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Monthly Archives: February 2013

In my lifetime – my mantra and mission

Marybeth Redmond, Vermont Public Radio

Women’s ordination is a real issue in the Catholic Church, especially in the U.S.A.  The love that parishioners have for nuns suggests that this issue will not disappear.

The following story (link), from Vermont Public Radio, and partly a reflection on Father Roy Bourgeous, is another story of calling to ordained ministry. The link has an audio recording of the article.

(Host) For writer, journalist and commentator Marybeth Redmond, the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI has restimulated feelings of heartache, not for the Pontiff himself, but for a friend of hers who met the wrath of this church hierarchy.

(Redmond) A heartfelt postcard arrived in my mailbox recently.  On its cover – a photograph of a Catholic school girl dressed in her plaid uniform with hand raised high, as if to say “pick me.” On the chalkboard behind this earnest youngster are scrawled the words, “who wants to be a priest?”

I grinned upon seeing it, but winced as well.   Appropriate humor from my friend, Father Roy Bourgeois, in light of his present circumstances.  On the postcard’s reverse side he had penned, “Thanks for your good support at this challenging time.  You give me hope in the struggle.”

In 2008, Father Roy was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church during Pope Benedict XVI’s reign. Then last October, Father Roy was dismissed by his religious society of 40-plus years, the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, for refusing to recant his public position on the right of women to be ordained priests. Most likely pressure from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith forced Maryknoll’s hand.

I recall a lunch conversation with this humble, soft-spoken priest a few years back.  We sat overlooking Lake Champlain eating crepes on a breathtaking day.  Father Roy was in town to speak at the Unitarian Church atop Church Street in Burlington about his decades-long campaign to close the School of the Americas, a military camp in Fort Benning, Georgia with a history of training Latin American militias in torture.

At that time, colleagues were advising Father Roy to stay a one-issue activist, so as not to dissipate his message of non-violent protest to close the S-O-A.  But his conscience was advising him otherwise-as a male clergyman-to decry sexism and discrimination against women in his own church.  To Father Roy, this was a matter of justice, and silence for him was complicity.  He wanted my opinion.  I listened carefully as he spoke, sure I was witnessing history unfold.

Maybe Pope Benedict didn’t personally demand Father’s Roy’s excommunication, but he certainly set up and supported the system that led to the ultimate decision.  I am immensely sad that this church I still call home definitively rid itself of a faithful, 75-year-old man who has trekked across this country with messages of peace and inclusion for decades.  At the same time, that Catholic Church has kept in its fold cardinals and bishops who protected priests responsible for the sexual abuse of children.  The irony is astounding.

I myself recall as early as 8 years old, having a compulsion to serve others, to bring mercy, to deliver words of hope – to become a priest.  I was told this vocation was closed to me forever because of gender-despite my own stirrings of conscience.

This day, I took Father Roy’s Catholic school girl postcard to my refrigerator where I can peer at it each day.  In my lifetime, becomes my mantra and mission now.

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in women's ordination

 

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Thanks to Tapfotoreflections for this post. Pureblood is an interesting metaphor.

tapfotoreflections

Voldemort had a Muggle Father, this made him a mudblood. It is curious that his fury was directed at Muggles and Wizards that dared to defile pure blood.

No Mudblood (Part 2)

I remember a child being asked whether someone was a girl or a boy. The “someone” in question was a boy with long hair. Without hesitation the child answered: “She’s a girl.” Why? Because he had long hair and girls have long hair.  This kind of thinking is soon replaced by “A girl has a vagina and a boy has a penis”. As we go to school we learn that an XX makes a girl and an XY makes a boy. This is how we think  – and this is not surprising – BUT: We need to understand that this isn’t the complete picture on Gender either. With some people it is difficult to determine which Gender they…

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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in theology

 

Yet another woman’s story

Yet another woman’s story of call and consequent marginalisation by the Lutheran Church.

When I was young – maybe about 5 or 6 years old, my grandfather, a Lutheran Pastor, liked to sit me on his knee, and tell me about Jesus. I loved this time with him – he made Jesus sound and become so special and loving, that I decided that I would become a Pastor one day, so I could share this wonderful Jesus with others, as my grandfather did.  I was very disappointed when I found out that women weren’t eligible for such a high calling.  Eventually because of the limitations placed on women in the Lutheran Church, and God’s revelations to me, drawing me closer to Him,( which when I shared with my Pastor, the Pastor told me that my revelation experience was of the devil), I knew God was redirecting me.  Why would the devil draw me closer to Jesus?   As a frustrated and limited evangelist, I was heart-broken, and my husband and I felt it was time to leave the Lutheran Church.

