ENC-Unity-Request-Rejected-NORUC

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Norway: Union Rejects Conference Unity Request

The Norwegian Union Conference, the administrative body for three Norwegian Conferences, has rejected an appeal from its largest conference, the East Norway Conference, to come into harmony with the votes taken at General Conference Sessions in regard to the credentialing and ordination of women to the gospel ministry.

On September 10, 2017, East Norway Conference leaders sent an official request to the Norwegian Union asking, since the GC Session of 2015 had voted not to allow various world territories to determine independently whether or not to ordain women, that the Union reverse its September 2015, and 2012 vote to issue the same credentials to both male and female pastors.

The Norwegian Union leadership rejected this request by the East Norway Conference. In the February, 2018 issue of the Norwegian Union’s magazine, Advent Nytt (page 27) (https://issuu.com/adventnytt/docs/adventnytt_2-2018/1?ff=true&e=7282235/57387157), Union leaders defended their decision to not comply with the votes of the world church.

The following is an English translation of the above article:

“The Resolution of the Union Board of 10 December 2017 Concerning Equal Treatment of Male and Female Pastors in Norway.

“The Norwegian Union Conference (NORUC) board responds as follows to the letter sent by East Norway Conference Board (ENC) 2017-09-10 and their expressed disagreement with the NORUC response to TED/GC concerning gender equality and male and female pastors. The East Norway Conference’s September letter called NORUC to reconsider how pastors are reported. NORUC was asked to return to the practice of reporting male and female pastors separately, in harmony with current credentialing practice in GC Working Policy.

“The current practice of reporting the pastors is clarified in the NORUC resolution of September 20, 2015 (http://www.adventist.no/Adventist/Ressurskolonnen/Offisielle-uttalelser-Official-statements/Ordination-Looking-ahead-NORUC). That reaction was a logical continuation of the 2012 NORUC decision to put on hold the ordination of male pastors in order to treat male and female pastors equally. Since the 2012 decision, the same credential has been given for both male and female pastors. To return to filling in the forms with current credentials as before would mean to accept discriminatory practices indirectly, which NORUC, with pastoral support, rejected in the 2015 decision. That resolution stated that the NORUC decision was a temporary measure: ‘Until a classification of pastors is established without a distinction based on a fundamental discrimination against female pastors.’ As a result of the NORUC resolution in 2015, no ordained or non-ordained pastors from NORUC are published in the SDA Yearbook, which uses the current categories of credentials.

“For decades the Seventh-day Adventist Church has sought to find a solution to this challenge, without success. The General Conference has not accepted the NORUC and TED request to create a gender-neutral category for the classification of pastors. The GC Annual Council has full authority to comply with this request if there is desire to do so.

“Prior to the NORUC Board meeting of September 20, 2015, a draft of the resolution was sent to the Board members and to all the pastors in Norway. An anonymous poll was sent to all the pastors on the same day. Poll results showed solid support (69% of votes cast) from pastors to deviate from the current credentialing system in order to implement non-discriminatory treatment of female pastors.

“The NORUC Board feels that there has been an open and comprehensive process. Very little critical feedback has been received until the East Norway Conference letter sent two years after the NORUC decision in September 2015. To continue a discriminatory practice would send a very negative signal to our female pastors.

“The NORUC Board will ask the secretary of the organization to write an article to Advent Nytt (local Norwegian magazine) with an overview of the most important events of this case.”

Union Statistics

It should be noted that the Norwegian Union Conference has a total membership of just 4,556 members. Of the three conferences, the East Norway Conference has, by far, the largest membership in the union. See screen shot below, taken from the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 2016 Annual Statistical Report (http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2017.pdf). The report is prepared by the Church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.

What do we learn from the response of the Norwegian Union to the East Norway Conference?

  1. The leadership of a Norwegian Conference, representing 63% of all Adventists in that Union, disagrees with their Union administration that has positioned itself in opposition to the General Conference. The voted action of the Norwegian Union administrators does not represent the position of the East Norway Conference. The East Norway Conference does not desire to be included in the rebellion against existing voted world church policies regarding ordination and gender.
  2. The rejection by Norwegian Union leadership of the appeal of the East Norway Conference demonstrates the application of an unfair double standard. As part of the insubordinate pro-women’s ordination faction opposing the Adventist world church, Norwegian Union leadership justifies its rebellion by claiming their stance to be a matter of conscience. But when their own Norwegian Adventists express differing convictions, they trample those convictions. So, are they truly concerned for conscience?

