New models for calling LCA pastors to congregations will be examined, aiming to increase the ‘efficiency, transparency and inclusion’ of the process.
Synod overwhelmingly backed a proposal by St Peter’s Lutheran Congregation, Hobart, which includes consulting with congregations.
A review of the call process has been incorporated into the Terms of Reference of a College of Bishops’ research project. However, proposal supporters of the proposal believed potential new models should be examined, as well as evaluating the existing system.
St Peter’s delegate Sonia Weidenbach said all congregations had participated in the call process and there had been ‘widely varying experiences’.
She said any alternative models would need to ‘pay more attention to timeframes’; comprise a statement of purpose, ‘in language appropriate for all members in a congregation’; and entail a ‘straightforward process that is easily understood, easily communicated … and is transparent in its operation’. The pastor’s family should be supported through the decision-making process, Mrs Weidenbach said.
‘Congregations should be consulted as part of any review.’
Reasons given for the proposal described the current process as ‘lengthy, time consuming, and not widely transparent’.
St Peter’s also sponsored a proposal calling for ‘the examination of the creation and development’ of a new type of ministry position, enabling a person to be authorised to write and deliver sermons and administer the sacraments in certain situations, without completing the full Australian Lutheran College course.
The proposal to examine the concept, also supported by delegates, is aimed at addressing issues faced by congregations with pastoral vacancies.
‘This is not an attempt to create a “cut-price” pastor’, Mrs Weidenbach said. ‘This has arisen from a desire for a ministry position to support a congregation during a vacancy – and beyond.’
The role would be specific to a congregation or region and voluntary. Features envisaged include reduced-length training; recognition of prior learning; and a graduation event to publicly affirm the candidate’s authority.