LCANZ members are ‘reflecting deeply’ on the church’s future and are keen to engage with and contribute to its Way Forward project.

The Way Forward project team of Stella Thredgold, Tim Niewand and Tony Vong have been impressed with the engagement of the LCANZ community in developing a positive future. The project team is charged with ensuring project disciplines and management help to deliver a proposal to the next General Synod outlining how the LCANZ could operate as ‘one church with two different practices of ordination’.

After a churchwide call for ‘one church, two practices’ models in June, members made more than 100 submissions to the Way Forward. The project team asked for models that reflected our synodical commitment of ‘walking together’ and that aspire to maintain the unity of the church.

While submissions ranged in detail from fully formulated models to suggestions and ideas, it was clear to the project team that great time, thought, and effort had been invested into each of them. Submissions were received from across the LCA, including lay people, active and emeriti pastors, and congregational teams.

‘As expected, we received submissions representing a wide range of opinions about ordination and about the Synod resolution to explore a framework for “one church, two practices”’, Tim Niewand said. ‘Without exception, however, every submission was proffered with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

‘Every voice across the LCA is valuable and every person has the opportunity to be heard. We are grateful to every person and group of people who made a submission, including those who shared their heartfelt thoughts.’ Regardless of the position people hold on ordination, there is a commitment to grappling with God’s word and earnestly listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church at this time, the project team said.

They said the number of responses received indicates that members of the church are ‘reflecting deeply’ about the way forward. ‘People are having conversations – in their congregations, among their family and friends, and in their social networks’, the project team said. ‘They recognise that the LCA is at a critical juncture, and they are contemplating what the future might look like.’

Criteria for assessing the models are in the process of being developed with input from the broader team supporting the project, including the eight Way Forward working groups and other subject matter experts supporting the project in coordinating the Way Forward response.

The broader team collectively bring broad experience and expertise to the project. As well as providing advice and guidance to the project team on churchwide processes, emerging issues and conflict resolution, they will work with the team and working groups to develop the evaluation framework to guide the selection of a Way Forward model.

The project team has been responding to every submission to acknowledge receipt and offer this in a body of work for assessment and submission to the General Church Board and College of Bishops for consideration. ‘We want the model put to the 2024 General Synod to be one that most people in the church can support in good conscience’, Project Director Stella Thredgold said. ‘We are looking for models that address the General Synod resolution intent and that honours God and respects every person in the church regardless of the position they hold on ordination.’

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