It is seemingly not enough that the President has banned any mention of women’s ordination in The Lutheran for the last ten years, but now it seems that congregations should have no voice at all.
In the last post it was presumed that the intention of the last letter from the President was to intimidate Synod delegates into complying with his direction from the Synod Chair. It may seem that such a comment might be a little extreme, however, Pr Semmler knows that controlling Synod is essential to controlling the LCA. Synod always remains a little unpredictable, so nothing can be taken for granted. He has learnt well from LCMS conservatives who coined the aphorism: “Control the delegates and you control the synod” (Burkee, 2011, p87).
While we respect that Pr Mike Semmler has his point of view on women’s ordination, the reality is that the LCA has shown clearly that it is looking for change in this matter. For the President to actively work against the will of the Synod suggests that he has abrogated his role of facilitating the will of the Church.
The President considers those who object to his manner of governance as unruly and as people who don’t understand process. Mr President, we do understand process, which is why we are concerned with how you are running the debate. The following reasons are integral to the discussion:
- You have shown that you are against women’s ordination;
- You have shown that you don’t wish the matter discussed (ex. Lutheran ban, sundry grumpy epistles to the Church);
- Your understanding of ‘consensus’ bears no similarity to that of other major bodies who have conducted similar processes;
- At Synod’s direction to “establish a dialogue group with balanced representation” you delayed in appointing a ‘consensus’ committee until 15/18 months after Synod (now numbering four (4) members) with 3 of the 4 against women’s ordination;
- You have created distractions and establish processes that you intend to consume six years or more;
- You have indicated that a motion duly submitted by St Stephen’s will not be considered at General Synod;
- At the Toowoomba Synod you indicated that absentee delegates would have their vote counted as being against women’s ordination;
- In your letters to the Church you continue to harangue those who wish to nurture the debate on women’s ordination in the LCA;
- You conduct selective, contradictory conversations with different individuals and groups. This manner of operating bears similarity to the manner in which LCMS President Jack Preus manipulated friend and foe to ensure support for his Presidency and the repression of foes. (Burkee, 2011, pp9-10 and other pages)
- You have apologised to St Stephen’s representatives in your office for your previous letter to the Church but show no intention of making that apology public. An apology given in private is no apology when the initial offense was to the whole Church;
- You indicated to WA Pastors’ Conference that women’s ordination will not be discussed at General Synod but asserted to Pr Peter Bowmer that motions from St Peter’s, Indooroopilly and St Stephen’s will be discussed.
- You choose to sidestep deliberations of CTICR and CSBQ by setting up further processes;
- On the one hand you include in your statement, representing the LCA, to the Australian government on same sex marriage, “In nations that have legalised gay marriage… there has been pressure to allow group marriage, polygamy and incest between consenting adults and even in extreme cases marriage to consenting animals” but on the other hand you distance yourself from the statement holding that they were the words of a key advisor (Dr Rob Pollnitz).
Mr President, the LCA requires your role and Chair of Synod to possess an integrity and transparency that facilitates the will of membership. While we appreciate your leadership in many respects, your legacy of resisting the leadership of women within the LCA, despite understanding the will of Synod and membership, does little to endear you to Synod or congregations.
We cannot remain silent in the face of justice delayed (and justice denied) for women, and the manipulation of structures and democratic processes within the LCA.
Burkee, J.C. (2011) Power, Politics and the Missouri Synod
- Senior Lutheran Pastors and Theologians Affirm Women’s Ordination (katieandmartin.wordpress.com)
- President distressed with ‘unauthorised communication’ (katieandmartin.wordpress.com)
- A letter to Pastors and Synod Delegates of the LCA (katieandmartin.wordpress.com)