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Defeat

269 yes, 145 no.  423 were registered.  That comes to around 63.6% – 4% short of the 67%.  The motion to allow both the ordination of women and men was defeated.  (67% being needed as this was deemed to a significant theological matter.)  Someone calculated that it failed by 13 votes.

We are now in the position where 37% of the church (extrapolating from the number of delegates) have authority over the other 63%. The LCA has shot itself in the foot.  Further women and men will be unable to remain in this Church, the pain being too great to continue.  Reports are that laity voted strongly in favour of women’s ordination while the clergy were not as supportive.  The clergy (many of them) are the problem in our Church.

Ex-President Mike Semmler, broke with convention and spoke from the floor, against women’s ordination.  Well, there’s no surprises there, despite his statement from previous years that people will be surprised when they learn his position.  He wanted speakers to be given more time to speak, to be able to speak again and he questioned the authority of the Chair, Bishop John Henderson.  His proposals, though time consuming, were roundly dismissed.

Thus far, there have been no initiatives from Bishop John Henderson to resolve this impasse.   (The following may contradict this earlier statement if the initiative has come from the Bishop. ) Ironically he is versed in the process of consensus making.  A motion was passed asking CTICR to prepare a theological case for the ordination of women (strange – they’ve done it twice before haven’t they?) for the 2018 Synod.  Can you believe it?  2018!  Another three years?  Already too many women and men have passed away waiting for women’s ordination.  This has been on the agenda of Synod since 2000 and another three years is unreasonable for many.

The following was tweeted by the #lcasynod folk:

We resolved to enter into a period of careful theological reflection and pastoral work to assist in maintaining unity and harmony”.

We have had generations to work on this and certainly since ‘Ordination, We’re Listening’ was established after Bishop Henderson’s installation.  Unity and harmony cannot be maintained when the minority have sway – thjs is aptly described as oppression.  Such lack of preparation is disappointing, given the open conversation we have all been encouraged to enter into.

Life in our Church does not continue as usual.  We must all consider our response.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2015 in theology

 

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The Day of the Vote

This day, God willing, will change the face of our Lutheran Church.  Our national convention votes on the ordination of women again.  In previous votes it has been close but in the reign of President Semmler, convention delegates were harangued to be very careful with the threat of schism.  This time around, under Bishop John Henderson, the conversation and Bible studies have been lengthy and open.  The last two days have seen round tables discussion and the debate.  The vote happens today.

We pray that women will be accepted as the pastoral leaders that they already are.  We pray when women’s ordination is rolled out that very quickly they will be accepted by those who struggle with the idea of women as pastors.  We do know that in other churches most of that resistance has faded away, especially in times of grief, when people have experienced the pastoral care that women provide.

The vote will happen any time in the next few hours.  Pray for us.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2015 in theology

 

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LCA Synod kicks off

twitter

The LCA Synod has begun in Rochedale, Qld.  We have just checked the Twitter feed and found only a little activity. The two main hashtags are #lcasynod and #wherelovecomestolife  It seems that the only live-feed from the convention is from worship services. This is difficult to understand. In these days of connectivity it would have been very helpful for the nation to be able to observe the key discussions and debates.

If you are at the convention those of us at home would all appreciate it if you would share your experiences via Twitter.  These may include information on the events, quotes from speakers and developments on the women’s ordination discussion and debate.  We understand at the moment that the only vote on the matter may be in regards to getting a consensus on Scriptural interpretation.  This seems to imply that Bishop John Henderson has decided that a vote would still be too divisive.  Correct us if we are wrong.  *** ADDITION*** (1st Oct, 2015) Jeff, in comments below, indicates that this is incorrect.  In his comment he also indicates that there may be a move from the floor asserting the debate on WO is unconstitutional.  Pastor John will give his understanding if the issue is raised. (Thanks, Jeff.)

For those of you who are present in Rochedale may the Holy Spirit guide your deliberations.

We wait with bated breath in hope for something constructive to come from our national convention.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in politics

 

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Nothing compassionate about conservatism – it’s about certainty

Women’s ability to vote in society, and thus be recognised as more competent than children, is a relatively new phenomena (table below), but still incomplete.  The dates are inaccurate when it comes to indigenous peoples of some of these countries.

