Church planter Nathan Hedt will be LCA/NZ’s next Pastor for New and Renewing Churches.

Pastor Nathan, who has served the Lakeside church plant at Pakenham in outer suburban Melbourne for the past six years, will take up the role early in 2021. He succeeds Rev Dr Noel Due, who is retiring after being in the position since January 2018 and having been a mentor to Pastor Nathan.

Pastor Nathan will remain based in Melbourne for his new post, which also includes managing the New and Renewing Churches Department of the LCA/NZ’s Local Mission office. While he will be sad to leave Pakenham, he believes God has been preparing him for the new challenge.

‘I think God’s been shaping me towards a role like this for a while’, he said. ‘The church-planting experience is really difficult but is also incredibly joyful and has been really good in shaping me towards this. My heart of an evangelist which wants people to hear and understand the good news for themselves is important in this. And I think also I have an ability to teach and to convey some of the excitement and the content about evangelism and church planting.’

LCA/NZ Executive Officer for Local Mission Dr Tania Nelson said she was excited to have Pastor Nathan join the team in a fulltime capacity.

‘I know God has been at work developing in Nathan the skills required for furthering and inspiring the church-planting movement in the LCA/NZ’, she said. ‘He comes to us with a heart for God’s mission, a good understanding of church planting in action, membership of the former interim Board for Local Mission and the current Committee for New and Renewing Churches and post-grad studies in mission.’

She also paid tribute to Pastor Noel’s service. ‘Noel has been an integral part of the growth in the LCA’s church-planting movement’, she said. ‘He has been a coach, trainer and pastor to many. We thank God for his pastoral care, his theological insights, his wise shepherding and wonderful contribution to local mission resources.’

Married to Yvette with three young adult daughters, Pastor Nathan was ordained as a pastor in the LCA in December 2003. He served Nambour parish on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast from 2004 to 2008, before becoming Pastor for Tertiary and Youth Ministry for the Victoria-Tasmania District from 2008 to 2014.

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The General Church Board (GCB) has approved moves to improve the ‘efficiency and transparency’ of the LCA/NZ’s call process.

Following a decision by the 2015 General Convention of Synod, the then General Church Council (now GCB) commissioned an investigation into the LCA call process in order to hear from congregations about their views and expectations of the process and to identify ways the system could be improved.

The report ‘A Review of the Call Process of the Lutheran Church of Australia’ was completed in July 2018. GCB now has responded to the report, including approving actions designed in collaboration with the College of Bishops (CoB) to improve the process.

The general conclusions of the report were that:

  • The call process was under stress
  • Parishes believed the process was inadequate, but could be improved, rather than replaced
  • Bishops and directors of mission generally reported satisfaction with the current call process, but indicated that it could be improved
  • The call process of the LCA already allows for a variety of practices, but that neither parishes nor bishops and directors of mission are aware of the full range of variants available, and
  • Expectation management is important for the call process to function well and for the reduction of levels of mistrust and frustration.

The LCA/NZ’s Secretary of the Church, Dr Nigel Long, said the review made a number of recommendations, though overall it found that the system did ‘not require significant structural change’.

‘However, it did identify that there is frustration about the system and a process that can be disheartening for some calling bodies’, he said. ‘As a result, the review also identified scope for improvement in the efficiency and transparency of the process.

‘GCB has received the report, considered its recommendations and approved a series of actions to implement them. These actions were developed in consultation with the College of Bishops. Some of them are already under development; for example, Church Worker Support is working on a framework for annual vocational reviews of pastors.’

Dr Long said the actions were focused on supporting both calling bodies and pastors to:

  • improve trust in the call process
  • increase the chances of a good calling body/pastor fit
  • improve the understanding of how the call process works, and
  • ensure greater professionalism, and overall efficiency and transparency in the system.

He said the approved actions could be ‘implemented through policy, operational processes and provision of resources to support all participants in the call system’. They would not require a synodical decision.

