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13 November 2012, St Albans, United Kingdom [Miroslav Pujic, tedNEWS] Two hundred delegates representing 56 Adventist Churches across the Netherlands spent considerable time discussing a motion on the ordination of women, which eventually passed with a large majority. The action that was taken seeks to involve the Union in the current study process led by the Trans-European Division and the time-table for dealing with the issue of a Seventh-day Adventist Theology of Ordination and, included in that, the issue of women’s ordination in the world-church. The General Conference Session is expected to reach a decision on Ordination in July, 2015.

 

The action reads: "Considering the biblical principle of the equality of men and women, the delegates in session indicate that they reject the current situation of inequality in the church on principle. For this reason, and considering the context of Dutch society, they charge the Executive Committee to vigorously promote this perspective in the worldwide church. As quickly as possible, and no later than six months after the next session of the General Conference (2015), equality between men and women will be implemented at all organisational levels of the church in the Netherlands. The equal ordination of female pastors also falls into this category.

Pastor Wim Altink, re-elected President of the Netherlands Union Conference, commented on the decision:  “This decision reflects both a determination to ending gender discrimination in the church and a strong commitment to taking part in the process laid out for us by the world-church until July, 2015. The action is to hold implementation until we know the outcome of the global study of the Theology of Ordination and the final decision scheduled for the General Conference in 2015.”

Dr Bertil Wiklander, President of the Trans-European Division, was the official representative from the Division at the Session. Asked to make a comment, he responded: “It is good that the church supports women and men as equals in the priesthood of all believers. In 1990 the General Conference decided to withhold the ordination of women to the gospel ministry, not because of theological reasons, but for practical reasons, such as the differences in cultural contexts and the danger of losing our world-wide unity. I understand that some in our Division are now impatient, because 22 years have passed and while more and more women have accepted the call to serve as ministers in the Trans-European Division, little progress has been made on the matter of their ordination as pastors. I also appreciate that there is, in the Netherlands Union, a clear commitment to work with the Church in the study of the Theology of Ordination, including Women's Ordination. I appreciate that the Netherlands Union does not intend to implement ordination of women until the current process has culminated at the General Conference Session in 2015.

However, what I pointed out to the Session delegates on 11 November, is that I think the decision would have benefitted by two things: Firstly, the action would have been improved by recognising in its language that the Union has already, through the Trans-European Division, asked the General Conference for permission to ordain women and that, as a division family, we are waiting for their answer, which will come in 2015, and that, therefore, it looks somewhat odd to now decide to do in the future what you have already asked for permission to do, before you have received the answer from the General Conference. Secondly, I think it is in principle, inadvisable to word an action now about what you will do in three years, since nobody knows exactly what the result will be of the study of the Theology of Ordination. The Church may, for example, change its policy language and use different and more biblical terminology about the induction of pastors, which the action of the Netherlands Union Session would want to recognise. In addition, there are members in the church in the Netherlands who are not yet clear on Women's Ordination, and the study process that is now in progress would in my view help them. With this action being taken now, these people are not given time to understand what may come from the world-church study process, but you tell them in advance what the outcome will be and what they are to think.

Having said that, I want to underline that the Trans-European Division is deeply committed to working for the unity of the Church, while doing all we can to empower men and women in their spiritual and administrative leadership in our church. The Holy Spirit is guiding us through the ministry of Ellen White, who said: ‘Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should be appointed ... They should be set apart to this work by prayer and the laying on of hands. In some cases they will need to counsel with the church officers or the minister; but if they are devoted women, maintaining a vital connection with God, they will be a power for good in the church.’ (Review and Herald, 9 July, 1895, p. 434)

I continue to pray that God will lead His Church to full clarity on the matter of "Ordination" and that we will be given the wisdom to handle the current situation in a true Christian Spirit, in patience, humility, with a concern also for the interests of others, and a commitment to do what is right”, concluded Wiklander.

For more information about the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Netherlands, please visit www.adventist.nl  [tedNEWS]


tedNEWS Staff: Miroslav Pujic, director; Deana Stojkovic, editor
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