National Lutheran News

LCMS clarifies women’s church leadership roles

Minnesota South District had posed specific questions about some offices.

Anew publication created following the 2004 national convention of the Lutheran Church—Mis-souri Synod (LCMS) has been distributed to the denomination’s congregations. It explains how women may properly take leadership roles in the church.

The guidelines were created by a special task force and were included as an appendix to a report of the Commission on Theology and Church Relations. The task force was appointed by Synod President Gerald Kieschnick.

Included is the commission’s response to questions from the Minnesota South District, regarding women serving as executive director, president, assistant director or vice president of a congregation.

Responding to Minnesota South’s queries, the report states, “Scripture does not prohibit women who possess the requisite gifts from holding these humanly established offices, assuming that the occupants of these offices do not ‘perform those functions that are distinctive to the public exercise of the ministry of Word and sacraments.”

The guidelines recommend that the term “elder” be reserved for the congregational office assigned to assisting the pastor “in the public exercise of the distinctive functions” of the pastoral office. Where elders historically work closely with the pastor, “women may not serve in this office.”

They recommend that only lay men assist in distributing the elements in the Lord’s Supper “to avoid giving offense to the church.”