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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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Brochure and PowerPoint testify to the widespread phenomena of women pastors in world Lutheranism

Screen shot 2013-02-28 at 8.09.14 PM

These two screenshots are from a brochure that is being distributed by the All Saints Steering Committee members, to LCA congregations and Synod delegates.

Screen Shot 2013-03-02 at 2.04.10 PMThe brochure is available here: Women in ministry (2.6MB).  You are invited to download and print, or email to key contacts within your congregation and beyond.

“This brochure has been developed to advocate women’s ordination on behalf of the LCA laity and pastors who attended the 2012 All Saints and Time to Soar conferences on women’s ordination in the LCA. Information about overseas Lutheran Churches is available on the LWF website and respective overseas church websites. The Australian women (referred to in the brochure) have consented to be represented in this brochure.”

In addition to the brochure a PowerPoint has been produced (available here: Women in ministry [6.3MB]) that tells the story of women’s ordination in the Lutheran tradition world-wide.   It is intended for showing to congregations and brings home just how wide spread women’s ordination is in the Lutheran communion.

Please leave your comments and tell us how available the files are in your congregation.

Further information about the All Saints Steering Committee can be found on the last two slides of the PowerPoint file.

Here are the links once again:

Women in ministry.pdf (2.6MB),  and Women in ministry.ppt (6.3MB).

 

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Motion on Women’s Ordination to General Convention 2013 from St Stephen’s

St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Wakefield St, Adelaide

The move towards women’s ordination continues in the Lutheran Church of Australia. It must be acknowledged that St Stephen’s Lutheran Church has been providing significant initiative for many years with their motions going to General Convention over the years and the organisation of the Time to Soar conference in July this year.  The most recent initiative is the following motion, which has been sent to be included in the proceedings for the next General Convention next March.

It would be useful if there were multiple motions that congregations, from around Australia, submitted to General Convention, particularly if the wording was such that they couldn’t all be amalgamated into one motion. If you are considering lodging motions please be aware that proposals from congregations must be emailed to the Synod Secretary at Debbie.venz@lca.org.au by 15 November 2012. Get them in early to avoid any motions getting ‘delayed’ in the in-tray.

Consider sharing this blog address to inform your network of St Stephen’s motion ahead of the General Convention next year.

Consider also taking action in any way that is open to you.  Women’s ordination will not happen by itself, but depends on many people doing what they need to do. Have you thought about writing a letter to the College of Presidents? – cop@lca.org.au    We understand that there is considerable support amongst District Presidents for women’s ordination but that their voice is not heard, given the seniority of Pastor Semmler.

Here’s the wording of St Stephen’s motion:

Given that the Lutheran Church of Australia’s Commission on Theology and inter-Church Relations (CTICR) has reached a majority agreement that the Bible and the teachings of the church permit the ordination of women to the pastoral office in the Lutheran Church of Australia;
 
and, given that prior to the 2000 National Convention of Synod, the CTICR and General Church Council stated that, “On balance scripture and theology permits the ordination of women”;
 
and, given that a simple majority of delegates at both the 2000 and 2006 General Conventions of the Lutheran Church of Australia voted in favour of the ordination of both men and women to the pastoral office;
 
and, given that, in our view, the ministry of the church is diminished by preventing women from serving Jesus Christ through the ordained ministry;
 
and given that there are theologically qualified women in the Lutheran Church of Australia who have received God’s call to the ordained ministry, and have had their personal call and fitness for ministry recognised by many;
 
be it resolved that the General Convention of the Lutheran Church of Australia approve the ordination of women to the pastoral office.

It may be late for inclusion in the blog, but here is the Facebook link for the All Saints conference on women’s ordination at St Peter’s Lutheran Church, Indooroopilly, Qld.  It’s THIS weekend starting Friday night, continuing through Saturday.

 

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2012 in politics, women's ordination

 

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