If you keep up to date with the politics in the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) there is a good chance you would have heard some of the recent debate about women’s ordination. I, for the most part, have tried to stay out of this debate. (This is not to say that I don’t appreciate the people who are willing to enter into the conversation and fight for what they believe in). I probably should continue stay out of it so I do not get in trouble. However, I have never been very good at keeping my opinion to myself. I won’t lie; it is not easy being a female and working in ministry in the Lutheran Church. There are few churches that can afford youth workers and fewer that have females working in the role. It can feel very lonely some days. Whether it is true or not, I often feel like the work I do is not taken seriously. However, I take sharing God’s Word with the young people who attend the youth group I run very seriously.
There is one thing in particular that has always confused me about the fact that the LCA does not ordain women. In human development studies I was taught that childhood and adolescence are the formative years. If this is true then what children and youth learn about God during these years is of the utmost importance. I have always found it strange that I and many other women are allowed to teach God’s Word to children and young people at this critical time in life and yet once they turn 18 it’s as if we no longer have a right to continue to teach them. It just does not make sense to me.
I had my first confirmation class publically confess their faith this morning at church. A moment I will never forget. I am overcome with emotion when I think about the blessing and honour that it was to journey with these young people and how privileged I was to be given the opportunity to teach them. Yet there are some who would say what I taught does not count because I am not an ordained minister of the LCA.
It seems so strange to me that I am discouraged from studying the one thing that would make me a better teacher of the Word, a better leader, a better mentor and a better youth worker… All things I am currently doing. I say discouraged in the sense that even if I get the qualifications what I teach will still not be "official" because I am a female.
It has taken me some time, but I have come to realise that if God has called me to “pastor” people having a title does not change that, so I am just going to get on with it. I still hope that one day I will have the option to choose whether or not I can be ordained, but in the mean time I will continue, with God’s help, to pastorally love, encourage, support, lead, admonish (in love) and teach the Word to the people that He puts under my care.