    Norwegian Union leadership is actively participating in the current attempt to reallocate world church authority from the General Conference to the unions. The Norwegian Union vote unilaterally set their own ordination and credentialing criteria for themselves. Then they refuse to consider their own East Norway Conferences’ desire to work in unity with their Church! East Norway Conference seeks harmony. Its Union suppresses and prevents this. The Norwegian Union is resisting Jesus’ prayer for unity in John 17.

  3. The argument used to reject the East Norway Conference request is not based on sound principles. The Norwegian Union argues that:

    1. Norwegian Union has engaged in non-compliant practice since 2012;
    2. Norwegian Union must not discriminate;
    3. The Norwegian Union position was supported by 69% of its pastors in 2015.

    But since the Norwegian union pleads “conscience,” it is fair to ask, “What about the conscience of the 31% of pastors who rejected entering into opposition to the General Conference in 2015?” Or the conscience of the delegates to the world church who voted not to grant authority to determine ordination criteria to subsections like the Norwegian Union? What makes Union administrators’ consciences superior to the consciences of voting world church delegates, or, superior to the consciences of East Norway Conference leaders?

  4. The Norwegian Union has dictated its will to the world body, rejecting Adventist ordination practice while describing their voted action as “a temporary measure” until a new credential has been established. But what if the world church never adopts a credential such as the Norwegian Union is insisting upon? The 1990 General Conference Session voted (http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/5734/archives/issue-2012-1528/the-question-of-ordination/general-conference-session-actions) to not ordain women to the gospel ministry, and the 1995 GC Session voted (http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/5734/archives/issue-2012-1528/the-question-of-ordination/general-conference-session-actions) not to allow the North American Division a variance in that policy. And in 2015, the world body voted, based on their study of the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White, not to allow variance to any division regarding the policy of not ordaining women to the gospel ministry that was voted in 1990. The decision has been made—by three General Conference Sessions. What do Norwegian Union leaders expect to change now?
  5. The Norwegian Union calls on the General Conference Executive Committee, during its Annual Council, to join in their rebellion against the 1990, 1995, and 2015 GC Sessions, expecting the Annual Council to issue gender-neutral credentials. But on what authority could the GC Executive Committee act against the higher authority of the General Conference in Session?
  6. The 31% of Norway pastors who disagreed in 2015, and the calls from laity in the same Union to abide by the world church’s decisions, are described by the Norwegian Union as “very little critical feedback.” Then, in 2018, the request by local leaders who represent 63% of the local membership was rejected. Even though there has been and continues to be substantive critical feedback.
  7. The Norwegian Union administrators are more concerned about sending a negative signal to Norwegian female pastors than they are about dismissing the studied, prayerful decisions of the world church.
  8. Over-representation. Why does Norway have an entire Conference consisting of only 412 members in 12 churches, and an entire Union consisting of only 4556 members? At the end of 2014 the Norwegian Union had 4536 members. But as a random comparison, the East Kenya Union had 398,267 members in 2014 (over 536,000 today). (Calculation for delegate allotments is usually based on December 31 membership numbers in the year immediately preceding a General Conference Session.)

    And yet, the Norwegian Union sent nine delegates to the 2015 General Conference Session, while the East Kenya Union sent 21. Why does the tiny Norwegian Union send so great a number of delegates proportionally to the world church session, whose decisions it is presently openly rebelling against, when faithful Adventists in Africa have so few?

    Norwegian Adventists were represented at the 2015 GC Session with a ratio of one delegate for every 504 members. But East Kenyan Union Adventists were represented by delegates at a ratio of one delegate per 18,965 members. Had East Kenya Adventists been represented at Norway’s 504:1 ratio, they would have totaled 790 delegates at San Antonio instead of 21.

We agree that female workers serving the Lord should be supported. But none should behave in a rebellious framework toward the world church. Courage and wisdom is needed to act in harmony with the Bible, and with what the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church has decided in Session. May God persuade and help faithful Adventist brothers and sisters in Norway during this difficult time.


