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Tag Archives: Lutheranism

Tania speaks on women’s ordination

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Sophie Louise recognises that gender is everything in the LCA

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Parish worker, Sophie Louise, shares her disillusion with the way female workers are treated within the Church.

… There is one thing in particular that has always confused me about the fact that the LCA does not ordain women. In human development studies I was taught that childhood and adolescence are the formative years. If this is true then what children and youth learn about God during these years is of the utmost importance. I have always found it strange that I and many other women are allowed to teach God’s Word to children and young people at this critical time in life and yet once they turn 18 it’s as if we no longer have a right to continue to teach them. It just does not make sense to me.  …

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Women in the synagogue

Women in the synagogue

Women in the synagogue

In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Paul speaks about women remaining silent in the church. At this time, Christians still used synagogues for worship. Have any of those who oppose women’s ordination been to a synagogue, or been part of a Jewish bar mitzvah in a synagogue? I suspect not. I found attending a bar mitzvah a very interesting experience, and it explained Paul’s words to the Corinthian women.

The synagogue’s “place of worship” and teaching was in the centre front of the ground floor. Here all the men and boys stood together while the rabbi addressed them. There was an upstairs gallery surrounding the sides and back of the building where the women sat, including the boys’ mothers, whose bar mitzvah it was. The mothers and the other women were completely segregated from the men and none of them understood, including the mothers of the boys, what was happening with their sons, or what they were being told because it was virtually impossible to hear what the Rabbi was saying to the men. The women were bored so they started chatting amongst themselves. But the talking and then laughing became increasingly louder, and was starting to intrude on the service below. The Rabbi suddenly stopped talking, turned around and looked upstairs to the women, and commanded them to stop making a noise. The women became silent for a short time, then through boredom, started to chatter again. They were reprimanded by the Rabbi 3 times during this bar mitzvah which I attended.

Suddenly it dawned on me – this is what the apostle Paul was talking about! The women were not an integral part of the service – it was for men only – and this would have been the custom in the early church. Of course it would have been disruptive if these isolated women tried to call out or say anything. When we got back to the host family, we  women had to ask the father what was being said. If any woman had called out for an explanation of the events, of course it would have been disruptive! So now, because some Christians don’t understand the Jewish customs or culture, they read words at face value in the Bible without understanding, and then stand against women’s ordination in the Lutheran church – using this scripture to say Paul forbade women to speak in church – without understanding why he said it.

1 John 4:18 tells us: “Perfect love casts out fear.” Why then are some Lutherans showing fear of women’s ordination? Why are they trying to hinder the preaching of the Gospel?

May the love of those in the Lutheran Church who favour women’s ordination grow and spread into the hearts of those who appear to be putting ‘law before grace’ and are hurting the Lutheran church and the spread of Christ’s love to the lost.

1 Corinthians:7 “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”              God is love.

 
 

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A layman’s view of women’s ordination in the LCA

The following letter is from Bob Unger of Indooroopilly.  It reflects the growing frustration that the considered opinion of membership and Synod delegates increasingly seem to be ignored in the LCA.  The letter is followed by another letter from a women who left the LCA to minister in another Australian church. It appears on Katie and Martin dated 6th April 2013.

I grew up in the Lutheran Church and have been a member for 60 years. I have watched the Church that I love struggle for 20 years with the question of Women’s Ordination. In the first decade, not being a theologian, I trusted the wise men of the CTICR to study the Gospel and to provide advice to the Church.

I was pleased with the first CTICR report and was even more delighted when after further examination; the second again found “that there are no theological reasons to prohibit the ordination of women”. For me there was now no longer a conflict; the Church I love and my own personal values were aligned. I was overjoyed!

Imagine my despondency when the Toowoomba Synod succeeded in gaining for the second time a simple majority (but not the required two thirds). I have sat patiently, watching the growing numbers of people quietly leaving the Church I love, watching a whole generation of children grow into adults and then leave the Church I love, because they are unable to reconcile the hypocrisy of a church that professes “love and compassion” while discriminating against half its membership. I have watched the humiliation of female Lutheran Pastors, ordained overseas, not being allowed to participate in full Ministry and even being denied the use of the title Pastor. I have watched as qualified women are denied the opportunity to answer their call to serve.

I have watched as groups opposed to female ordination have cried “you’ll split the church”. The Church that I love is deeply divided, clergy disillusioned, members quietly leaving to find another spiritual home and many like me staying around in the belief that sanity will prevail.

I am unable to understand, although I am of reasonable intelligence, how a minority of both clergy and laity have been able to bring the Church that I love to this current sad state of division, intransigence, intimidation and intolerance.

From my view from the pew, a majority of our learned theologians (CTICR) on two occasions have found “that there are no theological reasons to prohibit the ordination of women”. The High Court of Australia decides matters of Constitutional Law by a simple majority and there is no right of appeal. Worldwide, the majority of Lutheran churches and their members ordain women, appoint women as bishops and are ministered to by women clergy.

