Benefit of the Doubt

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denmark may be falling apart. Hopefully, this is an exaggeration, but these days the church is simmering with talk about a recent decision by the Union Board.

What is publicly known is this: Due to economic challenges, the church has been forced to lay off several of its employees. This is always a sad situation. What strikes many people is especially the decision to fire one particular pastor. He has been involved with two church plants in eastern Denmark, and is seen by some as one of the most visionary employees the church has.

On the other hand, church planting, and especially the Copenhagen Café Church, has become somewhat of a hot potato for our small, national church. There have been several controversies over the Café Church, of which some may have been justified, but nothing justifies the sometimes vehement opposition that this project has drawn amongst certain groups of church members. This sense of hate was obvious at the last church session, almost three years ago. Meanwhile, the Café Church is the one church that has – as no other in Denmark – produced remarkable growth, numerically and spiritually. Not a small feat in a Western European capital city.

The Union gives us no reasons for their priorities in choosing whom to lay off. And here lies the crux of the matter – as so many times before, communication from the church leadership is in no way sufficient. The current board, inefficient as they may have been at times, has on previous occasions supported church planting – in words, if not in finances. Is this a turnaround?

Is this decision a crusade against church planting? Or a blunder? A theological issue? A voluntary retirement? Or something else? I would like to give the church the benefit of the doubt. But we need answers. We need an explanation. We need facts on the table in order to make up our minds.

The church will meet for session again in about three months. It is obvious that the current leadership will not survive this election. But more is at stake here. If this decision turns out to be un-justified, it might well be the rock that sets the avalanche going, which may in the end break this church in half. That can’t be good.

Crisis management, please.

Links in Danish:
The Presidents’ message
Discussion on Young Adventist’s Forum
Dorland’s blog
Riedmann’s blog


Author: Kenneth Mollerup Birch

Living north of Copenhagen, Denmark. MA in Information Science. Interests include communication, internet, sociology, language, politics, religion, theology, travel, music, and food.

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