Friday, April 26, 2013
From Down Under
AUSTRALIA – Rev. John Henderson was elected Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) April 22, 2013. The election was made on the first day of business at the LCA’s National Convention, which also made the decision to change the title of the synodical head from “President” to “Bishop.”
Rev. Henderson has been Principal of Australian Lutheran College, LCA’s post-secondary institute, since 2009. He was ordained in 1982, and served parishes in four LCA districts until 2001. He was Vice President of the Lutheran Church of Australia from 2006 to 2011, and a member of General Church Council from 2003 to 2011.
He has also been involved in broader ecumenical work, serving as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia from 2002 to 2008. He was a member of the LCA’s Commission on Theology and Inter-Church Relations, a representative at the Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue, a founding member of the Regional Interfaith Dialogue SA Asia (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade with the Indonesian government), and co-founder of the Australian National Dialogue of Christians, Muslims and Jews.
Lutheran Church–Canada’s (LCC) President Robert Bugbee was invited to speak at the General Pastor’s Conference, and to bring greetings to the General Convention on behalf of LCC.
In addition to the celebration of the outgoing president and incoming bishop, the General Convention has seen the LCA struggle over the issue of the women’s ordination. “The question of ordaining women to the pastoral office continues to be a contentious one for the Lutheran Church of Australia,” President Bugbee reports. “It is clear that the convention is quite divided in the matter. The national pastors’ conference asked for current dialogues to continue, and for other discussions to intensify during the coming three years.”
There are many who think that the election of John Henderson does not bode well for the future of the conservatives within the LCA. Henderson is more noted for being a politician than a theologian and some raised concerns about his management of the ALC. His stint as Secretary of the NCCA (National Council of Churches in Australia) and the happiness of many within the Lutheran World Federation over his election all points to the LCA departing from the Theses of Agreement that was the foundation of its unity some years ago. I am personally saddened if, indeed, this is the case since we have enjoyed the gifts and apt theological mind of Dr. John Kleinig for many years. The future may be difficult for many within the LCA and the battle against women's ordination has gained a potentially powerful enemy in the election of a new presiding bishop there. Prayers are in order...