LCMS Prepares Guidelines to Male-Only-Pastorate Law

''Women on the basis of the clear teaching of Scripture may not serve in the office of pastor nor exercise any of its distinctive functions''
( [email protected] ) Oct 14, 2004 09:28 PM EDT

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) announced that guidelines for implementing the denomination’s doctrine on women leadership will be available by January 2005. The new announcement followed the LCMS’ recent decision to restrict the pastorate to males only on the basis of “the clear teaching” of Scripture.

During this year’s annual convention, members of the LCMS passed the Resolution 3-08A. The controversial resolution states that “women on the basis of the clear teaching of Scripture may not serve in the office of pastor nor exercise any of its distinctive functions, and women may serve in humanly established offices in the church as long as the functions of these offices do not make them eligible to carry out 'official functions [that] would involve public accountability for the function of the pastoral office.'"

The LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick, who appointed a “task force” to discuss the implications of the resolution, explained that such a decree calls for a clarification of what is or is not allowed.

"For the sake of maintaining unity of doctrine and practice in all the districts of the Synod, it is imperative that the congregations of our Synod understand clearly what this resolution says and does not say, what it allows and does not allow, in order to prevent widely varying interpretations of such phrases as 'the distinctive functions of the pastoral office' and 'public accountability for the pastoral office,’” said Kieschnick.

Dr. Samuel H. Nafzger, chairman of the task force, agreed, saying: "As congregations begin to consider how they want to implement Res. 3-08A and revise their constitutions, it is important that they have some guidelines.”

Meanwhile, Nafzger said his group will do its best to “pull together what the Synod itself has said on these matters."

"The task force is not going to break new ground or decide these issues, but we are going to prepare guidelines based on actions already taken by the Synod,” explained Nafzger, who also is executive director of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR).

While the guidelines will be available by the end of January, Nafzger said the congregations are not obliged to follow the task force recommendations.

“If congregations do not want to implement the provisions of the resolution,” he explained, "they are free not to do so."

In addition to Nafzger, members of the task force are Synod Secretary Raymond Hartwig; Dr. Loren Kramer; North Wisconsin District President Arleigh Lutz, who chaired the convention floor committee that produced Res. 3-08A; and Dr. Albert Marcis, chairman of the Commission on Constitutional Matters.