Tag Archives: ELCA

Experiencing gender discrimination in the church

Pastor Rick Mickelson, from the ELCA (USA), who served in the Barossa (SA) and Epping (NSW), once wept that he couldn’t affirm for his daughters that there was nothing they couldn’t do. He was painfully aware that in secular life there are no boundaries for girls. In spiritual life, which connects at a much deeper level, women are told in the LCA that certain things are not for them.  How many women in churches around the world have been told that they don’t really have a call to the ordained ministry because they are women?

“It’s sad, really, that the only place in my entire life that I have experienced gender discrimination is the church,” VanScoy emailed me. “Certainly God never intended to gift a woman to do something she was not intended to do.” source – Soujourners Magazine.

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Posted by on September 18, 2011 in sociology, theology


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Loving pastoral leadership after a major vote

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Bishop Hanson of the ELCA showed a profound depth of pastoral care after the Ministries Policy vote in 2010. In the video below he shows a deep concern for his people, and careful thought about nurturing his Church.

Video from ELCA page.

I am thankful for Churches when strategies exist for healing and reconciliation in times of division.  At such time leadership is fundamental in building bridges.   Without wise leadership the Church nurtures divisions.  Without wise leadership the Church ignores those with little power.  The following is an excerpt from the video:

That passage (Colossians 3:12–17) gives invitation and expectation that those deeply disappointed today will have the expectation and the freedom to continue to admonish and to teach in this church. And so, too, those who have experienced reconciliation today are called to humility. You are called to clothe yourselves with love. But we are all called to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, remembering again and again that we are called in the one body. I will invite you tomorrow afternoon into important, thoughtful, prayerful conversations about what all of this means for our life together. But what is absolutely important for me is that we have the conversation together.

Here is the transcript (.pdf) of Bishop Hanson’s address.

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Posted by on March 12, 2011 in theology


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There are times when we need to help make it better

It is not enough to say that one day women will be ordained in the LCA. Many of us have recited that tenant of faith for decades. As Christians we desire to live out God’s will, to be God’s hands in this world, and to bring reconciliation and justice.  What might that mean for me in regards to women’s ordination?

Bishop Burnside, from the ELCA, recalls a time as a child when, on being bullied, his father simply told him to stand his ground and stand up to the bullies. On later witnessing his son being bullied he went to his rescue and said, “Bruce, I am sorry!”

This is the last paragraph from Bishop Burnside’s YouTube Video

There are times when we can’t stand up for ourselves and we have to rely on others to stand with us. We can’t just say that one day it will be better for those who are victimised or brutalised or bullied. There are times when we need to help make it better. As a Christian I believe that Jesus teaches that there is a place in his kingdom where there is a preference for those who are victimised, those who are oppressed, those who are brutalised and there is a place in this kingdom for those of us who stand with them, so I call on you to not just believe that one day it will be better but to help make it better.

Bishop Burnside talks not just about victims of bullying, but also about those who are oppressed and brutalised. Women, in being dismissed as not fit for ordination, continue to be minimised, oppressed  and brutalised!  It is time that we said, “We are sorry!” However, it doesn’t end there. The consequence of a genuine apology is that we promise to do something or to change our ways.

What is it that each of us need to do today as a result of our apology for how the LCA has treated women?

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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in sociology, theology


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“The Authority of Scripture, Women’s Ordination and the LCA”

The Journal of Lutheran Ethics, ELCA,

carries a concise summary of the women’s ordination debate in the LCA, including the history and hermeneutics brought by the different sides.  The author, Tanya Wittwer, is a doctoral candidate at Flinders University in South Australia, holds a Master of Divinity From Wartburg Seminary in Iowa and is Master of Public Health Coordinator, University of Adelaide.  She points out the manipulation that has occurred by the ministry-for-men proponents.

Excerpts are included below.  For the full article, including papers and references from many sources, click here.

