The three-member team charged with reviewing and making recommendations about the way the LCA deals with matters of church discipline has held its first meeting.
Ms Kim Baumeler (chairperson), Mr Mal Hyde and Pastor Adam Eime met in Adelaide on 8 and 9 September to discuss the procedures, processes and parameters of its General Church Board-approved terms of reference, which is based on a resolution of the 19th General Convention of Synod in October last year.
Responding to a number of proposals from congregations and a District Pastors Conference about matters relating to church discipline and the judicial system, Synod asked the General Church Board to undertake a review of ‘the LCA’s overall Ecclesiastical Discipline Adjudication and Appeals provisions, policies and processes’. Encompassed in these processes are the roles of the Professional Standards Department and Reconciliation Ministry.
Synod determined that the members of the review must be members of the LCA and that their skills and experience should include ‘high-level theological expertise, knowledge of police and judicial matters, as well as the Royal Commission into the Institutional Abuse of Children’. Ms Baumeler, who is chairperson of St Peter’s congregation in Hobart, is a barrister in her own chambers. A long-time member of St John’s Unley in Adelaide, Mr Hyde, retired, was Police Commissioner for South Australia for 15 years. Pastor Eime has served parishes and a school community in three LCA districts.
‘It is a fundamental part of our legal system that complaints, discipline or appeals processes follow the principles of natural justice and are fair to all parties’, Ms Baumeler said. ‘But when brothers and sisters in Christ bring a charge against the other, it is all the more important that we do this well. As Christians, the way we treat each other when we are in conflict, and when discipline is required, is an opportunity to be a positive witness to Christ. This review is an opportunity to help the LCA to do that.’
In due course the review team will be calling for submissions, via notices in The Lutheran and LCA eNews. It is expected that the team will present a report and recommendations to the General Church Board in late 2020.