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Mixed news on women’s ordination in the Lutheran church around the world

While 80 % of LWF member churches ordain women, the Lutheran Church in Latvia decides to rescind it’s practice of ordaining women. This sounds surprisingly like the Australian Presbyterian Church some decades back.  The opening sentences of two separate articles are listed below.

Namibian Lutheran pastor Rev. Lyauvika Nashuuta distributes the sacrament at the closing worship of the 2015 international Global Young Reformers’ Network workshop in Wittenberg, Germany. Photo: LWF/Marko Schoeneberg

Namibian Lutheran pastor Rev. Lyauvika Nashuuta distributes the sacrament at the closing worship of the 2015 international Global Young Reformers’ Network workshop in Wittenberg, Germany. Photo: LWF/Marko Schoeneberg

“Survey affirms move towards a more inclusive ministry

“(LWI) – More than 80 percent of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches ordain women to the ministry of word and sacrament, a recent survey shows.

“The findings indicate that 119 of the 145 LWF member churches or 82 percent across the seven regions ordain women, compared to 77 percent in 2012. In four of the seven regions—Central Western Europe, Nordic countries, Latin America and the Caribbean, and North America—all of the churches ordain women. … (more)

The Lutheran Church of Australia, which excludes women from ordained ministry, has chosen not to become a member of the LWF.

Latvian Synod rescinds its inclusion of women in ministry

“On 3 June the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia (ELCL) voted in favor of a motion to change its constitution, restricting service in the ordained ministry to men only. … (more)

No information is given on the background to the decision.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2016 in theology

 

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Lutheran Church in Chile makes it a LWF full house in South America and the Caribean

There is reason to celebrate when all Lutheran World Federation (LWF) churches in Latin America and the Caribbean now ordain women.
We were listening to RN (ABC Radio) this afternoon which was reflecting on soldiers returning from WW1. It was around the time that workers were agitating for a 40 hour week.  It related how the media labelled the workers as traitors when striking for a reasonable length to the working week. There wouldn’t be many today who would begrudge workers a 40 hours week, but for the wealthy and the wielders of power it was a threat.
While freedom of speech is a necessity for a democracy, you have to wonder at the freedom of the Murdochs of that time to spread their fear and conservatism that angrily opposed the workers who were doing their best to eek out a living in tough times.
We continue to long for recognition of women in the Lutheran Church of Australia, knowing that, women’s ordination will quickly be forgotten as a divisive issue.
Roll on General Synod 2015.
All LWF Member Churches in Region Now Welcoming Women as Ministers – See more at: http://www.lutheranworld.org//news/lutheran-church-chile-ordains-first-woman-pastor#sthash.QcIMVk1V.dpuf
All LWF Member Churches in Region Now Welcoming Women as Ministers – See more at: http://www.lutheranworld.org//news/lutheran-church-chile-ordains-first-woman-pastor#sthash.QcIMVk1V.dpuf
 

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Ordaining Women Goes to the Heart of the Gospel – Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Dr Karen Bloomquist - Director of the Department for Theology and Studies of The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva, Switzerland.

An extract from a presentation given by Dr. Karen Bloomquist for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cameroon taken from the Journal for Lutheran Ethics, 2009.  Dr. Karen Bloomquist is the director of the Department for Theology and Studies, The Lutheran World Federation, Geneva Switzerland.

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[1] Since 1984 the clear official position of the Lutheran World Federation has been in favor of the ordination of women. Now, approximately 63 million, out of a total of 68 million members, belong to LWF member churches that do ordain women. Some Lutheran churches have been doing so for as far back as 80, 50 or 40 years, but many have only begun doing so in the past 20 years.

[2] Now there are several thousand Lutheran women who are ordained pastors (the estimated total in just Germany and the USA is over 10,000), including about 30 who serve as bishops or church presidents. In many Lutheran-related theological institutions today, about half of the students are women. The increasing number of women in the ordained ministry is one of the most dramatic shifts globally in Lutheran churches in the past few decades. It no longer is an abstract issue but a living reality throughout the Lutheran communion, which is the starting point for the communiqué affirmed earlier this year by the LWF Council: “The Ongoing Reformation of the Church: The Witness of Ordained Women Today.”

