The LCANZ’s governance and pastoral leaders have issued a report to members after meeting about the division within the church over women’s ordination.
Earlier this year, the General Church Board (GCB) and the College of Bishops (CoB) held a joint meeting on the issue. This was their second such combined meeting since the 2018 General Convention of Synod, at which a resolution to allow the ordination of women in the LCANZ received majority support but failed to garner the two-thirds majority of delegates required for such a change to church practice and teaching. The result was similar to those of ballots at three previous General Conventions since 2000, in which more than 50 per cent of delegates were in favour of women’s ordination.
The church remains divided on this issue and, despite years of theological study and respectful dialogue and debate, there is no indication that consensus will be reached. The GCB and CoB met to consider what steps might be taken to address this impasse.
After considering all the information they had received, to make the task manageable, GCB and CoB confined the task to considering three potential scenarios, while acknowledging that there may also be others:
- Scenario 1: A single LCANZ synod, with one teaching and two practices
- Scenario 2: A single LCANZ synod, with the current teaching upheld
- Scenario 3: Multiple LCANZ synods – we can no longer stay together (we separate).
The GCB and CoB have assessed each scenario against a number of criteria, including church unity, confessional and biblical identity/integrity, and the impact on gospel proclamation.
The report is now available for church members to read and discuss.
LCANZ Secretary of the Church Dr Nigel Long encouraged members to consider the implications of these – and possibly other – scenarios and how each one would affect individuals, families and congregations.
‘You might want to talk about the scenarios at a congregational meeting or at a church council meeting’, he said. ‘This is a difficult time, a critical time, for us in the LCANZ, and there is no indication that we will quickly or easily resolve this situation. The road ahead is likely to be long and painful. I urge you therefore to bring this matter to God – privately, as family or household groups and in public worship – and seek his wisdom and guidance as we move into unknown territory.
‘I pray that God will soften our hearts towards each other, that we will judge less and instead strive to understand the other’s point of view, and that we will exercise love, grace and forgiveness in all our dealing with each other.’
LCANZ Bishop John Henderson said GCB and CoB did not set out to determine ‘a one-size-fits-all solution, despite many requests, even demands, that we do just that’.
‘Under our structures, the GCB and the CoB do not have the authority to force their will on the church, even should we want to do so – which we don’t’, Bishop Henderson said.
‘We do recognise, however, the need to offer the church guidance. We have done so in the past, and we will do so again over the coming months and even years, if God grants us such grace.
‘All members of the GCB and the CoB remain committed to the one LCANZ, our unity as a synod and our common purpose in Christ. We are Lutheran, and we want to remain so, but first of all we are Christ’s … If we hurt each other, it is really him we hurt.
‘While we didn’t formally resolve it, our preferred solution is that we remain together and learn to love and accept one another.’
Click here to read or download the report.