Female Elders

You’ll recall that the 2004 Convention said that woman can be elders as long as it doesn’t involve them in the function or accountability of the pastoral office. As of 31 July 2008 three of the nine elders at Trinity, Lexington Park, MD are women.  If you would like to see for yourself go to here: http://www.trinitylexpk.org/WhoWho/ppc.html#elder1 They duly revised their bylaws as of 12-4-05. They are copied below from their web site.  I have highlighted certain parts. Tell me what do you think?  Do these bylaws involve their elders in a way prohibited by the 2004 convention? (More of my comments below.)

A.        The Board of Elders

The duties of this Board require that only members noted for their Christian knowledge, zeal, and experience in the spiritual work of the Kingdom of Christ shall be elected to membership.

The objectives of this Board are the spiritual welfare of the Pastor and Congregation.

 The Board shall:

1.         Pray for the Pastor and other leaders.

2.         Encourage the Pastor in his work.

3.         Be concerned about the spiritual, emotional, and physical health and welfare of the Pastor and his family (adequate compensation, housing, free time, vacation, assistance in times of illness), and to that end specifically review these items at least once each year.

4.        Exercise leadership in gathering a call list and calling a new Pastor when a vacancy occurs.

5.        Maintain discipline within the Congregation according to Scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, and Article 4 of the Constitution and Arti­cle 3 of the By-Laws of this Congregation.

6.        Take spiritual charge and oversight of the geographical or familial groupings assigned to them.

7.        Assist the pastor in determining eligibility for membership of all individuals and families applying for membership in the Congregation according to Article 4 of the Constitution and Article 1 of the By-Laws.

8.        Train members in discipleship in conjunction with the Board of Evangelism.

9.        Engage in continual review of communion of all members, make calls on delinquent members, and follow up on all new­born children in the Congregation until they are baptized.

10.      Visit all sick, hospitalized, aged, and shut-ins in the Congregation.

11.      Coordinate thorough instruction of youth and adults for confirmation and church membership.

12.       Be present for periodic training as determined by the Pastor and this Board.

13.       Encourage spiritual programs in the societies of the Congregation.

14.       Submit an annual budget to the Treasurer.

15.       For the worship of the Congregation:

                        a.         Supervise the organists and choir in conjunction with the pastor.

                        b.         Provide for vicars, assistants, substitute pastors, and guest speakers.

                        c.         Staff, train, and supervise the ushering staff.

                        d.         Assist the Pastor with communion distribution.

                        e.         Set the time, schedule, and number of communion services in con­junction with the Pastor.

                        f.          Counsel with pastor regarding new forms of worship, liturgies, and hymns for use in public worship.

                        g.         Supervise the Altar Guild in the care, use, and maintenance of the sacred vessels, the altar, altar furnishings, and vestments.

                        h.         Plan and publicize the services for the year.

                        i.          Supervise the budgeted allotment for the selection and procurement of appropriate music in conjunction with the Coordinator of Music.

                        j.          Recommend and annually review compensation as required for music staff.

                        k.         Maintain and supervise adequate nursery facilities.

In point of fact, these bylaws are no different than ones for an all male Board of Elders.  In point of fact, they do involve women in the function and accountability of the Office of the Ministry.  In point of fact, the men of Trinity, Lexington Park have not as St. Paul admonished: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (! Cor. 16:13 KJV).   No, they have quit being men, and whether or not they know it, some of the women of that congregation do.

Is such brazen flaunting of synodical resolutions “walking together?”  Is this what it means to deal openly and honestly with one another? Is this what it means to endeavor to keep the Spirit of unity in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3)? 

The galling thing is that we will be told it is all of the above, and we are crazy, unloving, unevangelical, uncaring for thinking otherwise.  While they have created the shameful disfigurement that St. Paul warns of in I Corinthians 14, we will be the ones made to feel ashamed.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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2 Responses to Female Elders

  1. Bart Goddard says:

    I’m surprised that Item 3 didn’t get some bold face font. The
    elders are put in charge of the pastor’s compensation. “Oh,
    the women don’t have authority over the pastor, they just
    set his salary, vacation, insurance, housing, ….”

  2. Carl Roth says:

    You can see how a congregation like this one would “embrace” women elders just by reading their mission statement: “The Mission of Trinity Lutheran Church [Lexington Park, MD] is to bring all people closer to Jesus through the Word of God, worship, and caring service.” To “bring all people closer” is an essentially therapeutic, emotional mission in contrast to the true mission of the church, to take sinners from death into life, darkness into light, outside Christ into Christ, etc. Trinity-Lexington Park’s mission is a law-mission because it deals with the fractions of “closeness” rather than the whole of the Gospel, total forgiveness and incorporation into Christ’s death and resurrection.

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