‘Follow the voice of the Good Shepherd’, Bishop Paul Smith says as Queenslanders join other Lutherans from across Australia and New Zealand in Sydney this week. About 260 lay delegates and 160 pastor delegates are meeting at Rosehill Gardens, as the 19th LCA General Convention of Synod gets underway.
Bishop Paul’s biggest hope is that the LCA ‘would be passionate for the preaching of Christ to the ends of the earth. ‘It is part of our synodical constitution, that the first object of the church is to fulfil the mission of the Christian Church in the world by proclaiming the Word of God [and administering the Sacraments]’, he said.
‘I’m also hopeful that we would feel excited about the array of eager young people in diverse places who want to serve God, rather than focussing our energies on how our young people seem to be leaving us.’ One proposal to be presented to Synod will, if accepted, ensure that all LCA commissions and committees include at least one member under 30 years of age by the year 2022.
Bishop Paul encouraged members of the church to continue to have faith in all that Christ has done in his life, death and resurrection for us: ‘Faith that is hope for things unseen; faith that will step forward to where ever the Lord leads us, for this is faith in the Good Shepherd who promises to go before us’.
Queensland lay delegates Felicia Neldner and David Klinge are looking forward to the work ahead. Representing St Paul’s, Caboolture, Felicia is attending her second convention, though it will be her first as a Queensland delegate.
‘I am most looking forward to meeting, mixing and catching up with people’, she said. ‘It is exciting that so many people want to come together, to share the vision of the LCA, and to hear their reasons for wanting to be part of the things that are happening in the church’.
With a background in teaching and chaplaincy, Felicia’s interests include the wellbeing of teenagers and young adults finding their place in congregations: ‘I’m concerned about what being a part of the church will look like for them in the future’, she said.
She was also looking forward to hearing more about the work of the committee she is about to join and its vision for future engagement with people from across Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Asia and the Pacific.
Educational issues (she sits on council for Grace Lutheran Primary School) and the question of the ordination of both women and men were also on Felicia’s list of concerns. ‘Mostly I’m concerned for those people who might feel they will have to leave the church, whichever way this goes.’
Representing the Lockyer Valley Parish, David Klinge says that he has lost count of the number of times he has served as a delegate at Queensland District and national levels. ‘I’ve got no fear!’ he laughed, adding that while they had encouraged others to go as delegates, the Klinges also recognised the many obstacles for people with young families or demanding jobs.
David said that he hoped that the unity of the church would be maintained, regardless of outcomes of any decisions taken. This would require both prayerful support and a view beyond the immediate.
‘We need to focus on God’s ultimate plan for the human race, rather than on our own cultural differences and our own little pet loves’, he said.
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