Links from above article in order:

Norwegian Union Magazine, Advent Nytt, p. 27 –
https://issuu.com/adventnytt/docs/adventnytt_2-2018/1?ff=true&e=7282235/57387157

NORUC Resolution of September 20, 2015 – http://www.adventist.no/Adventist/Ressurskolonnen/Offisielle-uttalelser-Official-statements/Ordination-Looking-ahead-NORUC

2016 statistical Report – http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2017.pdf

1990 GC Session – http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/5734/archives/issue-2012-1528/the-question-of-ordination/general-conference-session-actions

1995 GC Session – http://archives.adventistreview.org/article/5734/archives/issue-2012-1528/the-question-of-ordination/general-conference-session-actions

[Reporting for this OrdinationTruth.com article is provided by Seventh-day Adventist church members from multiple continents.

On September 20, 2015, the executive committee of the Norway Union voted unilaterally to discontinue the practice of ordination. They claim that the churches longstanding practice of ordaining spiritually qualified males is discriminatory and unbiblical. A new practice distinct to the Norwegian Union was announced:

From now on, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway will have a simple dedicatory prayer for a person embarking on pastoral internship. Similarly, there will be a dedicatory prayer for those who take the step from pastoral internship to regular pastoral service. The Norwegian Union will operate with only two categories of pastoral employees from now on. 1) Pastors in regular service, and 2) Pastoral interns. The Norwegian Union will not report pastoral employees to the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook until the General Conference has established pastoral categories that are not discriminatory (http://www.adventist.no/Adventist/Hjem/Nyheter/2015/September-2015/Adventistkirken-slutter-aa-ordinere#.VgBa4rShbfa, accessed 2015-09-21).

The Norwegian Union, it seems, has judged the practice of the world church and found it wanting. The Union has voted to embark on an entirely different practice than the world church. Effectively, they have not merely declared but enacted an unauthorized regional policy. They have rejected the decision of the General Conference in session on July 8, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. In that decision, a substantial majority of delegates voted not to permit regional decisions on the question of pastoral spiritual leadership—the very thing Norway Union has now enacted.

The Norwegian Union is not an autonomous regional church. It does not have an inherent authority separated from the world church. Its authority is derived from the General Conference. The authority that it does have is limited. The Seventh-day Adventist Church considers ordination to be a global, not a regional matter.

The Norwegian Union isn’t fooling anyone with its claims to want to be in harmony with the world church. It has acted exactly contradictory to the San Antonio decision. The Union has exceeded its authority. Nor is it alone. Immediately to the south, the Netherlands Union of Churches is also engaged in forging an independent pathway on the ordination question. That Union is also operating unilaterally with its positive policy on homosexuality, embracing the cultural tide of immorality. (To revisit the action of Netherlands Union on the homosexuality question, see “Homosexuality or Christianity? Netherlands Union again places itself in opposition to the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” at http://ordinationtruth.com/featured/homosexuality-or-christianity/, accessed 2015-09-21).

In hardly two weeks Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders will meet in Annual Council. At that time it is imperative that church leadership act to correct the action of errant unions including Columbia Union, Pacific Union, Norwegian Union and Netherlands Union of Churches, along with other insubordinate entities. The world church has decided that women’s ordination—the question of spiritual leadership—is not to be determined on a regional pattern. We collectively are all part of a world church organization. The Council of Adventist Pastors believes that our leaders will be acting with the best spiritual interest of the church at heart in taking whatever action necessary to maintain the unity of the world church and prevent fragmentation by rebel units—including the Norwegian Union.

The following seven links contain the FULL LENGTH presentation of Adventist women on women’s ordination.

