Swedish Congregation Joins Opposition to “Unity” Procedures
Dear Adventist Today,
The Board of the SDA Church in Linköping, Sweden, has issued a public statement w.r.t. the ongoing discussions around unity, compliance review committees etc. The official web site for our statement is http://linkoping.adventist.se/
For your convenience, I’ll paste the English version of the statement below. I am well aware that several statements and open letters have been and will be published in this matter. Feel free to report on this statement as you prefer!
Member of the Board
Statement from the Board of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Linköping, Sweden
It is with dismay and concern we have followed the development of what initially was called Unity in Mission, more lately the quintuple Compliance Review Committees.
- We believe that the proposed mechanisms are detrimental for the future of our church and our mission. Our members, young and old, scoff at these proposals, shaking their heads in disbelief. Is this really my church? Is this the way we handle our differences? they ask. Enough harm has been done to the unity of our denomination by the very existence of these proposals. More harm will be done if the Annual Council votes these proposals into effect.
- We, as a church, are a part of the constituency of the Swedish Union of Churches Conference. We, the constituency, have elected our Union President. We have, with vast majority, voted to discontinue the practice of ordination to ministry, in an effort to both respect the GC Session vote and to adhere to our Fundamental Belief #14 which states that “distinctions of race, culture, learning, and nationality, and differences between high and low, rich and poor, male and female, must not be divisive among us. We are all equal in Christ, who by one Spirit has bonded us into one fellowship with Him and with one another; we are to serve and be served without partiality or reservation.” We, the constituency, are to be held responsible for our Therefore we find it unacceptable that some of the proposed sanctions (“Public Reprimand” and “Placed on Removal for Cause and Subject to Policy Application”) are aimed at the Union President.
- We are also appalled by the suggestion that the compliance committee model “could also be adopted by other levels of church organization”. We can not even imagine ourselves resorting to such practices in our local church. The very idea that we as a church board would form a “compliance committee” to investigate e.g. how our Childrens’ Ministries are complying with the Board’s decisions, or that we would start announcing that the Childrens’ Ministries Director has been given a “Public Reprimand” every time he/she exercises his/her right of voice, is ridiculous. This would likely create an atmosphere of distrust, uncertainty and fear, rather than the loving, open and trusting community we are asked to strive for. “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” (1 John 4:18, NASB)
Shortly before his death, Jesus spoke these words: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” (Luke 22:25-26, NKJV, italics added)
“But not so among you”. We, as followers of Jesus Christ, should follow the less travelled path when it comes to leadership and authority. We should not imitate the pyramids and hierarchies of this world. Our great cause is not about policy or compliance, but about the everlasting gospel (Rev 14:6).
Therefore we give the Executive Committee of the Swedish Union of Churches our wholehearted support in clearly authorising our Union President to oppose the proposed measures at the Annual Council. Furthermore, we urge the Annual Council to reject the proposed measures.
This statement was voted unanimously by the Board (Paul Annala, Peter Lamberth, Daniel Leo, Karin Rudholm, Maria Sundvall) on September 20, 2018