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Why St Stephen’s Congregation Support the Ordination of Women

St Stephen’s has published a document explaining why it supports women’s ordination.

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the late Rev. Kathleen Baskin-Ball, Suncreek UMC http://www.aglorybe.com/memorial/kathleen_b.html

Why St Stephen’s Support the Ordination of Women

The Bible and Lutheran theology endorse the ordination of women (‘Final report on the ordination of women’, CTICR, 1999), and the overwhelming majority of Lutheran churches in the world ordain women.

Scripture
The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20), and the Bible gives clear evidence that women served in both of these offices, among others (e.g. Ex 15:20; Judg 4:4; 2 Kgs 22:14; Isa 8:3; John 20:17,18; Acts 18:26; 21:9; Rom 16:1,3,7; 1 Cor 11:5). This continued in the early church until the church started to exclude women from the ministry in the fourth century.
Texts used previously in the LCA to exclude women from such activities as leading Bible studies, lay reading, voting at congregational meetings, and chairing congregations (1 Cor 14:33–36 and 1 Tim 2:11–15) are now used only to exclude women from the public ministry. A contextual understanding of these passages shows they have to do with none of these matters. Rather, they express Paul’s sincere concern that worship be conducted decently and in good order (1 Cor 14:40), so that people can be built up in faith and love, a priority that has been expressed variously throughout the history of the church.

Pastoral Care
Some people prefer to confide in a woman rather than a man regarding pastoral concerns, or regarding specific pastoral issues. While laity also provide pastoral care, when this care connects with the church’s public worship and witness it has an additional dimension. Ordaining women as well as men enhances and extends access to pastoral care within the context of the means of grace.

Ministry
For Lutherans the heart of the ministry consists of the pure proclamation of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments, in order to draw people to Christ and to sustain them in faith (Augsburg Confession 5), not the gender of the pastor.
Continuing to insist on an all-male pastorate perpetuates a requirement that is not biblical and undermines and subverts the gospel.
With both men and women as pastors, the ministry as a whole more truly represents and reflects Jesus Christ, the true image of God, who in his humanity has embraced the whole human race.

The members of St Stephen’s long for the day when the LCA joins those churches that have acted on the conviction that ordaining women is a vital part of our being faithful to the Gospel.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2013 in theology, women's ordination

 

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It takes two sides to build a bridge

The issues in the LCA are similar to that of UK Anglicans and their debate over women bishops.  Women’s ordination, of course, is inevitable in the LCA, but will Synod have clarity and strength enough to be clear that there cannot be a ‘church within a church’ where women are not recognised. The following article describes how those opposed to women bishops were intent on non-recognition, non-collaboration, non-acceptance, and in some cases non-communion.

One of our challenges is for women to even be included in the coming debate at Pastors’ Conference in 2015, which will discuss the issue and make recommendations to Synod.  It is an absurd situation to be in, equal to male parliamentarians 100 years ago voting on whether women should have the vote.

The presence of women, to ensure accountability, is essential to the integrity of any debate that decides the future of women’s participation in the LCA.  It is far too easy to ‘other’ women (used as a verb) without consulting them.

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 9.43.13 PMThe Christian message is at heart about reconciliation. But the church which is supposed to proclaim and live that message has often failed to do so in its own life and example, sometimes spectacularly.

The row over women bishops in the Church of England will be seen by many as another example of this, which is why Archbishop of Canterbury designate Justin Welby – no stranger to conflict zones – was so keen to emphasise at General Synod this afternoon that the vocation of the C of E ought to be “how to develop the mission of the church in a way that demonstrates that we can manage diversity of view without division; diversity in amity, not diversity in enmity.”

That is a right, bridge-building note to strike. But it did not work with the hardened minority. For the reality is that it takes two sides to build a bridge, and one of the difficulties of the current situation is that some opponents of full women’s ministry in the Church of England clearly want to be able to maintain a ‘church within a church’ based on non-recognition, non-collaboration, non-acceptance, and in some cases non-communion.

(more)

 
 

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Women’s ordination resolution rewritten

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Ah, don’t you love the intrigue!

