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As I write this, I’m aware that this coming Sunday (26 March) is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Such awareness days can be sobering reminders of the issues facing our world. So, as well as bringing you the news, views, resolutions and next steps for the LCANZ after the recent General Synod, in this edition we’re putting a spotlight on slavery.

Slavery is an evil we’d like to think has been consigned to history. But tragically, that’s not the reality – even in the 21st century. The latest Global Estimates of Modern Slavery states that in 2021 almost 50 million people were living in modern slavery.

Modern-day slavery is less public than ancient iterations – we don’t see people nowadays in chains working on roads or in fields or building pyramids.

Children sold into prostitution or early marriage or forced to work in hard labour conditions are among today’s enslaved people. They may work in overseas ‘sweatshops’ manufacturing the cheap clothing we love to buy, or as bonded agricultural labourers on cocoa farms or tea plantations which produce our favourite beverages or chocolate. If we can afford to, are we prepared to pay extra to ensure the goods we buy are without slavery in their supply chain?

We’d like to think this couldn’t happen in Australia and New Zealand but, according to the Global Slavery Index, 15,000 people are living in ‘illegal conditions of modern slavery’ in Australia, with a further 3,000 in New Zealand.

In 2015, the LCA joined 14 other Australian religious organisations and communities in signing a joint declaration against modern slavery and called on the government to enact the Modern Slavery Bill. The church’s submission said in part, ‘Godly conduct rules out exploiting and humiliating others … Jesus … urged us all to see

God’s own suffering in the face of those in need, and to respond to them with kindness and generosity. He might well say to us today, “Where were you when I appeared to you in the form of a victim of modern slavery?”’

As Christians, we know that we, too, have been slaves in the spiritual sense – slaves to sin. We know that, through his death and resurrection on that first Easter, Jesus redeemed us, freeing us from our slavery. As free people, he calls on us to share his love with those who are still enslaved – whether physically, spiritually, or both.

I pray that this Easter we will rejoice in ‘living as free people’ (1 Peter 2:16) while doing what we can to ensure justice for the oppressed (Micah 6:8, Isaiah 58:6).


PS – Due to our coverage of General Synod, some of our regular features are missing from this edition. They will return next time. Thank you for your understanding.

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Bishop Paul’s letter

Rev Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of
Australia and New Zealand

It is finished.

One Easter morning, in my first country parish in South Australia, I had an encounter at the door of the church that I will never forget. It was a moment that gathered me into the way that the good news of the resurrection of our Lord changes us to be people of hope. At the church door before that Easter Sunday service, I was met by an older member who announced, ‘Pastor, I felt Easter!’ She continued, ‘I felt the resurrection of our Lord Jesus for the first time.’ What had happened to this faithful member, that she would make such a declaration?

That story began with Good Friday just days before. For our worship service in the parish, we had used a form called ‘Tenebrae’. This order of worship is focused on light in the darkness. During the service, candles are extinguished one by one, as relevant scriptures are read. The last candle is hidden behind the altar, and then the people leave the church in darkness.

Since the congregation’s worship committee had decided to use this Tenebrae-style service for Good Friday, they had to deal with a bit of a problem. A worship service at 9am in the morning, in the South Australian countryside, is very bright and sunny, so it would be easy for the significant symbol of extinguishing candles and of darkness to be lost. A couple of the men in the congregation came up with a creative solution. They decided that as each candle was extinguished, they would cover each of the six church windows one by one with specially prepared cardboard.

And their idea worked. When all the candles were extinguished, and we had put up their cardboard, we had a very dark church indeed. After putting the last candle behind the altar, we all left in silence. It was like walking out of a tomb.

That was the experience of the parish member who had met me at the door on Easter morning. She was rostered on church cleaning that weekend, so the day before, when she went to clean, the cardboard hadn’t been taken down yet, and she found herself entering the empty darkness. As a Christian, she knew the good news that the empty tomb at Calvary meant for all humankind and it was those ‘tidings of great joy’ that she had discovered.

Only from the darkness of Good Friday can our eyes recognise the dawning light of Easter resurrection.

