Icelandic Conference Wrestles Over Mining Asset Management Controversy

By: Jón Hjörleifur Stefánsson

IA Editor’s Note: The global Adventist church possesses natural resources entrusted to it. Often members will gift an entire company, land, or other resources that can be used to further the gospel. Occasionally, the resources are not managed well, and the church loses financially due to mismanagement. This story below is an attempt by its author, a church member, to ask members at his conference and elsewhere in the world to consider the management of this natural resource. IA presents the story as is, with no claim on the facts presented herein.

This story is about managing mining assets that the Adventist Icelandic conference controls through a trust. The author contends that the EXCOM of the Iceland Conference has refused to answer questions of the members and has acted on information that is incomplete and at times self-contradictory to the original agreements. We have lightly edited the document (available in PDF) and copied it below as an article. Since the article was written originally in Icelandic, there are bound to be some grammatical differences between the original and the edited portion below. The author is translating more materials and IA will publish them as they are given to us. We believe that the matter is essential and needs new consideration urgently. IA may reach out to the Trans European Division and GCAS for comment.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. The Mines of the Icelandic Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
  2. Former Contracts with Eden (2008 and 2009)
  3. Transfer (framsal)
  4. New Contract with Eden (2022)
  5. The Project of Heidelberg Materials
  6. Conduct of the Executive Committee of the Icelandic Conference
  7. Conclusion

The mining case is not only about the mining of minerals. At its heart, it concerns the administration, policy, stewardship, and social involvement that we want to see in the Icelandic Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (IC). The matter is, therefore, crucial to all church members, for it concerns us as members and as a church.

The Executive Committee of the IC (EXCOM) has refused to answer church members’ inquiries about the mining case. Indeed, the EXCOM has resisted providing general information about the mining case. This document, therefore, provides a summary of the mining case for all church members who want to understand the case better.

IA Note: This document has been copied into an article here, but you can read it as a PDF if you want.

1.     The Mines of the Icelandic Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

In 1947, the IC bought the property Breiðabólstaður in Ölfus municipality. There it raised the academy (gagnfræðaskóli) called Hlíðardalsskóli for its teenagers. As time passed, the educational system in Iceland changed, and academies and boarding schools became a thing of the past. Eventually, it became impossible to run the academy, and it was closed in 1995. There was uncertainty about what should be done with the property and the buildings. The IC tried to sell the property but then decided against it. Many church members felt it was inadvisable to sell such a valuable asset that could be used in the future for the church’s mission. Three SDA couples came up with the idea that they could be the property’s caretakers to ensure it would remain in possession of the church. These couples were Kristján Friðbergsson and Unnur Halldórsdóttir, Eric Guðmundsson and Laila Panduro, and Elías Theodórsson and Ester Ólafsdóttir. In 1999, these couples founded the association Hlíðardalssetrið with the explicit purpose of assuring the church’s continued possession and usage of the property. The couple Pétur Ottósson and Ólöf Haraldsdóttir also continued running the farm. Since then, the Hlíðardalssetrið has taken care of all maintenance, improvement, and fees related to the property. Without the involvement of the Hlíðardalssetrið, the church would have sold it a long time ago.

Since ca. 1965, there has been a mining operation in two mounts on the Breiðabólstaður property. (These are Mount Lambafell and Mount Litla-Sandfell.[1]) In the first few decades, the mining operation’s scope was relatively insignificant compared to the present time. This is because mining has developed rapidly over time: today, machines and equipment are more powerful, and demand for minerals has increased. IC made contracts with various companies for various amounts of time and with multiple levels of success.

2.     Former Contracts with Eden (2008 and 2009)

Earlier this century, church members Eiríkur Ingvarsson and Kristinn Ólafsson approached the EXCOM with a business idea. They suggested they could run the mines for the church so that the church would profit more than it had done until then. With this goal in mind, the two men founded the company called Eden. In 2008 and 2009, the IC and Eden signed contracts concerning mining operations in Mount Litla-Sandfell and Mount Lambafell.

