Three ‘town hall’ online sessions were run in late November and early December. They allowed delegates to ask questions about the processes and procedures around the ordination proposals. The sessions were available for the wider church to view via livestream. The responses to questions asked during the ‘town halls’ have been collated (below) as a reference for delegates and other LCANZ members with an interest in this topic.
Yes, Section 7.3.12 allows amendments to be submitted to the chairperson in writing in advance. Although very unusual due to the length of time, the in-person sessions are a continuation of the 20th convention opened in October 2021 with the online sessions. The convention was adjourned to meet at a later date. In other words, we are in the same meeting.
As the amended proposals from St Paul’s Box Hill and the Queensland District are changes made by the original proposers, the GCB has tabled their amended proposals through a procedural motion for the Synod to accept the amended proposals as ‘the proposals’ for the debate at General Synod, replacing the original proposals. The rationale for this was to aid the efficient running of the General Synod.
The Standing Committee on Constitutions (SCoC), supported by legal advice, considered that while there were differences (principally additions) between the original and amended proposals from Queensland and St Paul’s, the proposals were at their heart similar in context and content.
The right to receive and approve amendments, or indeed make further amendments, remains with the General Synod.
The view of the General Church Board on the advice of SCoC (supported by legal advice) is that it is not illegal. The advice deemed the amendments to the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal could be validly put before the church.
The basis for the motion is section 7.3.12 of the LCA By-laws, that allows proposers of amendments and any motions not previously printed to submit them in writing to the chairperson in advance.
The foreshadowed amendments will also published in the addendum to the Book of Reports. (Update: The online addendum was published on the General Synod website and delegates were notified via email on 9 January 2023.)
As the amended proposals from St Paul’s Box Hill and the Queensland District are changes made by the proposers, the General Church Board is recommending that the General Synod accept the amended proposals as the proposals for debate replacing the original proposals printed in the Book of Reports.
The procedural motion allows the amended proposal to be accepted for debate in its entirety instead of the General Synod dealing with each amendment individually before the proposed motion becomes that for debate.
This can be done in accordance with Article 7.12 whereby the General Synod is able to determine its own procedure.
Should this procedural motion not be accepted by the General Synod, amendments can still be transacted from the floor when the original proposals are put to the Convention.
Yes. In accordance with the LCA By-laws, amendments can be proposed on the floor of Synod but only after the motion has been moved and seconded.
Only one amendment can be proposed by a delegate at any time and needs to be voted on before the next amendment can be proposed from another delegate and considered and then voted on by the Synod.
Every amendment must be relevant to the motion and matter to which it refers.
In accordance with section 7.3.5 of the LCA By-laws, ‘all proposals on the agenda shall be placed before the Convention for discussion and decision, unless withdrawn’. This is done by the fact of publishing in the Book of Reports and the addendum to the Book of Reports.
With six proposals before the General Synod, the ordering of the proposals needs to be established. In resolving this, the General Church Board considered and addressed several matters:
a) The LCA Constitution requires that matters of both conscience and doctrine shall have precedence.
b) In line with these requirements, it is clear that the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal and amended proposal is a matter of both conscience and doctrine and requires a two thirds majority to approve.
c) By-law 18.104.22.168 which states that ‘matters of conscience and of doctrine shall have precedence’ means that a proposal that requires a two-thirds majority vote to be deemed the official position of the church (such as the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal) must take precedence over a vote that requires a simple majority (such as the Queensland District proposal).
d) By-law 22.214.171.124 requires a two-thirds majority for a resolution on a matter of doctrine to be deemed the official position of the church. Although the Queensland District proposal calls for giving consideration to matters of doctrine concerning church organisation and governance, if adopted, would not be deemed “the official position of the Church” as it only proposes investigative work to be done to bring proposed changes to the doctrine and constitution of the Church.
e) In considering the General Pastors’ Conference advice to General Synod, the General Church Board identified three key matters:
• the preamble which speaks of division;
• the support of the advice of the College of Bishops (refer to paragraph (f) below); and
• the final clause regarding TA 1.4.
f) The bishops have urged that the agenda of General Synod in 2023 must include proposals on the matter of ordination which do not continue the debate which leaves us divided. The Queensland District proposal could see a long process which continues the debate in the church, which leaves us divided.
g) The St Paul’s Box Hill proposal enables the General Pastors’ Conference expectation of applying TA 1.4 to addressing this matter of division.
h) Both the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal and Queensland proposals meet the General Pastors’ Conference advice in:
• item 3, that both proposals anticipate the ordination of women to the office of the public ministry in communities of the LCA/NZ.
• item 4, that both proposals anticipate the continuity of the ordination of men only in communities of the LCA/NZ.
On this basis and with consideration of advice from the Standing Committee on Constitutions, the General Church Board has recommended that the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal to be listed first on the agenda for the in-person sessions.
The General Church Board recognises that the General Synod has the right to determine its own agenda.
The LCA Constitution is clear that no motion may be brought forward which is the “same in substance” as a matter already resolved. The advice from Standing Committee on Constitutions regarding the original and amended forms of the St Paul’s and LCA Queensland District proposals is that they are not considered to be same in substance.