When the Apostle John recorded the story of Jesus in his gospel nearly 2000 years ago, he told us his purpose was that we would believe that Jesus is the Christ and, by believing, we would have life in his name.

John is the only gospel writer to record certain words of our Lord from the cross – ‘When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished”.’ What has been finished? John has given the parameters to understand these words, from the very beginning of his gospel. It is another John, the Baptist, who sees Jesus and proclaims: ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’

When Jesus was crucified, he declared that his work taking away the sin of the world was complete. ‘It is finished.’ We gather for worship on Good Friday to hear Jesus’ response to our struggle for God’s acceptance: ‘It is finished. Sin is forgiven once and for all. I have done all that is required for you to have peace with God.’ He does this for me out of love.

At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we hear the deepest assurance of Good Friday faith: ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ In the Tenebrae service, the light of the last candle is hidden behind the altar to remind us that behind the darkness of sin and death of Good Friday, there was always God’s purpose to forgive sin and defeat death and the power of the devil.

In our Lutheran witness, we confess that this message of Good Friday is the first and chief article of faith, out of which comes all other teachings of faith. This truth that, on the cross, Christ Jesus finishes what is required for faith, can never be watered down or modified.

Only from the darkness of Good Friday can our eyes recognise the dawning light of Easter resurrection.

In Christ,

Lord Jesus, we belong to you,
you live in us, we live in you;
we live and work for you –
because we bear your name.

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by Lisa McIntosh

Slavery is not just a long-ago scourge confined to the ancient biblical account of the Israelites captive in Egypt, or the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Nor has it been restricted closer to home to the terrible practice of ‘blackbirding’, in which people from South Pacific islands were shipped off to work in indentured labour schemes on sugar plantations in Queensland or New South Wales, or flax mills near Auckland, from the mid-1800s until the first decade of the 20th century.

And the United Nations Association of Australia (UNAA) says that First Nations Australians have had an even ‘more enduring experience of slavery, originally in the pearling industry in Western Australia and the Torres Strait and then in the cattle industry’, as well as the pastoral industry, in which some Aboriginal workers ‘were bought and sold as chattels’.

Slavery is also a modern global evil. Specialist legal practice, research and policy centre Anti-slavery Australia estimates that 40.3 million people worldwide live in modern slavery which it says is ‘often hidden’ in everyday locations such as homes, restaurants, farms and building sites, as well as in places such as brothels.

Refugees, other displaced people and those living in poverty are among the most at risk of slavery, says Craig Heidenreich, who serves as Cross-Cultural Ministry Facilitator for the LCANZ and formerly worked with the Australian Refugee Association.

Craig does not doubt the ongoing devastating effects on the lives of people around the world of modern-day slavery, which includes such brutalities as human trafficking, early marriage, debt bondage, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced criminality, child labour and sweatshop working conditions, ‘To say it couldn’t and wouldn’t happen today is fanciful’, he says, ‘Some families are so desperate they even sell their teenage daughters to survive, not always knowing the outcome for those girls.’

Nick Schwarz, the LCANZ’s Assistant to the Bishop for Public Theology, says that while ‘on the international scene slavery certainly hasn’t been abolished, in Australia various safeguards exist’ that should prevent such exploitative practices. These include the Modern Slavery Act (2018), last year’s ratification of the International Labour Organisation’s Protocol on Forced Labour and various child-protection laws.

However, he says, people are still exploited, with some migrant workers in Australia reportedly being so poorly paid that their income doesn’t cover basic living expenses, so they don’t have the choice to leave.

Other critical but often unclear factors in attempts to eradicate slavery are the supply chains behind the products we buy and use, which may be manufactured by slave labour.

‘Slavery is something that we empower with our choices’, Craig says. And Nick adds: ‘Consumers are wanting to buy from fair-trade labour supply chains.’ ‘But’, he says, ‘it’s not always easy to establish the provenance of a product.’

The responsibility for such information usually lies with the corporate sector, a fact highlighted by Australian anti-slavery advocate and mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest, whose Walk Free initiative is an international human rights group committed to the eradication of all modern slavery within a generation.

