and I suddenly understood that I was holding a grudge against all the people in favor of the proposal represented. I was snorting, laughing at the people in favor, feeling they insulted me and all the people not in favor of the proposal discussed.

What was being discussed and voted over? Well, basically unions, divisions, and conferences that do not follow policies will now be reported and it will, after some procedures, be decided whether the "church administrative units and church employees are in compliance."

While sitting on my sofa, listening to the introduction for the meeting, snorting and shaking my head, my husband made me aware of my attitude.

And that, that really saddened me. Who have I become? Why am I holding a grudge towards so many people, just because we disagree on one matter?

Well, it boils down to a few thoughts and feelings, which explains, but doesn’t excuse.

I have worked as a pastor for a short time. I am a female in a male-dominated work place, but that does not bother me because most of my colleagues are supportive. I love my work even though I am not ordained — that does not make a difference in my daily work. But, this conflict or debate, that springs from the question of whether unions should decide for themselves if women can be ordained or not, it affects me on a more personal level. It is difficult to describe, but the issue is just a bit discriminating and badly handled. Really badly handled, all of it.

The conference must have known how divided the church has been on the matter of compliance, and women’s ordination, and I know leaders have tried to come up with suggestions of alternative ways to solve these disagreements, or...problems. So, why continue on and vote on something that will fragment us (even further) as a church?

Furthermore, it annoys and troubles me that even though we now should "continue forward with our mission," a huge part of the church will have to swallow a big camel (I am not sure if that makes sense in English or other languages, but it does in Norwegian, and I think you get the point anyways!).

If the document and proposal had been turned down, another huge part of the church would have to "swallow" this camel. Point being, I don't think we are finished with this yet, and actually, I don't want it to be finished. There must be other ways to solve these issues in order that we are more free to evangelize in the most productive way possible in our unions, but still are able to serve God together.

There must, because I cannot stop thinking and talking about these issues, because I live in one of the world’s most secular countries, and I have to care about these issues in order for people to find Adventism relevant.

I will not speak on behalf of anyone else, that has been done too much over the last couples of days, but I think it is important that I express my opinions in a female pastoral role, and also as a young person. Many people have contributed to the discussion, I am just putting a more personal vibe to it, hoping that other young people and female pastors feel that we can stand together, show acceptance to the people that differ from our opinions, and still stand firm in our conviction.

Am I looking forward to see what happens next? Probably not so much, but who knows? These are exciting times and I am looking forward to see God lead this huge church, no matter where.

And last, who have you become? Let's help each other to not hold a grudge.

Let's listen.

—Guro

Guro Edvardsen is a youth pastor in Oslo, Norway. This essay originally appeared on the author’s blog, and is reprinted here with permission.

Image courtesy of Guro Edvardsen.

Further Reading: Responses from Church Entities and Timeline of Key Events, Annual Council 2017 to Present

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9112
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God Bless you and keep you strong in your mission and service for Him, Guro Edvarsen.

There has to be compromise. Not compromise of Message. The Message doesn’t change but we need to be socially and culturally aware of the situation and the people we are trying to reach.

"To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”
Abraham Maslow

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Well said. You are walking in the bshoes. Keep walking, my sister, pastor, child of God. Your miistry will be rewarded.

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Yes, may God bless and encourage you Guro E.
Many believers also commiserate with you.
"An issue really badly handled’? (Surely that’s an understatement.)
Incompetent leadership? GC actions making Adventism irrelevant?
Perhaps psychiatrists, sociologists and anthropologists might provide
us with some answers.
God only knows.

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Thank you, Guro, for sharing your reflections with us. God bless you and your ministry there in Oslo! I’m so glad you are able to work with supportive colleagues–that’s the way it should be. We need even more women entering ministry. I agree that these are exciting times. Both sons and daughters are prophesying and making their voices heard for God’s kingdom. What is that, if not the eschatological work of God?

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Thank you Guro for your contributions, not only in your regular job as a youth pastor, but also as you share your experiences through your blog.

Your point is well taken. It is a natural reaction “to be changed” from who we wish to be by the environment where we are. It is sad that the SDA environment, which ought to be the safest one on earth, actually can contribute to “change” us into something we don’t want to be.

