Affirming the Ministry of Women in the Lutheran Church of Australia


The scene is South India. The situation is an international school and an ecumenical parish. The time has come to appoint a new chaplain and pastor. The decision is made to appoint a senior pastor and a youth pastor. The senior pastor chosen is a man working in Hawaii; the youth pastor is a young woman from New York.

Many felt uneasy about appointing a woman, but felt relieved that a man would be in charge. The Spirit, it seems, had a different idea. The man finally decided not to come, but the young woman did. She was tall, dignified and American.

The first Sunday she stood in the pulpit to preach, you could have heard a pin drop. Many people were anxious. This was the first time a woman had spoken the Word from that pulpit. She was preaching on the text about Jesus healing Mary Magdelene. And her first words still ring in my ears. “I am Mary Magdelene”! She went on to talk about what it is like being a woman rejected by men, rejected by other women and rejected by society. She then told us how she felt when Jesus came, when Jesus touched her, when Jesus healed her.

That day I heard the Gospel afresh, with my heart, my mind and my spirit. That day I realised that women preachers can bring us all a fresh understanding of the Gospel. That day, I experienced in my soul what I knew to be true in my head. The Gospel is in the Word, and women preachers can bring it alive in a fresh and vital way.

During the course of that year, more and more students and staff came to accept the significance of a woman preacher. She made a real Gospel difference to our community.

My experience of this difference is not confined to India. A few Sundays ago at my local church in Adelaide, a young woman told a children’s story using a puppet. Her story was one of the best Gospel sermons I have ever heard. What this woman preached from behind her puppet was equal to any sermon I have from behind a pulpit! She was my pastor that day! In my experience, women preachers do make a difference, and, by the grace of God, will continue to do so!

Norm Habel

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