The contract concerning the Lambafell mine (2009) was based on the following business idea: Eden would sell the minerals to Norway as raw material for rock wool production. Before the contract was signed, neither Eden nor the EXCOM seemed to have investigated whether the minerals from the mine were suitable for such production. After the first shipment arrived in Norway, it turned out that the minerals were not suitable. In the autumn of 2008, the economic “Collapse” (hrunið) also occurred in Iceland, and with it, construction in the country and demand for minerals plummeted. Operation in the two mines was close to nil until 2017.

The Norway business idea is not mentioned per se in the 2009 contract. Nevertheless, it is stated that if Eden fails to agree with “the prospective buyers” (the Norwegian company) within two years, the contract expires (article no. 8).[2] Yet when the business idea failed to materialize, the EXCOM decided not to cancel its contract with Eden and to find another prospective contracting party. The mines were not heavily mined for many years.

In 2017, Eden began its mining operation in earnest in Mount Lambafell. The mining operation continued through 2021 or until Eden and IC signed a new contract. During these four years, it seems that it was not Eden but a third party that ran the mining operation. At first, it was GT-verktakar until the summer of 2021, and then it was Lambafell, inc. (a subsidiary company of Steinsteypan, inc.) during the latter half of 2021.[3] These two companies took care of mining the minerals, processing them, and selling them. In other words, Eden seems to have transferred the mining operation to a third party. If this was so, such a transfer violated an article in the 2009 contract, in which transfer is explicitly forbidden.[4]

3.     Transfer (framsal)

The reason why the contract forbade transfer is apparent: If the contract were transferred, the profit of the IC would decrease significantly because of the middleman. It is easiest to explain this by looking at the figures. To simplify the explanation, let us look at only one of the three payments Eden was to pay to the IC: “10% of the gross value of minerals sold off the site” (article no. 3).[5]

A mining company must mine, process, and sell the minerals. To “process” the minerals mean that the company produces the minerals into various sale products, e.g., different types of gravel. These gravel types range in price. The cheapest gravel type is pillow lava, with one cubic meter of around 1000 ISK.

Minerals are bought on-site. The buyers come, load the minerals and transport them away – big buyers do this with trucks. The company that runs the mine sells the minerals “off the site” directly to the final buyer.

If Eden had followed the contract and run the mine by mining, processing, and selling the minerals, then the IC would have received 10% of the final sales price for the gravel, e.g., ca. 100 ISK for each cubic meter of pillow lava. The buyer would have transported the material off the site and used it or sold it to another party in a different form (e.g., as concrete).

But even though Eden claimed they ran the mine, Eden seems neither to have mined, processed, nor sold the minerals. Eden did not invest in equipment, for it neither mined nor processed the minerals. Neither did Eden sell the minerals to the final buyer. Eden sold the minerals while they were still unmined in the mount, first to GT-verktakar and later to Lambafell inc. In other words, Eden did not sell the minerals “off the site” to the final buyer. Instead, Eden sold the minerals to a third party (GT-verktakar and later Lambafell inc.) for 100–150 ISK per cubic meter. The third party then sold the minerals to the final buyer at market price.

According to the author of this summary, this arrangement meant that Eden had practically transferred the mining operation to a third party. Eden had become a middleman between the IC and the companies that actually ran the mine. Eden took no financial risks, did not have to invest in equipment, or hire staff – and therefore profited by doing nothing.