GCB’s response to the recommendations of the review report is available online through the LCA website here.

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The General Church Board (GCB) has approved moves to improve the ‘efficiency and transparency’ of the LCA/NZ’s call process.

Following a decision by the 2015 General Convention of Synod, the then General Church Council (now GCB) commissioned an investigation into the LCA call process in order to hear from congregations about their views and expectations of the process and to identify ways the system could be improved.

The report ‘A Review of the Call Process of the Lutheran Church of Australia’ was completed in July 2018. GCB now has responded to the report, including approving actions designed in collaboration with the College of Bishops (CoB) to improve the process.

The general conclusions of the report were that:

  • The call process was under stress
  • Parishes believed the process was inadequate, but could be improved, rather than replaced
  • Bishops and directors of mission generally reported satisfaction with the current call process, but indicated that it could be improved
  • The call process of the LCA already allows for a variety of practices, but that neither parishes nor bishops and directors of mission are aware of the full range of variants available, and
  • Expectation management is important for the call process to function well and for the reduction of levels of mistrust and frustration.

The LCA/NZ’s Secretary of the Church, Dr Nigel Long, said the review made a number of recommendations, though overall it found that the system did ‘not require significant structural change’.

‘However, it did identify that there is frustration about the system and a process that can be disheartening for some calling bodies’, he said. ‘As a result, the review also identified scope for improvement in the efficiency and transparency of the process.

‘GCB has received the report, considered its recommendations and approved a series of actions to implement them. These actions were developed in consultation with the College of Bishops. Some of them are already under development; for example, Church Worker Support is working on a framework for annual vocational reviews of pastors. Others will be developed and rolled out through this synodical period and beyond.’

Dr Long said the actions were focused on supporting both calling bodies and pastors to:

  • improve trust in the call process
  • increase the chances of a good calling body/pastor fit
  • improve the understanding of how the call process works, and
  • ensure greater professionalism, and overall efficiency and transparency in the system.

He said the approved actions could be ‘implemented through policy, operational processes and provision of resources to support all participants in the call system’. They would not require a synodical decision.

GCB’s response to the recommendations of the review report is available online through the LCA website at www.lca.org.au/call-review-process

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Christians from more than 90 churches from around New Zealand – including members of St Paul’s Lutheran Community Church at Upper Moutere in the north of the South Island – have come together online to sing a blessing over their nation.

Inspired by many other mass video choirs from around the world who have teamed up virtually during a season of isolation, the New Zealand video of ‘The Blessing’ was produced by St Paul’s member and professional musician Grant Norsworthy.

‘The Blessing’ song by Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes and Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in the United States is based on the Aaronic Blessing from Numbers 6:22–26. It was first transformed into a show of interdenominational unity in the United Kingdom in May.

You can watch The Blessing Aotearoa New Zealand at www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZQPifs2kjo

See Grant and other St Paul’s members from 4 mins 37 secs into the video.

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Hundreds of you – our loyal subscribers – have called for the continuation of The Lutheran’s expanded home worship and devotional materials, even when all churches reopen for unrestricted face-to-face worship.

The Church@Home section, using special resources produced by the LCA/NZ, has been part of our commitment to supporting readers in their faith journey during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Featured since the May 2020 edition, these pages have proven extremely popular with readers, according to our recent subscriber survey.

Released in the July edition of The Lutheran, highlighted in our eNews bulletins from late June and available online, the survey drew 368 responses.

Of the 352 people who answered the question about extra faith-building resources in the magazine, 89.78 per cent would like to see some or all of the Church@Home resources stay on even when worship gatherings are unrestricted. Approximately one-third – or 32.34 per cent – of respondents used the survey link provided in our eNews bulletins and on the printed survey to respond online, while the remainder posted in forms.

As to what motivates people to subscribe, the most popular responses were (with more than one answer possible): It keeps me informed about my church (95.38 per cent); Because I’m Lutheran and like to support my church (80.16 per cent); I enjoy the range of opinions shared (64.95 per cent); and It strengthens my faith (58.15 per cent).

