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Netherlands Union Conference Votes 88 to 76 to Continue Ordaining Women


In a specially convened session, the Netherlands Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (NUC) has voted down a measure that would have rescinded the union's May 30th, 2013 vote in favor of ordaining women. The motion was introduced by a group of NUC members, who felt the union's policies have drifted from the stance of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church.

On the 30th of August, 2015, 82 concerned members of the Netherlands Union got together to draft a manifesto expressing displeasure with the direction of the NUC. The “Members Manifesto” called for a special constituency session at which the group could share its concerns, which in the manifesto ranged from the "homosexual lifestyle" to "emerging church theology."

On October 11, the group sent the manifesto with 789 signatures (there are approximately 5,700 members in the NUC) to the union board (executive committee). The group also shared complaints about the official church magazine, local churches not following the Church Manual properly, worldly music being played at national events, pastors not quoting Ellen White enough, and the use of the "wrong" Bible translation in publications.

The NUC leaders studied the manifesto, and on November 23, announced,

In the Netherlands Union Conference’s Constitution it says that the Union Board must call an extra-ordinary session if more than 500 members request this. The GC Working Policy requires this request to be made through business meetings of the local churches. While the way that this session was called goes against the GC Working Policy, the Union board recognises the signal that this manifesto gives. The extraodinary session will be on June 5 2016.


The constitution defines that an extraordinary session can have only one piece of business. Because the members manifesto wants to talk about the strategies and policies of the Union in the broadest sense, the Union Board is still formulating the precise piece of business. They will attempt to find one topic that fits the request that 790 members made, yet is still valid according to the constitution."

The union board stated, "The conclusion drawn is that there is especially a need for clarity around authority and powers within the various ecclesial levels. The final agenda is worded as follows: "The decision-making of the church were in relation to the role of women in the church."

While the group maintained that the union was out of line with GC Working Policy, the union board pointed to its published language on women's ordination that demonstrates harmony with denominational policy:

All in all there is therefore no explicit prohibition in the Working Policy against ordaining women. The way in which a power struggle has developed within the church, where the possibility of finding solutions in close consultation have disappeared, goes against the principles of the Working Policy. More importantly, the non-ordination of women goes against the policy concerning discrimination. In actual fact it goes against the Fundamental Beliefs, number 14 to be precise which deals with equality. These are some arguments that argue that the Dutch Adventist church is in fact in harmony with the Working Policy.”

During the June 5 extraordinary session, the group introduced a lengthy motion quoting Ellen White's statements on not subbornly maintaining private judgments and on the authority of the General Conference in session, and saying, "if the EC (executive committee) wants to go forward to seek variance for women ordination to the ministry it will first seek foundation for such proposal at the membership of this union, even at local church level."

The full motion was posted after the meeting on the website, a self-described "outreach ministry with a bookstore and publisher, located in Groningen, Netherlands." The document included an amendment to the motion (the group considered it a hostile motion), written in red. After much discussion, the motion was voted down, 88 against and 76 for the motion. The immediate upshot is that the union will continue ordaining women, as first voted in 2012, and reaffirmed in May 2013 and again in July 2015 after the San Antonio General Conference vote on ordination.

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of

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