Dear fellow Christians and members of the Lutheran Church of Australia,
Peace be with you.
I write to you in this season of Lent, following a joint meeting of the LCA General Church Board and the College of Bishops, which was held in Adelaide on Thursday 20th February 2020. Thank you to those who sent messages to us saying that they were praying for us.
This is an initial communique from that meeting to let you know that it did happen, and that more information is coming soon.
The reason for the meeting was to consider what has been happening our church since the 2018 General Convention of Synod. To pass a vote on a doctrinal issue, two-thirds of Synod delegates must vote for it. Once again a proposal for female pastors failed to achieve that majority. We remain deeply divided on the issue and continue to experience unrest. As a result, some congregations and individuals are taking bold actions of one kind or another. People are asking, ‘What happens next, given that we don’t agree with each other?’
LCA leaders are not adopting a ‘knee jerk’ response to this disquiet. They want to listen and understand, include and not exclude. While we know this can frustrate those who want a quicker solution, we must take a ‘long view’, wanting to preserve the truth, unity, and witness of the church. District bishops and councils are in dialogue with congregations and pastors as they need to be.
At their recent meeting, the members of the General Church Board and the College of Bishops studied current developments in the LCA. They considered what each scenario could mean for the church and where it could end up taking us. We are compiling the results of that study, and when complete will release it to the church. It is likely to make for sobering reading. This is a critical moment, and the actions we take, or fail to take, will have a lasting impact.
I strongly urge all of you who feel disaffected by our current circumstances to consider deeply and prayerfully the type and nature of any actions you may be planning to undertake in response. I know this demands much from us, perhaps more than we feel we can give. We are disturbed by issues of faithfulness and truth, justice and equity. Feelings can be high, spurred on by anxiety for our future, and that of the church. Such anxiety clouds our judgement. We should not let that cause us to speak ill of others, or harm them in any way.
I pray that through God’s love we will receive the grace we need to work through our differences. He is trustworthy and true. For surely, we all agree on what is most important, that God’s forgiving love brings light and life to all people. We are here to praise God and bring that message to a dying and darkening world.
To God be the glory, always.
Your brother in Christ,
Pastor John Henderson
Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand
Adelaide, South Australia, 3 March 2020