[3] Where there is hesitation or opposition to ordaining women, four factors typically are involved:

1. HISTORICAL LEGACIES from churches and mission societies that first established and continue to support churches here in Africa. This especially includes interpretations of the Bible and ways of being church that they have passed on, sometimes in opposition to positions of their own churches. Such interpretations deeply affect how we read Scripture to legitimize positions that may have been arrived on other grounds. As Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro has written:

Whether or not to ordain woman has depended largely on the practices, visions and wish of the ‘mother church,’ as well as the local perception of leadership in society, access to theological education, and interpretation of received traditions.

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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in theology

 

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The President wishes women’s ordination delayed

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.

Feedback and suggestions are welcome.

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Posted by on September 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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“The shining exterior of inclusion and equality masks a reality of denial, marginalization and despair.”

GENEVA, 30 October 2009 (LWI) – Statistics about increasing women’s ordination in the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches are encouraging. However, “the shining exterior of inclusion and equality masks a reality of denial, marginalization and despair,” representatives from LWF member churches heard at the ongoing Women’s Pre-Assembly (WPA) at Bogis-Bossey, near Geneva, Switzerland.

As the CTICR has ruled that there are no theological roadblocks to women’s ordination, the matter is now simply a sociological/administrative issue within the LCA.  There is no need to treat the issue as if the Church is breaking new ground.  Others have trod this path and their experience is highly positive.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Women’s Ordination in world Lutheran churches – updated June 16th 2014

World Lutheranism has been moving towards women’s ordination for nigh on a century. High Statistics on Lutheran Women’s Ordination Hide Reality of Marginalisation. 

Around 80 percent of the 145 LWF member churches ordain women. (updated on Katie and Martin on 16th Jan 2012)

The following list is not complete.  I would be grateful for any corrections or updates.

History of women’s ordination in world Lutheranism
1926 Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Nederland ordains female priests
1927 Evangelical Church in Germany accepts Pfarrhelferinnen (Assistants to Priests), 1930s woman Vicars. In Eastern part of  Germany women took more and more over as actual priests during WW2, and remained so after  the war.
1960 Women priests in West Germany and 1978 total equality with male priests.
Before 1938 Lutheran Church in Austria Vicars
1948 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark
1948 The Lutherans in Schlesia
1951 The Lutherans in Slovakia
1960 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Sweden
1961 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Norway
1964 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium
1970’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
1974 Evangelical Lutheran Church in Iceland
1986/88 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
1988 Indonesian Lutheran Church
2000 The Church of Pakistan ordained its first women deacons. It is a united church which dates back to the 1970 local merger of Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and other Protestants
2002 Central African Republic
2008 – The Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church.  15 out of the 16 LWF member churches in the Latin American and Caribbean region now ordain women – dates yet to be determined
2009 Mexican Lutheran Church
2009 Cameroon Lutheran Church.

Postscript 16th Jan 2012
2011 The South Andhra Lutheran Church (SALC) in India ordained its first women pastors on 12 January

Postscript 7th August 2012
1975 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia – but “women’s ordination has been suspended” since 1993

Postscript 16th June 2014
2004 Taiwan – Lutheran Church of Taiwan ordains first women pastors
2005 Zambia – Zambian Lutheran Church ordains first female pastors.
2006 Norway – Evangelical Free Church of Norway (a nationwide Lutheran Church) ordains its first female pastors.
2009 Great Britain – First Bishop of Great Britain Lutheran Church installed.
2011 Hong Kong – Jenny Chan installed as the Head of Lutheran Church, Hong Kong
2012 Cameroon – Evangelical Lutheran Church ordains first women ministers.
2012 Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland installs its first woman bishop. Link1  Link2 (in language)
2014 Lutheran Church in Chile ordains its first woman pastor. Link
2014 Sweden’s first female archbishop sworn in. Link

 

 
 

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