Bavarian Conference Asks South German Union to Ordain Women

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5 July 2021  |

At their Constituency Meeting on Sunday, July 4, 2021, the Bavarian Conference, among many other agenda items, considered the topic of women’s ordination. Two pastors, Ralf Hartmann from Landshut and Frederik Woysch from Wasserburg, presented three motions to the gathered delegates. The motions were formed by a group of 5 pastors and were presented with the signatures of 13 other pastors of the Bavarian Conference.

The three motions read:

Wir beauftragen den Vorstand der BYV, sich aktiv dafür einzusetzen, dass wir innerhalb der FID eine einheitliche Segnungspraxis im Sinne der ministerial credential leben, die Frauen und Männer im geistlichen Dienst gleichberechtigt und gleichermaßen bevollmächtigt.

We charge the Bavarian Conference Administrative Committee to actively work towards ensuring that a unified blessing in the spirit of ministerial credentialing, empowering women and men equally in spiritual ministry, will be practiced in Germany.

Wir beauftragen den Vorstand der BYV entsprechend der Wahl- und Geschäftsordnung des Süddeutschen Verbandes auf der kommenden Delegiertentagung des Süddeutschen Verbandes einen Antrag zu stellen, dass für Frauen und Männer im geistlichen Dienst gleichermaßen vollumfänglich eine einheitliche Segnungspraxis im Sinne der ministerial credential umgesetzt wird.

We charge the Bavarian Conference Administrative Committee, in accordance with the Working Policies of the South German Union, to submit a motion at the upcoming Constituency Session of the South German Union stating that the practice of a uniform blessing in the spirit of ministerial credentialing be fully implemented for both women and men in spiritual ministry.

Vorbehaltlich der Zustimmung des SDV segnen wir ab sofort alle Angestellten im geistlichen Dienst im Kontext der Bayerischen Vereinigung vollumfänglich unabhängig ihres Geschlechts und sehen diese Segnung als kirchenrechtlich verbindliche Ordination an.

Subject to the approval of the South German Union, from now on we will fully bless all employees in spiritual service within the Bavarian Conference, regardless of their gender, and consider this blessing to be an ordination that is binding under Church Working Policy.

Delegates had the opportunity to speak to each motion. A few of the approximately 120 delegates made many of the same expected arguments in opposition to the ordination of women that have been heard in Adventist circles over the past decade. Despite the small pockets of opposition, each of the motions passed by a significant majority. The first two motions were voted by the raising of hands and were counted. The third motion was voted by secret ballot.

Pastor and delegate Tye Davis, who provided the report and translation, adds this note:

As a pastor in the Bavarian Conference I am thrilled that my conference took this courageous step forward as we work to recognize God’s calling in the lives of our pastors, both women and men. I wish I could have added my name to the motions before they were presented and I’m not entirely sure why I wasn’t able to. (Maybe I missed something… my German is far from perfect!)

The most encouraging part is that it seems to me that the majority of pastors in the Bavarian Conference are very supportive of their female colleagues in ministry and were supportive of the action taken at this constituency meeting.

I do wonder what exactly is meant by “subject to the approval of the South German Union” in the third motion. My best interpretation is that both men and women serving in pastoral ministry who come to the point of being recommended by some sort of blessing (ordination or commissioning) will be recommended to the Union for ordination. The onus will then be on the Union to approve the recommendation for ordination.

To be clear, by policy the conference does not alone select candidates for ordination. It is always the case that conferences recommend candidates for both ordination and commissioning to the union it is part of and the union approves (or, rarely, doesn’t approve) that recommendation.

Whatever the South German Union decides, my understanding is that the Bavarian Conference now recommends its pastors for ordination regardless of gender. That’s good news!