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News


By the staff of The Lutheran, ELCA News Service and Religion News Service


Historic ordination


For the first time in its history, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Madhya Pradesh, an ELCA compan- ion in India, ordained four women this fall. “Finally, after a long wait my dream has come true,” said L.K. Khakha, one of the newly ordained from Tumsar, India. Augustine Jeyakumar, general secretary of the United Evangelical Lutheran Churches in India, said, “It is impor- tant for all the Lutheran churches in India to ordain women as pastors, taking a step toward gender justice. Women’s issues need to be addressed for the emancipation of women, which is not so easy to achieve in Indian patriarchal context.”


New chair for bishops


William O. Gafkjen, bishop of the Indiana-Kentucky Synod, was elected chair of the ELCA Confer- ence of Bishops at its Oct. 1-6 meet- ing in Chicago. The conference is an advisory body of the ELCA that includes the 65 synod bishops, the presiding bishop and the secretary. Gafkjen has served as synod bishop since 2010.


Public citizen award


Ann E. Helmke, an ELCA pastor from San Antonio, received the Pub- lic Citizen of the Year Award from the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). Helmke is direc- tor of spiritual services at Haven for Hope of Bexar County, a homeless transformational center based in San Antonio. She is also co-founder of the San Antonio PeaceCENTER and an adjunct professor of spirituality. Helmke received the award at NASW’s


8 www.thelutheran.org


A kairos moment T


he ELCA Conference of Bishops acknowledged that the denomi- nation is at a “kairos” moment


in regards to theological educa- tion. In an Oct. 1-6 meeting in Chi- cago, the bishops considered three draft recommendations outlined in a report from the ELCA Theo- logical Education Advisory Council (TEAC), which was authorized by the ELCA Church Council to address in a holistic way issues on theological education, leadership development, candidacy, call and rostered leaders. The council’s draft recommenda-


tions are to: • Create and sustain a network of theological education.


• Link vocational discernment and theological education for specific target audiences in and beyond the church.


• Ensure the mission vibrancy and financial stability of ELCA semi- naries as they serve “their crucial roles in our theological education network.” The conference focused on the


third recommendation, which in part asks ELCA seminaries in the next three years to form a common theological education enterprise that has planning structures and decision-making. With the aid of an external consultant, TEAC and semi-


20th leadership meeting held earlier this year in Washington, D.C.


Act of solidarity


Some male pastors of the Seventh- day Adventist Church are changing their credentials in an act of soli- darity. The protest has occurred in several U.S. states after the global denomination voted last summer not to allow regional church bodies to ordain women. Despite the ban, sev-


nary leaders imagined five possible models for organizing and moving forward the seminary network. The bishops considered the mod-


els and drafted a statement that reflects their preferences to be shared with the ELCA Church Council, which is expected to take action on the TEAC report in spring 2016. The bishops expressed appre-


ciation for the TEAC report and acknowledged “the courage of the leadership of our eight seminar- ies engaging” in conversations. “We remain sensitive to the disruptive and necessary change these proposed changes will bring,” they said. The bishops’ statement also


affirms their desire for the work to move forward. They rejected the model that would keep the status quo, and expressed their support for two of the five models that would move toward the greatest collaboration and common work. The conference “strongly advo-


cates the necessary reform that best serves the current and future mission of Christ’s church for the sake of the world. ... In moving toward a more centralized model for the sake of bet- ter stewardship, we call for innovation, responsiveness, accessibility and flexi- bility. We pledge ourselves to this work with our partners at our seminaries.”


eral U.S. conferences have ordained women, who hold an informal “com- missioned” credential and can’t pre- side over regional conferences, orga- nize churches, or ordain elders, dea- cons or deaconesses. Kymone Hinds, a pastor in Memphis, Tenn., accepted the loss of certain privileges of ordi- nation, saying, “We realize that our female ministers do the same work and have the same education but there is a glass ceiling over them.”


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