From APD, December 10, 2015:    The executive board of the Adventist denomination’s Hansa Conference in Germany has published a declaration of regret for the decision of the General Conference Session regarding the ordination of women serving as pastors. The vote last summer decided against allowing the denomination’s 13 world Divisions to make individual decisions on the question. The statement by the Hansa Conference encouraged women to seek education and prepare for service as pastors despite the decision.

With this statement the Hansa Conference wishes to express a clear viewpoint towards their own local churches, said Pastor Jan Kozak, conference vice president. “The gospel does not discriminate against persons (Acts 10:34), this is equally true for office,” the document states.

“There are already indications that the decision [in] San Antonio may alienate many of our youth, our women and other members of our church. Our proclamation of the gospel already takes place under difficult conditions. This decision has now even worsened the conditions as it may be difficult to explain the rationale of this decision to the public. Nobody can exercise continuous loyalty outwardly when it is contrary to his or her conscience inwardly.“

The statement closes, “We continue to encourage female church members to opt for the pastoral ministry and hereby reiterate our intention, to act in accordance with the decision of the North German Union Conference general assembly of April 23, 2012, which recommends pastors to ordination in ministry regardless of gender.”

At the 2012 meeting the leadership of the denomination’s North German Union Conference decided that women employed as pastors in its territory may be ordained as are their male colleagues. This vote is not the position of the GC leadership and has not been implemented so far.

The GC Working Policy does permit women serving as Adventist pastors to be “commissioned” and exercise much the same role and functions as “ordained” pastors. They both conduct baptisms, communion services, weddings and funerals. Under the GC Working Policy, “commissioned” pastors cannot serve as the president of a conference, union conference or Division.

The Complete Statement

The declaration of the Hansa Conference regarding the decision of the General Conference Session in San Antonio in 2015 on the topic “Unity of the World Church and the Ordination of Women.”

“The Board of the Hansa Conference notes with regret, that the General Conference Session has not given the various world regions [Divisions] independent authority on the issue of inclusive ordination without gender distinction (ordination of women).

“We regard ourselves as a loyal part of the World Church. This decision has not changed that. However, this decision has created a dilemma for us, which is not only about loyalty and unity, but about the correct understanding of the gospel. The gospel does not differentiate in the standing of a person (Acts 10:34), nor in the understanding of office.

“It is our mission to act in accordance with the gospel and to proclaim the three angels’ message. With this good news the church life knows no ethnic, social or gender boundaries (Gal 3:28).

“There are already indications that the decision of San Antonio may alienate many of our youth, our women and other members of our church. Our proclamation of the gospel already takes place under difficult conditions. This decision has now even worsened the conditions as it may be difficult to explain the rationale of this decision to the public. Nobody can exercise continuous loyalty outwardly when it is contrary to his or her conscience inwardly. We do not want to expose our sisters, young people and church members to such an ordeal and therefore declare as Board of the Hansa Conference:

“We continue to encourage female church members to opt for the pastoral ministry and hereby reiterate our intention, to act in accordance with the decision of the North German Union Conference general assembly of April, 23rd 2012 which recommends pastors to the ordination in ministry regardless of gender.

The Hansa Conference includes 49 congregations in three states of the Federal Republic of Germany; Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It has a total membership of 2,604 in one of the most industrialized areas of the world.

APD is the Adventist News Service in Europe based in Switzerland.