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Women’s ordination resolution rewritten

10 Apr

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 11.35.21 PM

Ah, don’t you love the intrigue!

The president’s newsletter just received advice that the GCC resolution on the ordination of women has been changed:

(from the President’s Page 10th April)
It has been noted that a draft proposal for Synod agenda item 2.4 Report from the Consensus on Women’s Ordination Dialogue Group was incorrectly printed on pg 28 of the Book of Reports. Please replace this with the correct proposal as follows:

2.4 BE IT RESOLVED that the Church:

  • receive the progress report of the Ordination Dialogue Group;
  • supports continued study of the matter of hermeneutics (the interpretation of scripture) arising from the October 2011 symposium on this topic;
  • supports study of what consensus means, for the sake of unity in the LCA as a confessional church
  • request GCC to ensure that a report with recommendations be presented to both GPC and the next Synod

Here is what the earlier version said:

2.4 BE IT RESOLVED that the church adopt the following approach to the question of the ordination of both genders:

  • Receive the interim report of the Dialogue Group studying consensus on this issue
  • Request the Dialogue Group continue their work
  • Address the hermeneutic question arising from the a symposium convened by the Church in October 2011
  • Study and present to the Church what ‘consensus’ means in our confessional church.
  • On completion of the above, place the matter before either the Commission on Theology and Inter-church Relations, or another group of theologians of the Church as appointed by the College of Presidents in agreement with the General Church Council, for study by the pastorate and the laity of the church and as per the Syndocal process place it back on the agenda of synod if that is the wish of the Church.

The revised motion seems to indicate, amongst other things, that the Dialogue Group is to be terminated and that the side-stepping of CTICR is to end. Note how the reference to CTICR or another group of theologians has been deleted.  Pr Mike Semmler for some years has side-lined CTICR when it does not bring down recommendations that he supports.  He has therefore done his best to minimise their impact.

It seems to us that the President’s advisors have pulled him into line.  Perhaps the time has come for them when enough is enough.   Who knows?

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12 responses to “Women’s ordination resolution rewritten

  1. John Miller

    April 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    THE OFFICIAL LCA MISOGYNY STATEMENT

    Based on the ancient ranting of the Turkish criminal, Paul of Tarsus, the misogyny statement from Doctrinal Statements and Theological Opinions of the Lutheran Church of Australia A11-A13, outlines the deep contempt the LCA has for women.

    ‘VI THESES ON THE OFFICE OF THE MINISTRY
    On the basis of theses drawn up by FJH Blaess and SP Hebart after discussions by the Sub-Committees, the doctrine of the Office of the Ministry was discussed at Joint Meetings held on April 13 and May 4, 1950, and adopted in the following form at the Joint Meetings on May 4 and May 25, 1950.
    *Reviewed July 2001, unedited

    ‘Though women prophets were used by the Spirit of God in the Old as well as in the New Testament. 1 Cor.14:34,35 and I Tim. 2:11-14 prohibit a woman from being called into the office of the public ministry for the proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. This apostolic rule is binding on all Christendom; hereby her rights as a member of the spiritual priesthood are in no wise impaired.’

    1 Timothy 2:11-14
    11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

    1 Corinthians 14:34-35
    34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

    Whilst this may sound like music to the ears of a man living in Palestine in 0039, or Afghanistan in 2013, in Australia in 2013 it definitely sounds like sexist baloney. Imagine basing a fundamental policy of the LCA on a couple of misogynistic rants.

    Here are a couple of supplementary Pauline rants on the same topic:

    ‘The man who marries does well, but the one who doesn’t marry does even better.’ 1 Corinthians 7:38

    ‘Judge for yourself whether it is proper for a woman to pray to God in public with nothing on her head.’ 1 Corinthians 11:13.

    Have you got a wife? Then don’t try and get rid of her. Are you unmarried? Then don’t look for a wife. … I would rather spare you the everyday troubles that married people will have.’ 1 Corinthians 7:27

    When it comes to picking and choosing, the LCA has been very picky and very choosey. If it doesn’t allow equality of opportunity for women to serve in executive positions within its national structure and its pulpits, will it turn away from its services women who are not wearing a hat, scarf, hijab or burka? Will it revoke rules that allow women to hold office in congregations?

