Affirming the Ministry of Women in the Lutheran Church of Australia

Women in Ministry … the un-told story

A pro women’s ordination package of stories and theology

This package of stories and papers was prepared prior to the July 2000 National Synod of the Lutheran Church of Australia. The process of discussion had already been a long one and still continues. For some it has been confusing. Some people have found it hard to listen to people who think differently. For some people it has been exciting as agreement is found, or as they have gained new insights about God and God’s church.

Why this package?

At the series of forums that were held to discuss the issue, we heard concerns raised and requests made for more information to be provided. This collection of papers attempted to address some of those concerns. We did not attempt to make this a “balanced” collection; it is instead a thoughtful collection from people who have reached the conclusion that Scripture does not prohibit the ordination of women, and an exploration of some of the evidence. The package was distributed to all parishes in Australia.

A pdf file of the total package is available 1020 Kb.

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It is said, on the basis of 1 Corinthians 11:31 Corinthians 11:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God.

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and other NT texts, that there is a biblical order of creation by which women are to be subordinate to men. The texts used to support this notion invariably appear in what is known as household codes, reflecting traditional understanding at the time of writing rather than an unbudging order of creation. Also the subordination of women is not argued independently, to establish it as a fixed biblical principle. Rather Paul employs the contemporary position on the role of women to support the main point he is making, that women should wear something on their heads during worship (11:2-16). When we turn to the creation and fall stories in Genesis 1-3 it becomes clear that the Bible cannot be used to support the notion of the subordination of women. Read more »


The ministry is about the salvation of all people, not the gender of the pastor
God instituted the ministry so that people could be brought to faith through the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments (Augsburg Confession 5). Pastors are servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries (1 Cor 4:11 Cor 4:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 1 So let a man think of us as Christ’s servants, and stewards of God’s mysteries.

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), their office and role arising from nothing else and nothing less than God’s desire that everyone be saved (1 Tim 2:41 Tim 2:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth.

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). Read more »


I am neither a theologian nor the son of a theologian, but I treasure the Holy Scripture. So much so, that before I became ancient, decrepit and grey, I learned the New Testament in the Authorised Version by heart, with the exception of the magnificent Revelation to John. I also learned the gospels in Greek by heart, but my problem is that I do not meet any ancient Greeks, so that exercise had little point. Read more »


Our Lord Jesus had virtually a trilingual upbringing. Aramaic was spoken in the Galilean Jewish home but common Greek was the language of commerce in the wider community and the scriptures were read in classical Hebrew - the ‘literary ancestral language’. This was rather like my own childhood situation: a local dialect of German spoken in the home, Aussie English the language of the dominant culture and the scriptures read in ‘Luther Bible German’. Jesus was aware that his birthplace was elsewhere and very early he recognized his true roots to be ‘in my Father’s house’ (Luke 3:41-50Luke 3:41-50
English: World English Bible - WEB

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For twenty years or more I have watched the discussion and listened to the arguments for and against the ordination of women to the ministry of the gospel within the Lutheran Church of Australia, originally from a safe distance in Papua New Guinea, and since retirement, from the Canberra sidelines. I have always felt comfortable with the concept of gender equality in ministry and leadership. But I’m sure that within the LCA, if it is to be true to itself, a consensus can only be formed and agreement reached on the basis of the biblical evidence.

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When I was growing up I never questioned the fact that there were only male pastors and not female pastors because ‘that was the way it was’. I did not ever consider challenging the notion that there could be anything wrong with this. Perhaps it was age. Perhaps it was because I, like so many others, did not like the thought of change.

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Sing a new song unto the Lord‘ Psalm 96.

Not only do we accept new songs to worship the Lord, we are encouraged to use new and enriching ways of praising Him and spreading the good news of our great God.

Over the years, we have seen women of great faith and abilities using their God-given talents in His worship and service. And we have seen them unstinting in their faithfulness and devotion in caring for all types of humans in need! Read more »


The question of whether the LCA should ordain women as well as men has generated debate and intense feeling, almost without precedent in the 30-odd year history of the LCA. Although this has been a painful experience for many people, and a somewhat threatening issue for some, in many ways it has also brought some important benefits to the church. We have engaged passionately in theological debate (I guess it takes a theologian to highlight that!); we have had to think through our approach to many matters connected with church and ministry as well as the role and status of women in the church; we have perhaps realized how little we understood some of the things we simply take for granted; many people have taken steps to become better informed.

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She looked at me through the glass door, perplexed, frustrated, lost, questioning. Why was the door locked, why couldn’t she come out? It was a beautiful hot summer day with the temperature around 35 degrees.

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Interpreting the Bible

How do we know what we know? How do we know about God, about God’s will, about living as God’s people? Our first learning is from those who incarnate God for us by showing us love and talking of a loving God — our parents, maybe a pastor or teacher, a special friend, a partner. We also learn from being in the community of faith and participating in the liturgy and ritual of the church. We learn from the direct teaching of our parents, our Sunday School teachers, our pastors. And we learn from our own life experiences as we walk in relationship with God. Alongside all of these, the Bible shows us God’s will. We believe it to be ‘divinely inspired’, given to us by our loving God. But there is a problem.

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