Adventist Conference in Germany publishes declaration regarding ordination of women
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Hamburg/Germany, 10.12.2015 / APD

Territory of the Hansa-Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany (highlighted)

Territory of the Hansa-Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany (highlighted)

© Graphic: Siebenten-Tags-Adventisten

The executive board of the Hansa-Conference, a regional church leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the German federal states of Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has published a declaration that regrets the decision of the General Conference Session regarding the ordination of female Adventist pastors. The General Conference Session decided this summer in San Antonio, Texas/USA, that the global 13 Divisions of the Adventist Church are not allowed to ordain female pastors working in their territory. The Hansa-Conference encouraged in its letter female church members to opt for training and service as a pastor in spite of the decision of the General Conference Session.

With this declaration the Hansa-Conference wants to express a clear standpoint towards their own local churches, said Pastor Jan Kozak, vice-president of the Hansa-Conference. The declaration makes it clear that “the gospel does not discriminate against persons (Acts 10:34), this is equally true for office“.

„There are already indications that the decision of San Antonio may alienate many of our youth, our women and other members of our church. Our proclamation of the gospel already takes place under difficult conditions. This decision has now even worsened the conditions as it may be difficult to explain the rationale of this decision to the public. Nobody can exercise continuous loyalty outwardly when it is contrary to his or her conscience inwardly.“

The executive board of the Hansa-Conference closes its declaration with the following words: „We continue to encourage female church members to opt for the pastoral ministry and hereby reiterate our intention, to act in accordance with the decision of the NDV [North German Union / Norddeutscher Verband] general assembly of April, 23rd 2012 which recommends pastors to the ordination in ministry regardless of gender.“

On April, 23rd 2012 the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North- and East-Germany (North-German Union / Norddeutscher Verband, NDV) decided that female pastors working in the territory of the North-German Union may be ordained alike their male colleagues. This NDV-vote is not the policy position of the world church of the Seventh-day Adventists and has not been implemented so far.

Adventist female pastors can be "commissioned" as pastors and by this almost act as their “ordained” male colleagues. They are allowed to conduct baptisms, communion services, weddings and funerals. "Commissioned" pastors cannot be nominated for a Church leadership position such as president of a Conference, Union or Division because these positions request the status of an “ordained” minister.

The wording of the Hansa-Conference declaration:

Statement by the Board of the Hansa Conference regarding the Decision of the
General Conference Session in San Antonio in 2015 on the topic "Unity of the World Church and the Ordination of Women"

The Board of the Hansa Conference notes with regret, that the General Conference Session has not given the various world regions [Divisions] independent authority on the issue of inclusive ordination without gender distinction (ordination of women).

We regard ourselves as a loyal part of the World Church. This decision has not changed that. However, this decision has created a dilemma for us, which is not only about loyalty and unity, but about the correct understanding of the gospel. The gospel does not differentiate in the standing of a person (Acts 10:34), nor in the understanding of office.

It is our mission to act in accordance with the gospel and to proclaim the three angels' message. With this good news the church life knows no ethnic, social or gender boundaries (Gal 3:28).

There are already indications that the decision of San Antonio may alienate many of our youth, our women and other members of our church. Our proclamation of the gospel already takes place under difficult conditions. This decision has now even worsened the conditions as it may be difficult to explain the rationale of this decision to the public. Nobody can exercise continuous loyalty outwardly when it is contrary to his or her conscience inwardly. We do not want to expose our sisters, young people and church members to such an ordeal and therefore declare as Board of the Hansa Conference:

We continue to encourage female church members to opt for the pastoral ministry and hereby reiterate our intention, to act in accordance with the decision of the NDV [North German Union / Norddeutscher Verband] general assembly of April, 23rd 2012 which recommends pastors to the ordination in ministry regardless of gender.

The Board of the Hansa Conference
Hamburg, 22 Nov 2015

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