In a new Church, God used me and my team to bring both men and women to faith through preaching and teaching, loving and friendship.  It was with tremendous joy that God had used me to bring these unsaved people to faith, and to baptize them.  (My husband baptized men, and I baptized women). Some of these folk later became Church leaders who now reach out to others. Was there anyone else who could have / would have taken my place?  Not anyone that I could find. Do the Church elite who are against women’s ordination prefer to believe that God would have found someone else – to cover for their ‘lordly’ stance against ordained women?  Do those opposed to women’s ordination believe I should have been banned from teaching, and preaching to men as well as women?  Or would God prefer that men, and as a result, women also, would be better off going to hell, than being redeemed by Jesus’ precious blood as a result of not being ministered to, or being ministered to by a woman?  God forbid such evil!

I have been working with Middle Eastern people, predominantly refugees, in recent years.  It’s mainly men, married or single, who attend Church and Bible Studies. In Middle Eastern culture, even here in Australia, how are supposedly “second class” Middle Eastern women cared for spiritually, who could not worship and pray together with men (in a mosque?).  This culture continues on in Australia – even in Churches. How do we reach them?  Muslims have been taught that Jesus is only a prophet – not their Lord and Saviour.   A Middle Eastern woman evangelist said to me very recently, the devaluation of women is nothing but demonic – building walls to stop people from coming to faith in the real Jesus.  She likened this to some Churches who forbid women’s ordination, yet don’t have sufficient ordained male Pastors to adequately care for their people, or teach men how to reach out, let alone reach out to unsaved men and women themselves.

When will the men who are so against women’s ordination (ordination is not mentioned in Scripture anyway), humble themselves before God, and submit to His will, and admit that what Jesus said is still a fact: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” (Luke 10:2 NIV)  Why pray for workers, then disobey God when He sends His chosen women workers?!

Why has God chosen and used me to teach men as well as women, and bring both men and women to faith? It is His Holy Spirit that brings people to faith after hearing the Word! (Romans 10:14-15,17)  Why does God grow what women have planted and watered?  “Neither he (she) who plants, nor he (she) who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)  God has given life to my planting and watering.  And I am a woman!  God does not contradict Himself.”

This woman wishes to remain anonymous.  Along with any woman’s call to ordained ministry in the LCA comes great vulnerability.  Consequently, any comments questioning this woman’s call or giftedness will be deleted.  Beyond that, your comments are most welcome.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in sociology, women's ordination

 

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What might women’s ordination look like?

Not sure what women’s ordination might look like? Maybe it might look like this?

Pastor Barbie joins Pastor Ken

Anglican women priests have been around for some time.  Little girls for generations (maybe forever) have played at being pastor, along with little boys.Not only Lutheran men love dressing up, for Julie Blake Fisher (Facebook page) seems to like the Anglican priestly garb.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2013 in theology

 

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Civil Rights

Black college student Dorothy Bell, 19, of Birmingham, Alabama, waits at a downtown Birmingham lunch counter for service that never came, April 4, 1963. She was later arrested with 20 others in sit-in attempts. (AP Photo) From The Atlantic

This chilling photo records the racism that Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks (amongst many others) were fighting against in the USA.  It is from a series entitled: 50 Years Ago: The World in 1963.

We were not so different in Australia.  In Queensland, South Sea Islanders were blackbirded (perhaps ‘kidnapping’ and ‘press-ganged’ will be understood by more people) into enforced labour in the Qld canefields during the mid to late 19th Century.  They were repatriated in 1906-08 by the Australian government.  Ref: Wikipedia.  It was slavery by another name.   Australians grew wealthy on enforced labour and on stolen land from Aboriginal people.

It’s always interesting to note the religious justifications for racism and slavery, and any injustice.  Women’s marginalisation is no different.

Those of us who work with gifted women, who have sat under the scholarship of women theologians and who have experienced the pastoral care of female chaplains and pastors, are dismayed at the continuing dismissal of women’s ordination in the LCA.  It is every woman’s civil right to be given the same respect as men.  It is difficult to believe that 50 years after the US civil rights movement, and 45 years after Aborigines were granted full Federal citizenship, that LCA women are still deemed lacking for ordained ministry.