Part 1: Culture versus the Bible (Length 8:33):

Part 2: Terms and Conditions (Length 6:06):

Part 3: Women’s Roles (Length 5:59):

Part 4: Effects of the Women’s Rights Movement (Length 8:02):

Part 5: Cooperation versus Competition (Length 3:41):

Part 6: Unity is in Truth (Length 5:04):

Part 7: God’s Word Our Standard (Length 5:55):

WO Symposium “Dangers on the Horizon” | Pr. Larry Kirkpatrick

DOWNLOAD HANDOUT for Kirkpatrick Bakersfield presentation.
WO Symposium PANEL DISCUSSION Allen Davis, Gerzon Gomez, Larry Kirkpatrick, Laurel Damsteegt, Jennifer Arruda, Daniel Mesa

WO Symposium “The Forgotten Story of 1989″ | Laurel Damsteegt

WO Symposium “Gift Versus Appointment” | Allen Davis

WO Symposium “We the People, Must Speak” | Jennifer Arruda

WO Symposium “Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth” | Pr. Daniel Mesa

WO Symposium “The Impact of Culture and the Desire for Unity” | Allen Davis

WO Symposium “A Woman’s Full Participation in Ministry” | Julie Mesa

Daniel Scarone, miembro del TOSC (Comisión de Teología sobre Ordenación), argumenta sobre la hermenéutica, el “argumento del silencio,” la ordenación femenina al ministerio y la influencia de la cultura.

Professor Ingo Sorke, who also served on the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC), considers the question of whether the Bible teaches gender differentiation. Several texts are reviewed, including in Genesis 1, Romans 16, 1 Corinthians 11, 14, Galatians 3, Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 2, 5. Sorke also appeals to males to be godly males and to lead in a way that honors the Scriptures. Sorke shares what happened in a secular class when women read these Bible passages without commentary. Finally, he makes a striking appeal to Christian men at the video’s conclusion. We believe that many persons will want to see this brief video. Tell your friends and share the link!

Theology of Ordination (TOSC) committee member David Read discusses the question, Does culture drive biblical interpretation, in relation to the question of women’s ordination. Considering first the broader culture, then the Adventist subculture, Read also discusses WO in connection with the immediately following issue—homosexuality and the church.

Ingo Sorke was born in Germany. He did not grow up a Seventh-day Adventist. At one point he began to study the Sabbath—in order to show others how wrong they were about it! You can guess the rest of the story. Sorke spent years attaining advanced degrees and today teaches theology at SWAU in Texas. Sorke was also a member of the General Conference Theology of Ordination Study Committee. In this brief video, Sorke tells something of his experience, and of his change of views about women’s ordination, as well as responding to some of the popular arguments heard on the topic.

This is a very powerful short video and in our opinion, should be circulated as widely as possible! Tell others about it. Send them a link.

NOTE: FOR A SAMPLE OF SORKE’S WORK ON THE ISSUE OF WOMEN’S ORDINATION, READ THIS STUDY: Adam, where are you? On gender relations.

In the January 2014 meeting of the Theology of Ordination Study Commottee (TOSC), several papers were presented. Among these was this short paper prepared by 10 members of the committee. This paper is a concise evaluation of several of the arguments favoring women’s ordination. The ten authors writing this response are Gerhard Pfandl with Daniel Bediako, Steven Bohr, Laurel and Gerard Damsteegt, Jerry Moon, Paul Ratsara, Ed Reynolds, Ingo Sorke, and Clinton Wahlen.

Among other things, this paper addresses the following pro-woman’s ordination arguments advanced by those holding that position:

  1. In Genesis 1 there is full equality in function between man and woman.
  2. Adam and Eve were priests in the pre-fall Eden sanctuary.
  3. Male headship did not exist in the Garden; it is a result of the fall and applies only to the marriage relationship and not to the church.
  4. The qualification lists in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:1-11 are gender neutral.
  5. Junia in Romans 16 was a female apostle.
  6. Galatians 3:26-29 applies not only to salvation, but it also abolishes the subordination of “females to males.”
  7. 1 Timothy 2:12-14 applies only to a specific situation in Ephesus and does not refer to the relationship that should universally exist between men and women.
  8. The priesthood of all believers permits women to be ordained as elders/ministers.
  9. Ministry in the New Testament Church was non-hierarchical.
  10. “Head” in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 has the meaning of source rather than spiritual authority.

DOWNLOAD THE DOCUMENT HERE IN PDF FORMAT.

In this second of six presentations, Pr. Mike Lambert addresses important texts including Galatians 3:28, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy, especially addressing unity and equality and role distinctions. Pastor Lambert also draws important connections between the home and the church. This sermon was preached at the Stateline Seventh-day Adventist Church in Milton-Freewater, OR.