International Lutheran Conference on Role of Women in Church, Society Supports Woman Ordination

An international meeting of Lutheran regional coordinators on the role of women in church and society supports the ordination of women pastors.

On Nov. 23-37, twelve regional coordinators from Botswana, Canada, Chile, Iceland, India, Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Peru, Sierra Leone, and the Slovak Republic gathered in Chennai, India to discuss the challenges facing women in church and society. Among the topic discussed by the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Office for Women in Church and Society (WICAS) in addition to ordination of women were economic globalization, HIV/AIDS, and violence against women.

“The LWF needs to give space to women’s issues and women’s leadership, not for liberal or democratic reasons but for theological reasons,” LWF/DMD (Department for Mission Development) Director, the Rev. Dr. Kjell Nordstokke told participants at the conference.

In addition, Nordstokke expressed appreciation for the regional coordinators’ work and reaffirmed LWF’s commitment to supporting the ordination of women pastors.

Some of the attendees voiced potential difficulties with the ordination of women, such as Ruth Vince from the Evangelical Lutheran Women Inc. in Canada. Vince remarked that women’s ordination is not yet common practice in all LWF member churches, according to LWF. And where it is done, women pastors are not always accepted as congregation leaders.

For others, such as the Rev. Magdalena Sevcikova-Forgacova of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in the Slovak Republic, the issue “lies not in the fact of who is being ordained.”

“Ordination of women means that we believe in the quality of men and women. It is a manifestation of the equality of creation.”

The WICA coordinators’ work in the past three years concentrated mainly on leadership development training programs, capacity building, gender mainstreaming, economic empowerment, and women’s ordination.