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Women’s ordination resolution rewritten

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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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President distressed with ‘unauthorised communication’

Screen Shot 2013-03-30 at 11.04.48 AMOn Maundy Thursday of this Easter season, the following epistle arrived from Pr Mike Semmler, the President of the LCA.  Despite having apologised to representatives from St Stephen’s for his previous epistle, the reprimanding continues.   One can presume that this letter is intended to intimidate Synod delegates into submitting to Pr Mike’s direction from the Synod Chair.

We wonder what his reference to “have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22) would look like in a democratic Church?  For us, it would look like respect, tolerance of diversity, understanding, and lifting each other up in our difference.

Further comments will follow in a later post.

Dear Pastors, Parishioners and Synod Delegates,

At the instigation of the College of Presidents I communicate this pre-convention letter to you.

Our Synod meets in Convention under the theme ‘Where Love Comes to Life’. ‘Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth, so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart’ (1 Peter 1:22)

We have the best news ever to tell the world. It is the gospel of salvation. It is the love of God in Christ.

God in Christ who has enacted our redemption has also in his abundant graciousness given us means to spread this good news. We have communication media not dreamed of 175 years ago when Lutherans first organized worship and mission in Australia. As an example our Media Ministry now reaches a million people each week with the gospel.

It is to be regretted that unauthorised communication using the same God given technology has given rise to false expectation in regards to matters on the Convention of Synod agenda. Groundless expectation can only lead to disappointment and even anger. I refer both to the matters themselves and the constitutional process in place for synod to maintain its unity while difficult issues are under discussion.

The status of the Thesis of Agreement, the ordination of both genders and the standing of the LCA in the Lutheran World Federation will all be processed according to the ways of the Church, which accepts that Scripture is the only norm for its teaching and upon which its unity is drawn.

The Lutheran Church of Australia is a community of God’s children, not an entity reliant on legal argumentation, culture, electioneering, politics, or populist pressure, which if used to settle issues of teaching may demean the very issue being addressed. We fear God rather than people. Our unity is a gift to be celebrated. The Church studies Scripture and the pastors who are called to speak to and for the Church need to be able to give guidance to the synod on matters of theology. This is how the Thesis of Agreement came into being to bring us together. What brought us together keeps us together.

Our commitment and accountability to each other in Synod shows through in our respect, understanding and compassion for each other especially when we recognize hurt. Loving each other is a witness to our culture and society. The apostle Paul spoke to the people of Ephesus and said (Eph 1:15, 16) ‘I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers’.

For a change of teaching the synod, seeking to preserve its integrity, points us toward finding consensus. Biblical studies are required for the constitutional requirement that pastors guide delegates, in decision making. Our previous papers for the study on the ordination of male and female have not satisfied the Church. The Church has put in place an Ordination Dialogue Group which will report to the convention. The General Church Council will offer a proposal to the Synod to progress what has already begun with the Dialogue Group.

There is every reason to be positive about all serious study of the inspired Word of God.

We are charged to speak into the culture in every era, as culture does not determine the interpreting of God’s Word. It is a matter of fearing God rather than culture (1st Commandment).

The importance of how we hear God’s Word is being addressed with a beginning at a symposium (Oct 2011) with presentations from across the Lutheran world. One booklet to help understand our Lutheran approach to interpretation has been produced. Interpretation itself is not a gender issue. We have also looked at what consensus means for the LCA which for pragmatic reasons uses the minimalist constitutional requirement of at least a two thirds majority vote at synod but which does not itself guarantee consensus. What is our understanding of consensus in a confessional church? Both the matters of ‘interpretation’ and ‘consensus’ need further study and discussion. These are vital in establishing teaching in the Church.

The Church has not been preparing for the major theological issues mentioned above. What is presented for possible discussion and direction does not make it ready for decision on the subject itself.

There has been no study before the Church in this synodical period for decision on ordination. The last Convention of Synod requested the following, ‘… the General Church Council to establish a dialogue group with balanced representation from all sides of the issue, to work toward consensus within the group itself and across the Church…’. To shortcut the process would adversely affect the integrity of the Church and set an unwanted precedent for the handling of future sensitive issues.