For the period 2017–2021, the profit from the Mount Lambafell mine seems to have been distributed as follows:[6]

  • The IC received ca. 25 million ISK
  • Eden received ca. 180–200 million ISK
  • GT-verktakar and Lambafell, inc. received ca. 1000 million ISK

Instead of receiving 10% of the gross sales price for the minerals – which would have been, e.g., ca. 100 ISK per cubic meter for pillow lava – the IC got 10% of the price for which Eden sold the gravel to a third party – and this amounted to 10–15 ISK per cubic meter. If Eden had run the mine themselves, as the company was supposed to do according to the contract, or if the IC had made a contract directly with GT-verktakar or Lambafell, inc., then the IC’s profit would have been many times the amount it received. By allegedly transferring the mining operation to a third party, Eden did not adhere to the contract stipulation and diminished the church’s profit tremendously. The author of this document spoke with the owners of these two companies (GT-verktakar and Lambafell inc.), and they told him they could not comprehend why the IC was happy with Eden’s arrangements. One of them said: “Eiríkur takes no financial risk. We do. We pay him, and then he turns around and pays you a fraction of what he receives from us for doing nothing. We would be more than willing to pay you directly if you would make a contract directly with us, and that way, your share would, of course, be many times higher than it is now.”[7]

Though most of the mined material was taken from Mount Lambafell, Eden also had minerals mined from Mount Litla-Sandfell. Eden had that material removed without the pertinent public license, and the removal of the material seems to have constituted the breaking of national law. The IC received no payment for that.[8]

Inquiries and criticism from church members concerning the mining operation had become increasingly prominent through the years. Finally, the EXCOM acquiesced and decided to have GCAS investigate Eden. (This is discussed later in this document.) Though the EXCOM asked GCAS to investigate Eden, the EXCOM does not seem to have made this request out of a desire to receive GCAS’s review of Eden’s operation, for at the same time as GCAS was investigating Eden’s mining operation, EXCOM was negotiating a new contract with Eden.

4.     New Contract with Eden (2022)

On January 18, 2022, the EXCOM signed a new contract with Eden concerning the two mines. This new contract differed from the IC’s previous contracts (including its earlier contracts with Eden) in several ways. The negotiations had been ongoing for nearly a year before the contract was signed.

  1. The negotiations were completely secret, so church members were completely unaware of them until they read the announcement about a signed contract. Such secrecy goes far beyond necessary business confidentiality
  • The contract was not publicly registered at the District Commissioner’s Office (þinglýsing). This means that the public cannot access the contract
  • The contract is not accessible to church members, for part of the contract is confidential. The confidential portion of the contract concerns the finances and is, therefore, the most important part. Church members, therefore, have no idea what financial agreements the EXCOM signed and can, therefore, not evaluate the contract
  • This contract was made after article no. 18 had been voted into the bylaws of the IC at Session in 2009. This article explicitly forbids the EXCOM to make large financial decisions concerning the properties of the IC on their own. It states that such decisions must be made by delegates at Session only. This means that according to the bylaws of the IC, the EXCOM seems not to have had the authority to sign a contract that involves massive mineral removal from the mines. The new contract with Eden is, therefore, possibly illegal according to the bylaws of the IC, and if so, it should be terminated

But there is one aspect in which the new contract with Eden was the same as the previous one with the company: Eden seems yet again to be an unnecessary intermediary between the IC and the company that will run the mine. It is the author’s opinion that Eden will profit by being an intermediary and yet again reduce the potential profit of the IC severely. If things move forward and church members accept the new contract. But they have never been offered enough information to understand the proposed project, nor have they been given a platform to express their opinion. In the meantime, the public has been vocal about its opinion, for the project is controversial in Iceland.

5.     The Project of Heidelberg Materials

The new contract between the IC and Eden revolves around the plans of the German giant Heidelberg Materials. The idea is to take minerals from the mine in Mount Lambafell and Mount Litla-Sandfell and transport them to the village of Þorlákshöfn.  There the material will be processed in a factory which Heidelberg will raise. The factory will be 55,000 square meters which is massive for this small village. The material will then be shipped to Germany, where it will be used to make concrete. This project has been advertised as eco-friendly and a part of reducing CO2 emissions. However, the project’s environmental impact has been criticized harshly, as it seems to be greenwashing, i.e., a corporate dissembling to ensure the public swallows their ideas.[9] Heidelberg Materials have been criticized for violating human rights and going against the public’s will in Indonesia,[10] Palestine,[11] Togo,[12] and Western Sahara. The company has come under no scrutiny in Icelandic media, although this has happened elsewhere.[13]

