The General Church Board (GCB) has approved moves to improve the ‘efficiency and transparency’ of the LCA/NZ’s call process.
Following a decision by the 2015 General Convention of Synod, the then General Church Council (now GCB) commissioned an investigation into the LCA call process in order to hear from congregations about their views and expectations of the process and to identify ways the system could be improved.
The report ‘A Review of the Call Process of the Lutheran Church of Australia’ was completed in July 2018. GCB now has responded to the report, including approving actions designed in collaboration with the College of Bishops (CoB) to improve the process.
The general conclusions of the report were that:
- The call process was under stress
- Parishes believed the process was inadequate, but could be improved, rather than replaced
- Bishops and directors of mission generally reported satisfaction with the current call process, but indicated that it could be improved
- The call process of the LCA already allows for a variety of practices, but that neither parishes nor bishops and directors of mission are aware of the full range of variants available, and
- Expectation management is important for the call process to function well and for the reduction of levels of mistrust and frustration.
The LCA’s Secretary of the Church, Dr Nigel Long, said the review made a number of recommendations, though overall it found that the system did ‘not require significant structural change’.
‘However, it did identify that there is frustration about the system and a process that can be disheartening for some calling bodies’, he said. ‘As a result, the review also identified scope for improvement in the efficiency and transparency of the process.
‘GCB has received the report, considered its recommendations and approved a series of actions to implement them. These actions were developed in consultation with the College of Bishops. Some of them are already under development; for example, Church Worker Support is working on a framework for annual vocational reviews of pastors. Others will be developed and rolled out through this synodical period and beyond.’
Dr Long said the actions were focused on supporting both calling bodies and pastors to:
- improve trust in the call process
- increase the chances of a good calling body/pastor fit
- improve the understanding of how the call process works, and
- ensure greater professionalism, and overall efficiency and transparency in the system.
He said the approved actions could be ‘implemented through policy, operational processes and provision of resources to support all participants in the call system’. They would not require synodical decision.
GCB’s response to the recommendations of the review report is available through the LCA website at www.lca.org.au/call-review-process