    The official misogyny statement of the LCA is a lazy, shoddy, narrow-minded, bigoted piece of work by a couple of Lutheran academics.

    This is a statement the LCA has to change. But to change it they will have to amend the unalterable Article II of the Constitution.

    My suggestion is that the LCA replace Article II with a values statement that includes a basic list of values that the members of the LCA endorse, like – decency, inclusively, equality, respect, charity, compassion, pity, love …, values that supersede ancient authoritarian, misogynistic rants.

    If the greatest of Christian values is love, the LCA misogyny statement shows the LCA’s complete lack of love for women members of the church.

    For over 400 years the Lutheran Church worldwide has been poorly served by its academic theologians. When Luther wrote, ‘I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ …’ that should have been the end of the matter. Centuries of theologians have refused to apply the test of logic and reason to their dissection of the Bible.

    They couldn’t do it because the house of cards collapses when one comes to the conclusion that humans can ‘force’ God to change his mind.

    To allow women to become pastors, means either God has changed his mind on the matter or the LCA has lied to its members about God’s view of this matter.

    Have you ever heard of a LCA theologian coming to the conclusion that the Bible was just a confection of Mosaic and Pauline rants.

    Like their god, Christian theologians have always resisted changes in the social, philosophic and political thought that led to the free, egalitarian, democratic society in which they live. Mindlessly adopting the values of their autocratic god, as represented by the Bible, Christian theologians have throughout history resisted moves to abolish slavery, provide women with equal rights, give us free speech and habeas corpus … Their god still resides in Afghanistan.

    Like the god who punched below his weight, the god who never invented anything or had a new idea, Lutheran theologians have always punched below their weight. Their advice, as written in the LCA’s official misogyny statement deserves to be ignored. It’s baloney.

    In the academic sense, never trust a theologian who’s still a Christian. Their ability to apply reason and logic to their judgement has been perverted by a slavish devotion to the inspired, inerrant and infallible word of the ancient god Yahweh.

     
    • Wally Schiller

      April 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

      This contribution is indeed sad and deeply concerning. Why it would ever be tolerated on your site is beyond me. It deserves condemnation in the strongest terms.

       
      • Katie and Martin

        April 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

        Wally, thanks for the reminder about John’s comment.

         
    • Katie and Martin

      April 13, 2013 at 10:06 am

      John, if your aim is to advance an atheist’s view of the world then we ask you not to post here. Dismissing all Lutheran theologians is just nonsense. The LCA has many, quality theologians.
      While we understand that people are hurt and distressed by the LCA’s treatment of women and homosexual people, we choose to remain a part of the LCA so that there is a hopeful future for the Church and family we love so much.

       
  2. heleng

    April 12, 2013 at 8:35 am

    The political & procedural machinations surrounding this resolution are confusing me. Would someone please explain in plain terms what this revised proposal means for those who support the ordination of women.

     
    • Katie and Martin

      April 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Helen, the chief thing is that in the first version of Pr Mike Semmler’s motion, the last bullet point contains an extraordinarily long process by which the approval of women’s ordination was to go through. Waiting through such circuitous processes would take at least a generation or more and the cost to Church membership would be enormous.
      When comparing the old and new there is an indication that the Dialogue Group may not continue. Pr Semmler, by his lethargy in getting the group established, presumably always intended that the group was to meet over at least the term of two Synods. Perhaps his advisors are sceptical of any value coming from a group of men who are mostly anti women’s ordination, and are even more sceptical of a process that is signaled to take six years.

      Delegates at General Convention need to be constantly aware of what the President proposes and what his purpose may be. Talk to others and educate yourself on motions that are on the agenda, especially those that have not come from congregations.
      President Semmler is retiring but now intends to stand for CTICR. This is concerning as Pr Semmler is not a theologian. It seems to reflect a desire to control the direction of the Church beyond the term of his presidency. It is difficult to imagine others members of CTICR being content to have the current president on their Committee.

       
      • Wally Schiller

        April 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        I have deliberately waited some days in the hope that you either might realise the errors in the initial post and in this last response, or that someone else might draw your attention to them.

        I can wait no longer:

        1) the motions you refer to are NOT Dr Semmler’s motions;

        2) the first “version” which was printed in the book of reports was printed in error – nothing else – as is stated;

        3) the mistake was picked up by a member of COP;

        4) the replacement version was the version that was decided upon by GCC, and every one, including the President, is seriously embarrassed that the mistake was made;

        5) your assertion: “It seems to us that the President’s advisors have pulled him into line. Perhaps the time has come for them when enough is enough. Who knows?” is simply wrong. Clearly, you do not know!!