It is recognized that divided opinion on the ordination matter is a reality and that some particularly with entrenched stances feel threatened, upset and even intimidated when addressing this teaching of our Church. In Synod we understand and have compassion for deep feelings as we continue to pray for and support each other. No-one likes protracted discussion, but it takes patience to achieve consensus across a diverse church.

We have looked to a newer generation of pastors to give their attention to this matter so that the unity of the Church may be strengthened and we can walk together informed by God’s will. That involves consensus in the Church and most importantly how we are hearing and therefore interpreting Scripture.

To demand God’s will according to us, to be enacted on our time schedule, is an approach which finds a better home in sectarianism, rather than synod. Our Synod guards against that. Lobbying also falls short of the ideals of synod as it does not provide the substance of reformation and renewal.

The Church has a teaching on the issue of ordination (Thesis of Agreement: Thesis on the Office of the Ministry VI.II) and we are studying if there is biblical permission for a change with regard to gender.

The Christian church on earth has a future. A future which waits on the Lord and his will. All things are according to his timeline. Patience finds its home in trusting him. Let Scripture teach us the patience we need to move forward together.

Looking to God’s Word when facing these issues provides an opportunity to strengthen our unity. It is not that the inspired Scriptures are unclear, but rather it is we who suffer from unclear understanding.

As we celebrate this Easter we will see once more that Love comes to life in the sacrifice of Christ. We live under his cross with his open tomb providing our path to life eternal.

 

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Pr Maurice Schild writes to President Semmler

Pr Maurice Schild - ALC lecturer, 1970-2000

Pr Maurice Schild – ALC lecturer, 1970-2000

The following is a shared letter from Pr Maurice Schild to the President of the LCA.   It reacts to the increasingly hard edge against women’s ordination, which has come in the last generation or so.

President of the Church
Rev Dr Michael Semmler
197 Archer St, North Adelaide
SA  5006

Dear President Michael, and dear honoured members of the College of Presidents,

Many thanks, brother Michael, for your regular communication on synodical and other important church matters, also for your most recent epistle.  Thus you remind us again of the ordination issue and ‘the teaching of the church’.

In view of the long-lasting LCA stalemate on the question at issue, it is, in my opinion, ‘the ethics of the church’ that call for equal urgent attention.  People of good will are hurting very badly and are trying to keep faith.  Our church is suffering and is in danger of letting something become entrenched and endemic that has a perceived sharp edge of cruelty about it.  The fact that male forums and Pastors’ Conference decide whether their opinions are to be reviewed at synod and even voted on leaves one feeling that many voices cannot be heard, precisely because of the gender line – which is the very matter under question.  From outside this may well look like male structural buttressing to support male vested interests.  The problem has to this extent become ‘system immanent’, built in.  It will require bold leadership to break this open.  In this situation Luther’s word on the Galatians text deserves careful mulling over:

There we have the same faith, the same possessions, the same inheritance – everything is equal.  One could even say: He who is called as a man is a woman before God.  And she who is called as a woman is a man before God.  (LW 28,44)

As for Galatians 3, it took the church 18 centuries to see the radical earthly human rights implication of ‘neither slave nor free’, and that it wouldn’t and won’t do to simply go on quoting Ephesians 6:5 (‘Slaves obey your masters with fear and trembling’) at those who were/are deprived of rights and cruelly treated by the powerful. The very context thus suggests that ‘neither male nor female’ also implies more than spiritual sameness and unity.  Certainly, the real and down to earth implication of ‘neither Jew nor Greek’ is what the whole of Galatians is so polemically all about.  (If only the church had been alert and bold when they started applying the infamous ‘Arian paragraph’ in its very midst in our time.  No Jewish person could then be considered for ordination!  The disasters of going back to pure literalism for whatever reason, when the relevant vital implications of the Gospel have once been realised (as with Peter, Wilberforce, historical exegesis and church order), are enough to haunt the mind).

