NOTE: Article corrected with new and more-correct information on 2017-05-09 5:13pm PST and then a further edit completed at 11:21 pm PST. This is drawn from our Netherlands sources.

A meeting of the Netherlands Union of Churches constituency was held May 4-7, 2017.

Previous leadership had guided union enactment of policies contrary to the world church, including with reference to women’s ordination and LGBT+. But new officers were elected by the constituency at this meeting. Netherlands has a new president, Rob de Raad, and a new secretary, Enrico Karg. The treasurer, Istrahel Schoera, who we understand as opposing women’s ordination, was reelected with a 99% vote. Thus, 14 of 15 members of the Executive Committee were replaced. Delegates sat in some amazement as the non-compliant president and secretary were removed.

A new Constitution and Bylaws was presented by that committee for approval. Reinder Bruinsma served on the committee. The previous constitution had been a created as a patchwork of other documents. But the proposed new Constitution disagreed in many places with the required wording for all Seventh-day Adventist Church Constitution and Bylaws documents. In the end, the new constitution was adopted but assigned immediately to a committee in order to be corrected and brought into harmony with the Model Constitution. Some delegates were very disappointed that the newly approved Constitution does not permit women to serve in the position of Union president.

New arrangements and new committees were carefully populated. One member who had been working for ten years to correct problems and bring the Union into harmony with the world church was surprised when delegates appointed her to serve on the newly appointed Constitution and Bylaws Committee.

Under the new Constitution and Bylaws the executive committee was enlarged to 17 members and now requires 50% + 1 to be laypersons. This was a remarkable change, since previously the executive committee made non-conference employee church members a minority, allowing for a maximum of 40% of such members. Several pastors objected to these changes but the constituents overruled those objections by vote.

The new officers not only have problems to resolve in terms of guiding the Union into harmony with the world church, but also very significant financial shortfalls incurred under the previous administration. Still, the new Union of Churches has a fresh start! Delegates and members are expressing great hope. They said that they have never seen a session like this. They felt their voices were heard in a fair way, their delegates rights were not violated, and that this time around they did not serve merely as voting machines for an executive committee.

Some officers insist that the union is still committed to the ordination of women because of Dutch laws. But in the Netherlands, Churches have strict freedom, and every court would realize that there had been no legal ground for the 2012 action and following 2013 implementation of women’s ordination, since in the Dutch Civil Code churches are bound to abide by their Constitution, and that, for the Netherlands, means the Working Policy. The actions of the 2012 session and the executive committee decision to implement it in 2013 were illegal. Very recently a civil court ruled in a case that churches must abide by their own denominational Policy (Google Translate this article: http://www.rd.nl/kerk-religie/rechter-censuur-oud-ambtsdrager-gg-kruiningen-opheffen-1.1398019).

Problems in Netherlands Union have been building for many years, and there has been a rising tide not only of concern, but of action by members. Many were dismayed that their Conference was out of harmony with the world church in so many points, and that leadership did not reflect the values held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This week, members of the Netherlands Union of Churches are rejoicing at the deliverance God has brought to them. Much work remains to correct matters, but our Dutch brethren seek the prayers of faithful Adventists worldwide in confidence that God will lead and guide.

A commissioning ceremony was conducted for a woman pastor on Sabbath, which had been planned by those who turned out to be the outgoing officers. It might have been intended as a statement to General Conference officers present which included Bill Knott and Karnik Doukmetzian. Constituents were very pleased with the fairness of Pr. Doukmetzian as parliamentarian.

In the letter to the local churches the executive committee stated that the woman pastor will not have hands laid on her by the pastors in the field “as yet.” The usual practice in Netherlands is to hold such a service in the afternoon when all the pastors can be present to lay hands. But the newly chosen officers want to follow a different course. Some now believe that with this commissioning service, Netherlands has seen the last woman ordained.

25 thoughts on “Directional Change for Netherlands Union of Churches

  1. This is what happens when the local church members stand up for the truth. God bless the faithful SDA people of the Netherlands–we’ve been praying for you. As for the NAD, God will take care of things there too 🙂 — Praise the Lord!

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  2. Active divine-human cooperation is the key to victory in our individual lives as Christians, and in the corporate life of the church as well. This report offers great encouragement that such proactive cooperation between human and divine agencies can yield results of a most positive nature.

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  3. God is at work, are we? Or do we do as the children of Israel and sit and complain about what is happening, or do we step out in faith and prayer like the folks in the Netherlands. It was the members not the General Conference that made the change. We can do it also, look at Upper Columbia Conference what they did when the members and churches united in faith and prayer.

