The President of the LCA, Pr Mike Semmler, claims that he has never made his views on women’s ordination public, however, his actions speak loudly.
This came from the President’s Page on 23rd June, 2010:
UPDATE ON SYNOD RESOLUTION ON THE CONSENSUS ON THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN
At the General Convention of Synod in 2009 the General Church Council was asked to establish a dialogue group to work toward consensus both within the group and across the group and across the Church on the question of the ordination of both men and women with reference to the published findings of CTICR and a focus on biblical interpretation. At the recent General Church Council meeting draft terms of reference for this dialogue group were presented. Council determined that some fine tuning of the terms needed to be done by the College of Presidents with a view to approving the terms of reference and beginning to appoint members to the group by the end of 2010.
The president has also commissioned a study on what ‘consensus’ means for the LCA, on the basis of its confession as a Lutheran Church, and a synod which is the result of two former churches coming together.
(all text in bold has been highlighted by the author of this blog)
It is apparent that the President:
- doesn’t wish women’s ordination to happen on his watch, and
- wishes it to be delayed, possibly indefinitely
The 2006 General Synod of the LCA approved that a committee should be established to consider how a split in the Church could be avoided over the issue. At the 2009 General Synod, effectively the same motion was passed again.
It now looks like we might start to get a committee by the end of 2010 (read 2011) and as the next General Synod is 2012 the committee can hardly be expected to achieve anything of substance. Oops, sorry about that! Ah, well! We’ll have just have to aim towards 2015.
Taking such a long time to establish a committee, in response to a General Synod directive, is hardly acting in good faith or showing good process. Creating extra time delays (approving the terms of reference, commissioning a study on what ‘consensus’ means), when 2/3 of LWF churches already ordain women, will lead to further frustration and eventually an outpouring of emotion, which may impact the Church in unexpected ways. The President should be aware that he is creating the split that he says he wishes to avoid. It has long been happening with individuals quietly leaving the Church (as per declining statistics nation-wide), but in addition there will come a time when congregations finally lose faith in the national process and decide to take action of their own.
Note that the wording of the motion from General Synod implicitly indicates that women’s ordination will eventually be approved, however, Pr Semmler’s actions give the impression that women’s ordination is a radical matter. This is not the case. CTICR has ruled that there are no theological roadblocks to women’s ordination. If the LCA is as faithful as it hopes to be, it is imperative that the LCA acts promptly to fulfil God’s reign of love in this place, in this time. Of course it will be unsettling for some, but no congregation is ever going to be forced to call a female. As it stands many are forced to call males.
It’s worth noting the revisionist clause inclused in the motion, “…and a focus on biblical interpretation”. Strange! CTICR spent many years on that one, but now we’re pretending that the report never happened. Still, the President says that he’s never made his views public on women’s ordination.
The following comment, which came across my desk, is a pertinent observation on how strange the process is.
It’s going to take the next three years to set up Lance’s task group and agree on its terms of reference. Just to make sure of it we’re going to be sidelined by discussing what “consensus” might mean in the LCA. My hunch is that someone will state that it’s not a confessional term and should never be used because it doesn’t faithfully represented the meaning in the original Latin and German. Then we’ll spend a synodical term trying to find the right word. By which time English will have changed so much that the “right word” will have become redundant too. I sense that Josef Heller is writing this entire script.
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