Editor’s Note: The North German Union of Seventh-day Adventists released a statement on October 18, 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.
An English translation of the motions is provided below (translated to English via DeepL.com and Google Translate):
Seventh-day Adventist Church
North German Union
Public statement by the Executive Board of the NDV on the "warning" issued on October 15, 2019 by the Executive Committee of the General Conference.
The Executive Committee of the General Conference (World Church Directorate of the Seventh-day Adventist Church) has issued a warning at its autumn meeting on October 15, 2019 to the North German Union and other unions for their ordination practice with 164 votes in favor and 124 against. This warning also applied to Adventist church leaders in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Two North American unions (Columbia Union Conference and Pacific Union Conference) also received a warning based on their practice of women's ordination.
On the history of the North German Union:
On April 23, 2012, the NDV Assembly of Delegates decided with 160 votes in favor and 47 against that women pastors could be ordained in the territory of the North German Union, just like their male counterparts. The starting points for the previous detailed discussion were three existing standards: a) the social standard of an anti-discrimination law in civil and labor law, b) the federal law, passed in 2006 as the General Equal Treatment Act, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, ethnic origin, sex, and above all, c) the biblical standard, which is stated in the Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Belief #14, "distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us."
For ordination/commissioning practice:
Because the Working Policy of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church does not provide for the ordination of women to global gospel ministry, the NDV's Executive Committee took into account the decision of the Assembly of Delegates by proposing a way of gender equality of pastors in the NDV area, which the Working Policy of Seventh-day Adventist Church provides: In addition to the ordination for the worldwide Ministerial Credential, which is reserved for men only, the Working Policy has a second form of full assignment to pastoral service (Commissioned Minister Credential), which is also used worldwide for women and men. The only difference is that the first form of full mandate has global validity, the second only national.1
The first appointment is called "ordination," the second "commissioning." Both are full appointments to the ministry service. The NDV Executive Committee decided for its area of responsibility to exclusively provide for both men and women the second form of full assignment, commissioning (Commissioned Minister Credential). This creates equal opportunities for pastors in the NDV area.
Reason for the warning:
In its most recent decision, the World Church Leadership has issued a public warning to the North German Union because the NDV no longer uses the ordination (Ministerial Credential) for the worldwide ministry of preaching, which is reserved for men only, but for pastors, according to the guidelines of the World Church, the commissioning alone (Commissioned Minister Credential) is practiced. A general suspension of the ordination (Ministerial Credential) is not compliant.
Evaluation of the NDV board:
1. The board of the North German Union sees the warning of the world church leadership as not justified. The NDV practices a regulation of "commissioning," which on the one hand exercises the equal treatment of female and male pastors, on the other hand corresponds to a regulation of the guidelines of the World Church. An obligation to "ordination" is not given in the policy of the World Church.
2. The warning of the World Church Leadership has been made in the context of the "Procedure for breaches of rules" adopted in 2018. The procedure provides for regulations that were not applied in this case. Contrary to the public presentation of the chairman of the world church leadership, the NDV was not told in advance in any official correspondence known to us as being in non-compliance with the rules. Rather, the NDV President learned only a few days before the event of a possible warning for non-compliance. In our opinion, this practice does not reflect the 2018 resolution, nor the spirit of fairness and Christian respect.
3. We regret the fact that, before the President of the World Church Leaders presented the request to the delegates to issue a warning, there was no hearing of the respective Union, e.g. of the NDV President, in which the facts could be presented from the perspective of the Union concerned. This should have at least taken place, in a timely manner, before the decision-making body.
4. We consider it questionable whether it is in accordance with the instruction of Jesus in Matthew 18:15ff to give a public warning such as this without first having sought solutions in a smaller circle.
The NDV measures to deal with the warning:
1. The Executive Committee of the North German Union will examine whether and in what form an objection can be raised against the warning issued by the World Church Leadership (as foreseen in the procedures adopted in 2018).
2. Together with the Inter-European Division (EUD), the Executive Committee of the North German Union will analyze the situation that has arisen and agree on measures to promote the unity and development of the World Church.
3. The NDV Board will, as stated in its 2016 document “Opinion on Ordination,”2 continue to focus on the real underlying concern that racial, cultural, educational, national, social and societal differences, as well as differences between men and women, not be divisive in our church (based on Fundamental Belief #14 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church). Therefore, we will continue to promote and implement the equality of pastors within our world church.
Johannes Naether, President
Friedbert Hartmann, Vice President
Dieter Neef, Treasurer
Position of the South German Union:
The executive board of the South German Union fully agrees with the evaluations of the NDV regarding the subject of the warning and the procedure.
Werner Dullinger, President
Jens-Oliver Mohr, Vice President
Dieter Neef, Treasurer
1. See document "Levels of Pastoral Assignment" at https://www.adventisten.de/utility/dokumente-und-stellungnahmen/
2. See document "Statement by the NDV on the ordination of women serving ministry as pastors" (2016) at https://www.adventisten.de/utility/dokumente-und-stellungnahmen/
The original statement in German is included below and is also available on the North German Union website here.
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