At this late stage, when a convincing, clear and compelling case against the ordination of women has not been made, an air of unreality has come up on the one hand; and among those still concerned, who haven’t lost interest, the matter is seen very much as an un/fairness issue.  Ordination of women takes nothing away from us males, nor from anyone; but it gives, and is additive to the cause of communicating the Gospel, it is explication of the fundamental ecclesial fact that women too are fully members of the priesthood of believers.  In the community of Jesus it can never be beneath the dignity of office or of high doctrine (if it were this) to attend to these matters of ethics, humanity and the ecclesiality of the baptised (this may be vastly different in other faiths, or even in papism). But we appear to be acting as if things were QED (Ed: “quod erat demonstrandum” – meaning ‘the matter has been proven’) when they are not.  In my opinion, we tend to act and speak – and need to stop acting and speaking – as if …

As if the exegesis of Scripture allowing for ordination of women has to be wrong;

As if the historical record were completely black on white over ‘200 years’ (as if nothing were known of Junia and Romans 16, leave alone a lot of later evidence);

As if the matter can be overcome by delay, and by discouraging open discussion as in The Lutheran (where, among the last letters permitted on the issue, one by your truly (but authors’ names were suddenly not printed!) very briefly indicates something of full female church involvement in early times);

As if the considered and reconsidered majority opinion of the LCA’s CTICR can simply be set aside.

Our context, I have no doubt you agree, demands anything but indifference.  We live in a land that is apparently largely deaf to the Word of God, a land that has been termed ‘the most godless place under the sun’ (Breward). The LCA needs to focus its efforts accordingly and to use all the people God gives us.  This religious situation could well constitute the precise context for the bold application of Luther’s other pertinent statement:

If the Lord were to raise up a woman for us to listen to, we would allow her to rule, like Hulda.

He has raised quite a few, and it is  hurting the Body to have them held silent.

The late moment, our mission in situ, and the hermeneutic embedded in Luther’s understanding of the Word of God in Scripture together represent what must be a pretty urgent call for the relevant change and the exercise of a good conscience in promoting it.  My reference to Luther refers especially to his Prefaces to the writings of the Bible, as well as a piece like How Christians should regard Moses (LW 35).  One difficulty we face is a kind of patterning which emerged with Kavel and Fritzsche, i.e. being divided or in tension over problems that had already been dealt with elsewhere (rightly so.  Who is concerned among us today as to what they even were, yet issues of chiliasm and scriptural- ‘apostolic’ legalism in matters of church order kept Lutherans in our land divided for so many decades); it seems that ordination of women may be another such matter.  Our Augsburg Confession should protect us: it’s great ‘satis est’ (Ed: ‘it is enough) makes clear what the determinative marks of the church are.  Others are not to be added thereto – for the sake of the Gospel and church unity.

I humbly submit these thoughts for your kind consideration and wish you well, in all ways, in your calling and work of leadership and guidance in the Church of God.

Yours sincerely and fraternally,

Maurice Schild     (7th October 2012)

(Ed: Emeritus Lecturer, ALC, 1970-2000)

 

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One woman’s reply to the College of Presidents

love

In our last post, we published one woman’s letter to the College of Presidents (Lutheran Church of Australia).  She received a considered response from the President, Pr Semmler, which we are not publishing as we do not have permission.  In response to Pr Semmler’s reply the woman wrote her own reply below.

TO THE COLLEGE OF PRESIDENTS       September 2012

Commit your way to the Lord, Trust Him and he will act..Psalm 37 v5

Dear Mike,

Thank you for your reply to my letter. I really appreciate your concern in the conversation about ordaining women in God’s mission in the LCA. I sense that you personally feel reluctant to favour ordaining women. I feel that I can add some helpful insights in the journey of women as I am now fairly old (!)   and have actually collected anecdotal data on the journey on which God sent me. My experiences may help you younger men understand how some things in our Lutheran Church came to be.  May the Holy Spirit give me wisdom and discretion as I write.

