Human Rights in Africa

[De Nederlandstalige versie van dit persbericht kunt u hier vinden.]

The Ugandan Parliament passed the so-called Anti-Homosexual Bill on the 20th of December, 2013. The Nigerian president signed a similar bill on the 13th of January, 2014. These bills promote the hatred and discrimination of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Intersex) individuals, and misleadingly associate being LBGTI with paedophilia and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Netherlands Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church distances itself from these bills. We, as a church, stand for accepting love and following the character of Jesus Christ. We strongly believe that all people are called to love one another. This includes loving LGBTIs – not excluding them or judging their relationships.

Christians don’t all agree regarding LGBTIs, but we are one in the faith that mankind was created in the image of God, and each person is valuable in his eyes. People should, therefore, create each other with decency – respectfully, peacefully and lovingly. Violence or discrimination in any form is unacceptable.

The delegates of all the Adventist churches in the Netherlands took a strong stand with regards to LGBTIs in 2012. With a large majority, they decided the following:

Following the example of the ‘Safe Church’ initiative, the delegates, gathered together in committee, charge the Executive Board in the coming administrative period to consider the problems of and concerning people with a non-heterosexual nature, so that they can feel safe in the church.

The Netherlands Union of the Seventh-day Adventist Church also signed the International Day Against Homophobia declaration in 2011. The Executive Committee took a unanimous stand against violence towards and discrimination of LGBTIs.

We do not all have the same views on homosexuality, but we are one in the belief that all human beings are created in God’s image and precious in His eyes. Therefore people should treat each other with dignity – respectfully, peacefully and affectionately – and violence against homosexuals, in any form, is completely unacceptable.

To each violation of human rights we say: that is wrong. Today we emphasize this in particular concerning the violation of the human rights of homosexuals. This includes all forms of physical, psychological and verbal violence against homosexuals, as well as inciting these expressions of violence. He who uses violence against fellow human beings, made in the image of God, ignores Christ’s appeal to love God and thy neighbour. Also in our own communities of faith the human dignity of homosexuals has sometimes been damaged by uncharitable and unsympathetic behaviour.

We dedicate ourselves to defend in every way the dignity of all people. We call on worshippers in our congregations to refrain from promoting any form of violence against homosexuals. Churches desire, after the example of Christ, to be places of encounter. They desire to be a safe haven for all, including homosexuals.

We call on everyone, whatever their place in society, to offer an environment in which homosexuals feel safe and in that way contribute to a safer social climate in our society.

We will endeavour, in our international ecclesiastical contacts and in our contacts with representatives of other faiths, to oppose homophobia, hatred and violence against homosexuals.

Persbericht: men­senrechten in Afrika

[An English translation of this press release can be found here.]

Op 20 december 2013 heeft het Oegandese parlement de Anti-Homoseksualiteitwet aangenomen. Op 13 januari 2014 heeft de Nigeriaanse president een soortgelijke wet ondertekend. Deze wetten stimuleren haat en discriminatie tegenover mensen die LHBT (Lesbisch, Homo-, Bi-, of Transseksueel) zijn en associeert LHBT-zijn met pedofilie en geslachtsziekten.

Het Kerkgenootschap der Zevende-dags Adventisten in Nederland neemt afstand van deze wetten. Als kerkgenootschap staan wij voor accepterende liefde en volgen het karakter van Jezus Christus. Hierbij geloven wij dat alle mensen geroepen worden om elkaar lief te hebben. Dat houdt ook het liefhebben van LHBT’ers in – niet het buitensluiten of veroordelen van hun relaties.

Verder lezen

Netherlands Union Conference Votes to Ordain Female Pastors

On May 30th, 2013 the Executive Committee of the Netherlands Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church decided to ordain female pastors, recognising them as equal to their male colleagues. During the Union Session last year the delegates from the churches in the Netherlands charged the church leadership with the task of implementing equality between men and women in the church as soon as possible. After much discussion, and after weighing the many options, the Executive Committee has decided that the best way to implement this equality is through the equal ordination of men and women.

 

At the Union Session in 2012 the delegates passed the following motion:

Considering the biblical principle of the equality of men and women, the delegates in session indicate that they reject the current situation of inequality in the church on principle. For this reason, and considering the context of Dutch society, they charge the Executive Board to vigorously promote this perspective in the worldwide church. As quickly as possible, and no later than six months after the next session of the General Conference (2015), equality between men and women will be implemented at all organisational levels of the church in the Netherlands. The equal ordination of female pastors also falls into this category.

As Dutch church we wish to stand firmly behind the principle that all human beings are fundamentally equal, regardless of gender, race, or background. This equality informs an integral part of our fundamental beliefs. The decision not to distinguish between pastors based on their gender falls under this principle. Through this decision the Netherlands Union Conference will be at variance with the policies of the world church. We wholeheartedly wish to follow these policies, and recognise that there must be unity in the church of Jesus Christ. This made implementing the above motion and making this decision particularly complicated. In the end, this decision was the result of weighing the principle of unity against the principle of equality. Other possibilities were also discussed, including the option of not ordaining any pastors until the world church recognises equality, and the option of waiting until the upcoming session of the General Conference of the world church to reach a decision. Ultimately it was decided that from June 1st, 2013 all ordained and commissioned pastors, regardless of gender, will be considered ordained in the Netherlands. In practice this means that Pastor Elise Happé-Heikoop (pastor of Arnhem, Nijmegen and Doetinchem) is now considered ordained, and that on September 21st Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie will be ordained together with her (male) colleague Enrico Karg. The full decision of the Executive Board reads as follows:

Considering the decision of the 2012 Union Session regarding the equality of men and women (#153), and taking our ethical objections to unequal treatment into account, the Netherlands Union Conference will no longer differentiate between male and female pastors as of June 1st, 2013. All pastors, irrespective of their gender, will be “ingezegend” pastors. When reporting to the world church, the Netherlands Union Conference will list all pastors as being “ordained.”

Because of the potentially delicate nature of this topic, it was decided that the communication of this decision would be delayed until July 5th, 2013. This gave the leadership enough time to properly and correctly inform the Trans-European Division. The Netherlands Union Conference has 5276 members, spread over 55 churches and 16 church plants. Last year the 26 pastors in the Netherlands baptised more than 150 new members. In recent years the church has grown steadily, averaging at 3,5%. While some of this growth can be attributed to immigration, the church-planting movement has been particularly successful in reaching the native (Dutch) population in one of the most secular countries in the world.