The president’s newsletter just received advice that the GCC resolution on the ordination of women has been changed:

(from the President’s Page 10th April)
It has been noted that a draft proposal for Synod agenda item 2.4 Report from the Consensus on Women’s Ordination Dialogue Group was incorrectly printed on pg 28 of the Book of Reports. Please replace this with the correct proposal as follows:

2.4 BE IT RESOLVED that the Church:

  • receive the progress report of the Ordination Dialogue Group;
  • supports continued study of the matter of hermeneutics (the interpretation of scripture) arising from the October 2011 symposium on this topic;
  • supports study of what consensus means, for the sake of unity in the LCA as a confessional church
  • request GCC to ensure that a report with recommendations be presented to both GPC and the next Synod

Here is what the earlier version said:

2.4 BE IT RESOLVED that the church adopt the following approach to the question of the ordination of both genders:

  • Receive the interim report of the Dialogue Group studying consensus on this issue
  • Request the Dialogue Group continue their work
  • Address the hermeneutic question arising from the a symposium convened by the Church in October 2011
  • Study and present to the Church what ‘consensus’ means in our confessional church.
  • On completion of the above, place the matter before either the Commission on Theology and Inter-church Relations, or another group of theologians of the Church as appointed by the College of Presidents in agreement with the General Church Council, for study by the pastorate and the laity of the church and as per the Syndocal process place it back on the agenda of synod if that is the wish of the Church.

The revised motion seems to indicate, amongst other things, that the Dialogue Group is to be terminated and that the side-stepping of CTICR is to end. Note how the reference to CTICR or another group of theologians has been deleted.  Pr Mike Semmler for some years has side-lined CTICR when it does not bring down recommendations that he supports.  He has therefore done his best to minimise their impact.

It seems to us that the President’s advisors have pulled him into line.  Perhaps the time has come for them when enough is enough.   Who knows?

 

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CTICR speaks – 2006

The Case for the Ordination of Women – A Summary

1 The Lutheran Church of Australia’s understanding of what Scripture has to say about the service of women in the church has changed over recent decades. A few years ago we thought that God’s will did not allow women to read lessons in church, to vote at congregational meetings and conventions, or to serve on the committees and councils of the church. Neither did we believe that God had given any women as gifts to serve the church by chairing congregations, being elders or assisting with the distribution of Communion. We did not accept God’s gift of women in these areas because we believed that this was required for us to be faithful to biblical truth.

2 The LCA no longer believes that women are excluded from these roles. Now we thank God for the women who serve in so many different roles in our congregations and church. After reexamining the scriptures we found that they did not support the positions we previously held. We submitted to the authority of Scripture and welcomed the service of women in new areas.
Faithfulness to God and his word demanded it.

3 If the LCA is going to remain faithful to God and his word in our time, we now need to take another step in this journey and recognise that, in spite of our previously held convictions, Scripture does allow the ordination of women. Those that support the ordination of women recognise that there is no biblical command to ordain women. In some eras and cultures the ordination of women would have been detrimental to the work of the gospel. But in our time and culture, faithfulness to Scripture leads us to support the ordination of women.

4 We begin with the current position of the church and say that the texts that have traditionally been used to exclude women from ever being pastors do not, on closer examination, say that. Secondly we need to recognise that Scripture as a whole allows women to be ordained.
In this brief paper we can only summarise the arguments without developing them in any detail. This has been done elsewhere.

5 The foundational texts (1 Cor 14:33b-38 and 1 Tim 2:11-14), on which the church has previously based its position, do not warrant the conclusions drawn from them. The point of these texts is as binding now as it was then, that is, that worship must be orderly. There is no clear indication that the ways in which order is to be maintained are binding on the church beyond the congregations of that time. We no longer require that women wear head coverings or that men have short hair. In the same way Paul’s statements in these texts are his pastoral response to the cultural situation in the 1st century and do not become laws for all times and places. In those days the behaviour of some women in worship caused offence and was a barrier to the proclamation of the gospel. Today our refusal to ordain women gives offence and is a barrier to that proclamation.

6 These two texts do not deal with the office of the ministry as it is understood today. They deal with the ordering of worship in the early church, which involved leadership by various people, including those directly inspired by the Holy Spirit, amongst whom were women. Thus women participated in leading worship. It was only later that essential functions of leading worship were confined to one office, an office that came to exclude women.

