Swedish Union Session Delegates Support Decision to Discontinue Ordination
From tedNEWS, July 12, 2017: The Adventist Church in Sweden voted to continue its practice of not ordaining men or women until members of both genders can be ordained.
The original decision to halt the practice of ordination had been taken in March 2016 by the Swedish Union’s Executive Committee.
The July 4-8 Union Session was held at Adventist-owned educational center, Ekebyholmsskolan.
Delegates reported a calm and relaxed atmosphere overall as, among other agenda items, they held three votes to address the controversial issue of ministerial credentials.
First, a two-thirds majority voted that “the Executive Committee should promote equal pastoral credentials for men and women.”
Then a 65% majority of the delegates voted to support a 2016 Executive Committee decision to terminate the practice of ordination despite the knowledge that doing so diverged from the Working Policy of the General Conference world headquarters of the Adventist Church.
The Trans-European Division (region) of the Adventist Church of which the Swedish Union is a part, has requested that the General Conference issue a single ministerial credential for both men and women.
While waiting for a response to this request, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sweden will, regardless of gender, grant only commissioned ministerial licenses and credentials to its pastors.
Finally, delegates considered how to relate to the General Conference “Unity In Mission” reconciliation process.
The process was designed to address unions of the Adventist Church that are not in harmony with official working policy which currently does not allow for the ordination of women.
A motion was submitted by some delegates to the Plans Committee asking the Swedish Union not to participate in the process due to its unknown consequences. This motion/proposal was turned down with a very strong majority vote indicating a will to seek unity with the rest of the world church.
At the union session, Pastor Robert “Bobby” Sjölander was voted president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Sweden for the next four years, replacing former President, Göran Hansen, who was retiring.
Sjölander had served as president before having held the office from 2007-2013.
Arnold Wittman, an economist and lawyer replaced retiring union treasurer Ronny Hermansson.
A new Executive Secretary, Rainer Refsbäck replaced Bo Forssten, who had held the office since 2014.
Trans-European Division President, Raafat Kamal, commented: “I witnessed a Swedish Union Session for the first time and I noted the passion and love that the delegates have for their Church’s mission and message in Sweden. There was a sweet spirit of co-operation and seriousness in the way the business was conducted. I want to thank all those who worked tirelessly before and during the Session to prepare for this event. I am convinced that God will lead through the decisions made, to help our Swedish Adventist communities focus on making disciples for Jesus Christ.”
tedNEWS is the official news service of the Adventist denomination in the Trans-European Division.