What is it that you might do to raise awareness of the lack of recognition of women in the LCA?

Please leave your comment and suggest what people might do to bring about change.

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2013 in history, women's ordination

 

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Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy, Man Booker Prize winner, shares her wisdom on those without a voice.  We in the LCA, make connections to how women are silenced or unheard in our Church.

Some people will insist that women are not voiceless in the LCA and will point to the exceptions – perhaps to Linda MacQueen, the Editor of The Lutheran, perhaps to Helen Lockwood, the Director of Lutheran Community Care or perhaps to women principals in our school system.  However, it will be instructive to talk to such women for their assessment of women’s place in the Church.

While the secular world is discovering gender equality, the LCA resists such notions and unwittingly makes itself, on a daily basis, more and more disconnected from Australian women and men (who are increasingly seeing through the duplicitous policy on women and men in our Church).

General Synod approaches.  Despite Pr Semmler resigning from the Presidency, he will chair General Synod and will attempt to stamp his influence on the Church until the following General Synod in 2016.  Change will only come when there are sufficient votes on Synod floor.  Attaining a 66% vote is an enormous task and every vote is important.

Are you able to be a part of rising hope in the LCA?

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in politics, women's ordination

 

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A letter to Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA

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Bruce Lockwood from St Peters Congregation, Indooroopilly, Qld

The following is a letter from the members of St Peters and St Andrews Congregations, Qld, to Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA. Information about women’s ordination has sometimes not been forwarded in congregations. If it is possible that this letter is not forwarded to key people in your congregations, would you inquire as to whether it has been received and then provide them with a copy?  Many thanks.

This letter is followed by an open letter to the LCA from Neil Nuske, Religious Ed teacher at St Peter’s College, Indooroopilly.

Dear Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA

St Peters and St Andrews Congregations wish to inform you of resolutions we have submitted to the Synod Secretary for inclusion in the Synod Reports and Synod Agenda so that you can prayerfully and thoughtfully consider these proposals beforehand.

An open letter to the LCA

from

St Peters Lutheran Church Indooroopilly Queensland

Introduction

While attending the “Time to Soar” conference to discuss the ordination of both men and women in Adelaide, our Pastor Peter (St Peters Indooroopilly) resolved to hold a similar conference in Brisbane. The “All Saints” Conference was held on the first weekend of November 2012 in the P & F Centre and attracted nearly 60 delegates from congregations in South-East Queensland, and interstate.

At the All Saints conference delegates learnt of the significant impact the refusal to ordain women has had on the church and our educational, aged care and other institutions. Delegates learnt of the constraints it imposes on suitably qualified personnel and our outreach. We heard some disturbing stories from those affected because the LCA has not yet seen its way clear to ordain women.

The majority of Lutheran Churches worldwide ordain both men and women. Following twenty years during which time our best theological minds struggled with this issue the CTICR Final Report 2000 resolved that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA”. Therefore we conclude this is a matter of theological opinion and not a fundamental doctrine of the church.

As advocates for the ordination of both men and women, we are not disputing in any way the Doctrine of the Ministry as expressed in our Confessions. However, in keeping with the spirit of the “The Status of Agreement and other Doctrinal Statements” (reviewed July 2001, unedited) we consider that majority opinion at both the 2000 and 2006 Synods supporting the view that scripture and theology permit the ordination of women, demonstrates that amendments have become desirable in the course of time.

What have previous LCA synods decided?

The most recent Synod in 2009 considered the “Ordination Consensus Task Force Report 2009” From this report four (4) resolutions were proposed. Three were passed. The fourth resolution was lost. These resolutions have significant implications for the ordination of women in the LCA.

Synod 2009 Resolution 1
GCC to establish “a dialogue group with balanced representation” to work towards consensus within the group itself and across the church on the ordination of “both men and women” with reference to the published findings of the CTICR and a focus on biblical interpretation.

Synod 2009 Resolution 2
If convention authorises the ordination of women we need a preparation time before implementation.

Synod 2009 Resolution 3
Convention asks GCC, CoP, CTICR and other relevant groups in the church to note study and act where appropriate on the fourteen (14) recommendations of the Ordination Consensus Task Force.