Heidelberg’s project has been the focal point of social discourse in Iceland over the last few months. The project has been criticized in the media and by the Icelandic Environment Association (Landvernd), the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration (Vegagerðin), the Icelandic Transport Authority (Samgöngustofa), the Environment Agency of Iceland (Umhverfisstofnun),[14] in the local government of Þorlákshöfn, and there is also great discontent among the villagers of Þorlákshöfn themselves, as was made clear at the information meeting by Heidelberg Materials for the villagers on 15 November 2022.

The only reason the project of Heidelberg Materials is possible is that the IC made a contract with Eden – and Eden made a contract with Heidelberg Materials. The project is large that it has far-reaching influences in Iceland in general and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in particular:

Icelandic Society

  • The main national road (if the minerals will be transported on that road)
  • Þorlákshöfn (will become a heavy industry town)
  • Precedent for other municipalities and towns
  • Influence on the future policy of the Icelandic State when it comes to the business of foreign companies and Icelandic nature

The Property of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

  • Mount Litla-Sandfell will disappear
  • The minerals will quite possibly be transported across the property
  • The property will not be situated in a pristine and remote nature. Instead, it will be close to a heavy-materials industry town

The Societal Policy of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and Its Public Image

  • What do we want our influence to be in Icelandic society?
  • How do we want our denomination to appear in the eyes of Icelanders?
  • Do we want to participate in controversial heavy industry?

Adventist Theology

  • What should our stewardship of nature mean in practice?
  • What is the environment preservation policy of the denomination?
  • How do we want to conduct the stewardship of our resources?

The Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

  • What is the financial foundation of the mission of the SDA Church? Is it tithes and offerings or a mining operation?
  • Do we want our mission to be funded by a controversial project in the country? Will that aid or hinder our mission?

In light of these ramifications and factors, it would have been normal and necessary to discuss the new contract within the church before it was finalized and signed. It would also have been normal and necessary to have made that decision together – whether that would have been Yes or No. Instead, seven church members (the EXCOM) made this decision on their own in secret without involving or informing other church members.

6.     Conduct of the Executive Committee of the Icelandic Conference

All the information in the present document – and more – would have been known by all church members a long time ago if the present EXCOM (2019–2022) had responded to the inquiries and critiques of church members and church boards.

To put the matter briefly, the EXCOM has sided with Eden in every discussion, promised information to church members and then delayed providing it, decided not to, or even refused to give it – or even denounced inquiry and critique as unchristlike behavior and the workings of the devil.[15] Many sincere church members fall for the idea it is inherently wrong and unchristlike to criticize. And yet it is possible to see through the abuse of power which such sanctimonious pretense is intended to hide. Those who usually need criticism the most claim to be above it. This document will only touch on a few points regarding how the EXCOM has conducted itself.

The first official and public criticism of Eden was presented after the formal program had closed at Session in 2015. This first criticism was found in the report of the Hlíðardalsskóli Committee, chaired by Harald R. Óskarsson.[16] The EXCOM (2016–2019) decided to investigate Eden: Not only was Eden often in arrears with payments but there were also other concerns. The EXCOM asked Kristján Ari Sigurðsson to lead the investigation with treasurer Judel Ditta. The treasurer did not provide Sigurðsson with all the documents he needed. For many years, the present EXCOM (2019–2022) refused Sigurðsson’s request to present his findings. Eventually, they rejected his investigation wholesale before he had time to finish it.

