Netherlands Union again places itself in opposition to the Seventh-day Adventist Church

Pastor Larry Kirkpatrick considers recent developments in Netherlands Union and the threat they pose to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Bible and the world church says that same-sex intimacy is immoral, but the Netherlands Union has another idea. They are again acting unilaterally to oppose the position of the world church. Read why their approach cannot continue. FIND THE ARTICLE HERE.

At the Stateline Church, near Milton-Freewater, Oregon, Pastor Mike Lambert presents part five of his six-part series on “A gender agenda.” The message addresses Deborah’s behavior in relation to headship in Judges 4, Phoebe and Junias in Romans 16, Ellen White’s “ordination” credential, and finally and very importantly, some of the urgent larger issues.

The Trans-European Division at its 2013 Year-end Meeting made several recommendations connected with the issue of Women’s Ordination. Among its recommendations to the world church: “Removing the intricate differences between various levels of ministry, such as the licensed and ordained minister, the licensed minister and the ordained local church elder, the pastor and the local church elder,” that the Church “remove all gender distinctions in its Working Policy related to the ministry,” that “unions, whose constituency meetings in session have voted approval and whose division committee has voted approval, be allowed to maintain an inclusive pastoral ministry which removes all gender distinctions within the work of the church in that union territory,” “recommend that the ritualistic and consecrational flavour of the act of ordination, its vague mixture of granting the Holy Spirit or gifts for ministry and ecclesiastical authority be radically toned done and removed from policy and practice,” recommends “that the imposition of hands be an optional part of the ceremony,” and asks that the church “separate Ordination from Election to an Organisational Office of Leadership.” An article reporting more fully can be found here:

http://www.ted-adventist.org/news/ted-executive-committee-recommends-inclusive-ministry-without-gender-distinctions

A committee in the Division has been at work on these issues for 19 months. Over the coming months TED has plans to offer well over 1,000 pages of material they hope will support these ideas and others. The TED report is by far the legthiest to be sent to the GC Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC). TED is also the smallest of the 13 world divisions in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, having some 84,000 members.

The following tabulation lists each of the 13 current divisions which make up the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The leftmost column indicates the basic favoring/opposing Women’s Ordination position of their biblical research committee and 2013 division Year-end Meeting vote. In reading the actual completed reports which are now becoming available, we note that in several cases the response is not purely yes/no. Our heart goes out to these Adventists from round the globe who have labored with these issues, and we cherish the thought that they will pardon us for the inevitable simplification in reducing their reports to raw yes/no answers. Every division has been asked to give input to the General Conference TOSC (Theology of Ordination Study Committee). Remember, there is no necessary direct correlation between the view of the broader membership of a division, the views of its administrators, and the vote of its study committee. There is, however, a correlation between the membership of a Division and the number of delegates that shall be sent to the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio. While this list does not include an estimate of the regular delegates to come from each division, it suggests something about the relative delegate count and of the possible direction they could be coming from when vote is taken concerning the ordination question.

WO  DIV MEMBERSHIP NAME
=====================================================
No   ECD 2,704,468  East-Central Africa Division
No   ESD   120,351  Euro-Asia Division
Indt IAD 3,612,480  Inter-American Division
Indt IED   177,902  Inter-European Division
Yes  NAD 1,135,233  North American Division
Yes  NSD   661,652  Northern Asia-Pacific Division
No   SAD 2,101,991  South American Division
No   SID 3,062,672  South Africa-Indian Ocean Division
Yes  SPD   423,891  South Pacific Division
No   SSD 1,175,324  Southern Asia-Pacific Division*
Indt SUD 1,607,108  Southern Asia Division
Yes  TED    84,093  Trans-European Division
No   WAD   866,254  West-Central Africa Division
No   = No
Yes  = Yes
Indt = Indeterminate

*This is a close call. The SSD BRC recommendation is more indeterminate, but the decided majority was “no,” often by approximately a 2 to 1 margin in the eight votes recorded by the committee at the end. In all cases, we encourage readers seeking more exact data to read the actual reports on the Adventistarchives.org website.

Last updated: 2014-01-31 06:27Z

On November 11, 2012, the Netherlands Union constituency voted to approve the ordination of women, and the conference executive committee made that decision effective on May 30, 2013 and announced the action publically on July 5, 2013. These actions were contrary to General Conference voted policy (1995 and 2000), in reality a path of insubordination also taken by the Columbia and Pacific Unions in the US and the Northern German Union in Europe.

On September 21, the Netherlands Union unilaterally acted on their earlier decision. Union president Wim Altink charged ordination candidates to faithful service after which hands were laid on them, one being Ms. Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie. The ordination ceremony was conducted in Christus Koning church in the Hague, Netherlands.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is a world body. In the SDA church, ordination to the gospel ministry carries worldwide authority. The church of 17+ million members seeks out biblical consensus and makes key decisions collectively, including the decision of whether or not women are eligible for ordination. Since the beginning of the church it has never adopted the practice of ordaining women as ministers with global authority. A decision to change this can only be made in a General Conference session. Such meetings occur every five years, next in 2015. After prayerful study and deliberation, thousands of delegates representing every part of the Lord’s vineyard vote in a decision binding upon every part of the world church.