It’s interesting to note that ordination is not a mandate of scripture so we are all still commanded to “Go and tell”. We used to do that a lot … women and men. Some still do.

I’ll take you back in time to the  early 1960’s. I  attended  Concordia Seminary, State Teachers’ College and University. After graduating the Lutheran Church called me to New Guinea. I was excited as my Dad had been a missionary in New Guinea and I had had a heart for mission for some years. The church sent me to Melbourne to study Linguistics so I could learn the local language and do translation. Then I would be off to New Guinea, my first job as a teacher! My future Husband also had a call to New Guinea, and we planned to go to New Guinea and get married after a year or two. Teachers were urgently needed  in N.G.and the Lutheran Church asked us to consider marrying before we went to N.G. so we could be housed together and teach in schools nearby. So we married, went to New Guinea where we each had a full time teaching position so going to work each day.  When pay day arrived my husband was paid and I was not paid. On querying where my pay was I was told, “You are just a wife and we don’t pay wives”.  On the one hand I was dumbfounded  but on the other hand I was young, I loved my job and believed that God had called me to bring the message of love to people,  who only a few years before had been cannibals.  I taught full time for two years with no pay and then part time while having a family. The Government of New Guinea paid the Lutheran Church my salary, as they did for all registered expatriate teachers, but the Lutheran  church has never passed that money on to me.

I am recounting this to illustrate the status in which women were held  in  the Lutheran Church. This was the social structure in a culture which coloured the attitude of Lutheran churches before union, and then after union. So women in Australia weren’t ordained. Women were not considered worthy and somehow we didn’t challenge it as we should have. We were all very  keen for union to happen and that was our focus. We were sure that after union Women would soon be ordained in Australia. Many of us were carrying out pastoral duties.

My parents were criticized for sending me to Concordia boarding College for  a secondary education because, as a girl, I should stay home and help look after my 4 younger brothers. We did not have high schools in the country towns. That was the culture.

God was shaping me. I didn’t rebel against the Lutheran church but perhaps we should have been more questioning. I’ve always trusted God to sort it/us out,  but sometimes God expects us to be proactive as we are given wisdom and understanding.

I recall as a child, witnessing a woman being excluded from a Lutheran Church because she did not have a hat to wear. She looked as if she could not afford a hat and, as a child, that impacted on me … I still feel quite uncomfortable when people tell me that was not an isolated incident of women being rejected  because they had no hat. I hope other denominations accepted these women. That was our culture, not God’s love.

Another illustration of the status of women was when a friend of mine became pregnant to her fiancé in the early 1960’s. She had to stand up in front of a large city congregation to confess etc.  HE didn’t have to even though he was part of it.  I still cringe when I recall how women were victimised in our Lutheran culture. Culture drove Theology and Church laws.

Have you read the Deaconess History Book? There are so many sad stories.

We women were made so totally compliant with what men said and did, it’s hard to imagine why. In some cases we were far too compliant as we were much too afraid to report sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviours until recent years. There are some still not reported. That certainly is not God’s will . Just power!  I recall the questioning of the validity of a person’s faith if that faith had been nurtured by a woman.

Fortunately,  I have a pretty positive attitude,( although at times I did feel “put down”), as well as a fantastic husband who always encouraged me to follow my professional dreams. And God has always been acting for me and in me. The Holy Spirit sustained me and gave me wisdom and Jesus paid the price for me…Praise God.

As well as a culture of shaping me and other women, God was shaping the attitudes of men who witnessed arrogance and were ashamed. Now I notice that many men , including pastors, have been influenced by what they have seen and want to correct the behaviours. So  many  men have told me of their embarrassment over the bullying of women within the Lutheran culture.  With God giving us guidance, we can move away from that behaviour and follow the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 11:11-12….in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.

Jesus valued women : at the foot of the cross the men fled and the women stayed to minister:    Mary, the first apostle, was told by Jesus to go and tell :  Mary, the sister of Martha, was invited by Jesus to study with him in contrast to the culture of the time which had only men studying: the Samaritan woman was valued and went and told.