The present EXCOM yielded to the church members’ pressure and asked the General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) to investigate the mining operation. EXCOM made this decision in the spring of 2021 but did not ask GCAS for an investigation until October later that year. The Hafnarfjörður church board discussed the open letter from 5 December 2021 during its meeting in early January 2022. President Gavin Anthony attended the meeting. When asked about the mining case, Anthony affirmed that the EXCOM would take no action in the mining case until they had received the GCAS report. It came as a shock to the board when they read in the local church newsletter Kirkjufréttir, 1 February 2022, that the EXCOM had signed a new contract with Eden only a few days after the church board meeting without having received the GCAS report.

Church members and church boards pressured the EXCOM even more to get information about the mining case. The EXCOM responded by asking all the church boards to send in their questions. The church boards therefore expected to get answers to their questions. But when the meeting was announced on 24 May 2022, the only discussion item was the GCAS report. No questions from the church boards were discussed or answered during the session unless they directly addressed the GCAS report. At the meeting, it turned out that GCAS had only investigated a part of the financial aspect of the mining case and had avoided the legal element entirely. But the legal question was the crux of the matter: Had Eden violated the contracts? This is a legal question; answering it requires a statement or memo prepared by a lawyer. Despite its limitations, even the GCAS report acknowledged that Eden had violated many contract clauses – even though GCAS carefully avoided calling these violations anything but “comments.” At the close of the meeting, all the church boards (Reykjavík excepted) asked the EXCOM to convene another information meeting concerning the mining case. The EXCOM never held such a meeting.

Instead of such a meeting, the EXCOM wrote its report on the mining case and distributed it to delegates for the Session, which convened on 22–25 September 2022. The report concluded with a motion for the Session, which was as follows: Church members shall stop all discussion concerning the mining case because such a discussion is hurtful to the church.

At Session, some delegates lobbied through motions to ensure that the mining case would be removed from the hands of the delegates at Session. They moved that the case would be referred to an investigative committee (again). This was completely unnecessary, for the following documents were already available: (1) one foreign report (GCAS), (2) a memo from the lawyer of the EXCOM where it is acknowledged that it is possible to argue that Eden transferred the mining operation to a third party under the previous contracts, and (3) a memo from a lawyer who Kristján Ari Sigurðsson had contacted where it is affirmed that the conduct of the EXCOM revealed that they had not been ensuring the interests of the IC.[17] In other words, if it had not been for the politics of some delegates, no new committee would have been needed, a new EXCOM could have been elected during the Session, and the new EXCOM could have appropriately dealt with the mining case and informed church members about the case. Instead, the mining case was again referred to a committee. Some delegates moved that Session would not be closed until the report arrived. This motion also carried. Next, some tried to undo the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee had already contacted prospective EXCOM members and notified the departing leadership that they were not on the list. As the Session drew to a close, the President moved again, on behalf of the EXCOM, to cancel the Nominating Committee. A motion of the same content had failed to carry earlier during the Session. Most delegates rejected the President’s motion, and some delegates went to the microphone to express their anger at his attempt.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances,” the Trans-European Division was unable to provide a report on the mining case before 11 December 2022. TED President Daniel Duda announced this in Kirkjufréttir on 24 November 2022. Duda also announced that because of this, Session would not close “until further notice” “in early 2023.”

The session decided to extend the period of the present EXCOM for three months, i.e., until 11 December 2022. This was done because Session decided to elect a new EXCOM once delegates had received the report on the mining case from the TED research committee. When the report was not ready at the promised time, the EXCOM made the unilateral decision to remain as the EXCOM until the report was received sometime in 2023.

