The General Church Board (GCB) and the College of Bishops (CoB) of the LCA/NZ will meet again in early 2020 to continue looking at the issue of ordination in the church.
GCB and CoB last month held a joint meeting in Adelaide on what has become a ‘deeply divisive’ matter for the LCA/NZ, following the decision of the 2018 General Synod to retain the church teaching of men-only ordination.
‘Your two key leadership groups met to consider how together they can best lead the church in this contested time’, Bishop Henderson wrote to Synod delegates, pastors and other members in a recent Heartland eNews.
‘[Ordination] has become a deeply divisive theological and practical issue that seems to cut to the core of our identity as Lutheran Christians. And since the Lutheran Church bases itself on its theology, and prides itself somewhat on that, this is deeply painful.
‘After the meeting I know there will be some who will say that, despite all that effort, we have not made much progress. I guess if leading the LCA was a case of “winners” and “losers” that might be the case. But we are not to behave like that.
‘Our God-given accountability to one another is through the law of love. Therefore, we step down from the constant conviction that only we are “right” and have a true understanding, and therefore others are “wrong” and must have a false understanding.’
During the October meeting elected leaders read and listened to a range of stories and viewpoints sent in by congregations and individuals.
Bishop Henderson said that while ‘correspondents expressed their intent to be God-pleasing and scriptural’, the leadership team was unlikely to be able to reconcile the different positions represented.
‘The leadership believes the right response to this situation is a pastoral one, praying that God will grant us further grace and time to work things through. This does not mean we do nothing’, he said. ‘GCB and CoB will continue to listen and grapple with the best response, and we ask you to do the same, staying within the practice and teaching of the church as you do so.’
Bishop John Henderson said GCB and CoB remained committed to continue to listen and explore ways of engaging LCA/NZ members on church unity and the way forward.
‘The GCB and the CoB plan to meet together again in early 2020 to continue this task’, he said. ‘In the meantime they will listen and pray, explore options, and engage in gentle, caring and bold leadership – this all takes time, and we thank you for your patience. While this may disappoint the hope some of us have for a decisive and speedy resolution, we knew that [the] meeting could only be a step along the way.’