Walk Free successfully campaigned for Australia’s Modern Slavery Act and encouraged world religious leaders to sign a declaration against modern slavery, forming the Global Freedom Network as its faith-based arm. The LCA is one of 15 Australian religious organisations and communities which in 2015 became part of the Australian chapter by signing the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery, which committed signatories to work actively against slavery.

One of the ways the Lutheran church does this is through its overseas aid and development agency, Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS). Jonathan Krause from ALWS has seen first-hand the tragedy of bonded labour in countries such as Nepal and recounts the heartbreaking story of Bimali Devi Lohar, a woman who was a ‘Haliya’, or agricultural bonded labourer, for more than 20 years (see below).

‘A Haliya has taken a loan from a landlord and works for that landlord until the loan is repaid’, Jonathan explains. ‘Because of exorbitant interest rates, the debt can last for generations. In 2021 the Nepalese Government freed the Haliya, but for many, there are no support systems to help them rejoin free society.

‘(ALWS partner) the Lutheran World Federation team has been working with the Haliya, providing household loans, training in kitchen gardening, seeds to plant and taps for drinking water. There has also been training provided in furniture making, embroidery and candle-making, and support for semi-commercial farming.

‘And even as that system changes, those people have been in poverty for so long, that they’re still enslaved by what they’ve suffered and lost and so ALWS is working with them to train them in businesses, help them become independent and build a new life.’

As individuals, we may choose to support credible organisations which actively work for the eradication of modern slavery. We also may make this a consideration in the products and services we choose to buy if we have the financial means to do so.

The official Fairtrade website shows products that are fair trade and so less likely to involve exploitation (

Walk Free offers a suite of resources, including reports, policy documents, submissions and more information on the Global Freedom Network at

Bimali Devi Lohar’s story in her words 

My mother died when I was 11, and so my father then made me be married. My husband was 18. When I was 16, I had my first child.

My husband and I became Haliya when he borrowed 6000 Rupees (less than USD 100) to pay for the treatment of his brother who was sick. My husband goes to plough the land for the landlord and did farming work and ironsmith repairing tools to barter for food. I went as a labourer to another place.

We had to tie together the legs of the children and leave them in the house. I was weeping every day that I had to do this to my children. When I returned from work their clothes were filled with urine and stools. I cannot express in words how this made me feel as a mother. But there is nothing else I can do.

One day my husband was ploughing the landlord’s land, and he died in the field. On the day I finished the funeral ritual, the landlord came to me and said I must come to his house and work to pay the loan because my husband had died. I feel real pressure from the landlord, but there is no choice. I have to work.

I work to pay this loan for 22 years.

Later there was an Haliya group formed by the Lutherans. They support me to go in the legal process. The government office decided to dismiss the debt. Because of interest, the loan at that time was 20,000 Rupees (USD 300). Then I am free.

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by Helene Schulz

Imagine spending five years or more without a home. It sounds incredibly tough, even unbearable. And yet this is the reality for millions of refugees across the globe.

Refugee numbers continue to increase – they have more than doubled in the past 10 years and the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) now estimates that more than 90 million people are living as refugees. More than 90 million people fleeing war and persecution and human rights violations; more than 90 million people looking for a place to call home. The top five countries of origin are Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, South Sudan and Myanmar.

How can we reach out and respond to help refugee families? In Australia, about 17,875 refugees will be accepted on humanitarian visas in this current financial year, including 1,400 people who can be welcomed through a new community support program. And that is one way in which we as everyday Australians can respond.

The Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot (CRISP) program, introduced by the Australian government in 2022, is testing whether locally based community groups are interested in supporting our refugee intake by offering time and financial support to people in their first year of arrival. In Canada, a similar program has been successfully established for some years and has almost doubled the number of refugees that have been resettled each year within their local communities.

The LCANZ’s Cross-Cultural Ministry Facilitator, Craig Heidenreich, is passionate about CRISP and has been following the development and implementation of the program through the LCANZ’s involvement with the Australian Council of Churches Refugee Taskforce. This initiative is also supported by the church’s newly formed Refugee Action Group, which is part of the Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions.