7] Those that argue that Christ established the office of ordained ministry do so on the basis of passages such as Matthew 28:18-20 and John 20:21-23. There appears to be no acknowledgement that these “establishment” verses may be being used to justify existing practice based in tradition rather than providing a clear mandate for ordained ministry. Those that would argue for the office of ministry having been developed in the early church would look to, for example, Acts 15, Acts 20:28 and Ephesians 4:11 for evidence of an emerging (and diverse) ministry structure. This discussion seems not to have been part of the ordination debate.[8] The study of the ordination issue has focussed on the two verses used as the basis for the prohibition paragraph in The Theses of Agreement rather than using as the starting place the witness of Scripture regarding ordained ministry. I surmise the reason for this is the assumption of consensus regarding the office of ministry.

[10]…However, there have been persistent hermeneutical differences between those engaged in the discussion, and it could be argued that these have been shaped by the ideological positions held prior to any Scriptural study.

[11] Significant voices in the debate have argued from what they maintain to be a literal (but not Biblicist) understanding of Scripture. The subordination of women is an implicit assumption for many. Other significant voices uphold a viewpoint that the Gospel is central to all interpretation and that allowing the text to speak implies a contextual reading. Many of the same people would suggest the Holy Spirit remains active in the development of the church and its theology.

[13] While the official line has been maintained that all discussion in the church on the matter of the ordination of women has been on the basis of Scripture, the reality is that it has been a discussion nested in political strategem.  Many decisions about process have been less than transparent. Those nominated by the church to provide leadership in matters of theology voted by a two-thirds majority – after a long process of study and discussion – that Scripture permits the ordination of women. However, when the General Synods of 2000 and 2006 were asked to discuss and vote on the issue there was silence about the work of the CTICR and the impression continues to be given that they did not reach a decision. A task force was established by the General Church Council following a resolution of the 2006 Synod, “to determine and implement strategies for promoting greater consensus on the matter of the ordination of women” but the report of the task force to the 2009 Synod seems to suggest that the previous study and discussions were ignored.

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Posted by on November 6, 2010 in Hermeneutics, politics, theology


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Elizabeth Platz – The ELCA’s first female pastor celebrates 40 years

Pr. Elizabeth Platz on her ordination

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Platz is celebrating 40 years of ordained ministry in the ELCA on Nov 22, 2010.  She has served her entire ministry at University of Maryland campus pastor.

“I came to it slowly,” she said. “Never underestimate the persistence of God.”

Another link to Elizabeth A. Platz and the anniversary.

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Posted by on November 3, 2010 in politics, sociology


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We need to talk

Welcome to Katie and Martin’s little blog.  We have been worried for some time about the way power is used in the Lutheran Church of Australia.  While we talk about grace and the work of the Holy Spirit, we are aware of how various people in positions of power within the LCA maintain a conservative stance on women’s ordination.  While this may ensure they remain comfortable and unthreatened by change, it also means that the LCA is quietly sliding into oblivion as people move out of our Church and into more progressive settings.

The influence that conservatives have over the LCA leadership, ALC graduates, General Convention, the way scripture is interpreted and who is ordained into the public ministry of the Church, continues to deny a membership trend, as was made obvious by the significant majority vote for women’s ordination in 2000. Their power and influence is considerable.  While the ELCA in the US ordained women in the 1970’s, we are still suffering from the compromises made that were necessary when our own two Synods combined.  Enough is enough. It is time to get out of our isolation and back into the world where we have much work to do.

This blog is to discuss the abuse of power within the LCA, and how the worrisome and somnolent affects of theological conservatism are bleeding the essence from the LCA and its membership.

In the meantime, take heart from online social networking.  Never before have there been so many ways for people to share their hope for the future and to quickly disseminate news.  No longer do we need to rely on the sanctioned lines of communication within the Church.  No longer do we need to remain silent, when work from special committees gets shelved, when we have witnessed and taken part in abuse of power against women, against delegates at General Synod, against laity.  No longer do we have to shrug when conservative ALC lecturers mould students, entrenching conservatism in the Church well into the future.

Communication is enlightening and empowering.  The more we communicate with each other, the less we in the LCA will submit to those who have much to gain from a passive membership.  We all have a vested interest in theology and we should all participate in theological discussions.  Therefore it is important not to leave the big decisions in the LCA to those in positions of power.

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.  The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. C.S.Lewis

The call to justice for women in ministry is not just moderately important, it is essential to our core beliefs that come from Jesus. Without action towards justice for women in the LCA we are simply another ‘moderately important’ community organisation.

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Posted by on December 28, 2009 in Uncategorized


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