Now well over a third of the active clergy in the ELCA are women and nearly half of all candidates for ordination were female in the last year for which statistics are available. But women clergy are said to lag behind men in pay and in acceptance in the parish. This dispute the fact that there are a significant number of women bishops in the ELCA. At least 17 of the ELCA's 65 synod bishops are female but women still lag behind mind in holding the title of senior pastor. So for many in the ELCA the struggle is not over. But for others, women pastors remain controversial at best and a scandal at worst. I knew two female LCA pastors who have a long fight to justify their ordination theologically, renounced their ordination and were received as lay members of the Roman Catholic Church. For them, this failure to justify their ordination became a shadow that would not go away. One might wonder if there will ever be a theological justification for the breech in history and theology with even our recent Lutheran past. Or perhaps it is either too late or not necessary to give theological cover for a decision which is now seen as a done deal. After all, when the NALC and LCMC left the ELCA, both continued the practice of women's ordination. It has become a non-negotiable. The same is true for the Episcopalians who left to form the Anglican Church in North America.
For the ELCA, the decision to ordain women eventually led to decisions to accept homosexuality and transgender clergy. While it is not necessary to link the two or to judge the ordination to be the causal event for this choice, it is impossible to deny that the other would not have happened if women had not been ordained. So the anniversary will be celebrated with great fanfare among those who favor this decision but it cannot be denied that it is an lex still in search of a ratio. That would seem to have put a damper on the 50th anniversary but it does not look like anyone still cares. Just a few thoughts as we approach the 50th anniversary of the ordination of an ALC woman while that body was technically in fellowship with the LCMS. Now isn't that ironic!!