Craig says that, as Christians, ‘we are to show love to the poor and the stranger’. ‘The CRISP program is an ideal way for church communities to become actively involved with helping a refugee family, starting from meeting them at the airport and guiding them through the issues and challenges of their first year in their local community’, he says. ‘It only requires a group of at least five people to come together to support a refugee family to settle in their local area.’ A not-for-profit organisation, Community Refugee Sponsorship Australia (CRSA), has been funded by the Australian government to provide information, training and support for local community groups.

The basic requirements for acceptance into CRISP include:

  1. The group needs to include at least five adults who live near each other.
  2. The group needs to nominate a leader to liaise with CRSA.
  3. Members must participate in two half-day training sessions.
  4. The group agrees to support a family selected by CRSA (you can nominate a preferred religious background).
  5. The group needs to commit to about 10 hours per week for a year for tasks such as arranging interim accommodation, transport from the airport, registering with Centrelink and Medicare, setting up bank accounts, arranging school enrolments, English lessons, neighbourhood orientation, understanding our medical system, assistance to find permanent accommodation and employment and providing social connections.
  6. The group will need to open a dedicated bank account and raise funds to cover some basic needs, such as temporary accommodation, secondhand furniture and whitegoods and initial food requirements. The family will be eligible for Centrelink and to work, so financial support is supplementary. A minimum fundraising goal of $5,000–20,000 is required.

At least two LCANZ congregations are already taking steps to become involved with CRISP.

Stacey Bradtke, a member of The Ark at Salisbury in South Australia, has been inspired to see the CRISP program become part of the congregation’s service to others. She says members have been focusing on being an active part of their vibrant multicultural community. The congregation desires to reflect this diverse community and grow into a truly multi-ethnic church.

‘Sponsoring a refugee family through CRISP fits into this story of wanting to serve and engage in the community’, Stacey says. ‘It provides a unique and truly beautiful opportunity to bring God’s love to life.’

The Ark is still in the early stages of putting together its support team. ‘There are a large number of refugees living in the area, so helping a family to settle here would provide more opportunities to connect with organisations and become increasingly connected with our wider community’, Stacey says. ‘We are excited that CRISP provides a simple, clear and relational avenue to give practical support to a family who desperately needs to be shown God’s love during a difficult transition to a new country and a new home.’

Monika Tropiano, from Western Australia’s Rockingham Mandurah congregation, says one person in their home group found out about CRISP and shared their interest with other members. The group then started to explore the possibilities.

An older church, Monika says they have realised their situation can be used to bless others. ‘As a group, we feel we are uniquely placed – mostly retired with a greater flexibility with our time’, Monika says. ‘We could see that we would have the ability to care for a newly arrived family for 12 months.’

They have been assessing how they can help a refugee family settle in – from determining a fundraising target outside their congregation’s budget, how to assist with initial accommodation, working out what household furniture and goods will be needed, to finding out who can help with skills such as teaching people to drive.

Becoming involved in welcoming a refugee family was also a good fit with four of the five key areas the congregation plans to focus on in 2023–2024: worship, service, small groups, community engagement and cross-cultural outreach.

They have formed a group, attended the sponsorship training and hoped to welcome their first refugee family this month or next. ‘We constantly remember that we are not doing this for ourselves, and we shouldn’t expect thanks or appreciation for what we do’, Monika says. ‘We are excited by this opportunity and are looking forward to how God will stretch us and use us to be his people in our local area.’

Helene Schulz is a member of the LCANZ Refugee Action Group.

If you would like to support these congregations or start your own CRISP support group, please contact Craig Heidenreich at, or by phone on 08 8267 7379 or 0492 177 366. You can also make a tax-deductible donation to support Rockingham Mandurah’s CRISP involvement online at:

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Going GREYT! 1 Peter 4:10

In Going GREYT! we feature stories of some of our ‘more experienced’ people within the LCANZ, who have been called to make a positive contribution in their retirement. We pray their examples of service will be an inspiration and encouragement to us all as we look to be Christ’s hands and feet wherever we are.

by Helen Brinkman

Retired Queensland educator Fred Stolz is penning his life story, which he’s called A Fortunate Life.

