While many of us are shocked and appalled at the fact that the Texas District is allowing a woman pastor to be involved in the worship services of its youth gathering, it seems that this LCMS dabbling with "ordained" women has been quietly going on for at least 15 years.
The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod has a strange working relationship with a Lutheran Church body (a partner church of the ELCA) that is not only a founding member of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), but has more than half a century of "ordained" women under its belt, and currently an ordained roster that is 30% female.
The Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia (ECAC) explains its position on women in ministry here (emphasis in the original):
Today, 30% of the ordained ministers are women. They are pastors, assistant pastors, teachers of religion, counselors in Lutheran schools, teachers at the Seminary, they work at bishops' offices, in social work, church gremials and many other places. Some of them are single, but many are married and have family.
Sometimes a congregation refuses to accept a woman as their pastor, there is sometimes a fear of "overfeminization", or an opinion that women should not have a high position in the church. Some groups still dispute the very ordination of women.
From the LCMS website, here is an article about a rostered LCMS pastor with a call to the LCMS Board for Mission Services who serves in Bratislava as a professor at the ECAC seminary:
Dr. David Daniel serves God at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. As head of the department of church history and vice-dean for scholarship and international contacts, he develops instructional materials and helps prepare future workers for the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia and other countries of central and eastern Europe.
David was born in Bethlehem, Pa. and is a graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Ill. He studied at the University in Vienna, Austria, prior to receiving his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University, where he taught for nine years. He served as pastor or vacancy pastor in congregations in Penn., Mo., and Ill. From 1979 to 1988, he taught at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. David has lived and worked in Bratislava since 1988. In 1997 he accepted a call from LCMS World Mission to serve full-time as a theological educator at the Theological Faculty in Bratislava.
David is married to Slavka, a native of Slovakia, who serves as the head of the department of religion and chaplain at the Evangelical Lyceum in Bratislava.
They ask you to pray that the Spirit would energize and strengthen teachers as they prepare students to serve church and society. Pray that believers will grow in faith and that the members and workers of the churches in central Europe may be effective witnesses to Christ so that those who are not Christians may be brought to faith. Prayer Card. (top)
I can only wonder how many other LCMS pastors would be permitted to remain on the clergy roster if their wives were not in communion fellowship with them, being rostered church workers of church bodies with whom we don't share fellowship. This is a bizarre situation.
And here is another article published by the LCMS regarding the many LCMS workers who are working with this church. I can't help but think about the many struggling orthodox partner churches we have where members of the LCMS could be helping instead of a church where 30% of the pastors are women.
And here, on the website of the Lutheran High School in Bratislava, Slovakia, is an explanation of the LCMS and ELCA involvement in work at the school going back to 1991:
"A lot of effort by many people made the re-opening of the school possible, including cooperation from parents, school board authorities, teachers, students, and the Lutheran church bodies of Slovakia and the United States (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod)."
Here is summary of the Slovakian Church's ecumenical relationships:
Lutheran Church in Slovakia
- we are founding member of the World Council of Churches and of The Lutheran World Federation
- Partner churches: ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- Slovak Zion Synod), EKD (Evangelische Kirche Deutschlands / Germany, especially Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thuringia / Thüringen and Württemberg), Church of Sweden (close contacts with the Harnosand diocese)
- other churches we cooperate with: EVL (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland -- mission organization Sanansaattajat), LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, USA), ELCIC (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada -- their website offers a list of Lutheran churches worldwide -- you will also find a similar list on the page of the Lutheran World Federation -- click "member churches")
- Lutheran World Federation: Regional Office in Central and Eastern Europe for the Expression of Communion (ROCEE)
- list of Lutheran Schools in Slovakia and links to their web pages.
- Wooden ("Articular") Lutheran churches in Svaty Kriz (Paludza) and in Hronsek.