There are, therefore, several noteworthy points about the delay of the scheduled Session:

  1. Even though Session wanted to receive the mining report and elect a new EXCOM at the same time (11 December 2022), it is not self-evident what the Session wanted in case circumstances changed. I.e., when it became evident that the report was not ready for an 11 December Session, there were other options besides delaying the Session. For instance, Session could have convened and decided not to couple the two issues any longer – the election of a new EXCOM and receiving the report – and could have elected a new EXCOM
  2. It was also not self-evident that it should have been the EXCOM that made the decision on how to respond to changed circumstances. The EXCOM made the unilateral decision to extend its period beyond the time Session had allotted. This decision goes against the bylaws of the IC. Legally, the right thing to do would have been to convene a Session at the scheduled time. Delegates in Session should then have decided how they wanted to respond to the new circumstances: Did they want to extend the period of the present EXCOM until they received the report? Or did they want to elect a new EXCOM regardless of when the report would arrive?
  3. According to the bylaws of the IC, it belongs to the IC (and not the TED) to call for a Session. Why was it then the TED President and not the EXCOM who delayed the Session? What legal right does he have to make such a decision?

7.     Conclusion

The present EXCOM has shown by its conduct that it is incompetent, as the open letter of 5 December 2021 stated. (The current document’s author was one of the five church members who signed that letter.) The present EXCOM has proven itself unwilling or incapable of protecting the IC’s financial and spiritual interests. To the disgrace of Session delegates, they allowed this EXCOM to continue until December and referred the mining case to another committee. I challenge all church members to inform themselves carefully concerning this serious matter of the mining case. In the end, we, the church members, constitute the Icelandic Conference. This means that eventually, we are responsible for its actions and mission in Iceland.

Translated from Icelandic by the author

January 2023

Author: Jón Hjörleifur Stefánsson is a church member in the Icelandic Conference. He studied theology at Andrews University (BA, MA) and a PhD in systematic theology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

This document portrays the author’s opinion (and the arguments supporting it) and his interpretation of the data he has collected. The author does not believe that this document is flawless. It is nearly impossible to set forth an opinion free from all errors. Moreover, the author has not had access to all the documentation and data necessary to write an even more thorough treatment of the issue. (The EXCOM has refused to answer inquiries from church members and has in its possession many documents which would have improved this document.) However, the author does not think that the central tenets of his argument will be disproven upon inspection and by the publication of more data.

If the reader finds any factual errors or a grievously wrong interpretation in this document, they are encouraged to contact the author and share corrections or points with him, which he will most happily consider. If these suggestions are correct, the author will correct this document and publish an updated version.

Updates:

This story was updated to reflect that the author is a member of the Adventist church, not a member of a church board, as initially stated in the IA introductory note.


[1]   Mount Lambafell is on the western side in the pass þrengslin (i.e., on the right when one drives from Reykjavík). Mount Litla-Sandfell is on the same side but a little further south (on the same side of the road).

[2]   “If agreements with the prospective mineral buyers fail to finalize within 24 months, this present contract expires.” Lambafell contract between IC and Eden, 2009, document no. 1882 at the District Commissioner of South Iceland (Sýslumaður Suðurlands), article no. 8, p. 4, the author’s translation.

[3]   Eden has never denied that these companies took care of mining the minerals and selling them. The involvement of these companies can furthermore be proven by multiple documents, such as receipts from mineral buyers, the contract between Eden and GT-verktakar, and by the financial statement of Lambafell, inc. for the year 2021.

[4]   “These mining rights cannot be transferred.” Contract concerning Mount Lambafell, 2009, article no 8, p. 4, the author’s translation. The contract makes clear what is meant by the mining rights. In the beginning of the contract, it is stated that the IC and Eden make a contract “which gives the mining operator the sole rights to use the owner’s mineral mine which is in Mount Lambafell.” Contract concerning Mount Lambafell, 2009, p. 1, the author’s translation. The mining rights therefore mean that Eden had the sole right to use the minerals in the mine, i.e., to mine them, process them, and sell them. This becomes even clearer in article no. 2 where it is stated that “the landowner allows the mining operator to take minerals from his mineral mine in Mount Lambafell . . . and to sell them for own account.” Contract concerning Mount Lambafell, 2009, article no. 2, p. 1, the author’s translation.

[5]   Contract concerning Mount Lambafell, 2009, article no. 3, p. 1 the author’s translation.