‘I don’t know why God has blessed me as he has, but I am very thankful’, says 87-year-old Fred as he reflects on his 54 years of service to education in Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The farmer’s son from Henty in southwestern New South Wales was always going to be a teacher.

And he’s now been recognised in the 2023 Australia Day Honours List for his service to education. This includes serving as foundation headmaster of Grace Lutheran College, Rothwell, Queensland, and inaugural principal of Balob Teachers College in PNG.

Fred’s learning journey began in a one-teacher school in country NSW during World War II.

By age 11 he was a boarder at Albury High School hostel, riding the diesel-powered rail motor train home on weekends.

And as the youngest high school graduate at 16 years, the headmaster said Fred was too young for university. However, he won a teaching scholarship that couldn’t be deferred, so off he went to the University of Sydney.

After completing his degree and a stint of national service, 20-year-old Fred won his first teaching post, back at Albury High School.

This was followed by four more teaching posts in public high schools across NSW. At age 21, Fred met his future wife Lois at the Lutheran youth group in Gilgandra, where he was teaching science at the local high school. Marriage followed in 1961.

After nine years teaching In NSW schools, a seed sowed during a childhood of mission festivals at church bore fruit. He became the inaugural principal of the new Balob Teachers College in Lae, at the foot of the PNG Highlands.

The 1965 mission posting meant flying the family, which then included two-year-old daughter Theresa and 10-month-old son Michael, in a propellor-powered DC-6B plane to Port Moresby, then Lae. Fred was one of eight staff teaching 99 students at what has become one of the largest primary teacher training institutions in PNG.

By the time he left 15 years later, the teaching college had 300 students undertaking a two-year course. Now, more than 1,100 students are currently undertaking a three-year primary school teaching course at Balob. The college’s motto ‘to serve’, is very close to Fred’s heart.

Fred says the teaching roles graduating teachers often go into involve a strong sense of service to the community. ‘The primary schools are isolated, so if you are serving there, you are really serving’, he says. ‘And for New Guineans to move away from their language group is not easy, so you need to have a true sense of service.’

He was named an Officer of the Order of Logohu (Bird of Paradise) by the PNG Government in December 2018, for his work at Balob, and his continued service to the Lutheran church.

His church service has included roles on the Queensland District’s Finance Council, Lutheran Education Queensland’s finance and development committee and committees of the Association of Independent Schools of Queensland.

Establishing Grace Lutheran College, Rothwell, on Brisbane’s north coast is what brought Fred and his family back to Australia in late 1979. From 1980, he oversaw its growth from 55 students on a new campus, to more than 1500 students over two campuses. The second campus at Caboolture opened in 2008.

That spirit of service has resonated with Fred throughout his life.

‘Talk is cheap, walking the talk is what you have to do’, he says.

Up until two years before he retired from Grace in 2009, Fred did just that, teaching a maths class each year. ‘I felt as principal I should set an example’, he recalls. When all the teachers were marking papers and writing reports, he was too.

After such a stimulating career, it required a concerted effort for Fred to adjust to retirement.

‘Teachers are a very intelligent group of people, so it’s always very interesting to be with them. After 54 years I knew it would be a jolt’, he says. ‘We bought a motorhome and spent 20 weeks travelling around Australia.’

Fred then started studying German at the University of the Third Age. Thirteen years into retirement, he is still an active member of Redcliffe Lutheran Church and his local Rotary club. He volunteers with the church’s Bayside Community Care, handing out food parcels. You’ll also find him selling raffle tickets or sizzling sausages at the local Bunnings for the Rotary club.

Fred paid tribute to the teachers he’s worked with in establishing both colleges. He also remains proud of the students and has never missed Grace Lutheran College’s annual end-of-year speech night. ‘They are all making good contributions to society and that’s a good result.’

Fred is a great advocate for Lutheran schools. ‘Australia is a very secular society, and we do need to show education has a spiritual side as well’, he says. ‘It’s one of the things that the Lutheran Church does very well.’