I was interested to read again what Sasse said back in 1971. Thank you for including it. As well as being a teacher and music teacher I am also a qualified teacher /librarian. I am therefore qualified in research procedures and practices. I have done a search to verify what Sasse says of Pope John and can not find any  Primary Sources  which would be able to verify the alleged incident with Dr. Gertrude Heizelmann  and Pope John. I am at present working for Brisbane Catholic Education so I have access to Catholic Data. The only reference we can find is what Sasse himself wrote which , of course, is a secondary source with no primary credibility. We are wondering if he was perhaps there and heard Pope John say this, but we can’t find any evidence of that. It doesn’t fit Pope John’s profile but that  would not rule it out if we could find a primary source.   May be Sasse was indulging in some “story telling” embellishing a little to make a point. We find this in research when we have to distinguish Primary from Secondary Sources.  It is interesting that Sasse points to the fact that Jesus included women in the  order  of  ministry. I have researched Dr. Gertrude Heizelmann  and found her to be an interesting, positive and gifted woman. The ordination of women is a topic of interest  in the Catholic church where  nearly 200 women have been ordained.

At the moment I find there is SO much work in the LCA in mission in Australia.  A few weeks ago I was so happy to praise God when the Catholics asked me to lead a liturgy as no one was available…now isn’t that a miracle! ( I attained Catholic Accreditation some time ago through Australian Catholic University  but they also recognised the Concordia Seminary Studies which I did). God is wonderful to find a way for Jesus’ mission to go on regardless of  men’s restrictions and the way our culture colours our understanding of what Jesus is telling us to do. God, the source of ALL life and love, has given us his infallible word . I meet so many people who crave God’s love and forgiveness.

In this context, I listen to the voice of God  through  Scripture as I listen to the pain filled voices of women who hear God’s call to ministry but find their path blocked. I call on the Spirit for wisdom. “Jesus does not crush the weak or quench the smallest hope” Matthew 12:20.  The Gospel embraces the call of Christ that all children of God are commissioned to proclaim the message of the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. How many souls are being kept out of heaven because WE didn’t embrace that call.

I was excited, Mike, to read on your President’s page Sept 5th that you are promoting Social Justice Sunday as the Gender Commission Mandate explores the inclusive ministry in all its forms within all NCCA members.

I have received a copy of John Kleinig’s email of 2006 in which he refers to lobbying retired pastors in and around Adelaide to come to synod to vote against women’s ordination in 2000.  Sources indicate that they are again being lobbied for synod 2013.  I can only pray to God that we open our hearts to HIS will to have souls with  God in heaven and ordain the women and men  called to do this in the Lutheran Church.

I’ve had cancer twice (2 different sorts), and golden staph once but God always bounces me back as a new creation to be an ambassador for Christ. The Spirit gives me such joy.  I’ve tried twice to retire from teaching but I’m led back to teach children of God’s love. I’m in a Catholic School now after many years in Lutheran Schools. Even though congregations (both Lutheran and Catholic) are depleting, God’s word is being taught in Christian Schools (Lutheran, Catholic and many others). What a huge undertaking. We need social justice for the oppressed who have no hope of hearing and learning about God’s love and Jesus’ atonement unless women and men are allowed to tell them. Thankfully other denominations are growing.

I am including a review of “Half the Sky”, by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl Wudunn a book I was given by a woman pastor friend. Mike I am sending you a copy of the book. The action research illustrates the urgency of our task here on earth, and concludes the best clue to a church’s growth and development is the status and role of women in the church.

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in politics, women's ordination

 

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One woman’s letter to the College of Presidents

Hope___Breast_Cancer_Awareness_by_allentattoo

The following letter, which was sent to the LCA College of Presidents, expresses one woman’s story and her desire for women’s ordination.  Her story makes plain that the issue is no longer about theology. Current generations clearly long for men to remove the barriers to women’s pastoral leadership.

The College of Presidents
August 2012

I pray…that…words may be given me…Eph. 6:19 (Ed: Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel)

Some helpful advice given to me on retirement was;- maintain an influence in your area of expertise. My area of expertise is teaching but particularly from the mission perspective of Christ’s final command on earth. God’s love has led me into mission and I am amazed at the words and ideas I am given.

