Yesterday, at General Synod, the President again imposed his will on the LCA. He has been true to his word that women’s ordination would not occur on his shift.
After the recommendation coming from General Pastors’ Conference that women’s ordination should be discussed at General Convention, that is exactly what occurred. Pr Semmler had to allow discussion because of this resolution, but that’s all it was – a discussion.
To begin with, he gave the floor to a couple of men from the Dialogue Group on forming consensus to report on their progress, but they offered nothing to help delegates in their deliberations. The main thing they reported was that they had to learn to listen to each other.
In the ‘discussion’ conservative pastors knew that they didn’t need to speak. This is also attested to by the fact that a conservative pastor commented to a youth on Sunday at NOVO (youth camp) that they (conservative pastors) had figured out a way to get around the women’s ordination issue. Around 18 people spoke in favour and 3 or 4 spoke against.
After Pr Semmler distributed one of his epistles to the Church against women’s ordination, the ‘discussion’ was brought to an end with the declaration that Pr John Henderson was the successful candidate for the position of bishop (nomenclature voted on earlier in the afternoon). (Tues morning, Greg Pietsch was announced as the new Assistant Bishop.)
The following now need to be considered as we discern how the Holy Spirit would have us act:
- the disregard for laity,
- the lack of transparency,
- the refusal to debate St Stephen’s motion,
- the refusal to allow a vote,
- the refusal to facilitate the will of delegates,
- the dishonest claim that “in effect it is the people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of our church”,
- the duplicitous communication from Pr Semmler,
- the sly sidelining of an issue that is important to the vast majority of members (not just delegates), and
- the hypocritical use of Where Love Comes to Life as a General Convention theme.
The manipulation by Pr Semmler is so similar to that of Pres. Robert Preuss in the LCMS who took control of the St Louis seminary that used historical-biblical research to inform their thinking. (You can guess that the conservatives wanted to use Scriptural literalism as their only source of inspiration.) That piece of history, which led to Seminex (seminary in exile) is reported in Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod: A Conflict That Changed American Christianity by James Burkee. The following is a review from Amazon.com
Power, Politics, and the Missouri Synod follows the rise of two Lutheran clergymen – Herman Otten and J. A. O. Preus – who led different wings of a conservative movement that seized control of a theologically conservative but socially and politically moderate church denomination (LCMS) and drove “moderates” from the church in the 1970s. The schism within what was then one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States ultimately reshaped the landscape of American Lutheranism and fostered the polarization that characterizes today’s Lutheran churches.Burkee’s story, supported by personal interviews with key players and church archives sealed for over twenty years, is about more than Lutheranism. The remaking of this one Lutheran denomination reflects a broader movement toward theological and political conservatism in American churches – a movement that began in the 1970s and culminated in the formation of the “Religious Right.”
In closing we note how the resistance to women’s participation in the LCA is dominated by clergy. The following comment from Burkee
about the LCMS equally applies to the LCA, “Through (their) inability to draw lay support to the conservative movement’s delegate- and convention-focussed strategy, the movement’s Pyrrhic victory had little to do with lay support.”