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  4. Praise “GOD” From Whom All Blessing Flow! This needs to spread far and wide, Real Church Members Stands Up!

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  5. Our dear constituents in the Netherlands have demonstrated how “real faith works”! Praise God for His faithfulness. They are an inspiration to us in the NAD. Let us “be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed for the Lord thy God is with thee. . . .” Joshua 1:9, Let us act on faith as they have done.

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  6. The grass roots members have spoken……..notice this from the article: “Many members were dismayed that their Conference was out of harmony with the world church in so many points, and that the leadership there did not reflect the values held by the Seventh-day Adventist Church”
    This happened in our part of the world with Glenn Townend and many leaders pushing for WO at the 2015 GC and then crying about it in the Gynocord when they got back. This shows a huge disconnect between our leadership and the churches…….time for a split……

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  7. Praise God for Revival and Reformation in the Netherlands. A full sweep out of administration and executive committee is a strong statement that can’t be missed. However, the first and most immediate test of the redirection of leadership in the Netherlands Union will be to see if they withdraw from the “Unity Conference” coming up in mid-June in London. It would/will be a blessing to see the number of rebellious Unions shrink from 10 to 9. A strong statement will be made in the Trans-European Division. Solidarity is what this women’s ordination movement looks for; not dissent. This is why the NAD leadership has undoubtedly compelled the Union Presidents within our territory to make public statements of support for WO; even if their individual Union Conference is compliant with World Church policy.

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  8. Can the same thing happen for the North American Division? You would have to throw out all the present leadership of the Division and Unions and Conferences who are not in agreement with the Seventh-day Adventist Church established Bible teachings, and working policies of the Church. I believe that when the Sunday Law comes here, we will see a rapid exodus going both ways: new converted members coming in as the old unconverted ones leave.

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  9. Thank God for the change in the Netherlands. It is a beacon of hope to all of us. May the Lord bless them in spiritual and church growth, and may their example inspire us.

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  10. My dad often said, that the men in high positions think they are controlling the church. They forget we have an invisible Leader who is still truly in command of this church and will accomplish His purposes with it. Those men who think they rule are in for a surprise as has been illustrated in the Netherlands.

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  11. It sounds way better than it actually is. Yes nobody laid hands on her but she is still comissioned. She is still pastoring a church. Two churches for that matter. She is still leading men. The only thing is that she can’t start her own congregation. So yes the physical act of laying on of hands didn’t happen but she is still doing the same work and has the same responsibilities that a pastor has. It is still wrong and unbiblical.

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    • I have to agreeCC. but some of Judah’s kings didn’t pursue reforms all the way through the high places either. A slight turn in policy once started a big turn in practice. Maybe we can hope for a repeat in the opposite direction?

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  12. I read this post with utter amazement. I attended every minute of the session of the Netherlands Union and I must have been at another meeting than the one about which your sources informed you. To say the very least: this post is clearly informed by a very selective use of sources.

    Far from being a swing away from earlier positions the Union has taken, these positions were confirmed and virtually all motions to ‘correct’ the direction of the union failed by even a much larger margin than I had expected. There is absolutely no reason to think that the newly elected leaders will take the church in the Netherlands in a totally new direction.

    The very thorough make-over of the union committee had nothing to do with the issue of Women’s Ordination. And, in fact, the persons the post referred to as being against WO are in fact not anti-WO at all. It should not be too difficult to check this!

    Where you mention my name, the info given is also incorrect. I was a member of the Committee on Constitution and Bylaws, but did not write the new constitution. In all the sections where following the standard Gc document is required, the new document complied completely. The GC, nor the TED, had any objections to this text. In fact, the TED executive secretary was in all stages closely involved in the preparation of this document.

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    • Reinder, the article has been revised to state that you were a member of the committee but no longer states that you drafted the document. We recognize that the Constitution is the work of a committee and we are not able to know to what extent your contributions are involved.

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      • There is more aspects of the article that need correction. The over-all reporting does not correspond with the reality.

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  13. I have sent this article to my church in Heerlen Netherlands. And our female “pastor” answerd that this is a fake news….!

    Now i don’t know what to believe…

    What can i do..?

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  14. As a counsellor I pledge to listen to people to understand their story and where they’re coming from. The above article does not come across as attempting to discuss but rather to celebrate its version of the Dutch scenario. As Reinder showed, it’s not a balanced account. I defend church members having their view but please be careful using words like “truth” and “Biblical” lest you find yourself needing to eat those words as inapplicable.

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