7 These two texts are to be interpreted in the light of the whole of the Scriptures, which is the inspired Word of God. Christ and the gospel he proclaimed are the heart and centre of the Scriptures. Their purpose and goal is that sinners be justified. For that reason Christ instituted the office of the ministry and calls people to serve as pastors in the church. To argue in this way is not to reduce Scripture to gospel alone, but to make the gospel and its proclamation
the basis of the church’s practice.

8 For the church to maintain its ban on the ordination of women in our day, it would need to clearly demonstrate that Scripture as a whole forbids women to be pastors. Anything less would not provide a sufficient basis for the church to refuse to receive suitably qualified women as gifts from God to serve as pastors of his church.

9 Christ chose twelve men to be apostles to testify to the resurrection and so represent the twelve tribes in the formation of the new Israel. But a precedent is not the same as a command. The rest of Scripture shows women functioning in many roles in the church. For example Deborah judged Israel, Junia is an apostle (but not one of the twelve), Priscilla took the lead in teaching Apollos, and the daughters of Philip (the evangelist) were prophets. Women pray and prophesy in the worship services of the New Testament church.

10 Both men and women are created in the image of God. It is no more logical to suggest that only the male gender can represent God the Father and Christ as pastors in the church, than it would be to say that only Jews can be pastors because Jesus and the twelve were all Jews.
Indeed, all such distinctions are irrelevant in the new creation, as Paul says,
for in Christ Jesus you are all the children [sons] of God through faith. As many of you as were baptised into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. [Gal 3:26-28]

11 The Church is a model of the new creation for the world, demonstrating to the world what God intends for his creation and what will finally be revealed when God unveils the new heavens and the new earth. The old order of creation is transformed ‘in the Lord’ (1 Cor 11:11). The church gradually abolished from its community the discrimination based on these distinctions. In New Testament times it resolved the Jew/Greek divide. Then Christians worked for the abolition of slavery. Finally, the church is tackling the exclusion of women from various roles in the church, including the office of pastor.

12 The Lutheran Confessions are clear that the validity and efficacy of the office of the ministry is dependent on the word of God alone; not, we conclude, on the qualities or gender of the pastor. Those who have been baptised by a woman are not re-baptised, nor do those, who in good conscience commune at an altar presided over by a woman pastor, eat and drink to their judgment.

13 The central concern, of both the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions, is that the good news of salvation be brought to all people in the most effective way possible. The church lives under the gospel in Christian freedom and is ‘gospel-centred’ not ‘law oriented’. That does not mean Christians are ‘free’ to disobey the law of God but that we are free to let our lives be shaped by the gospel and the missionary imperative so that all people may hear the good news.
Today the effectiveness of the church’s mission would be enhanced by having women serve as pastors. The LCA is therefore being urged to receive with thankfulness the gifted women that God is giving us to serve as pastors in our church.

14 The greatest concern is not that the LCA might cave in to the ‘spirit of the age’, but that we might allow non-essentials to stand in the way of the clear and effective communication of the gospel. Of course, we must be on our guard against the watering down of biblical doctrine through cultural pressure. The world does not define the gospel for the church. But it is also true that the church must be culturally sensitive and flexible in the way it communicates the gospel. Paul says
To the Jews I became a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law, so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel. [1 Cor 9:20-23]

15 The church is called to follow this example of Paul and be flexible in non-essentials for the sake of the gospel. The gender of the pastor is not essential to the message proclaimed, nor the validity and effectiveness of the ministry, and Scripture does not prohibit women from serving as pastors today. Our culture has moved on from the patriarchal societies of previous centuries to the extent that not having women pastors is now a barrier to mission.

16 In our time and in our society, faithfulness to Scripture requires the ordination of both women and men.
Adopted by CTICR 26 May 2006

 

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Aside
Roman Catholic Activists in Rome

Father Roy Bougeois poses with (l-r) Deacon Donna Rougeux, Priests Ree Hudson and Janice Sevre-Duszynska in front of the Vatican, October 17, 2011.

