Tag Archives: Pastor Semmler

The President distances himself from St Stephen’s conference on women’s ordination

Pr Mike Semmler

We thought you might be interested in the following letter from Pr Mike Semmler to pastors around Australia and New Zealand.

To: LCA/LCNZ NSW District, QLD District, SA/NT District, Vic/Tas District, WA District Pastors

Dear Pastors,

You may have received an invitation to advertise a conference convened by a parish on the matter of the ordination of both genders. You will receive a guidance from the College of Presidents in due time.

Questions have arisen. For now it is sufficient to know that this is not an official conference of the Church. ALC is the venue not the convenor. …



We wait in anticipation for further guidance to pastors.  In the mean time, it seems that the Pope has similar reasons for distancing himself from elements within the Church: Pope Denounces Priests Who Question Catholic Teachings On Celibacy And Women Ordination

You might also have some sympathy for our Muslim sisters who suffer misogyny to a much greater extent: A Message to Girls About Religious Men Who Fear YouP


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Nothing new under the sun

And so the process continues year after year.  This was the state of affairs at Sept 11th, 2010.

We hear that the committee of five was appointed in late 2011, more than two years after Synod directed Pastor Semmler to work towards consensus.   We would expect patience to be sorely tested at the 2013 Synod.

Expect Pastor Semmler to stand again for the presidency.  That’s the word in the corridors of ALC. It seems that 13 years is just not long enough.  No-one could possibly do the job like him.


Posted by on February 16, 2012 in history, politics


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Bullying within the Church

Pastor Semmler’s Christmas message (16th Dec 2011) to pastors, synod delegates and members of the LCA included the following.

What a gift of God it is to use social networking to communicate.

Imagine if the angels used it. A positive message using information technology. Perhaps no one would take it seriously even if the tone of the message was clearly different to that of cyberspace bullies, those hiding behind pseudonyms, misinformation, complaints and unchallenged defamatory comments.

There are some inconsistencies in his Pastor’s Semmler’s distress.  We have a President who is happy, on one hand, to use his position to manipulate the process towards women’s ordination, but, on the other hand, is unhappy when opposition is expressed to his methods. We have a General Synod directive that the LCA should work towards consensus on women’s ordination, yet the President places an embargo on letters to our only national media, The Lutheran, thus gagging the national conversation. How is consensus possible without a conversation? We have a President who decides that five male clergy sitting together should resolve the matter for the Church, and is unconcerned that the body is unrepresentative.  While other churches use established processes for building consensus (ref: here, here and here), Pastor Semmler decides for himself what path the LCA will follow.  There is no Plan B for consensus.

The dynamics of domestic abuse.

It is right and proper that we should have a conversation on bullying within the LCA, for it has sadly long been noted by clergy and laity that our Church has a problem in this matter. We’re not talking about people who simply have disagreements, for sinners have disagreements all the time. We’re talking about the behaviour displayed during disagreements, not dissimilar to that of the illustration above on domestic abuse. We would need to discuss: Who is using power over whom? – for bullying presupposes that one party has significant power over another.  Who has more systemic power? What happens when a powerful figure shouts at a less powerful fugure? In the workplace (for the Church has many employees) we would need to consider: How are decisions made?  What consultation occurs? What level of respect is there in the workplace? Who feels powerless, heartbroken and confused? Are the victims of bullying allowed to tell their story? Do people face a risk when they tell their story?  Do they risk losing their job, their career, their reputation or losing the possibility of another call within the Church?

One of the reasons that women’s ordination is not yet approved within the Church is the level of fear within the Church. As the reigns are tightened towards uniformity, clergy express a concern for their employment or future calls to another parish.  What are the implications for clergy who invite women to lead segments of worship?  Currently we are members of a panopticon-like Church, which has us constantly looking over the shoulder.  It’s not a healthy way to live.  Jesus brings freedom to love, but the church currently brings something less attractive.

As for ‘unchallenged defamatory comments’, it seems that those opposed to women’s ordination in the LCA have chosen not to respond.  ALC faculty members have noted the silence after the publishing of theological papers in support of women’s ordination.  Silence will not bring about consensus.  The way ahead is not forged by muffling women and imposing a false uniformity, for that is abusive and divisive.

The use of social media is a natural response to the lack of democratic process within the LCA.  Without a facilitated national conversation and freedom of expression at all levels within the Church, social media is one of few means that allows the expression of opposition to leadership that shuts down conversation/debate.

A strong LCA is not a uniform LCA.  Within the Confessions we will be a pilgrim people of different cultures and traditions.  Our diversity will be obvious in skin colour, culture, history, worship and theology.  We will be a place of welcome, tolerance and  safety.  Policies will not be the play thing of father figures, but there will be theologians, poets and visionaries who engage in an ongoing conversation about the realm of God..  The term ‘uniformity’ will have no meaning.


Posted by on January 28, 2012 in sociology, theology


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Wearing ribbons in support of women’s ordination

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November 2011 saw the ordination of several men from ALC at Concordia Chapel, Highgate, S.A.   Small ribbons in support of women, who were not deemed suitable to join the men, were offered to those attending.   A large number of people were happy to wear the ribbons, including faculty from ALC and parish clergy.  A small card was also given to people stating:

As we celebrate this occasion with the church and the ordinands, there is sadness that, yet again, no women will be ordained.  We invite you to wear this ribbon to the service and other celebrations as a gentle way of showing your support for the ordination of women.

Pastor Semmler laments the low number of men graduating from ALC, however, he demonstrates an intolerance for one obvious solution to the dilemma – the ordination of women.

The wearing of ribbons has been received enthusiastically by some. Perhaps they should become a permanent thing until women are finally ordained.


Posted by on January 10, 2012 in politics, women's ordination


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The synodical structure of the LCA undermined.

One could be forgiven for surmising that it was Pastor Semmler who decided the direction of our Church.   Recently we surmised that Pastor Semmler may have been suffering hubris syndrome.  He continues to impose on the Church his idea of what the process of consensus should look like, regardless of the wealth of information arising in the last few decades on that topic.  He continues to place faith exclusively in his proposed committee of 5 ‘young’ men.  Rather than seeing himself as the Chairperson of General Synod, who facilitates the will of that collective, he appears to have taken a strategic political approach in order to stymie the progression of women’s ordination within the LCA.

The direction of current leadership does not reflect the Church’s synodical nature.  The LCA Homepare declares that:

It is (in effect) the people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of our church. The LCA homepage

Yet, Pastor Semmler declares that there will be no decision at the next Synod, in March 2013.  Such assertions are in direct contravention of the LCA synodical structure .  How will he justify that decision if there are motions to Synod proposing women’s ordination?  Surely, given the Synodical nature of our Church, there would be no option but for delegates to discuss such motions.

The trouble is that nothing will change until congregational leadership arises across Australia and New Zealand to protest the way that women continue to be excluded from pastoral leadership in the LCA. Perhaps it’s time that men stood up to support their sisters, wives and daughters.  Heaven knows we need their insight and wisdom.

What might you do to assist women in the LCA?  How might your voice be heard this week?  How might you encourage your congregation to provide leadership? Who can you sit with to dream about bringing change?

So often we think we have got to make a difference and be a big dog. Let us try to be little fleas biting.  Enough fleas biting strategically can make a big dog very uncomfortable.

Marian Wright Edelman – founder of the Children’s Defense Fund

Social Change can only happen when we not only realize that we need to change, for ourselves and those we love, but become willing to take action. Belief in our ability will follow.


Posted by on November 20, 2011 in politics, sociology, women's ordination


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