Union Conference in Norway takes Steps toward Ordination of Women in Ministry
by AT News Team
“I am starting to lose patience in this matter,” Pastor Reidar Kvinge, president of the Norwegian Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, stated in an interview about the study of ordination being coordinated by the General Conference (GC). He thinks that women clergy are important for the denomination’s development in Europe, states an article reporting the interview in New Adventist, a publication in the Norwegian language.
This is yet another union conference joining those in North America and Europe to take a stand on the need to end gender discrimination in ordination. At a board meeting in late September, the Norwegian Union Conference made “a policy decision” along those lines, the union president stated.
“I do not want to lead a protest movement,” Kvinge said, but “I’m not happy with the situation.” He would like to see the schedule for the ongoing study on ordination speeded up. He thinks there must be room in the Adventist Church for different practices on ordination in different regions of the world. “I want unity but not uniformity. We may well have diverse practices in different parts of the world without this dividing us as Seventh-day Adventists.”
He cautioned that although the union conference governing body has approved extending ordination to women in ministry, that does not mean the Norwegian union will do it immediately. But he warned that “if we do not get approval to ordain women pastors, we will easily be in the same situation as the three unions that have already adopted ordination of female pastors.” It is not clear that at the time of the interview the Netherlands union had taken the steps that Adventist Today reported recently—which would make it the fourth such union.
The Norwegian union board voted the following: “Based on our understanding of the Word of God as expressed in the Adventist Church’s 28 fundamental beliefs (especially numbers 7, 12, 14 and 17), we consider it morally and ethically correct to recognize women’s and men’s service as Adventist pastors alike.” In the same action a decision was made to issue the Commissioned Minister credential to those holding ministerial credentials in the meantime.
Although there is some ambiguity with the language differences—probably intentional ambiguity to some degree—it appears that the Adventist Church in Norway has essentially put the GC on notice that unless some opening is provided, it will go ahead with removing gender discrimination in ordination after the 2015 GC Session. This is essentially the same position taken by the Adventist Church in the Netherlands, although a union conference officer in the Netherlands later told Adventist Today that they might move ahead sooner with ordination of women in the gospel ministry.
There are 4,600 members of the Adventist Church in Norway out of population of about five million. The Norwegian union includes 62 local churches in three conferences. It operates a junior college and there is a health center and two homes for the aged affiliated with the denomination.