When I was not expected to live in 2003 with a serious infection, there was a shortage of Lutheran pastors and so no one available,  so I needed to be a pastor to myself during a long stay in hospital. God was with me all the way (as was my wonderful husband and family and prayer groups all over Australia in different denominations). God worked in me with love and brought healing and even enabled me to minister to staff in the hospital. In an extremely difficult time God was awesome! I was given that experience so I could advocate for women pastors one day. How I would have loved a woman pastor when I was so sick. I feel so sad for women who are dying without that support.

When I had recovered some months later a friend said to me “God has prepared you for jobs to do so you better be ready for what is set for you”.

God has given me people to care for,  but one thing I have been led to is the  Lutheran Women’s Ministry Network because I have felt the aching need for women pastors(there are not enough men to start with!). A German trained woman pastor friend and I presented a paper on Women’s Ordination in Tanunda in the late 1960’s and it was enthusiastically received by both pastors and nonpastors.

Last year when I had cancer a lovely woman pastor came to me in hospital and what a wonderful Spirit filled time that was. I was so happy to meet her again at the TIME TO SOAR Conference in Adelaide in July…..what a blessing! May God grant this blessing to more women.

On Sunday I was saddened to find that 3 more  (45 years old & younger) families in leadership positions left our Lutheran Congregation to a denomination which recognises God’s call to women and men. Lutheran Congregations keep losing  people in this age bracket as they study God’s word and the reality becomes obvious to them. I do praise God who calls women and men and inspires churches who will ordain them. I am sad that the LCA is losing these wonderful women and men.

There is not one Scripture in the Bible that forbids women from preaching, but on the contrary, there are many verses that encourage both men and women to preach the Gospel.I don’t need to expand on this as you all spent more time at the Seminary than I did. Anyway, spreading God’s love is too urgent an issue, to argue about permission when Jesus’ command is clear.

In his letter of August 10th Mike mentions culture and, while it has been Lutheran culture in Australia to have “men only” pastors I believe God is asking us to put aside that cultural belief and obey the command of “Preach the Gospel” Only Satan wins when we maintain our culture of restricting women.

The call to me from God, to be a Christian teacher, has always been so clear and borne such fruit that I know that when God calls women and men to be pastors it is clear to them too. Walking through our busy  Shopping Centre this week the thought came to my mind  “ALL these people…who is bringing God’s love to them?” The immediate answer was “Probably nobody”. How sad that we, the LCA, are closing doors by excluding women from being Preachers of the Gospel.

I have 2 cousins who are pastors. One of them is a man so the LCA ordained him. The other is a woman so she had to leave the LCA to be ordained, although she still has a heart for the LCA. I enjoy her emails recounting the exciting opportunities God gives her as a pastor and also the way the church she is serving is growing because God is blessing her preaching of the word.

I have a son and daughter both called to be pastors. The LCA ordained my son but my daughter will need to go to another denomination, at this point in time, to be ordained. They both serve the same God and God is blessing both of them as they go and tell.

God called me to mission as a young person. We had a lovely woman pastor in our town when I was a child and she was an inspiration.

I spent time in the remote highlands in New Guinea where, as a woman I needed to participate the same as a man…teach, preach etc. for the Lutheran Mission.

In Australia God’s call to me was mostly teaching until I was called as part of a small team, to establish a mission congregation and school in a city. Again, this was no time to opt out of leading worship and sacraments just because I was a woman. God was leading people to us so we all needed to respond and do what had to be done.

I am pleased to read on the LCA homepage “in effect it is people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of our church”. I have sometimes felt that we were being told what to think but this is a God pleasing statement and gives me hope.

One thing that has been puzzling me is why we can’t advertise our Women’s Ministry Conferences in the Lutheran like other things  such as Travel, Funerals, Wine etc. We are happy to pay for the advertisements like the others do. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next conference. Praise God!

