29 November 2023 |
The Free Church of the Seventh-day Adventists in Kassel, Germany, hosted a groundbreaking symposium the weekend of November 17-19, addressing the sensitive and complex topic of LGBTQ+ inclusion within the Adventist Church, according to a recent article by Adventistischer Pressedienst (APD). Held at the Kongress Palais in Kassel from November 17th to 19th, the symposium drew around 360 participants, including Adventist clergy, church administrators, and interested community members.
The event commenced with an opening plenary moderated by Judith Fockner of Hope TV, where Werner Dullinger and Johannes Naether, presidents of the South and North German Associations of the Free Church respectively, set the tone for the symposium. Dullinger opened with a prayer, highlighting the unity of the church as a key focus. Naether shared personal experiences and emphasized the need for a culture of loving acceptance.
A pivotal moment was the presentation by Rolf Pöhler, a professor of Systematic Theology, who offered insights into various hermeneutical approaches to biblical texts concerning same-sex sexuality. His analysis ranged from acceptance to a complete reassessment of these statements.
The symposium also featured a unique structured debate on Saturday, with Klaus Schmitz and Dr. Martin Pröbstle presenting affirmative and negative views on same-sex partnerships’ biblical justification. Despite differing theological viewpoints, both speakers agreed on the Christian principle of treating every individual with equal appreciation and acceptance.
The afternoon workshops covered diverse topics, including parental responses to children coming out, perspectives from other churches on homosexuality, transgender issues in modern medicine, and the impact of gender diversity in church and society. These workshops fostered an environment of learning and mutual understanding. Then, on Saturday evening, a number of LGBTQ individuals shared their personal stories, with experiences ranging from traumatic to affirmative, reflecting a spectrum of reactions within church communities.
The symposium concluded with three keynote speeches on Sunday. Dr. Christoph Raedel discussed the concept of marriage and sexual differences, Prof. Dr. Thomas Steininger addressed the challenges of discussing sexuality and identity in church communities, and Martin Wurster outlined ways to support LGBTQ+ individuals in these settings.
Overall, the symposium was marked by a spirit of factual, warm communication, with an emphasis on understanding and Christian charity. The organizers plan to publish the lectures and workshop content in a conference proceeding, with a release date yet to be announced. This event represents a significant step in fostering dialogue and understanding within the Adventist Church on the topic of LGBTQ+ inclusion.