At the March meeting of the College of Bishops and the General Church Board which addressed the Ordination Way Forward Resolution from General Synod 2021-23, it was decided that the College of Bishops should provide guidance regarding the way the resolution is understood in the church. Subsequently, at the College of Bishops meeting in April, the following guidance was resolved:
One Church or Two Synods
The resolution that was passed at the Convention of General Synod 2021-23 stated the intention to consider a proposal in 2024 whereby we might ‘operate as one church’ not as two churches with both ordained women and men, or with men only. When an amendment was proposed to change the wording to ‘two synods’, the Convention resolved that the matter before the church was a proposal about operating as one church.
Some believe that operating in this way as ‘one church’ is possible and some believe that this is not possible. This matter, including materials presented to the Convention on this issue, will be addressed by the Theological Working Group of the Ordination Way Forward project. This working group will need to consider issues such as the meaning of the word ‘church’ in the resolution. Is it to be understood as ‘synod’, or as an ‘incorporated entity’, or as a community around a confession of teaching?
Teaching and Practice
The resolution also uses the words ‘teaching’ and ‘practice’. It directs the General Church Board and the College of Bishops to, ‘work through the theological, constitutional, and governance requirements to operate as one church with two different practices of ordination and establish a detailed framework through which this could be accomplished, such as one or more existing LCANZ districts becoming districts that teach and practise the ordination of both women and men to the office of the public ministry or by establishing a non-geographical LCANZ “district” that does so.’
The Theological Working Group of the Ordination Way Forward project will address the question, ‘Does the resolution mean “one teaching with two practices of ordination” or “two teachings and two practices”?’ In our theological statements as the LCANZ, teaching and practice are interdependent.
The College of Bishops gathers in regular joint meetings with the General Church Board to share in the oversight and delivery of the resolution from the 2021-23 Convention of General Synod.
While there are various concerns LCANZ members have about this matter before us, we are given good words for faithful service in the words of the well-loved hymn:
Thy hand, O God, has guided Thy flock, from age to age …
Thy mercy will not fail us, nor leave Thy work undone;
With Thy right hand to help us, the victory shall be won (LHS 194).
LCANZ College of Bishops
Bishop Paul Smith, LCANZ
Assistant Bishop Neville Otto, LCANZ
Bishop David Altus, SA-NT District
Bishop Robert Bartholomaeus, NSW and ACT District
Bishop Peter Hage, WA District
Bishop Lester Priebbenow, Vic-Tas District
Bishop Mark Vainikka, Qld District
Bishop Mark Whitfield, LCNZ
Shared from LCA General Synod eNews, 4/5/23