  • 1893 New Zealand
  • 1902 Australia
  • 1906 Finland
  • 1913 Norway
  • 1915 Denmark
  • 1917 Canada
  • 1918 Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia
  • 1919 Netherlands
  • 1920 United States
  • 1921 Sweden
  • 1928 Britain, Ireland
  • 1931 Spain
  • 1944 France
  • 1945 Italy
  • 1947 Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan
  • 1949 China
  • 1950 India
  • 1954 Colombia
  • 1957 Malaysia, Zimbabwe
  • 1962 Algeria
  • 1963 Iran, Morocco
  • 1964 Libya
  • 1967 Ecuador
  • 1971 Switzerland
  • 1972 Bangladesh
  • 1974 Jordan
  • 1976 Portugal
  • 1989 Namibia
  • 1990 Western Samoa
  • 1993 Kazakhstan, Moldova
  • 1994 South Africa
  • 2005 Kuwait
  • 2006 United Arab Emirates
  • 2011 Saudi Arabia
We live in heady days! The recognition of women has made great progress over the last century.  We might be excused for thinking that full recognition of women will soon be realised, but another perspective is that the lingering abuse of women, the ownership of women, their lack of legal status and their enforced submissiveness has persevered for far too long.
Conservatives resist changes to the status quo. They call it tradition and endow it with reverence. They defend tradition, despite the inequities that it delivers. They resist every new position of leadership for women, including women’s ordination, but then you’ll hear the term ‘compassionate conservatism’ – a misleading framing.  Rather than indicating that conservatives are compassionate, it indicates a strategic surrender to irreversible advancements that once were strenuously resisted.  Conveniently they forget about each of the lost battles.  It’s been a long time since a conservative reminisced about the glory days of slavery, or the halcyon days when women couldn’t vote in the LCA.  In that way they aim to bolster their credibility for resisting the next step towards equality.  Their current cause is to resist women’s ordination, but they have resisted:
  • women voting at congregational meetings (1966)
  •  women being delegates at Synod (1981)
  • women being a member of church boards and committees (1984)
  • women being included in the guidelines for reading lessons in worship (1984)
  • women assisting in the distributing of Holy Communion (1989)
  • women being lay assistant as an alternative to elder (1990)
  • being chairperson of a congregation (1990)
  • women being synodical chairperson (1998)
  • women lay-reading (2003)
Conservatives are forced to give ground again and again, their causes being transient and ethereal, vapourising as society realises that for 10 000 years of civilisation women have been denied fair treatment.  There is nothing compassionate about conservatism.   Its focus is resistance – resistance to mutuality, to questioning, to open two-way conversations.  It’s about absolute certainty while retreating to the next fortress to be defended.  It’s about fear and sometimes even hatred.  You cannot embrace women in one context and fear and hate them in another.  Consider the women-hating theology of Jack Schaap in his fundamentalist Baptist church in Indiana.  Not surprisingly he has been dismissed from his parish because of his affair with an underage girl who came to him for abuse counseling.
If we are simply products of our past, it might be understandable that so many men (and women) relegate women to subservience. There’s so much that supports a theology of domination. Consider the Danvers Statement (1987) which forms the basis of the fundamentalist renewal of misogyny in U.S. Christian churches. Consider the long history of violence towards women, justified and maintained by our legal systems. Consider the hatred shown towards women in the witch trials throughout Europe and the USA around the 15th century. Consider the theologians that formed the foundation of our theology (Augustine, Aquinas, Luther):

St. Augustine of Hippo (354 to 430 CE). He wrote to a friend:
“What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman……I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children.”

Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) (this link leads to other misogynist quotes):
“If they [women] become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that’s why they are there.”

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225 to 1274 CE):
“As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”

We are not, however, simply products of our past.  We have the God-given intellect to analyse cultural traditions and decide what is helpful or destructive.  We have a wealth of scriptural scholarship that allows us to go beyond a fundamentalist proof-texting.  We have the ability to listen and to learn from the stories of women denied access to ordained ministry. We can jointly envision and mould a future where women are empowered to share in the leadership and create the welcoming, embracing church that we want it to be.

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The LCA has already crossed the Rubicon

Caesar crossing the Rubicon

The Rubicon was crossed with women’s ordination in the LCA when General Synod approved the vote for women.

Voting is the symbol of a participatory democracy, where every voter exercises authority. When women vote at Synod on issues of theology and doctrine, they -in partnership with all other voters – are exercising authority over the Church.

When the LCA General Synod gave women the vote at Synod they gave women the power – via their vote – to exercise authority.

Those who opposed the vote at the time did it exactly on the basis of arguments that said a woman should not exert authority over a man.

The Synod did not agree. And in giving women the vote have in effect declared that the pauline texts relating to women and authority are not to be taken as ones that are able to prevent women exercising authority in within the Lutheran Church today.