A majority of clergy at two General Pastors Conferences have referred Women’s Ordination to General Synod for decision. At two Synods a majority of delegates have supported the case for the ordination of women. The “Theology” to my mind is settled. I have been on this earth too long to believe human beings will ever reach unanimity on any topic, let alone women’s ordination.

From my place in the pew, no one in support of the ordination of women wants to divide the church, we have remained silent for so long on this issue, to avoid such an outcome. No one is suggesting that all congregations have to call female Pastors, our existing call system allows congregations to call pastors of their choice. No one is suggesting that those who are opposed to women’s ordination will be forced to receive the sacraments from a female Pastor.

From my place in the pew, the position is clear, we will never achieve unanimity or consensus on this issue, the theology however is settled: “there are no theological reasons to prohibit the ordination of women”. The question is, how do we move forward together in love to find an understanding that is acceptable to both groups? To achieve Union both camps had to give a little, it is time to “give a little” once more.

I am attaching a document containing a description of a woman pastor’s experience of a Jewish Bar Mitzvah. She has left the Lutheran Church and has for some years been a pastor in a large Australian city church where God is blessing her work abundantly. God gives her understanding.

We must find a way ahead for the Church that we All Love!

Yours in Christ
Bob Unger

Attachment to A Layman’s View of Women’s Ordination in the LCA

Women in the synagogue

 

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Women of the Bible

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The following brochure has been prepared by the All Saints group on behalf of the LCA clergy and laity who support the ordination of women in the LCA For further information on the theological arguments for women’s ordination and motions submitted by St Peters and St Andrew’s for the 2013 LCA General synod please go to www.wmn.org.au

The brochure is a summary of CTICR, 2005. ’A Case for the ordination of women and men’, Lutheran Journal of Theology, 39/1,37-56.

A4 Women of the Bible    Women of the Bible A3

As we seek the will of God for the role of women in the church, let us consider the witness of scripture as a whole. The sacred texts of the OT and NT record stories of many women who actively worked for the kingdom of God, who were given authority over men, and who proclaimed the gospel of Jesus. Here we highlight examples of women who acted confidently in particular situations and who fulfilled roles similar to those taken by men. 1.  More: Women of the Bible

A4 Women of the Bible    Women of the Bible A3

 

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Responding to the Easter epistle from the President

Pastor Mike Semmler, President of the LCA

Pastor Mike Semmler, President of the LCA

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.

Reference
Burkee, J.C. (2011) Power, Politics and the Missouri Synod

 
 

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Senior Lutheran Pastors and Theologians Affirm Women’s Ordination

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Senior Lutheran pastors and theologians affirm the ordination of women in a brochure shared with congregations in the LCA around Australia. It’s a key moment in the women’s ordination debate that Pr Semmler doesn’t want us to have. The full brochure can be found here. A VISION-Women’s ordination in the LCA which details the vision for women’s ordination coming from conferences in Adelaide and Brisbane in 2012.

The following Senior clergy shared their vision:

Rev Geoff Burger, President, LCA WA District (2000-2008)
Rev David Christian, President LCA WA district (1993-1999)
Rev Dr Joe Strelan, Past Vice President LCA, served on CTICR, Emeritus lecturer ALC
Rev Timothy Jaensch, President LCAQD (2000–2009)
Rev Lionel Otto, Past Vice President LCA (1990-2000) and President, LCA NSW District (1990-2005)
Rev Reinhard Mayer, President LCAQD (1974-1985)
Rev John Vitale, President, LCAQD (1993-2000)
Rev Dr Ulf Metzner, DTh (Heidelberg), former Director of LCA World Mission Board,
served on CTICR, Committee on Theology, former lecturer ALC and Sabah Theological seminary

The following Lutheran Theologians also shared their support:

Rev Dr Richard Strelan, Associate Professor NT and Early Christianity, University of Queensland, LCA pastor
Rev Dr Russell Briese, Chaplaincy coordinator Griffith University, Lecturer, School of Theology, Australian Catholic University, pastor St Paul’s, Beaudesert
Rev Dr Maurice Schild, Lecturer Lutheran Confessions & Church History, Luther Seminary (1970-2000), served on CTICR, Department of Liturgics, Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue, Commission on Social Questions, LWF Asian Programme of Advanced Theological Studies
Rev Dr Norm Habel, Professorial Fellow, Flinders University, recognised Old Testament scholar, author of international theological publications and major biblical works, pastor of LCA
Rev Dr Vic Pfitzner, Emeritus Lecturer and former Principal of ALC

This brochure is published by the All Saints group on behalf of the LCA clergy and laity who support the ordination of women in the LCA.
The pastors who have prepared these statements have agreed to their publication and dissemination. For further information on the theological
arguments for women’s ordination and motions submitted by St Peters and St Andrew’s for the 2013 LCA General synod please go to Women’s Ministry Network – www.wmn.org.au.

Senior Lutheran pastors affirm the ordination of women

 

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