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Regarding women's status as pastors; UPDATED

During the Swedish Union Session's last day the motion to confirm the attitude of equality towards women ministers in the Union was denied. The delegates decided the Union should not express its attitude on the issue of ordination of women until the General Conference has made its decision on the matter in 2015. The newly elected Union Board decides to clarify its stance.

In December 2012, the Swedish Union Board decided express in a statement the way in which the Swedish Union regards women pastors. At that time several Unions had decided to either ordain women pastors or wanted to see this kind of development. The Board wanted to demonstrate how, within the framework of the General Conference Working Policy, it seeks to promote gender equality today. It also encouraged the Union leadership in its endeavour to promote this attitude in the Church's international decision-making bodies. The statement also stated the Union's support of the General Conference study of ordination theology which is done in preparation for a decision on the matter by the General Conference in 2015.

Finally, the statement was referred also to the upcoming Union Session, as a motion, asking the delegates to support it.

The Union Board statement was published in the Union paper, Missionären (see February issue), and got some reactions (see March issue). A counter motion was submitted to the Proposals Committee by a delegate. The Committee recommended the counter motion to be rejected.

After a lively and lengthy debate, the counter proposal still won by a solid majority.

The decision reads as follows: "to await the decision of the General Conference in 2015 before the Swedish Union pronounce itself and takes stance on this issue."

The new board explains

Since many have reacted strongly to the Session's decision, the newly elected Union Board wants to clarify the nature of both the statement and the decision by the Union Session.

In essence the new Union Board wants to point out that the December statement is not "a final standpoint on the issue of women's ordination", but rather an expression of support for the ongoing study of ordination theology and a message to the Division and the General Conference explaining the current stance of the Union.

The Board also wants to point out that the Session's decision is in no way a stance against ordination of women pastors, but a request to await the current process.

The Board will continue to confirm that male and female pastors has the same benefits and responsibilities and that the Union Session's decision in no way changes the status of our female pastors. "We will continue to support our women pastors and to encourage more women to serve the Lord and our churches as pastors", the clarifying statement reads.

The clarification of the Board can be read in full in the pdf below (in Swedish).

Rainer Refsbäck