 
 

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Loving pastoral leadership after a major vote

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Bishop Hanson of the ELCA showed a profound depth of pastoral care after the Ministries Policy vote in 2010. In the video below he shows a deep concern for his people, and careful thought about nurturing his Church.

Video from ELCA page.

I am thankful for Churches when strategies exist for healing and reconciliation in times of division.  At such time leadership is fundamental in building bridges.   Without wise leadership the Church nurtures divisions.  Without wise leadership the Church ignores those with little power.  The following is an excerpt from the video:

That passage (Colossians 3:12–17) gives invitation and expectation that those deeply disappointed today will have the expectation and the freedom to continue to admonish and to teach in this church. And so, too, those who have experienced reconciliation today are called to humility. You are called to clothe yourselves with love. But we are all called to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts, remembering again and again that we are called in the one body. I will invite you tomorrow afternoon into important, thoughtful, prayerful conversations about what all of this means for our life together. But what is absolutely important for me is that we have the conversation together.

Here is the transcript (.pdf) of Bishop Hanson’s address.

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2011 in theology

 

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A brief history of universal suffrage

Universal suffrage is not as self-evident as we might first think. Manhood suffrage and universal suffrage is a phenomena largely of the last 100 years. Even today women still do not have the vote in some Arab countries, which provides not a little irony for this writer. It is therefore not surprising that some people still haven’t made the mental adjustment that allows equality between female and male.

The earliest democracy was in Athens in 510BC, however, neither Athens nor the nearby Greek city states using democracy granted universal suffrage, for only free adult male citizens, who owned land, could vote. It seems that, as wonderful as democracy was, its virtues were considered too great for certain groups of people: women and slaves in particular. It is surprising to note that in Victoria, in the 1950s, there were still property ownership requirements to qualify as a representative in the Legislative Council.

Universal suffrage is still not a reality across the whole world. While it happened in Australia with Federation in 1901, Indigenous people had to wait until 1965. The Arab states are still discovering the concept and

Australia and Australian States:

  • 1854 Eureka Stockade, Ballarat, Victoria – gold miners fight for manhood suffrage (amongst other demands) under the banner of, “No taxation without representation”- granted in Victoria within 12 months.
  • 1894 South Australian Women, including Indigenous women, were granted the right to vote. They were also granted the right to stand for Parliament, making SA the first in the world to do so.
  • 1899 Western Australian women could vote in state elections
  • 1902 NSW women were granted the right to vote
  • 1903 Tasmania granted women the right to vote
  • 1902 Australian women (except Aboriginal women) could vote for the new Commonwealth Parliament.
  • 1902 Women could stand Federal Parliament
  • 1905 Qld women were granted the right to vote
  • 1908 Victorian women were granted the right to vote
  • Women eligible for election to the State parliaments: 1915 Qld, 1918 NSW, 1920 WA, 1921 Tas, 1923 Vic.
  • 1962 Indigenous women and men given the vote for Federal elections. The states gave the vote over many different years.

The right to vote around the world – select dates

  • US, Wyoming 1869 – grants women the vote (4 years after the American Civil War), refuses to bend to Congress’ threat to revoke the vote, saying they would remain out of the United States 100 years rather than become a state without women’s suffrage
  • NZ 1892 – grants women the vote (first nation in the world)
  • UK 1918 – universal male suffrage
  • NZ 1919 – women have the right to run for the NZ legislature
  • USA 1920 – the vote was extended to women
  • UK 1928 – universal suffrage – men and women
  • UN 1948 – Provision of “universal and equal suffrage” in Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • USA 1965 – universal suffrage finally enforced and includes African-American citizens.

The LCA has approved women the roles of:

  • 1966 voting at congregational meetings
  • 1981 being delegates at Synod
  • 1984 being a member of church boards and committees
  • 1984 included in the guidelines for reading lessons in worship
  • 1989 assisting in the distributing of Holy Communion
  • 1990 being lay assistant as an alternative to elder
  • 1990 being chairperson of a congregation
  • 1998 being synodical chairperson
  • 2003 lay-reading

While it is true that women already have the vote in the LCA, as yet they don’t have access to the ordained ministry, to Pastors Conferences. They don’t have access to the power to contribute to the work of the Church, both now and in the future.

If you hear someone say that this is not important, because clergy have no more power than lay people in the LCA, rest assured that you are listening to a clergyman, who is unaware of the power he has access to. Power is not the key issue however, rather, it is a matter of equality, being one in the Spirit, being equal in community and being able to serve as one is called.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2010 in history

 

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