Feature stories were the most favoured content, scoring an average of eight out of 10, while The Inside Story, Heartland, Editor’s letter, Your Voice, Going GREYT, Dwelling in God’s word, Go and Grow and the Directory all scored above seven.

The survey has also provided much useful information for the LCA Communications team to consider when planning future editions of The Lutheran. Thank you to those who took part and for your ideas, encouragement and constructive criticism.

– Lisa McIntosh

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Tangara magazine has a rich history in the LCA. From 1968 to 2009 the students of Luther Seminary and later Australian Lutheran College (ALC) annually produced the magazine to build relationships between students and the wider church.

This year a group of students has taken the initiative to ‘renew’ Tangara to share their journey at ALC. By reading stories from all over Australia from students studying at ALC, both online and on-campus, readers will get to know the future lay workers, pastors and teachers of our church.

The 2020 Tangara will be available for $10 a copy from mid-November and copies will be sent out with students to many churches. For anyone else who would like to buy a copy, please contact the Tangara committee at: Tangara@alc.edu.au for further details.

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Due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting attendance numbers at public gatherings, next month’s LCA/NZ Ordination Service will be live-streamed on the internet, so that people from across the church can participate.

In-person attendance at the service, which will be held at Concordia College chapel, at Highgate in South Australia, will be by invitation only. No general public seats will be available.

The service, which will be held at 2pm on Sunday 6 December 2020, will also be recorded and photographed. DVDs of the service will be available to order in early 2021.

In a challenging year due to the pandemic, the 2020 ordination service gives the church great cause for celebration, Libby Krahling from the LCA/NZ’s Commission on Worship said.

‘Please pray for all the ordinands and their families as they prepare for this very important moment in their ministry’, she said.

‘We hope that as many people as possible will be able to witness the service via live-streaming. Join the whole LCA/NZ in celebrating ordination this year! You may like to gather as a congregation or small group, while observing government and health directives, to watch the service together.’

The service will be live-streamed at https://livestream.com/luthworship/ordination

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The LCA/NZ has released an interim report detailing the vision, recommendations and principles for a new constitutional framework for the church, along with church member feedback on the current constitution.

The General Church Board (GCB) is conducting the review of the 54-year-old constitution on behalf of General Synod. The interim report is the culmination of Phase 1 of the review process. The review aims to develop a constitution that serves the church well in being faithful to Christ, living out the gospel and thriving in the 21st century.

To date, approximately 250 church members have engaged with the review process. Some people have completed surveys, others have written submissions, some have participated in working groups, and still others have been involved in telephone interviews.

The purpose of the Phase 1 Review was to identify and analyse the key issues and establish the key principles that will be presented for approval as the framework that will guide the development of a new constitutional structure, Executive Officer of the Church Peter Schirmer said.

He said in 2021 the church would decide if, when and how it would move into Phase 2, planning for the actual updating of the constitutional framework. Submissions to the review show that most church members support having new, easier-to-read documentation. They would also like to see our separate General and District Synods constitutionally linked and working together more. And they would like to simplify the definition of ‘membership’ of congregations to bring our definitions in line with typical practice.

The detailed two-volume Interim Report provides a fuller outline of changes church members would like to see. The most significant suggested improvement is to regroup our current large document into three separate but related documents – a ‘Church Charter’, a ‘Book of Rules’ and a ‘Constitution’ for our legal structure.

Links to the interim report have been emailed to all pastors, congregation chairs and 2018 General Synod delegates. You can also find out more about the review and read both volumes of the report online at www.lca.org.au/constitution-review

Please provide your feedback on the report and its recommendations, along with any ideas you have about updating the LCA/NZ constitution, to your local district. Contact details are on the Constitution Review webpage.

