News

North German Union Conference Constituency Session Votes to Ordain Women

North German Union Conference Constituency Session Votes to Ordain Women

Berne, May 9, 2012. [CD-EUDnew]. What happened in Germany during the North German Union Constituency Session last April 23, will doubtlessly push the Seventh-day Adventist Headquarters to consider reopening the discussion on women’s ordination.

May 09, 2012 | CD-EUDnews. Picture CD-EUD


Berne, May 9, 2012. [CD-EUDnew]. What happened in Germany during the North German Union Constituency Session last April 23, will doubtlessly push the Seventh-day Adventist Headquarters to consider reopening the discussion on women’s ordination.
During the session, an individual's motion to ordain women passed through the administrative levels in order to qualify for the agenda. Opening the discussion, the debate animated the floor, and more than 40 interventions rose up to participate in the discussion. There was not one speaker on the microphone who spoke against the ordination of women. Some obviously tended towards rating global unity over equality as everyone knew a positive vote would lead to a clash with the General Conference's Working Policy. Finally, after all the interventions, the delegates voted (160 to 47 votes taken electronically for the first time) ‘… to ordain female pastors in the North German Union [in the same way] as their male colleagues.’
What drove this Constituency session to take such a decision despite the position of the World Adventist Church, after freezing the discussion for the past 10 years?
Pastor Klaus van Treeck, Union Conference president, said: “We didn’t want to open the way or to encourage others to oppose the guidelines of the World Church or to join us in civil disobedience. We discussed the matter in the context of our culture and ask the World Church to understand our situation and decision. We are respectful towards our brothers and sisters in any area of our World Church. We feel deeply associated with them in the love of Jesus and in the unity and mission of the church.” In Germany both the law and social values strongly condemn discrimination against women in the selection of leaders in any organization, including the church.
How to deal with this issue confronting guidelines and cultural exigencies?
According to this moral background, the delegates wanted to express to the worldwide Adventist Church leadership that the issue of the equality of female and male pastors is no more an option, and invite them not to consider this vote as an act of disloyalty towards the World Church. They want to launch a signal that they are tired of waiting for a solution for such a sensitive question. They hope to have made a contribution so that in 2015, in San Antonio (USA), a regionally different regulation will be approved giving end to an unbiblical and discriminatory estimation of women’s ordination. There are no theological, but only cultural arguments that speak against it.

The most recent support for this pioneering process was given by the former president of the World Church Council, Dr Jan Paulsen, when he addressed the audience of the Spring Session of the General Conference in April 17, 2012, (available in ANN) saying : “The Spirit is the minister of this unity among Christ’s followers (Eph. 4: 3). It is appropriate that we should remind ourselves that while uniformity is no Biblical requirement, unity is!
“Our unity as a global family is these days being tested with respect to the role of women in ministry and leadership in our church. Some insist that those who advocate the ordination of women in our church will split the church. Maybe. The other side answers that those who deny women ordination will be the ones who split this church. Maybe. If the church cannot find a way forward in this matter without compromising the unity God wants us to hold and preserve, we shall all have to answer for how we contributed or failed to contribute to overcome our impasse, and I suspect that those who said “No” will be held as responsible in the eyes of God as those who said “Yes”. Make no mistake about it: God’s love for his people, whom he wants to remain united, is greater than we can understand.
“If there were clear inspired mandates, in the Scriptures or in the Writings of Ellen White, giving us directions in this matter (women’s ordination), we would not be having this discussion as a global church. We have in the past concluded, through the work of several commissions and reported back to this council, that we find no such mandate on which there is broad agreement” Dr. Paulsen concluded.

According to this evidence, the delegates voted to charge the union executive committee with implementing additional study of the topic of ordination, including research to be conducted by Friedensau University, the Adventist higher education institution in Germany. The findings from this study are to be presented to the Euro-Africa Division and the General Conference.

During the session, there was a motion to amend the Union Conference constitution to delete the language that requires that the president and secretary be ordained ministers. This motion was not passed by the require two-third majority.
 
The North German Union Conference covers 11 states in the northern region of the German Federal Republic, including Berlin and other major urban areas. It is made up of four local conferences with a total of about 20,000 church members among a population of more than 47 million. There are 346 local churches and 149 ministers, including two women.

The EUD Administrative Committee in its last session reflected on the vote, and has made a recommendation to the Executive Committee that will be published after its meeting later this month.

Back to list