4 May 2020 | The General Conference (GC) has responded to an appeal of an official “warning” issued to the Norwegian Union Conference and other unions at Annual Council 2019.
The General Conference Administrative Committee (ADCOM) response to the Norwegian appeal was characterized by a flat refusal to reconsider the scolding.
The original warning was voted by Annual Council 2019 as a result of a controversial General Conference claim that the Norwegian Union and other entities were not following Working Policy in regards to ordination.
The union had ceased to ordain pastors as a result of a General Conference Session 2015 vote that hardened denominational policy preventing women from being ordained as pastors.
In order to avoid the inequality issues involved in barring female pastors from ordination, the Norwegian Adventist Church stopped ordaining pastors of either gender.
The claim that ceasing ordination constituted noncompliance with GC Working Policy was widely disputed but enough votes were cast by delegates at Annual Council 2019 to approve the warning.
The Norwegian Union appealed the scolding on February 6, 2020, saying it was built on faulty premises and with disregard for due process.
Per General Conference design, the appeal was to be reviewed by ADCOM, the same body that made the recommendation of issuing the original warning.
At the suggestion of the Trans-European Division, the Norwegian Union did not publicly release the appeal document before the appeal process was complete. There was concern that going public would adversely affect the process and the relationship between the entities involved.
A hastily arranged video meeting was held on February 25, chaired by General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson. The GC president spoke to the appeal first before allowing Victor Marley, Norwegian Union Conference President and Finn F. Eckhoff, Norwegian Union Conference Secretary to comment. GC Executive Secretary G. T. Ng and GC Treasurer Juan Prestol-Puesán also spoke.
ADCOM discussed the appeal on March 17. The appeal document was read in its entirety but nobody present proposed to reverse or change the warning. No vote was taken on the matter.
The Norwegian Union received an undated response letter on March 24, informing them of the ADCOM reaction to the appeal.
“This process has not been perfect, but has nevertheless been characterized by a good tone and a recognition that we work for the same cause,” Marley said, in a news release from the Norwegian Union.
“We want to take that positive attitude with us in our discussions in Norway. We may have different perspectives, but we are united in our mission and our desire for Jesus to come soon. I would like to thank my colleagues and friends in leadership of the General Conference, the Trans-European Division and the Norwegian Union Conference for the dialogue we have had regarding the appeal.”
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