        6) your further assertion that Dr Semmler now intends to stand for CTICR is also wrong.

        7) and, Dr Semmler does NOT seek to control the direction of the Church beyond the term of his presidency.

        Should you not believe me, I invite you to ring the President personally – in fact, I challenge you to do so! And while you are at it, be prepared to provide him with an apology.
        Your continued smear campaign against the leader of our Church is nothing short of malicious. In the name of the Lord, I urge you to desist.

        Finally, you owe readers of your blog an apology for your misleading statements.

         
  3. Margaret Koch (Chairperson, LCA Standing Committee on Nominations)

    April 15, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Wally is quite correct!
    Dr Semmler is ineligible even to nominate for CTICR – two PARISH pastors are elected at Synod…he is not one of those! When GCC appoints a further three pastors, ‘at least two of them are to be Parish Pastors’. Please be aware that Dr Semmler has been a member of CTICR since 2000 because he is the President; he was a member prior to that as a District President.
    Please check such basic details from the Rules of CTICR before telling such a lie.

     
  4. John Miller

    April 15, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    THE ECCLESIASTICAL LEGEDERMAIN

    First up, Wally, as a once very long standing, committed member of the LCA and regular church goer it’s a privilege to share opinions on this bog. You can exercise your prerogative to disagree with my point of view. If you believe, as Katie and Martin do that the LCA has been well served by its theologians, then just say so. However to suggest my comments be censored and I be banned from the site is especially poor form. It’s what theocrats have always done to stifle discussion.

    * * *

    Once upon a time when two or three Christians were gathered together, they could count on ‘Jesus’ being there in the midst of them; they didn’t need a called and ordained servant of the Word there with them. Not any more. The gathering has morphed into a monolithic, theocratic, political organisation where the ecclesiastical foxes have out-manoeuvred the members and elevated themselves to positions of high and exclusive office in the hen house.

    It’s normal democratic practice in voluntary associations that individual, paid up members are in charge of their own organisation. At the Lutheran congregational level this is so. Voting members can hold any office – in contravention of guidelines laid down by the Turkish thug, Paul of Tarsus. One would think that if it’s good enough for the congregation then it’s good enough for the national organisation.

    The Constitution of the LCA describes the LCA as a ‘confederation’ of Evangelical Lutheran congregations in Australia and New Zealand.

    The Members of the LCA are the congregations.

    Each congregation has Synodical voting rights comparable to its size, appointing one delegate for every 400 confirmed (as opposed to confirmed, adult, paid up, regular attending, voting) members.

    But now for the LCA’s great big ecclesiastical legerdemain.

    The synod is littered with non Members with voting rights:

    – one [1] pastor for every two [2] eligible lay delegates in each District

    – past Presidents of the Church

    – the members of the General Church Council

    – chairpersons of Boards

    – three [3] pastors emeriti

    – all ordained executive officers of the Church

    – two thirds of the Australian Lutheran College ordained staff members.

    Where I come from they’d say the vote was rigged. It’s a rotten state of affairs.

    As a voluntary association, (and through it’s incorporation under the South Australian Associations Act, that’s what the LCA is) it’s the members of an association that are (at law) in control of the affairs of the association.

    But as things stand in the LCA they’re not and here’s why.

    At the national level, in a display that’s ‘holier than thou’, the ordained staff have pulled a swiftie on the Member congregations and are running the show to suit themselves. They’ve established a theocratic organisational structure, once removed from, but still based on the model designed by the Roman Catholic Church.

    At best it’s the sort of grubby politics, designed to subvert the democratic process that we’ve come to expect from the unions and religions. At worst it’s illegal. Votes are being cast by people who are not Members.

    Only ordained staff can be President or Vice President of the General Church Council. Only ordained staff can be President of a district, which means that the General Church Council is stacked with male ordained staff.

    A significant proportion of ordained staff get a vote at General Synod, thus having a fair chance of over-riding the voting intention of congregational delegates. Being all male, the votes are definitely stacked against women.

    The LCA needs to democratise (as well as femocratise) its political structure.