A passion for education continues in his family. Three of his 16 grandchildren are teachers, including one who has just become a high school teacher on Thursday Island in North Queensland.

Helen Brinkman is a Brisbane-based writer who is inspired by the many GREYT people who serve tirelessly and humbly in our community. By sharing stories of how God shines his light through his people, she hopes others are encouraged to explore how they can use their gifts to share his light in the world. Know of any other GREYT stories in your local community? Email the editor

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More than 340 delegates, along with approximately 120 visitors, officials, organisers and volunteers, met in Melbourne from 9 to 12 February for the in-person sessions of the 2021–2023 Convention of General Synod of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.

The meeting continued the 20th LCA Convention, which opened with online sessions in October 2021 and was then adjourned until 2023. The in-person sessions consisted of two full days of business at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, bookended by part-days with gathering and closing worship services.

In passing by a strong majority an amended proposal from the LCA’s Queensland District, General Synod delegates directed the General Church Board and College of Bishops to explore the theological, constitutional and governance issues involved in establishing ‘one church with two different practices of ordination’ – specifically, that work should be done to outline how one church with two ordination practices might function.

Delegates further requested that the fruit of this work be submitted as a proposal in time for discussion at the 2024 meeting of General Pastors Conference, for the Convention of General Synod that same year. This proposal required only a simple (50 per cent) majority in order to be passed.

Synod did not pass a proposal to change the teaching of the church which would have permitted the ordination of both men and women from 2024.

As it contained constitutional amendments and a change in the teaching of the church, the proposal brought before General Synod by the St Pauls Box Hill congregation, Victoria, required a two-thirds majority of registered delegates (230 votes) to be passed. While 203 delegates voted in favour of the proposal; 136 voted against it, and three delegates abstained.

After Convention, the bishops wrote to members of the LCANZ to share information and provide clarification regarding decisions made during the in-person sessions of General Synod.

You can also read more about these outcomes, including delegates’ reflections on the ‘one church, two practices’ resolution.

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To read the full message go to:


The 20th Convention of General Synod for the LCANZ, held in Melbourne, has come and gone.

Delegates came before God each day in worship with listening ears, and with the desire to live to God’s glory in the decisions we made.

We came together as God’s people, listening to each other, and sharing life together for the days of Synod as brothers and sisters in Christ.

For some, the outcomes will have landed much where they expected, and even hoped for. For others, there may be disappointment, frustration, disillusionment, and even anger. The College of Bishops are praying for all members of the church as you process the decisions that were made, and the meeting itself.

We thank all the delegates who took the time to prayerfully craft their thoughts but who did not have opportunity to speak on the floor of Convention. In reflecting on the meeting of Synod, the bishops observed that significant time was taken on points of order and clarification, which reduced the already limited time for discussion on the substantive issue itself each day. Hence the laity especially who came prepared to speak did not have the voice they could otherwise have had. This is something we suggest needs consideration for future conventions.


Some members of the church may have questions about the proposals, particularly those regarding the ordination of women and men in the LCANZ.

(1) On Friday, the Box Hill congregation brought before Synod a proposal to recognise the impasse faced by the church on this matter over many years. The proposal sought to provide a way to acknowledge the conscientious views of people on both sides of this debate. It called for the church to remain one, while providing for two practices of ordination. This involved a change to the teaching of the church in order to permit the ordination of both men and women, from February 2024. Because this proposal called for a change in the church’s teaching and an amendment to the LCA Constitution, a two-thirds majority (230 votes) was required for it to be passed. Fifty-nine per cent (203) of delegates voted in favour of the proposal; 136 voted against it; and 3 delegates abstained. Thus, this proposal was lost.

(2) On Saturday, delegates voted on a proposal by the Queensland District asking General Synod to direct the LCANZ General Church Board and the College of Bishops to work through the theological, constitutional, and governance requirements to operate as one church with two different practices of ordination and establish a detailed framework through which this could be accomplished, and to bring this work back in the form of a proposal to the 2024 General Pastors Conference and the General Synod. An amendment was added, stating that it is the expectation of this Convention of General Synod that both women and men will be ordained in a District of the LCANZ during the 2024–2027 synodical period. (You will find the full text of the resolution below.)