For union or conference officers to participate in such an ordination as happened in Netherlands is in contradiction to the practice of the world church. For a candidate to receive ordination illegally—or for other ordained ministers to offer it—is a repudiation of the call to be a faithful servant to Jesus through His body, the church.

In another action, related yet unilateral in a different way, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (SECC) is recommending to its constituents that they vote Ms. Sandra Roberts as their new conference president on October 27. The Seventh-day Adventist Church does not presently accept the ordination of women as clergy. If that conference should elect Ms. Roberts, they, as Netherlands Union, will by their actions be increasing the fragmentation and disunity of the church.

Ms. Roberts, since the NAD/GC does not recognise her as an ordained minister, cannot be recognized as a conference president. This is certainly known by all parties including the SECC nominating committee.

In fact, neither of the insubordinate actions described in this post are recognized as valid by the world church. Such actions should be seen for what they are—symbolic political statements endeavoring to increase pressure on the General Conference to approve Women’s Ordination.

The General Conference has already made clear its position. A study process is in progress (Theology of Ordination Study Committee) moving toward the General Conference session in San Antonio, TX USA in 2015. The leadership of the world church has asked units of the church, in the interest of unity, not to act unilaterally.

“The 1990(3) and 1995(4) General Conference Session decisions with respect to granting ministerial ordination to women represent the current voice of the Church in this matter. The actions of certain unions indicate their desire to establish an alternative source of authority for a matter that already carries the authority of the world Church” (“An Appeal for Unity in Respect to Ministerial Ordination Practices,” http://news.adventist.org/archive/articles/2012/06/29/on-ordination-questions-adventist-leadership-appeals-for-orderly-process).

“The essence of unity in Seventh-day Adventist organizational functioning is the mutual commitment of all organizations to collective decision-making in matters affecting the whole family—and the acceptance of those decisions as the authority of the Church. The action of any union in pursuing a different course of action represents a rejection of this key value in denominational life” (Ibid.).

In this document, our Seventh-day Adventist leaders made four specific appeals to erring units:

1. That your union continues to operate in harmony with the global decisions and global decision-making processes of the Church.
2. That until such time as the Church decides otherwise, your union refrains from taking any action to implement ministerial ordination practices that are contrary to the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session actions.
3. That the union membership be informed concerning the implications for the entire Church in the event that one entity, for whatever reason, chooses a course of action in deliberate opposition to a decision of the whole Church.
4. That the union actively participates in the global discussion about the Church’s understanding and practice of ordination. The contributions of a union in this discussion can be forwarded to the Theology of Ordination Study Committee through the respective Ordination Study Committee set up by each division (Ibid.).

As seen in the Netherlands Union and potential SECC actions, these units are aggressively pursuing a course in contradiction to items 1, 2 and 3 above. The issue seems to have a power almost to charm individuals. Recently, Trans-European Divison president Bertil Wiklander, after an impassioned presentation in favor of Women’s Ordination, stated “I am converted completely to what I said tonight. I would die for it.” (“Ordination: The Ongoing Search for Understanding,” http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2013/09/13/ordination-ongoing-search-understanding, accessed 2013-09-25).

We can be sure that God is still leading His church on a worldwide basis. The church has a process in motion to resolve the questions surrounding the practice of Women’s Ordination and the spirit which has so far attended it. Heartfelt appeals have been made and still stand. We may pray that these units will return to the family they seem bent on leaving. There is still time to return.

On May 30, 2013 the Netherlands Union Executive Committee voted to ordain female pastors, but kept this decision secret until July 5, 2013. They claim they felt their action necessary to make a point of recognizing women as equal to men. Consider this part of their statement:

In the end, this decision was the result of weighing the principle of unity against the principle of equality. Other possibilities were also discussed, including the option of not ordaining any pastors until the world church recognises equality, and the option of waiting until the upcoming session of the General Conference of the world church to reach a decision. Ultimately it was decided that from June 1st, 2013 all ordained and commissioned pastors, regardless of gender, will be considered ordained in the Netherlands” (http://www.adventist.nl/2013/07/06/netherlands-union-conference-votes-to-ordain-female-pastors/, accessed 2013-07-07).

In the Seventh-day Adventist Church, ordination grants the individual an authority in the church that is global in nature, not merely local. The world church—not local unions—looks to the Scriptures to determination qualifications for ordination. Because of the biblical counsel concerning spiritual leadership, one of the requirements for ordination is that an individual be male.

For 2,000 years the church has discerned that men and women are equal, yet called to different roles. No union has the authority to redefine “equality” for the world church. In addition, there is cause for concerned over any “principle of equality” that is seen to be of greater authority than the “principle of unity.” The Netherlands Union offered no explanation for the basis of their superior “principle of equality.”

Unions are entrusted to discern which male candidates meet the qualifications which the world church has set forth for those who shall be ordained. In exceeding its authority, the Netherlands Union stands in defiance of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It has acted unilaterally and in disregard to previous world church actions (1990, 1995 GC sessions) refusing to grant unions the right to ordain whomever they wished. The present, high-handed action of the Netherlands Union, constitutes a current example set before church members and before the world, of disunity, rebellion and apostasy.