St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Adelaide, sponsored a women’s ordination conference on July 13-14th, entitled “Time to Soar”. While the President enacts a ban on the discussion of women’s ordination in “The Lutheran”, the Conference demonstrated that many people are wishing to talk about it. How can a church pretend to have a process discussing how to deal with women’s ordination without having a public discussion?
While there were approximately 120 from around Australia at the Conference, many others were unable to attend. Dr Vic Pfitzner (emeriti – Luther Seminary Principal) and Dr Peter Lockwood (ALC lecturer) both were key speakers, but perhaps the most powerful presentation was by Sue Westhorp, who told the story of how she has lived with her call to ordained ministry since childhood.
Like many people my age I grew up in a post-feminist world. There was nowhere else that told me that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do when I grew up – except the church. I had that childhood sense of wanting to be a pastor that’s not really unique – practising at home, preaching to the toys or my younger siblings – and I thought, “I’d really like to be a pastor one day”. Then I realised that the church doesn’t actually allow women to be pastors. … But I’ve had encouragement from others and recognition of my gifts and abilities, the gifts and abilities that God has given me, plus a strong desire to serve in this way.
Readers are reminded that “The Lutheran” was barred from publishing paid advertisements for the Conference, leaving some church members feeling dis-empowered and angry that their Church decides for them what they can and can’t read.
It is something special to hear someone’s story. One of those present expressed the thought that although they had theologically agreed for a long time with the ordination of women, they had never heard a women’s story before. After hearing Sue’s story they understood something of her depth and giftedness, and were even more convinced that the church needs the ordination of women.
Readers may be interested to know what our Church holds dear as represented on the LCA homepage.
The LCA is (a) ‘synodical’ church, meaning that every congregation ‘walks together’ with every other congregation, every district with every other district, and every department or agency with every other one. We’re not isolationist; we support each other and grow together as one church. At the same time we recognise that every congregation is a unique expression of our church and we value and celebrate our diversity. So, while all congregations adhere to the LCA constitution, they are free to exercise their own interpretations of the LCA’s mission and ministry objectives.
Every three years representatives of the LCA’s congregations meet for the Convention of Synod, which is our church’s primary decision-making body. Pastors provide input regarding theological matters, but in effect it is the people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of our church.
Wow! This could be an embracing, grace-filled church. “The people in the pews, rather than church leaders, who determine the direction of the church” – we assume that we’ll all be reminded of this at the next General Synod.
What is the message that you, in your congregation, hear from our Church? Is it grace, welcome, acceptance and tolerance or is it something else?
- Australian Women Continue to Press for Ordination (thepersistentvoice.wordpress.com)
- The President distances himself from St Stephen’s conference on women’s ordination (katieandmartin.wordpress.com)