Thus Synod 2009 resolutions 1, 2 and 3 form the platform for ongoing deliberations by the LCA on the ordination of both men and women.

Synod 2009 – The Lost Resolution
had proposed that the ordination of women be closed to debate at synod unless the General Pastors’ Conference gives clear guidance by formal recommendation.

The loss of the fourth resolution means that new resolutions for women’s ordination must be placed on the agenda and can be debated at synod without requiring a formal recommendation from the General Pastors Conference.

St Peters congregation wishes to inform you of our four Resolutions submitted to the 2013 Synod together with a proposed way forward in the spirit of the LCA website which says: “Pastors provide input regarding theological matters, but in effect it is the people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of the church”. With this in mind we firmly believe that the voice of the people in the pews during this Synod needs to be heard anew.

St Peters congregation proposes a way forward

St Peters proposes a way forward, and a way of restoring our church to health in truth, unity and love. These proposals have been prepared with the help of past presidents, seminary lecturers, academics, pastors, chaplains, and college principals both male and female.

The four proposals have a sequence, addressing:

1.      The Theses of Agreement and the CTICR Final Report 2000
2.      The constitutional issue
3.      Our women ready to be ordained
4.      Questions of truth, unity and love

St Peters Resolutions

Resolution One

Whereas “The Status of the Theses of Agreement and other Doctrinal Statements” prepared by the CTICR and adopted by Synod in 1975 under “Doctrinal Statements and Theological Opinions of The Lutheran Church of Australia” states that “Should amendments (to the Theses of Agreement) become desirable in the course of time, such amendments would have to be submitted to the entire Church after thorough theological examination and discussion,” and

Whereas the LCA has commissioned the CTICR to examine the ministry and ordination of women by conducting a thorough theological examination and discussion of the key texts cited in support of the ordination of men only, namely, I Cor 14:33b-38 and I Tim 2:11-15 (Theses VI par 11) culminating in the CTICR Final Report (CTICR-FR 2000) and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 has summarised the theological arguments not only for the ordination of women but also for the ordination of men only, and presented these theological opinions to Synod, we submit that in the course of time it is now evident that two divergent interpretations of the two key texts cited in Theses VI par11 are held, not only amongst our respected theologians but also amongst the laity of the LCA, and

Whereas there now are two entirely different theological opinions in the LCA regarding the long-held public doctrine of the church in reference to the question of the ordination of women (Theses VI par 11) we conclude scripture itself is not clear on the matter that men only should be ordained and that women should be prohibited from ordination, and

Whereas these two different theological opinions concerning 1 Cor 14:33b-38 and I Tim 2:11-15 have different implications for doctrine and practice within the LCA, we conclude Theses VI par 11 needs to be amended because, as CTICR-FR 2000 states: all teaching must be consistent with what is confessed as the clear teaching of scripture. Yet scripture is not clear on this issue, and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 concluded by majority that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA” and,

Whereas The Augsburg Confession states “it is enough for the unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (AC VII) and,

Whereas Lutheran theology affirms God has instituted the Office of the Ministry and the efficacy of the ministry of word and sacrament is in no way due to the gender of a pastor who is ordained, but solely due to the work and power of God the Creator, Jesus Christ our Redeemer and the Holy Spirit our Sanctifier, working through those servants who proclaim the apostolic gospel  (AC V) in the church through the ministry of word and sacrament, and

Whereas the gospel, which is central to the ministry of word and sacrament, cannot be negated by ordaining women into the Office of the Ministry, ordination is therefore a matter of practice reflecting pastoral sensitivity to a particular historical tradition and cultural context which may vary between Lutheran Churches and within Christendom, rather than a fundamental doctrine of the church

Be it resolved

that Synod commission the CTICR to amend or delete Theses VI par. 11 in order to reflect the majority conclusion of the CTICR that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA” and, that this amendment be submitted to the next Pastors’ Conference and General Synod for review and ratification.

