Affirming the Ministry of Women in the Lutheran Church of Australia

THE GOSPEL AND WOMEN IN MINISTRY

Introduction

The role of women in the ministry is an important issue within the Lutheran Church of Australia. The Church’s document, Women in the Ministry, was produced to facilitate study and discussion of this issue. This summary is intended as a constructive contribution to a candid and prayerful exploration of women’s role in ministry of the LCA in the late twentieth century.

There are many ways of approaching this issue. Our approach is to apply the Gospel principle to the question of the role women in the ministry of the Lutheran Church of Australia.

The Gospel principle

  • An essential Lutheran starting point for considering the role of women in ministry in the Lutheran church is the Gospel.

What is the Gospel?

  • Applying the Gospel principle outlined above involves exploring the role of women in all facets of ministry so that the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is promoted and enriched.

Women and Gifts of the Spirit

  • Any doctrine or practice which limits any of the gifts of the Spirit to people of either sex diminishes the Gospel by establishing a human law that attempts to limit the power of the Gospel.

Women and Ministry

  • To limit the call to ministry to any particular group or sex is to attempt to define and limit the field of the Spiritís activity.
  • Each ministry in the name of Christ is a ministry of affirming, empowering service, not authoritative control.
  • Any rule which seeks to limit the opportunity of any group within the body of Christ to serve to the fullness of her or his God-given capacity promotes the law and diminishes the Gospel.

Women and the New Creation

  • Any regulation that permits only men to stand before God and lead worship belongs to the old dispensation of the Law and diminishes the Gospel.
  • Any interpretation which reasserts the subordination of women in accordance with the old dispensation diminishes the Gospel in the new creation and revives the old order, and curse, of the Law.

Women and Ordination

  • Women have gifts of the spirit which enable them to perform these functions in the service of the Gospel. To exclude them from this service is to limit the ministry of the Gospel.

Conclusion

Including women in the full range of ministries in the church of Christ promotes and enriches the Gospel of Christ. Women are called by the same Spirit of Christ to serve in the ministry; the Spirit bestows the same gifts on women to perform this ministry. Any rule which limits the ministry of women is effectively a law and thus carried over from the old dispensation and therefore not Gospel.

Faithfulness to the Gospel demands we enable women to enjoy the full possibilities for ministry in our church, including the public ministry of word and sacraments. Anything less is not acting consistently with the truth of the Gospel (Galatians 2; 14, NRSV)

Norman Habel and Shirley Wurst

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