Office of the Bishop
The LCA Constitution defines the role of the Bishop* of the Church as ‘[to] exercise oversight of the Church, promote its spiritual welfare and strive to preserve peace and order’ (Bylaws VIII.B. 1b). The Bishop’s Office manages functions particularly to do with the oversight of the church; in essence, the office exists to serve the pastors and people of the LCA/NZ. More particularly, it oversees, promotes and supports the services provided by departments of the church to the wider LCA/NZ in a coordinated fashion. Together with the District Bishops, the LCA Bishop works with congregations in Australia and New Zealand and Lutheran churches around the world (see International Mission), and engages in and responds to social issues within the wider community.
* At the General Convention of Synod in 2013, delegates voted to change the name of the church's head pastoral office from 'president' to 'bishop'. Read more ...
Within this office also is the Secretary of the Church, whose role includes oversight of Reconciliation Ministry.
The Secretary’s Office supports the LCA Bishop and the College of Bishops (LCA Bishop, District Bishops and the LCA Assistant Bishop) overseeing the mission and ministry of the LCA/NZ. He undertakes projects as directed by the Bishop, the College of Bishops and the General Church Council. In particular, he oversees Reconciliation Ministry, as well as Interim Ministry and Australian Defence Force Chaplaincy. The Secretary’s Office also has responsibilities in relation to the General Convention of Synod.
Bishop John Henderson
On 22 April 2013 our General Convention of Synod elected Rev John Henderson as the first bishop of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA). (Earlier that day the synod had voted to change the title of the LCA's highest pastoral office from 'president' to 'bishop'.)
Bishop Henderson became the LCA’s fifth national pastoral leader, after Dr Mike Semmler (2000–2013), Dr Lance Steicke (1987–2000), Dr Les Grope (1972–1987) and Dr Max Löhe (1966–1972).
‘I am so deeply appreciative and humbled in relation to the task you have placed in front of me’, Pastor Henderson said at the time of his election.
‘We trust in our Lord and Saviour. He has not abandoned us – even when things seem chaotic and strange in this church we love so dearly. We are called to give expression to that Christ, the centre of our faith, to our dying day.'
In his statement to delegates issued prior to the election, Pastor Henderson said that the president [now bishop] of the church is at least these four things:
- a key leader in the life of the LCA, sharing ‘a weighty responsibility for the encouragement and oversight of the doctrinal, confessional and ethical integrity of the church’
- a pastor ‘trained in astute listening and in preaching and teaching the word of God’
- a human being, needing to ‘trust God for what is not humanly possible’
- a sinner ‘dependent on the grace of God, like all other members of the church’.
Pastor Henderson brings to the office broad pastoral and leadership experience within the LCA and beyond. At the time of his election as bishop, he had been principal of the LCA's higher education institution, Australian Lutheran College, for four years. Prior to that (2002–2008) he served the LCA in the seconded position of General Secretary with the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA), based in Sydney.
As a vicar and ordained pastor, he had served in four LCA districts: New Zealand (Palmerston North, 1981), South Australia/Northern Territory (Woodville, 1983–1986), Queensland (Dalby and western Darling Downs congregations, 1986–1994) and Victoria (Outer Eastern Lutheran Church, 1994–2001).
He was LCA vice-president from 2006 to 2011 and a member of General Church Council from 2003 to 2011.
As NCCA general secretary he was involved in international and interfaith affairs. He was a founding member and delegation head of the Regional Interfaith Dialogue SE Asia (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with the Indonesian government). The work included delivering an address at the Vatican on behalf of the Australian Government on the contribution of faith communities to solutions for sustainable regional peace.
He was a co-founder of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews, serving from 2003 to 2008.
Pastor Henderson is married to Valmai and they have three adult children and three grandchildren.