German Conference Appoints First Gender Equality Officer
- In the first appointment of its kind in Germany, the Executive Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bavaria voted on April 25 to appoint an Equal Opportunities Commissioner.
- Patricia Davis, a psychologist, was chosen for the role. She will guard against instances of discrimination against women within the Adventist organizations and entities in the region.
- In particular, Davis is tasked with combating discrimination against women in Adventist leadership.
4 June 2021 | An Inter-European Division / APD news release:
The Executive Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bavaria voted on April 25 to appoint an Equal Opportunities Commissioner. Patricia Davis, a qualified psychologist, took up her post on May 1. This makes her the first equal opportunities commissioner of her church in Germany.
It is a matter of “an equal opportunities office for incidents of obvious and hidden discrimination against female members within our church in Bavaria,” said the president of the Bavarian Adventists, Pastor Wolfgang Dorn, about the decision. The particular focus, he said, was on women in leadership positions in local congregations, volunteers, and full-time employees. “We have observed an accumulation of discriminatory behavior particularly toward our female pastors in recent years,” Dorn said. “We don’t want to continue to stand by and watch, but to take a clear stand against this and create a protective space for female employees in church congregations.”
Consistent education – preventing discriminatory behavior
Vice President Stefan Rebensburg notes that dealing with the issue of discrimination is currently becoming more crucial. Positions that seemed long outdated are becoming more common. They don’t reflect the majority, he says, but it’s like “turning the wheel back.” The leadership of the church is therefore taking steps to provide “consistent education of church congregations in this area and clearly avoid discriminatory behavior toward women in our ranks, especially in leadership positions.” The committee sees a biblical mandate here, as well as support for Adventist doctrinal beliefs.
As a psychologist, Patricia Davis counsels people in life crises and helps families develop their strengths. In taking on the role of Equal Opportunities Officer, she hopes to provide a point of contact for concerned women pastors and women leaders in the church with a low threshold. “I understand us Adventists as a team that supports each other emotionally as well as actively. A team in which all contribute their skills and abilities, without exception and equally, whether woman or man. God values everyone unconditionally regardless of age, background, or gender, and I want to help make our church a place where that’s exactly what’s lived out.”
Congregations as a place of appreciation
More than ever, Davis added, gender equality in the local church is a pressing concern for the church in Bavaria. “We want to promote a natural coexistence of men and women at all levels of congregational ministry so that congregations remain a place of appreciation and mutual support.” Religious and social disparagement of women in the area of congregational activities should have no place. This is the reason why this office was initiated for women who are affected by discrimination and disparagement in their work for the church. In a confidential setting, they can talk about these experiences and seek help.