One of my favorite hymns is The Church of Christ, in Every Age (ELW 729). The hymn addresses the need for change and the mission before us.
“The church of Christ in every age beset by change, but Spirit let, must claim and test its heritage and keep on rising from the dead.” [stanza 1]
Yes, it uses the dreaded “C” word, change, but where would the church be without the change made 50 years ago today…June 29, 1970? That day at a church-wide convention (now called an assembly) the Lutheran Church in America voted to change the word “man” to “person” in its bylaws which opened the door for the ordination of women. I was a high school sophomore and at the time paid little attention to what was going on in the national church. By the time I was in college, ministry was in the back of my mind but I couldn’t say it out loud because I didn’t think anyone would agree with what I thought was a sense of “call.” It took another 12 years before I made my announcement and went to seminary. In the meantime on November 22, 1970 Elizabeth A. Platz became the first woman in North America ordained by a Lutheran church body. Thanks to Pastor Platz and a host of other women who paved the way for me I was ordained 18 years later with an easier path to navigate. It was still a new idea for some…a woman pastor, really? Yes really and now, today, we celebrate 50 years. Thanks be to God.
I hope you agree with me that the addition of women as pastors has enhanced and enriched the church and was a Spirit-led decision.
“We have no mission but to serve in full obedience to our Lord; to care for all, without reserve, and spread his liberating word.” [stanza 4]
I am honored and grateful for the privilege of serving as a Lutheran pastor these 32 years.
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier