LCA Bishop John Henderson has called on all members to pray for the church’s leaders, and the delegates and organisers of next month’s 19th General Convention of Synod in Sydney as they prepare for the triennial meeting.
Bishop Henderson said holding a General Synod was ‘a serious matter, as Synod has the “power to direct and control” the affairs of the church’.
‘Now is also the time for all of us to pray for all the organisers, leaders and delegates across Australia and New Zealand who are preparing for the Synod’, Bishop Henderson said in a Synod eNews bulletin last month. ‘The tasks before us are immense, and we cannot do them in our own power. Only God’s power makes the work credible, or even possible.
‘Our faith instructs us to share our anxieties with God in prayer, and trust him, rather than ourselves, with the well-being and progress of the church. So let’s pray then, as a church, trusting that the church is safe in God’s hands.’
To be held from 2 to 7 October at Rosehill in the city’s west, the 2018 General Synod will consider, debate and vote on a range of issues, including the ordination of both women and men, a proposed change of name for the church, membership of international Lutheran bodies, and the introduction of a Reconciliation Action Plan for the LCA.
Bishop Henderson, who was first elected to the role of LCA Bishop in 2013, and incoming LCA Assistant to the Bishop – International Mission Pastor Matt Anker are the two candidates nominated for the role of LCA Bishop by General Pastors Conference (GPC). Incumbent Assistant Bishop Dr Andrew Pfeiffer will seek re-election to his current role.
If a vote on women’s ordination is held next month, it will be the fourth time an LCA Synod has faced the question, after 2000, 2006 and 2015. In 2015, 64 per cent of delegates voted in favour of the introduction of women’s ordination, narrowly falling short of the two-thirds majority required to carry a change that is theological or confessional in nature. However, that Synod called on the LCA’s Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations (CTICR) to develop a draft doctrinal statement (DDS) ‘that presents: a theological basis for the ordination of women and men [and] a theological basis for why ordination of women and men need not be church divisive’.
Twenty congregations have proposed motions to the 2018 Synod for the LCA to allow the ordination of women pastors, while there are four proposals against a change to the current teaching of a men-only pastorate. On the advice of GPC to Synod, the LCA’s General Church Council (GCC) has proposed that if the church were to change its teaching, this be done by adopting CTICR’s DDS.
Also before the Synod will be a GCC proposal for the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan, with the aims including building relationships and understanding between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal members of the LCA, addressing questions of recognition and representation of Aboriginal people, and encouraging Aboriginal leadership and service in all aspects of church life.
Synod delegates will also be called on to consider a name change for the LCA. The motion from the Lutheran Church of New Zealand, a district of the church, proposes a change to Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand (LCANZ).
Six congregations have proposed that the LCA applies for full membership of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), while two congregations have proposed that the LCA become a full member of the International Lutheran Council (ILC). The LCA is currently an associate member of both the LWF and the ILC.