As a delegate to the last general convention of the LCA, in Melbourne in 2009, I wonder if I am missing something. The issue that is tearing at the heart of the LCA is the unresolved matter of the ordination of women. Slightly more than half the delegates voted in favour of women’s ordination at the Toowoomba convention in 2006, even though delegates were advised to vote against it if they feared a vote in favour might split the church. This advice would have skewed the vote considerably. Several delegates in Toowoomba told me that they voted against, even though they were in favour. And are synod delegates a true cross-section of the church’s membership, considering that a large percentage are older retirees and therefore free to represent their congregation? It probably means that far more than half the church, maybe even the magical two-thirds, favours the ordination of women. Yet the church’s official position says that the Bible prohibits it. You would think that our leaders would regard such a situation as untenable, a situation that calls for wisdom, prayer, thought and action. The church is divided on this matter, yet our leaders are silent on the matter. Most members of the church would say this is a situation that calls for wise leadership and clear direction, after a process of thorough non-emotive biblically-based church-wide discussion and debate.
As our previous president, Dr Lance Steicke, kept insisting, “theological discussion, even heated debate, is good for the health of the church.” Our people are stressed and distressed and looking for leadership. The Toowoomba convention resolved that a task-force be appointed to explore the matter of consensus in the church. It was said that the theology commission had completed its work. As is well known, the theology commission has long since agreed that the Bible and the theology of the church support the ordination of women. The Toowoomba task force reported to the Melbourne convention that it had not reached a definitive conclusion, and it believed a new group should be appointed to explore the issue once again, drawing on the many papers prepared by the church in previous years, and reach a decision about how consensus could be achieved to the satisfaction of all parties. And here is the something that I am missing. As a delegate I would have expected to hear within a month or two of the Melbourne convention that the new task force had been appointed. By now, with the next convention coming up next year, I had thought that we delegates would be receiving the report of the task force’s findings so that we had time to discuss them in our congregations and provide some feedback. But I am told the task force hasn’t even been appointed. Are lay and pastor delegates going to be left out of the discussion until the very last minute?
The church has come to an impasse, with devastating effects. It is important that this difficult matter be treated with the seriousness that it deserves. The life and health of the church are at stake.
- SteVe C: Pope fires bishop who backed ordaining women – World news – Asia-Pacific – msnbc.com (msnbc.msn.com)