By making us aware of this fact, so easily overlooked, you have helped me and others to re-evaluate what goes on in our innermost soul. We need to pray that the Holy Spirit may be given a chance to transform us inwardly - even when our SDA culture at times tend to counteract these efforts. So, let us co-operate with the Holy Spirit’s efforts to change us, so that we may better reflect the character and steadfastness of Christ, being true to duty as the needle to the pole.

I admit this resolve became harder after watching the deliberations of the GCC last Sunday. The vote seemed to indicate that the heavens were falling, that our historical positions on church authority, religious freedom, and openness to explore and mine the Scriptures for more and deeper light and understanding, were suddenly turned upside-down. Suddenly we glimpsed an image reflecting an animal well versed in using coercion and very different from the meek Lamb of God. We never expected that something like this would ever happen in our church, never dreamed that the dangers we have warned against coming from outside, suddenly lifted their ugly heads on the inside of our church.

It is easy to empathize with your emotion in this situation. But it is exactly in an unexpected situation like this that we need to remain standing for the principles of heaven, especially when they are challenged from within, from the very top of our church. I will try to join you in doing that, and I know many others will also do so.

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God bless and encourage you Guro E.
Well said. It is very good that you understand your feelings and do not keep it to yourself, but share with us. I understand you perfectly. Recently, I began to help people, especially students who do not have parents or parents who are seriously ill. I also help students who are lagging behind in their homework and college essay help. Students have a strong desire to study well and I like it. Sometimes I get more time off work and I help the homeless. If we do not help them, then who will?
Your miistry will be rewarded.

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I think, a lot of people do not understand the issue in a right way.
This proposal has nothing to do with the issue of women ministries.

It is a issue of doing, what the world community votes. It is impossible to imagine, that after decisions were taking, everyone makes its own will. This, we can find only in Judge 21:25.

You are quoting, that we are living in a completly saturated secular community, but we are not honest enough to our self, that we are more influenced by the secular society as enyone can imagine.

This leads us to the point, that everyone thinks, he has the right view, doesn’t matter how contradictory the views are. Blind people would see, deaf people would hear, how the mutinous spirit is revealed in this discussions. Its like korah, they think, they have the right standpoint, but in reality, they are influenced by their own imaginations, Would they be influenced by the word of the Lord, their behaviour would be different.
Humbleness and Self-Sacrifice, if you can find these attitudes, the truth can not be afar of, or?

I believe it is most important to let Jesus help define who we are. God states we are all individually unique. Just like each of the four gospels focuses on a certain view of Jesus (Mathew: Jesus has the keys to the kingdom; Mark: sevanthood; Luke: humanness; John: universal God) so can we choose what is important to us spiritually. We don’t need some bureaucracy imposing a bunch of rules and policies that church members generally don’t follow anyways. LEGALISM is not biblical.

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Thank you Guro for sharing so candidly and honestly. I beg you not to be discouraged.
As women in the church we long for appropriate, compassionate, leadership.
I for one as a woman am not fussed if this if male or female.
But i do feel under represented when a position in our church is left vacant or filled with a less than suitable male, while intelligent discerning , godly, and willing women are not elected.
Let us all strive to equip ourselves with tools for ministry so whichever part of his vineyard we are appointed we can shine for Jesus.
Not just pastor positions are being left vacant but in Australia a movement to reject women as ‘elders’ is gaining speed. Call them whatever is necessary …
Shepherdess, upgrade deaconesses, but please don’t reject women with god given talents and leave the churches to flounder with a skeleton leadership.

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Yes. I resonate with this entirely–as do thousands who feel as if their church is leaving them.

Amen. The greatest want of the world is STILL men and women who will stand true to duty as the needle to the pole though the heavens fall. And it certainly feels as if the church is falling into heresies of unBiblical sources.

God help us.

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That sentence is so important… We are not the conscience of others. Neither the church, nor compliance committees can be.

Proud of your maturity and insight.

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To me, an old, white American male, it is an issue of an oligarchy pitching one side (the majority whose values approximate his own) against a minority, whose values are equally strongly held.

The call for “unity” is really a call for “uniformity.” Better in some minds to be identical than to use the varied talents God has given us. Better to be identical than to try to approach our varied cultures appropriately, to follow Paul’s methods of being all things to all people so that we might win some.

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