    If push comes to shove it may well be worth testing the South Australian Associations Act, to see whether non-members are eligible to vote at general meetings – which brings us to the next point.

    Here’s what the Act says about annual general meetings of incorporated associations.

    ‘Division 3—Annual general meeting
    39—Annual general meeting
    (1) Subject to this section, a prescribed association must hold an annual general meeting
    within five months after the end of the financial year of the association.’

    It’s time the Members of the LCA – that is the congregations – called for an annual general meeting. An ecclesiastical synod held every three years, with the clergy stacking the votes is not an annual general meeting as prescribed by the Act.

    The three year synodical cycle is being deliberately used by the General Church Council to delay decisions, particularly the decision on the ordination of women.

    It’s time the Members considered taking charge of their association, and direct all paid staff to carry out their duties according to the wishes of the Members and not the other way round.

    MEMBERSHIP
    Furthermore, it’s time the LCA tightened up the definition of ‘member of a congregation-, changing the definition from ‘confirmed members’ to ‘adults who have paid a yearly membership fee (say $50) and attended a prescribed number of church services (say 15) in the last 12 months.’ If you’re not prepared to pay $2 a week to support your association then you’re not fair dinkum. You don’t deserve a vote.

    I suspect current congregation numbers are inflated, leading to over-representation by some congregations at the Synod.

    So the question of the ordination of women is just a symptom of unfairness and adherence to ancient traditions and Biblical baloney of this voluntary association called the Lutheran Church of Australia.

    It’s disingenuous for the holders of high office to make calls for unity when they are the source of disunity.

    It’s definitely time to open up to any confirmed adult, paid up member of a congregation, all offices of paid employment and governance within the association. It’s particularly important that the President and the majority of members of the General Church Council be lay people – of any gender. It’s this lack of lay management of the Australian Catholic Church that has led to the Royal Commission into the abuse of children. The Catholic clergy have been running amok.

    It’s also time for Member congregations of the LCA to convene their own annual general meetings, without clerical domination and seek to establish the sort of voluntary association of Lutherans that fits the times.

    Mucking out of this association all ecclesiastical nonsense by forming a new association, with new values, with new statements on key issues and without Article II in the Constitution makes eminent good sense.

    The issue of the ordination of women is just a symptom of the general malaise of the LCA.

     
    • Wally Schiller

      April 15, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      I will withhold my response until I see the response of the blog owner.

       
  5. John Miller

    April 17, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    BE IT RESOLVED

    When it comes to the ordination of women, all that the Synod of the LCA (or the Members voting at an annual general meeting) needs to do is make a very simple change to ‘Article V. The Ministry’ of its Constitution.

    ‘ARTICLE V. THE MINISTRY
    1. The Church recognises and upholds the Office of the Ministry as the office divinely instituted
    for the public administration of the Means of Grace. For this purpose it shall receive into its
    Ministry, by ordination or by colloquy of ministers ordained elsewhere, men whose
    qualifications for the office have been established …’

    The amendment involves changing the word ‘men’ to the words ‘members of the LCA’

    To avoid ambiguity and confusion it also needs to expunge from its statutes the ‘Blaess/Hebart Misogyny Statement’.

    Not being able to change the Constitution to remove ‘Article II, Confession’, the Synod can either officially or unofficially agree to ignore it.

    Easy!

    Forget about:

    – the interim report of the Dialogue Group studying consensus on this issue
    – the hermeneutic question arising from the symposium convened by the Church in October 2011
    – what ‘consensus’ means in our confessional church
    – the Commission on Theology and Inter-church Relations,
    – another group of theologians of the Church as appointed by the College of Presidents in agreement with the General Church Council, for study by the pastorate and the laity of the church – blah, blah, blah.

    It’s baloney. It’s just an unconstitutional delaying tactic. It’s evidence that the LCA is being run as a theocracy.

    Just put the motion and see how the Synod votes.

    If the Synod can’t do that it’s an association that will just keep drifting into irrelevancy, beyond redemption and not worth being a member of.

    In the meantime stay tuned, highly tuned and take note of the words of Anatole France who said,

    “The thoughts of the gods are not more unchangeable than those of the men who interpret them. They advance—but they always lag behind the thoughts of men. . . . The Christian God was once a Jew. Now he is an anti-Semite.”

     

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