For the sake of clarity, the College of Bishops, after meeting with the General Church Board immediately after Convention, offers our understanding of this resolution and some comments on the pathway ahead.


That General Synod direct the LCANZ General Church Board and the College of Bishops to:

  1. Work through the theological, constitutional, and governance requirements to operate as one church with two different practices of ordination and establish a detailed framework through which this could be accomplished, such as one or more existing LCANZ Districts becoming Districts that teach and practice the ordination of both women and men to the office of the public ministry or by establishing a non-geographical LCANZ ‘District’ that does so, and
  2. Submit the fruit of this work in the form of a proposal that should be discussed by the LCANZ General Pastors Conference for Convention of General Synod 2024.
  3. It is the expectation of this General Convention of Synod that both women and men will be ordained in a District of the LCANZ during the 2024–2027 synodical period.


In the lead-up to the in-person sessions of General Synod 2021–2023 the College of Bishops urged a way forward that did not leave the church in an ongoing adversarial state on this issue, which has become debilitating in so many ways for relationships, and in carrying out the mission of the church.

The intention of this adopted proposal is to find a practical way forward to allow communities with different convictions regarding the ordination of women and men to co-exist, and to practise differently within the wider context of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.

It needs to be made clear that this proposal is charging the leadership of the church to do the work needed to bring a proposal to that end to the 2024 Convention, with an expected outcome. The resolution does not allow for the ordination of women and men right now, but this is an expected outcome of the 2024 synodical convention, if the proposal/s to be worked on together are passed. We ask individuals and congregations to be respectful of our synodical processes and the people who will be charged with leading us through them.

The wording under point c) above endorses the word ‘anticipates’ in the advice to this General Synod by the General Pastors Conference (GPC). The GPC advice said: ‘General Pastors Conference acknowledges that the Queensland proposal anticipates the ordination of women to the office of the public ministry in communities of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand. General Pastors Conference acknowledges that the Queensland proposal also anticipates the continuity of the ordination of men only in communities of the Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand.’

At GPC, pastors were advised before voting on the advice that ‘anticipates’ means ‘expects’. It is expected that the work to be done will lead to change.


General Church Board will oversee the delivery of what is required for the church to deliver the resolution. Guiding principles for this work have been identified.

At the centre of this work is the establishment of a project management office. This office will oversee working groups established to address key elements of what is required to be delivered by the resolution. These working groups will include experienced and (or) expert people of the church, representing the diversity of stakeholders involved. While time is tight, the whole church will have opportunity to contribute your thinking in the lead-up to the next Convention of Synod. As the people of the church of Jesus Christ, we commend this work to our Lord.

The College of Bishops are acutely aware of the range of emotions that have been impacting members on this issue over a long period of time. These or new emotions might have been brought to the surface with this latest decision, which is significantly different from those that have gone before it. We also know that some members have been hurt or wounded by other members in our conversations around this issue. We plead with all members of the church to speak carefully and sensitively with our brothers and sisters in Christ as we embark on enacting this resolution of Synod.

We want to listen to you and pastorally care for the church in ways that are most appropriate and helpful to each of you. The College of Bishops welcomes your suggestions regarding what is most helpful. We urge you as dearly loved brothers and sisters in Christ to stay with us, and to help us together with GCB to find the way forward, so that we can come to the Convention of Synod in 2024 with confidence and in peace.

It is our prayer that you will continue to come humbly before God to listen to him together, that you might find joy in the grace that we live in, and confident hope from the substance of the faith that we share. We also pray that together we might live and serve in peace and to the glory of God in this next significant period in the life of the LCANZ.

Bishop Paul Smith, LCANZ
Assistant Bishop Neville Otto, LCANZ
Bishop David Altus, SA–NT
Bishop Robert Bartholomaeus, NSW and ACT
Bishop Mike Fulwood, WA
Bishop Lester Priebbenow, Vic–Tas
Bishop Mark Vainikka, Qld
Bishop Mark Whitfield, LCNZ

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