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The LCA/NZ has released an interim report detailing the vision, recommendations and principles for a new constitutional framework for the church, along with church member feedback on the current constitution.

The General Church Board (GCB) is conducting the review of the 54-year-old constitution on behalf of General Synod. The interim report is the culmination of Phase 1 of the review process. The review aims to develop a constitution that serves the church well in being faithful to Christ, living out the gospel and thriving in the 21st century.

To date, approximately 250 church members have engaged with the review process. Some people have completed surveys, others have written submissions, some have participated in working groups, and still others have been involved in telephone interviews.

The purpose of the Phase 1 Review was to identify and analyse the key issues and establish the key principles that will be presented for approval as the framework that will guide the development of a new constitutional structure, Executive Officer of the Church Peter Schirmer said.

‘The aim is to achieve a constitutional framework that has longevity and reflects who we are, why we exist, how we are governed, is consistent with contemporary standards, and is of such a nature that requires minimal changes over time’, he said.

He said in 2021 the church would decide if, when and how it would move into Phase 2, planning for the actual updating of the constitutional framework. Submissions to the review show that most church members support having new, easier-to-read documentation. They would also like to see our separate General and District Synods constitutionally linked and working together more. And they would like to simplify the definition of ‘membership’ of congregations to bring our definitions in line with typical practice.

The detailed two-volume Interim Report provides a fuller outline of changes church members would like to see. The most significant suggested improvement is to regroup our current large document into three separate but related documents – a ‘Church Charter’, a ‘Book of Rules’ and a ‘Constitution’ for our legal structure.

The ‘Church Charter’ would be based on Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions and would perform a modern-day function similar to that of the Theses of Agreement in 1966. The ‘Book of Rules’ would be a collection of the standard operating regulations, policies and procedures of the LCA/NZ. We would continue to have a legal document in order to have a legal structure, meet secular requirements and provide legal protections for our church.

Links to the interim report have been emailed to all pastors, congregation chairs and 2018 General Synod delegates. You can also find out more about the review and read both volumes of the report online at www.lca.org.au/constitution-review

Please provide your feedback on the report and its recommendations, along with any ideas you have about updating the LCA/NZ constitution, to your local district. Contact details are on the Constitution Review webpage.

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The LCA/NZ’s governance and pastoral leaders have issued a report to members after meeting about the division within the church over women’s ordination.

Earlier this year, the General Church Board (GCB) and the College of Bishops (CoB) held a joint meeting on the issue.

This was their second such combined meeting since the 2018 General Convention of Synod, at which a resolution to allow the ordination of women in the LCA/NZ received majority support but failed to garner the two-thirds majority of delegates required for such a change to church practice and teaching.

The result was similar to those of ballots at three previous General Conventions since 2000, in which more than 50 per cent of delegates were in favour of women’s ordination.

The church remains divided on this issue and, despite years of theological study and respectful dialogue and debate, there is no indication that consensus will be reached. The GCB and CoB met to consider what steps might be taken to address this impasse.

After considering all the information they had received, to make the task manageable, GCB and CoB confined the task to considering three potential scenarios, while acknowledging that there may also be others:

Scenario 1: A single LCA/NZ synod, with one teaching and two practices

Scenario 2: A single LCA/NZ synod, with the current teaching upheld

Scenario 3: Multiple LCA/NZ synods – we can no longer stay together (we separate).

The GCB and CoB have assessed each scenario against a number of criteria, including church unity, confessional and biblical identity/integrity, and the impact on gospel proclamation.

The report is now available for church members to read and discuss. A copy has been sent to all pastors, parish and congregation chairs and General Synod delegates.

LCA/NZ Bishop John Henderson said all members of the GCB and the CoB remained committed to the one LCA/NZ, ‘our unity as a synod and our common purpose in Christ. We are Lutheran, and we want to remain so, but first of all we are Christ’s … If we hurt each other, it is really him we hurt’.

You can access the report via the LCA website at www.lca.org.au

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