[6]   Cf. Kristján Ari Sigurðsson, “Hverjum ber að gæta hagsmuna Kirkju sjöunda dags aðventista?,” Samantektin, 22 September 2022, Appendix 1, p. 1, the author’s translation. Sigurðsson retrieved and calculated the figures from official and published sources.

[7]   Author’s conversation with aforementioned parties, 2022.

[8]   “What is a grave matter as well is the fact that the EXCOM sees no reason to inform delegates about the mining operation that has occurred without license in the other mine, in Mount Litla-Sandfell, and that the IC has not received any payments for the minerals mined from there. That mining occurred without the necessary official license and without an environmental assessment, which is obligatory according to national laws. This is a clear violation the original contract between the IC and Eden concerning mining in Mount Litla-Sandfell. It is therefore evident that Eden has violated both its original contracts with IC and that in both instances the profit of the IC was significantly reduced.” Kristján Ari Sigurðsson, “Hverjum ber að gæta hagsmuna Kirkju sjöunda dags aðventista?,” Samantektin, 22 September 2022, p. [2], the author’s translation.

[9]   Cf. e.g. Sunna Ósk Logadóttir, “Að flytja Litla-Sandfell úr landi myndi auka losun, slíta vegum og fjölga slysum,” Kjarninn.is, 20 October 2022, https://kjarninn.is/frettir/ad-flytja-litla-sandfell-ur-landi-myndi-auka-losun-slita-vegum-og-fjolga-slysum/; Sunna Ósk Logadóttir, “Of lítið gert úr umhverfisáhrifum námu í Litla-Sandfelli,” Kjarninn.is, 31 October 2022, https://kjarninn.is/frettir/of-litid-gert-ur-umhverfisahrifum-namu-i-litla-sandfelli/.

[10] Deutsche Welle, Ben Knight, “Indonesian farmer joins May 1 rally to protest German cement,” May 1 2017, https://www.dw.com/en/indonesian-farmer-joins-may-1-rally-to-protest-german-cement/a-38653827; Der Spiegel, Nils Klawitter, „Indonesische Landarbeiter wehren sich gegen deutschen Zementgiganten,“ 9 September 2020, https://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/unternehmen/oecd-beschwerde-indonesische-landarbeiter-klagen-gegen-deutschen-zementgiganten-a-7b216329-2565-442e-bffe-155ce9f85506.

[11] Maha Abdallah and Lydia de Leeuw, „Violations Set in Stone: HeidelbergCement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,“ report published by Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), 4 February 2020, cf.  link to a pdf, https://www.somo.nl/violations-set-in-stone/.

[12] Aktion Bleiberecht, “Demonstration am 15.02. für Demokratie und Gerechtigkeit in Togo!,” 17 February 2020, https://www.aktionbleiberecht.de/2020/02/gegen-die-diktatur-und-die-umweltzerstoerung-u-a-durch-heidelbergcement-in-togo/.

[13] RobinWood, „Greenwashing von HeidelbergCement provoziert Proteste,“ May 5 2021, https://www.robinwood.de/pressemitteilungen/greenwashing-von-heidelbergcement-provoziert-proteste.

[14] Cf. the above-mentioned articles by Sunna Ósk Logadóttir.

[15] This sounds unbelievable and yet this motif has been prominent in the public discourse of Eden and the EXCOM concerning the mining operation. Only few examples will be provided.

       The open letter from Eden concerning the open letter from 5 December 2021 closes with this statement: “We hope that this spirit will not take root among us. If these methods continue, the church will vanish, people will quit coming to church, and no new people will want to join us. And thus, the Evil One will have prevailed.” Eiríkur Ingvarsson and Kristinn Ólafsson, open letter to church members, 14 March 2022, the author’s translation.