Resolution Two

Whereas the Constitution ARTICLE Xll. ALTERATIONS TO CONSTITUTION part 1 states that “The Church at a convention of the General Synod may amend, alter, add to or repeal any of the rules, except Article ll. and Article Xll.1, which shall be considered fundamental and unalterable in their intent and meaning”, it therefore follows that all other parts of the Constitution may be subject to alteration when justified, and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 concluded by majority that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA therefore

Be it resolved

that Synod request the Constitutions Committee amend ARTICLE V. THE MINISTRY  Item 1. second sentence to read:  For this purpose it shall receive into its Ministry by ordination, or by colloquy for ministers ordained elsewhere, any person whose qualifications for the office have been established and who…

Resolution Three

Whereas God in love and wisdom has called women to be pastors and gives them to the LCA to serve in the ministry of word and sacrament, and

Whereas women who are unable to follow this call of God towards the path of ordination have experienced significant pain and in some cases a crisis of faith

Be it resolved

that the LCA no longer rejects this gift from God but accepts God’s generous gift of love and ordains these women to serve as pastors in the LCA

Resolution Four

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 concluded by majority that: “scripture and theology permit the ordination of women in the LCA” and, The Augsburg Confession states “it is enough for the unity of the church to agree concerning the teaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments” (AC VII) and

Whereas the CTICR-FR 2000 Part D addresses the theological and pastoral implications of the commission’s conclusion under the headings – The question of truth; The question and unity; and The question of love

Be it resolved

that with prayer and thanksgiving the Lutheran Church of Australia harnesses all of God’s gifts bestowed on us including the CTICR, the LEA, The Lutheran, the pastors of the church and the leaders of the congregations to inform and guide all members of the LCA in questions of TRUTH, UNITY and LOVE and encourage one another in our understanding and experience of how the ordination of women can enhance the ministry and outreach of the church and the proclamation of the gospel.

If you wish to receive a copy of the full explanation and background to these resolutions please email: Church.Office@stpeters.qld.edu.au and you will be forwarded a copy.

___________________________

St Andrews Resolution

With permission from St Andrews Lutheran Church Brisbane City Congregation we also include for your consideration their resolution advocating full membership of LWF:

Be it resolved

that the Lutheran Church of Australia in this anniversary year applies for full membership in the Lutheran World Federation.

__________________________

Summary of an open letter to the LCA from Neal Nuske

In a recent open letter to the Presidents of the LCA, Neal Nuske, Teacher in Charge of Study of Religion at St Peters Lutheran College addresses two theological issues which have been seen by some as stumbling blocks in the movement towards the ordination of women and men.

The first issue relates to the validity of a believer’s faith if nurtured by female clergy and the validity of the consecration of the elements by a female pastor. For Neal the issue is that “concerns about gender, are replacing that particular distinctive accent in Lutheran theology which locates the work of the Holy Spirit at the center of our theology of Word and Sacrament. In so focusing upon gender, the key concepts of sola gratia, sola fide and solus Christus are being marginalized and displaced.”

He asks; “How does the gender of a pastor compliment and strengthen the forgiveness of sins? Or, conversely, how does the gender of a pastor desecrate and destroy the seal of the free forgiveness of sins?” He concludes that “gender is not the factor which effects the forgiveness of sins and legitimizes the words of institution. Neither does gender desecrate Christ’s body and blood.”

Regarding the sacrament, he explains, “There are only two parts to a sacrament, the sign and the Word. We cannot add gender. In the New Testament the Word is the added promise of grace. The promise of the New Testament is the promise of the forgiveness of sins as the text says ‘given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins’. This promise is neither consecrated nor desecrated on account of the gender of a pastor. The promise is not desecrated and useless if a female pastor consecrates the elements.

Neal reminds us that the sacraments are useless without faith “for the Holy Spirit works through the sacraments, not through the gender of the pastor. A faith that acknowledges God’s mercy is alive and well. The gender of the pastor does not make faith secure or alive.”

Finally he draws our attention to the Formula Of Concord: Affirmative Theses: Confession of the Pure Doctrine of the Holy Supper against the Sacramentarians which states 3. Concerning the consecration we believe, teach, and confess that no man’s work nor the recitation of the minister effect this presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Holy Supper, but that it is to be ascribed solely and alone to the almighty power of Jesus Christ.

The second issue addressed by Neal is the interpretation of certain passages in scripture namely1 Cor. 14:34,35 and 1Tim. 2 11-14. He concludes that “Christ cannot contradict Himself; therefore Paul’s commands were pastoral and contextual in their intent, for a specific time and place but not universal in their intent.”

The full text of Neal’s Open Letter can be found on: http://www.katieandmartin or by e-mail to: Church.Office@stpeters.qld.edu.au

Bruce Lockwood

Synod Delegate St Peters Lutheran Church Indooroopilly

 
 

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