Some senior leaders are willing to pay an enormous price in order that women might follow their calling. Roy Bourgeois was excommunicated and expelled from the priesthood for consistly advocating the ordination of women.  It is ironic that the Catholic Church, the most patriarchal of all churches, finds no theological objections to women’s ordination, just that of tradition.

“It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate. Wikipedia

It would seem that this is also the case with the LCA, given that the CTICR comes to a similar position.

Read the rest of this entry »

Roy Bourgeois tells his story – N.Y.Times

 
 

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Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter

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Breaking news! In a historic move, the National Catholic Reporter announced its public endorsement of women’s ordination! Please take a moment to thank NCR staff for being a prophetic voice & standing with the majority of Catholics who believe women should be ordained as priests! Women’s Ordination Conference Facebook page

This is quite a day.  National Catholic Reporter (NCR) in the U.S., while having supported women’s ordination for a while, has now publicly endorsed women’s ordination.  It makes its stance quite clear.

The call to the priesthood is a gift from God. It is rooted in baptism and is called forth and affirmed by the community because it is authentic and evident in the person as a charism. Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in the Roman Catholic church. Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand. Editorial: Ordination of women would correct an injustice | National Catholic Reporter.

NCR’s public stance appears to be precipitated by a Nov. 19 press release from the Vatican of Roy Bourgeois‘ “excommunication, dismissal and laicization” “from the Maryknoll order following his participation in the ordination of Roman Catholic Womanpriest Janice Sevre-Duszynska in August 2008.” ref

The similarities with the LCA are interesting.
1.

In April 1976 the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded unanimously: “It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate.” In further deliberation, the commission voted 12-5 in favor of the view that Scripture alone does not exclude the ordination of women, and 12-5 in favor of the view that the church could ordain women to the priesthood without going against Christ’s original intentions.

… while the LCA’s CTICR voted with a 2/3 majority in 200o and 2006 with similar wording.

2. After the 1976 Pontifical Biblical Commission the current and previous Pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith upped the ante, ignored the statement and declared the exclusion of women from the priesthood as, first, “irreformable” and then as belonging “to the deposit of the faith.”  This association with being “founded on the word of God” was trying to “stop all discussion”.

In the LCA, Pr Semmler ignores the CTICR recommendations of 2000 and 2006 and has decreed that public discussion on women’s ordination should stop because it doesn’t uphold the current position of the Church.

3. Benedict and John Paul both decreed that women cannot be ordained, despite the 1976 statement from the Pontifical Biblical Commission but laity of the Catholic Church support it.

Pr Semmler, Pr Greg Lockwood, Pr John Kleinig, Pr Andrew Pfeiffer state that women cannot be ordained, while laity are in favour.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The gathering of the perfect storm

The church would like to think that it stands for eternal unchanging values. Well, yes … but change is in the air in striking ways, and not just in one or two churches.  The groundswell among laity and (often) clergy is overwhelming but the resistance from those who hold the reigns of power is strikingly alike. Power and authority is a tough thing to give up.

Rome has criticised US Catholic nuns for working too closely with the poor and not speaking loudly enough about birth control and homosexuality. While nuns say that they will not compromise their mission three Catholic bishops are in talks with the nuns in hope to find agreement. Bishops and Nuns hold ‘cordial and open’ meeting

A Maryknoll priest has been dismissed from the priesthood for refusing to recant his call for the ordination of women.  Maryknoll: Vatican has dismissed Roy Bourgeois from order | National Catholic Reporter.

While the Church of England votes against ordaining women bishops, down in Africa Anglicans have ordained their first woman bishop.

Seventh Day Adventists have voted to ordain women at all levels of their organisation except for the General Conference leadership, which focusses simply on organisational unity.  Why women’s ordination in the Seventh Day Adventist churches?

I guess you’ve heard of Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church. This link records convictions against Australian Catholic  priests and religious brothers but we know the abuse has occurred around the world.  Meanwhile the church declares that it has “taken decisive steps in the past 20 years to make child safety a priority and to help the victims of abuse,”  yet, the abuse continues.  Why is it that a supporter of women’s ordination is dismissed while child abusers are not?

The church is in turmoil.  These are pivotal days.  Without engaging with our changing culture we are a lost people and a lost church.

 
 

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