Project Documents

Date of Award

1981

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Gottfried Oosterwal

Second Advisor

Heinz Henning

Third Advisor

Johann Heinz

Abstract

Problem

Transfers from one pastoral district to another are part of the life and work of ministers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Every transfer deeply affects all aspects of his life, and that of his family. It also influences his relationship with the administrators of the church and touches the respective congregations. The aim of this study was to find out (1) whether transfers have solely a pragmatic character, or whether they also carry biblical-theological implications; (2) whether transfers do encumber interpersonal relations and, if so, what possibilities exist to solve these tensions or indeed to prevent them from occurring; and (3) how many, years a minister should work in a given district in order to serve the congregations optimally according to his particular gifts.

Method

The theological relevance of the transfer of ministers was developed deductively from the motif of the pilgrim people of God and the Exodus community of the Old and New Testaments. The various stages, forms, and aspects of the pilgrim people of God in salvation history had to be examined in order to discover what particular principles and characteristics of the pilgrimage are also hallmarks of the transfer of ministers. For the investigation of the practical pastoral aspect of transfers all groups involved were sent a questionnaire. These groups included pastors and their wives, their children over eighteen, and a selection of church elders. In order to check the written answers, personal interviews were conducted in the homes of the ministers and their wives and in the homes of church elders. In addition, each member of the executive committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the German Democratic Republic which plans and determines the transfers was also interviewed. This assured the consideration and evaluation from all viewpoints.

Results

As long as the church lives up to its calling as the pilgrim people of God, transfers remain necessary. They result from the vicissitudes of life and from changes in organization thereby helping the ministers in the development of their gifts and preventing congregations from becoming one-sided. Tensions between administrators and ministers result when the brotherly co-operation and openness enjoined by Scripture is lacking. Stress in marriage and family life occurs when mutual consideration, a common sharing of burdens and a sympathetic approach to problems caused by a transfer are inadequate. In the past, pastors and their families have generally been moved too frequently. Ordained preachers should on the average work eight years in a district so that their service can be as productive as possible in all the areas of the church's life and work.

Recommendations

The executive committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the GDR should be involved in more long-term planning of transfers, with careful consideration of the development of the minister, his family situation, and the needs of the local church. All those who are affected by the transfer should be included in the planning and should be fully informed. The minister and his wife need to help each other, and together stand by their children in order to help them deal with potential problems resulting from a transfer. The minister should, of course, responsibly execute all the duties of his office up to the time of his transfer. On special occasions church administrators should speak with the ministers and their wives about the many-faceted and complex-whole of problems of a transfer, as well as about its potentials. Administrators also ought to be equally open to the legitimate concerns of individual ministers and their wives before a decision about their transfer is made. It is essential for all parties concerned to remember that transfers are a manifestation of being the pilgrim people of God.

Subject Area

Clergy--Family relationships; Seventh-day Adventists--Clergy--Germany

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