Monday, April 12, 2004

The Society of the Holy Trinity and the Ordination of Women

Since some of you know that I am a subscriber to the Society of the Holy Trinity, and since some of you read The Lutheran Forum, I here go on record with the following letter, sent to Pastor Smith, The Lutheran Forum, my dean and the senior of the society:

I wanted to express my disappointment that the vicar of the society has published an article in the most recent issue of the Lutheran Forum arguing against the continued ordination of women. I understand that in his teaching capacity as well as his own place of confession as a Christian he is free to make such statements. I understand also that from an ecumenical perspective (our relationship with the LCMS, RC, and Orthodox) the ordination of women is problematic. Nevertheless, since the Society has since its founding been open to and encouraging of the full participation of ordained female clergy, I think he may need to provide some clarification on how his statement in the Lutheran Forum (edited, I might add, as it is by another member of the Society) relates to the direction the Society itself may take in the future.

I joined the Society because of its focus on pastoral and liturgical renewal. I do not believe articles such as Pastor Smith's contribute to this renewal. In fact, a focus on these issues decenters us from the very issues that had been of primary concern for the Society.

As an aside, I have also observed first-hand the harmful consequences of such a suggested reversal in Latvia (and to a certain degree, Slovakia). Latvia's approach has been especially anti-ecumenical and sectarian. The approach in Slovakia, simply to stop accepting so many female students into the seminaries because the rural parishes did not want women, was also disingenuous. Although I value the Lutheran witness in both of these countries, these particular moves have not contributed to the proclamation of the church nor to an ecumenical and confessional witness in Eastern Europe.

If we are going to be open to women's participation in our Society, we need to make a concerted and public effort to confess why we recognize their ordination and accept them into the society. And why we would welcome future ordinations of women and their future participation in the Society as well.

In Christ,

Pastor Clint Schnekloth
St. John's Lutheran Church
Oregon, Wisconsin

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