Framework: District Alignment (DA)
The framework proposes that there is a resolution at the General Convention of Synod 2024 to enable the ordination of women in one or more districts, be they geographical or non-geographical. In any district that resolves to ordain women the current options available to men would also be available to women: pastor, bishop, assistant bishop, special ministry pastor (SMP).
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Women who have already been ordained in a part of the wider Lutheran Church overseas would be given the opportunity to undergo colloquy as soon as possible and be available for call immediately afterwards (as is the case for male pastors). Suitably qualified women would be able to be ordained by the district bishop and would be available for call immediately. Should vicarage be an additional outstanding requirement for qualification, the relevant district should make appropriate arrangements for this to occur for candidates as a matter of urgency.
The framework leaves open the option of rearranging existing districts or establishing a new non-geographic district, depending on both district synod resolutions and congregational alignment.
This framework is underpinned by the following elements:
- If the District Synod resolves to ordain women, it would be expected that all district-owned entities of the district would adhere to the resolution.
- Should an individual congregation resolve, at a properly convened congregational meeting, that they do not want to adhere to a district decision, they would exercise an option to seek a peaceful dismissal from one district and seek to join another district that already exists.
- It is intended that current district geographical boundaries would be maintained; however it is noted that should any one district become non-viable, realignment or amalgamation of districts may need to be considered.
- The districts and the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand would consider whether there is a need for a non-geographical district to be formed, either for those who want to maintain the status quo or for those who desire the ordination of women.
- Pastors who find themselves located in a district whose view of ordination is at odds with their own view would be able to apply for reassignment to a district that aligns with their beliefs.
- A Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand committee might be established to consider all requests for relocation so that movements can be handled in an orderly matter. Current arrangements for call and transfer expenses would need to be suspended for this extraordinary (and one-time) relocation of pastors.
- Constitutions and policies of districts that resolve to ordain women would need to be amended.
- The Theses of Agreement would need to be revisited in light of district resolutions.
- Churchwide policies would need to be edited to have inclusive language.