Delegates of the South German Union Conference (SGUC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church have decided to allow regional church leaders to take all necessary steps to establish a single organizational unit for the Adventist Church in Germany.
After the delegates of the North German Union Conference (NGUC) took a similar vote five years ago, both German church regions are now pursuing the goal of merging into one. Delegates of the two regions met May 15-16 on the campus of Friedensau Adventist University in Möckern in both joint and separate sessions.
The vote taken by delegates of the South German Union calls on “the SGUC and the NGUC boards to take the steps needed according to regional constitutions and the relevant resolutions to allow for the organization unity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany.” After the motion was presented, 183 delegates voted in favor of it, and 102 opposed. In 2017, the NGUC had already voted 160 to 47 in favor of a mid-term merging of the two regions.
Trend Toward Enhanced Cooperation
The motion voted follows a trend toward increased cooperation between the two Adventist church regions in Germany. In addition to a joint financial administration, nationwide institutions have existed for some time, including the Institute for Religious Education, the Institute for Continuing Education, the German Association for Health-care, the Advent Welfare Office, the Press and Information Office, and the Department for Inter-Church Relations, among others. There is also only one central warehouse in Germany to store items used to provide assistance to local communities. In 2016, a joint chief financial officer was elected for the first time.
At the delegates’ meeting, it was also decided to fill all management positions — except for the presidents — for both union conferences as joint positions. Also, following a decision taken by the executive committees of both regions in December 2020, a joint administrative service will be created, which will be based in Darmstadt.
Fewer Members, Stable Finances
During the regional session, delegates received a report on the Adventist membership across the country. According to the latest statistics, the number of baptized members has fallen from 34,948 to 34,285 in the past five years. Adventist churches also decreased from 555 to 546, leaders reported. The financial state of both church regions has remained stable, they said.
Hospitals, Schools, Media, and Social Activities
The Adventist Church in Germany provides services to around 5,000 Pathfinders and other teenagers and young people through its youth association. In Berlin, it manages the Waldfriede health network, which includes a hospital, a clinic, and other health-care institutions. It also manages Friedensau Adventist University and primary and secondary schools across the country.
Through Advent-Wohlfahrtswerk e. V., the church manages retirement homes, kindergartens, hospices, and other social institutions. The Hope Media Europe Media Center in Alsbach-Hähnlein includes Hope Channel TV, the Hope Audio Library, and the Hope Bible Study Institute, as well as the Advent Publishing House in Lüneburg.
The German Association for Health-care provides regional training of health consultants for health promotion. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Germany is part of the worldwide ADRA network and is involved in humanitarian aid projects in many countries.