LCANZ Bishop Paul Smith has urged the wider church to pray for the delegates, officials, organisers and volunteers who will meet for the in-person sessions of the LCANZ’s Convention of General Synod in Melbourne from 9 to 12 February.
The call for prayers comes in the lead-up to the meeting, which continues the 20th LCA convention opened with online sessions in October 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjourned until this month, the convention will consist of two full days of business at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, bookended by part-days with gathering and closing worship services.
In his ‘Because we bear your name’ column published in the February-March edition of The Lutheran, Bishop Paul calls on the Lutheran family in Australia and New Zealand to pray for those who will meet as Synod and that God will continue to build his church ‘through our Christian witness and service’.
‘In February 2023, we are gathering for the second part of our Convention of General Synod in Melbourne. Delegates will have significant matters before them, including proposals regarding whether only men or both women and men are to be ordained as pastors among us. Some are troubled about what is ahead for our church’, he says.
‘As we gather for Synod 2023, we continue this united common faith that we have received: to know Jesus Christ and him crucified. Nothing can be conceded or given up of this doctrine of the gospel. Please pray for those who gather in February, that the Lord would continue to build his church through our Christian witness and service, as people of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.’
Bishop Paul also wrote to Synod delegates this week to thank them and encourage them in their service as they prepare for the convention.
‘As we gather for the Convention of General Synod, we trust in God’s gracious presence with us and we move forward together under God’s mercy towards us, for Christ’s sake’, he says in the Bishop’s eNews which was sent to lay, pastor and Lutheran school principal delegates on 31 January. ‘There has already been much praying for the church and for delegates. Throughout our work in the Convention of General Synod, we ask the Holy Spirit to guide us, as the church has been doing since the day of Pentecost.
‘May the Lord set his holy angel over you as you travel to the convention and return home.’
As part of convention preparations for delegates, in November-December last year the LCANZ hosted three ‘town hall’ online sessions on the ordination proposals to go before General Synod. The town halls were open to all church members; however, only delegates and alternates could pose questions electronically.
More than 235 people attended the sessions as delegates or Synod consultants, while a further 164 people viewed the livestream of the sessions, facilitated by LCANZ Executive Officer of the Church Brett Hausler and General Church Board (GCB) member Charmaine Harch. Bishop Smith, and GCB members Tim Wiebusch and Pastor Tim Stringer made up the panel which addressed participant questions. Written responses to questions from the three sessions have been prepared and are available to read on the General Synod website.