On October 12, the Lutheran Church of Taiwan (LCT) ordained its first generation of women minister. "We now have a start," said Reverend Selma S. Chen, a member of the Council of the Lutheran World Federation. Chen was amongst the first generation of ordained women pastors in the LCT. Additional influential women pastors ordained in October included Lyu Yi-In and Lin Pei-Yu.
Debate over starting a women’s clergy came into discussion in 1977 with the establishment of the LWF Women’s Desk. The LWF Women’s Desk’s declaration states:
“Both women and men are created in the image of God with equal privilege and co-responsibility for all of God's creation requires women to be leaders and not mere participants in God's mission. Christ's salvific work and empowerment of women mandates women to be the bearers of good news and sharers of the gospel.”
According to another statement release from the Women’s Desk, pro-women pastors argued, “Our baptismal experience and the partaking of the Holy Eucharist are constant reminders of the need to build a truly inclusive communion. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh empowers women to be involved more fully in the diverse ministries of the church.” Since then, the Women’s Desk is now known as the Women in Church and Society (WICAS).
Prior to the October ordinations in Taiwan, many mainline denominations in the United States such as the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) have ordained women ministers for decades. Nonetheless, some of the more conservative denominations, such as the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Assemblies of God, continue to prohibit women from holding senior positions in church leadership.
Such opposition has not stemmed the growth in number of women ministers in the United States. According to the 1996 U.S. Federal District Labor Statistics, 43,543 women claim to be women ministers – a 300 percent increase from the 16,408 in 1983. In other words, 1 out of 8 women in the United States were women ministers.
The LCT’s decision to ordain the first batch of women pastors is an indication that ordination of women ministers in top areas of leadership continues to be a subject of open debate amongst East Asian churches. In an unprecedented move, the LCT has taken the initiative in being one of the first few churches in East Asia to openly approve the ordination of women preachers.