On Sunday, April 14, 2019, the Executive Committee of the North German Union of Seventh-day Adventists unanimously passed two motions which will be forwarded to General Conference leadership, with the request they be voted on at the 2019 Annual Council in October. The first motion requests that the document “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions” which was passed at Annual Council in October 2018 be rescinded. The second motion requests that unions be granted more self-determination.
An English translation of the motions is provided below (translated to English via DeepL.com and Google Translate):
Proposal of the North German Union to the General Conference
1. Request for withdrawal of the adopted documents
At its meeting in 2019, the Executive Committee of the GC will decide to withdraw the document “Regard for and Practice of General Conference Session and General Conference Executive Committee Actions.”
• The Working Policy (WP) has other guidelines that are sufficient to ensure that the responsible bodies can intervene in cases of problems or controversy.
• The document triggers conflicts at the community level of our church,
• it promotes a spirit of mistrust, criticism and evaluation,
• it weakens the identification of many church members with the worldwide Church which damages the whole body.
2. Request for more Union self-determination
The Executive Committee of the GC commissions the World Church Leadership to develop guidelines that allow the Unions to autonomously decide and implement the issues and options for action which are of great importance for the internal strength and mission of their territories.
3. Opinion on the understanding of unity
Seventh-day Adventists in Germany are part of the worldwide Church of Seventh-day Adventists and are associated with it in their faith in Jesus Christ and in the doctrines.
• The unity of the Church is worked and guaranteed by Jesus alone. (John 17:20-23) The quality of this unity is unmistakable: “As you, Father, are in me and I in you, so also they shall be in us...”
• Unity is first and foremost an undeserved gift that is founded in God alone. It is not the result of human effort, but it is given to us by God because Jesus asks the Father for it.
• The believer realizes unity directly and realistically in the local church. Here he comes to faith and is baptized. This church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:3-6) and at the same time part of the whole body that we form as a worldwide church. It is held together by the Spirit with the confession of the Lord, baptism, hope and faith.
• Unity explicitly includes diversity and thus distinguishes itself from uniformity. According to 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, unity and diversity are related to each other because the Spirit has different gifts in store.
• Unity always stands in a fertile, lively tension with diversity. Diversity and unity are two poles that define the field of power in our communities and must therefore always be safeguarded: Unity is only biblical if it includes diversity in itself, and diversity is only biblical when it’s grounded in unity. As Adventists we have all received one Holy Spirit, and that one Spirit gives us a variety of gifts and ministries. We all have one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who connects us through the unity of his body. We all have a single God, the Father of Jesus Christ, and this one God is the creator of all human beings in an unmanageable Diversity, which all together form one humanity as God’s counterpart. God combines in himself unity and diversity: He is the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
• We encounter this diversity in the worldwide Adventist church. We experience it as challenging through cultural imprints, other theological emphases, liturgies, legal questions. Nevertheless, the Kingdom of God is built in this diversity by calling people to follow Jesus. Therefore, we may withhold human rules or guidelines, as they are always limited.
• Unity presupposes that there is diversity. For this reason, unity necessarily includes talking about differences. An argument in the categories of “right” and “wrong” polarizes more than it contributes to understanding diversity.
• In the history of our free church there have been and still are examples of dominance and paternalism over other styles of worship and individual practices of faith. Without regard to cultural differences, injuries have arisen which we regret and ask God for healing.
• Paul's admonition from Ephesians 4 is also groundbreaking here, namely that unity in the Spirit and the variety of gifts can only be lived in humility, meekness, patience and love.
The official document in German is provided here:
North German Union President Pastor Johannes Naether also released a video on YouTube with additional comments concerning the vote (in German):
Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org
Editor's Note (April 17, 2019): The letter has been updated to a new version that has minor revisions, provided by the Union.
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