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in politics, women's ordination

 

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Motion on Women’s Ordination to General Convention 2013 from St Stephen’s

St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Wakefield St, Adelaide

The move towards women’s ordination continues in the Lutheran Church of Australia. It must be acknowledged that St Stephen’s Lutheran Church has been providing significant initiative for many years with their motions going to General Convention over the years and the organisation of the Time to Soar conference in July this year.  The most recent initiative is the following motion, which has been sent to be included in the proceedings for the next General Convention next March.

It would be useful if there were multiple motions that congregations, from around Australia, submitted to General Convention, particularly if the wording was such that they couldn’t all be amalgamated into one motion. If you are considering lodging motions please be aware that proposals from congregations must be emailed to the Synod Secretary at Debbie.venz@lca.org.au by 15 November 2012. Get them in early to avoid any motions getting ‘delayed’ in the in-tray.

Consider sharing this blog address to inform your network of St Stephen’s motion ahead of the General Convention next year.

Consider also taking action in any way that is open to you.  Women’s ordination will not happen by itself, but depends on many people doing what they need to do. Have you thought about writing a letter to the College of Presidents? – cop@lca.org.au    We understand that there is considerable support amongst District Presidents for women’s ordination but that their voice is not heard, given the seniority of Pastor Semmler.

Here’s the wording of St Stephen’s motion:

Given that the Lutheran Church of Australia’s Commission on Theology and inter-Church Relations (CTICR) has reached a majority agreement that the Bible and the teachings of the church permit the ordination of women to the pastoral office in the Lutheran Church of Australia;
 
and, given that prior to the 2000 National Convention of Synod, the CTICR and General Church Council stated that, “On balance scripture and theology permits the ordination of women”;
 
and, given that a simple majority of delegates at both the 2000 and 2006 General Conventions of the Lutheran Church of Australia voted in favour of the ordination of both men and women to the pastoral office;
 
and, given that, in our view, the ministry of the church is diminished by preventing women from serving Jesus Christ through the ordained ministry;
 
and given that there are theologically qualified women in the Lutheran Church of Australia who have received God’s call to the ordained ministry, and have had their personal call and fitness for ministry recognised by many;
 
be it resolved that the General Convention of the Lutheran Church of Australia approve the ordination of women to the pastoral office.

It may be late for inclusion in the blog, but here is the Facebook link for the All Saints conference on women’s ordination at St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Indooroopilly, Qld.  It’s THIS weekend starting Friday night, continuing through Saturday.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in politics, women's ordination

 

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What then must we do?

Portrait of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Oil on c...

Portrait of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy.

We start with a quote.

‘What then must we do?’ That is the question that Leo Tolstoy, having surveyed the misery of the ordinary Russian people, tried to answer in 1886. It is also the question that people pose – often somewhat resentfully – when confronted by the … social and psychological status quo … ‘It’s all very well to criticize, but have you got any better ideas…?’

As Christians we have compassion, that’s just the way it is.  Compassion, however, is not just a feeling – it is action.  Compassion is speaking for those who have no voice. Compassion is standing with those who are invisible. Compassion is taking on the structures of power in their systemic abuse of individuals and groups. Compassion is refusing to abide by unethical or alienating by-laws and governances. Compassion is being the Christ figure to those who society forgets.

What would happen if a thousand people wrote to the College of Presidents (email) this week to complain about the lack of due process in dealing with the call for women’s ordination?  What might happen if a thousand people stopped their subscription to “The Lutheran” (email), citing the President’s ban of the discussion of women’s ordination as the reason? Your voice is significant!

There is much that might be done. Alone you may be feeling fragile, so create a group and strengthen each other. You never know what might arise from your group.  Use Facebook, network with larger groups like Women’s Ministry Network and find out what’s happening on the national scene.   Share this blog and others that support women in any domain. Make a difference!

You are not alone in your hope for equality under God.  We thank God for the many who have contacted us from around the world offering encouragement.

How might your voice be heard this week?

Please share your ideas for bringing about change. What has worked for you in any cause that you are part of?

 
 

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