Here is a description of another LCMS long term missionary (with no mention that she is working for a church outside of our fellowship that "ordains" women):
Laurie Lenz serves the Lord as a long-term missionary in Slovakia, where she teaches English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a Lutheran high school of 280 students in Tisovec. Students are not only Lutheran, but many still feel the weight and affects of communism and its relationship with religion. Prior to her service in Slovakia, Laurie participated in a two-week LCMS World Mission training program in St. Paul, Minn.
Laurie was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Her home congregation is Trinity Lutheran Church, Algona. She received her education from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, where she studied secondary education, history, and missions. While a university student, Laurie participated and led three spring break mission trips to Juarez, Mexico. She also attended two Beautiful Feet Mission Conferences for LCMS college students. In January 2005, Laurie visited the Panama mission field and helped with vacation Bible school.
Please pray for Laurie as she embarks on this new journey. Aside from this being her first experience as a teacher, Laurie will also have to show patience and understanding, as well as adjust to a new culture and language. Pray also that she builds strong relationships with other missionaries, teachers, and her students. Finally, Laurie asks that her supporters pray that she is able to "teach and witness the Gospel as Christ taught it." Prayer Card. (top)
And here is a video from one of our long term missionaries (also available through LCMS World Mission here). Notice that she mentions "pastors" and "chapel services" at the Lutheran high school in Tisovec (which is affiliated with the ECAC) - but she doesn't indicate whether these pastors are women, or to what extent LCMS church workers and volunteers participate in these services. In 2001, Tisovec had a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first woman "ordained" in the ECAC.
When there are LCMS church workers and volunteers spending months or years working with this church body, it begs the question, are they taking communion there? And think of what these young, impressionable missionaries and church workers are being exposed to. Is this any less egregious than the Texas District youth gathering's inclusion of a woman pastor in the worship line-up? But this has been quietly going on under the radar screen for 15 years. And shouldn't the LCMS be disclosing this fact before asking for funds?
Surely, Rev. Robert Roegner, who is pictured here in Bratislava, is aware of the status of the ECAC. Not only that, but the LCMS is training church planters for this church body:
European missionaries to attend U.S. institute
In their quest to make western Europe Ablaze! with the Gospel, missionaries from Lutheran church bodies in Germany and Slovakia are planning to attend the Missouri Synod's Mission Planters Institute this month in Orlando, Fla.
The institute, sponsored by the Center for U.S. Missions, Irvine, Calif., with assistance from LCMS World Mission and LCMS districts, is designed to share ideas and encouragement for church planting. Participants include outreach-minded pastors and laypeople from LCMS congregations nationwide.
Germany's Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia each plan to send a missionary and a mission "coach" to the Orlando institute "to get ideas to implement for the training of missionaries in Europe," according to Dr. Robert Scudieri, associate executive director for the national mission team of LCMS World Mission.
Scudieri was in Germany and Slovakia in November, where he led church-planting workshops for more than 40 Lutheran missionaries, church leaders and seminary faculty from Germany, Slovakia, France and Denmark. Prior to his visit, he had invited the church bodies in Germany and Slovakia to send representatives to the U.S.-based institute.
Scudieri said he "learned a great deal about how a church in an unchurched culture can minister." German Lutherans, he said, "are doing some very exciting things in church planting, and this gave them a framework for considering something like a 'center for European missions.'"
Such a center could be modeled after the Center for U.S. Missions, and LCMS World Mission could "provide resources to make it a reality," Scudieri said. He stressed that the center and its curriculum would come from the European Lutherans, but that "we can come alongside them and help implement it."
Scudieri plans to lead a similar church-planting forum in Latvia later this year.Posted Feb. 2, 2004
Again, the LCMS is in partnership with many struggling churches around the world. Why are we sending church workers and missionaries to an LWF church - especially when the LWF is bullying faithful Lutheran churches with whom we share communion - and usually specifically over their refusal to ordain women? Why are we so cozy with this particular church body? And what message does this send to those who spend months or years in such an environment with the full blessing of the synod? And why is the status of this church body never discussed in any official LCMS organ?
I just don't get it.