       “This all brings much personal pain to fellow believers in Christ—precious people for whom Christ has died. Such behaviour brings disrepute to God and His church. Ellen White emphasises the importance of focusing on fighting our supernatural enemy together rather than fighting each other.” The EXCOM, open letter to the church boards, 16 March 2022, p. [8].

       Executive Secretary Þóra Sigríður Jónsdóttir states that the open letter of 5 December 2021 “mixes facts with unfounded statements and hurting words. All this fosters division, enmity, distrust, and unhappiness . . . This has turned out to be a tremendously negative and disturbing influence on the mission which we are called to fulfill during this demanding and difficult time of earth’s history . . . This open letter, which could be perceived as a declaration of war against the EXCOM, has had a terrible impact on the atmosphere in the church . . . The confusion that this letter has caused stems from its hurtful words which seems to have been intent on dividing the church into the EXCOM and its opposition. We are called to work together for we have a common enemy who does not need our aid in tearing down the church . . . The consequences of your actions are very grave and the destructive influence will continue its damaging work for a long time.” Executive Secretary Þóra Sigríður Jónsdóttir, “Atferli hefur afleiðingar,” email to Jón Hjörleifur Stefánsson, 1 August 2022, pp. 2, 3, the author’s translation.

[16] Cf. the open letter to the EXCOM, 5 December 2021, p. 7n23.

[17]   “The wording of article no. 18 of the bylaws of the IC is such that it is clear that it belongs to delegates at Session to discuss and determine all major decisions concerning the disposal of church property which does not fall under normal operations of the denomination. The article itself only specifies “purchase and sale of the properties of the IC” but legally this means that other contracts, though they have other names or titles, easily belong to the domain of this article, if their intent is the disposal of property or the property right over a long period.

            It is the legal opinion of ARTA that all the previously mentioned mineral mining contracts are within the definition of article no. 18 of the bylaws of the IC, and they should have been brought to the floor of regular or extraordinary Session for a vote. They all comprise a significant disposal of IC property for a very long time, though they only deal with liquid assets, and unlike rent contracts they involve a final disposal of property which will not be returned in the same condition as it was originally rented in. Mines get emptier the more minerals are mined from them. It is therefore highly important how these matters are conducted.

            But this is, however, not the most serious question that has arisen during the writing of this legal memo, important as it is. What is more concerning is the fact that it seems that the EXCOM of the IC has not at all been protecting the interests of the IC sufficiently, at least not in the case of the two first contracts. Moreover, the EXCOM has not made sure that the contracts were followed. When it comes to the third contract, this is undetermined, since information is not at hand when it comes to its main content, except who the parties are, which mine is in question, and the period of validity.

            If it is true that the mining operator [Eden] received nearly 190 million ISK in profit from mined minerals from the mine of the IC in Mount Lambafell for the years 2017–2021 which were sold to two buyers, without having any considerable cost from the operation themselves, and that they paid the IC in total less than 25 million ISK, then all things point to the possibility that the EXCOM did not, as has been stated previously, protect the interests of the IC when it came to the implementation and the supervision of the previous two mineral mining contracts. There are only two possibilities here: Either the contracting party [Eden] deceived the EXCOM of the IC, or the EXCOM knowingly had other motives than protecting the interests of the IC when it came to the implementation and supervision of the contracts. Apart from this, to all appearances the contracting party’s payments to the IC do not seem to have been in harmony with the contract, since the IC’s received payments were lower than they should have been.” Kristinn Hallgrímsson, lawyer at ARTA-lawyers, legal memo, cited in Kristján Ari Sigurðsson, „Hverjum ber að gæta hagsmuna Kirkju sjöunda dags aðventista?,” Appendix 3, the author’s translation.

1 Comment

  1. I find it really sad that it has come to this. The divisive powers that are at work in splitting a church community in a small place like Iceland has to make most people sad. This is very much a one-sided presentation and the “intelligent adventist” stamp makes it almost satiric in my mind. Unfortunately there is nothing amusing in this. I just find it tragic.

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