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Adventists in Scandinavia Discontinue Ordination for Men


September 21, 2015:    The Adventist national denominational organizations in parts of Europe have decided to discontinue the practice of clergy ordination all together in the wake of the vote against ordaining women pastors at the General Conference (GC) Session in July. Yesterday (September 20) the executive committee of the Norwegian Union Conference took this step, the Danish Union Conference has made a similar decision and the Swedish Union Conference will soon have a meeting to consider the decision.

The governing body of the denomination in Norway voted to discontinue the practices of ordination and commissioning, and replace them with a simple prayer service when a pastor is employed. The service that will be identical for both men and women employed as pastors.

This decision followed careful deliberation by the leaders of the union conference and its local conferences. Awaiting the July vote by GC delegates, the Norwegian Union Conference has not ordained any clergy since 2012, but instead commissioned both men and women called to pastoral ministry. Several of the pastors ordained in past years had requested that their credentials be changed from ordained minister to commissioned minister.

The Theology of Ordination Study Committee (TOSC) “consensus statement emphasized the importance that our Adventist understanding of ordination be biblical,” said Pastor Reidar Kvinge, president of the Norwegian Union Conference. “The monumental  871-page report of Trans-European Division’s BRI [Biblical Research Institute] study committee and our own studies have convinced us that the church’s present practice does not conform to the New Testament examples. We see God’s guidance in the San Antonio vote. A ‘yes’ would easily have overshadowed the underlying theological concerns our five year study process has unveiled. With the present unrest, however, our church still has an historic opportunity to make its practice more biblical.”

The statement voted by the Norwegian Union (see full text) argues that the Adventist debate about ordination has focused more on power, position and authority than on humble self-giving service. “The term ordination is not even found in the Bible. Furthermore, the words ‘ordained’ and ‘commissioned’ have come to signify a spiritual hierarchy that is foreign to the thinking of the New Testament church. This is why we will take a time-out from using those categories,” says Kvinge.  “We will have two groups of pastors: intern pastors and pastors. And they will both be set aside for their task with a simple prayer session, and given the necessary authorization to function in their respective roles.”

The voted document, which calls the world church to revisit the recommendations given in the Trans-European Division’s Biblical Research Committee’s report to TOSC, also states:  “Until a classification of pastors is established—a classification without a distinction based on a fundamental discrimination against female pastors—the Norwegian Union Conference will not report employed pastors who are serving in our area to the SDA Yearbook.”

“We do this to eliminate the possibility that our category of ‘pastor’ is  simply converted to ‘commissioned’ or ‘ordained’,  said Kvinge. “We want the world church to know that we no longer use these distinctions, because they carry connotations of a spiritual hierarchy.”

 

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And another conference of an extremely wealthy European country with a negative growth-rate since at least 2004 educates the world church and acts as if the theological elite is still seated in the same old institutions. Apology for my sarcasm.

You probably do not care for my response, but has anyone looked at whether or not womens ordination will help  the church grow not only in numbers but also grow in the maturity of faith.  I will not give examples but all the churches that have done it have gone down hill.   Maybe they will have some influence on the influx of refugees. 

Raymond SDA's have a serious retention problem. We have no hope for growth in Europe if we do not support female pastors.

The SDA church in Europe is sleeping - that's the problem, not that we don't have enough female pastors or pastors in general. We missed to preach and shout out our health-message...now it is a secular trend which becomes bigger and bigger to be vegan or at least a vegetarian, while one part of our church boasts to eat meat whenever they want to. We missed to show our Christian love for our neighbor, while we are watching how Europe is "flooded" with refugees and leave the act of love to help them to those secular people instead of being the first in line......but yeah, we can also just reduce that to "female-pastors".....   

But those European countries are beacons of freedom.  In the 2012 Cato Freedom Index Sweden is 2 and Norway is 3.  Of the countries famous for discrimination against women Saudi Arabia is 150 and Iran is 151.

The issue is not the feminist argument of discrimination, it is about whether the role of overseer of the church should be for males only or not.

But someone above thought it appropriate to make snide remarks about Sweden and Norway, two of the best places in the world.  Would you rather live in Sweden or Norway or the countries that voted against women like Zimbabwe, Philippines, Rwanda, and Brazil? And nothing against those of you who prefer the other countries, a lot of residents of those countries share your views on women; but on a freedom scale Sweden and Norway are exemplary.

The issue is not about what you consider to be "the best places in the world", it has nothing to do with where someone would "rather live", it is about whether the role of overseer of the church should be for males only or not.

What to you are "snide remarks" is someone pointing out that the insistence of rebelling against the church over the issue of WO appears in to be strongest in in areas where the church is not growing.

Perhaps if they spent the time and energy reaching out instead of defying the rest of the world church they might be able to reverse the decline.

Thanks JohnB, for explaining my point.

Men and women are equal in the sight of God as are social classes of people as written in Galatians.  That said we as Christians are not part of a democracy where we get to vote according to our will.  We must abide by what is in the Bible as it is written. Not everyone can preach or be the head of a church a deacon or elder, not even among men.  Everyone is called as a witness, everyone is called to minister to others and everyone is called to do great things.  As JohnB pointed out this is a waste of time. 

And the rebellion continues... NORUC has produced a hypocritical document that can roughly be translated as "we didn't get what we wanted so we're going to hold our breath until we go blue or you do what we want".

The last part is the most ridiculous as they are actually attacking delegates for acting as delegates, somehow claiming that if they hadn't done what their constituency asked and behaved as independent agents the WO vote would have been reversed.

Here we see this relentless spirit trying ride roughshod over the entire church an impose their desires no matter what the will of the church is.

 

Raymond,

In response to you, my deep suspicion is that if half of the energies spent on trying to force the church to ordain women was spent on outreach we would see Christ returning very soon. However, rather than finish the work we spend our time arguing over who will be in positions of power (NORUC says that this is what the whole issue is really about - and from their side it appears they really want to weild power over the rest of the church).

The new Scandinavian polices are fully compliant with the G.C. vote. 

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