The St Paul’s Box Hill proposal seeks to remove Thesis of Agreement 6.11 and to amend the LCA Constitution. The Queensland proposal has no immediate legal effect in the nature of the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal. If passed, it would operate as a direction to the General Church Board and the College of Bishops to do further work.
The Standing Committee on Constitutions also advises that both proposals in their original or amended form, are not inconsistent or mutually exclusive. They are both capable of being put to the Convention and voted upon, and in each case being passed or not. In other words, whichever one is considered first by the convention, the resultant decision of the General Synod does not exclude the other from being put to the convention.
The proposals from Adelaide St Stephens Congregation, Duncraig Concordia Congregation and the SA-NT District are considered same in substance to the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal, as they cover matters already contained within the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal.
The proposal from the Minyip/Warracknabeal Parish is deemed not the same in substance to the other proposals on the matter of ordination by the SCOC and therefore can be debated by General Synod. SCOC and GCB are of the view that what is proposed by Minyip/Warracknabeal is already allowed for under the LCA Constitution.
Simply for the good order of the church and to support the Standing Committee on Constitutions in its deliberations. Increasingly, this is becoming a common practice in churches, in order to provide confidence to the church that proposed changes are legal.
The General Church Board wanted to have confidence in the conduct of the Convention given the unusual liminal space we are in with a Convention of General Synod, in two parts over 17 months due to circumstances beyond our control (COVID) and for which the LCA Constitution could not reasonably perceive.
The constitution’s statement on ‘same in substance’ and ‘matters of conscience and of doctrine’ (Section 126.96.36.199 of the By-laws) also needed clarification.
It is hoped that in providing this advice, it will remove the need for unnecessary points of order on such interpretations and instead allowing for as much of the available time to be focused on the debate of the matters within the proposals.
This section of the By-laws references ‘matter’ as distinct from a particular proposal. The theological matter being considered is the ordination of women.
All proposals, including the St Paul’s Box Hill and Queensland amended proposals, were considered by pastors in small groups during the GPC. As part of their work, pastors were asked a number of questions to the theological reasoning contained in the proposals. This is the reason the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal has been considered.
The purpose of this work was to help with any guidance the GPC might give to the Convention of General Synod. Based on this the GPC has provided its advice to the General Synod.
Section 7.3.5 of the By-laws state that “All proposals on the Agenda shall be placed before the convention for discussion and decision, unless withdrawn.”
While the advice of GPC is non-binding on the Synod, the General Synod is able to resolve how it proceeds in regard to the proposals on the agenda.
Refer to the answer for question 8 above.
Both the original and amended proposals from St Paul’s Box Hill were presented to the GPC and discussed in the small group work.
Yes. The St Paul’s Box Hill proposal seeks to change the official doctrinal position of the church and amend the constitution and therefore requires a two-thirds majority to be approved. The Queensland proposal only directs the General Church Board and the College of Bishops to do further work, and therefore requires only a simple majority.
If the work leads to a proposal(s) to the 2024 Convention that seek to change the doctrine of the LCA/NZ and amendments to the constitution, then a two-thirds majority will be required for it to be the official position of the church.
The General Synod would be required to give its guidance to the General Church Board and the College of Bishops in this matter. The ‘Reason for Proposal’ in the St Paul’s proposed motion acknowledges that a transition time is desired by some in the LCA, including to allow the General Church Board and College of Bishops to work through the associated matters required to operate as one church with two different practices of ordination.
The Theses of Agreement guides the LCA/NZ in our theological reflection of all matters including the matter of ordination.
Point 6 in the advice from the General Pastors Conference gives guidance on this question. GCB considered the advice of GPC and TA1.4 as outlined in the answer 5 (paragraph g) above.
“A majority of pastors at the General Pastors’ Conference believe that TA1.4 (particularly 1.4e) can be applied to our current impasse on the issue of ordination but there was not agreement on the outcomes of its application. It is expected that TA 1.4 would inform the work of the General Church Board and the College of Bishops in addressing the Queensland proposal.”
The General Synod is the highest authority in our church. The advice will be presented to the General Synod, and it is the General Synod that will make a determination on the basis of all the advice before it.
General Pastors Conference advice is not binding on the General Synod. It is offered as advice. The General Church Board considered the advice from General Pastors Conference, the College of Bishops and the Standing Committee on Constitutions.
The General Synod is the highest authority in our church. While the advice itself is not binding, the advice will be presented to the General Synod, and it is ultimately for the General Synod to make a determination on the basis of all the advice before it.
Yes. The recommendation from the General Church Board is to receive the amended proposals from the Queensland District and St Paul’s Box Hill as the proposals in order to move through its work in a timely manner. This is the procedural motion referred to in question 3.
It is however the General Synod that will decide whether to vote up or down the procedural motion.
If the procedural motion is supported, then the amended proposals from Queensland District and St Paul’s Box Hill will become the proposals for debate. Further amendments can be proposed from the floor, only after the proposal has been moved and seconded.
The General Synod has the ability to vote up or vote down the proposal being presented by the GCB on the agenda order. If voted down, hypothetically an alternative proposed motion could be put as to which of the six proposals are considered first. General Synod has the final decision on the proposal to be considered first.
Should the St Paul’s Box Hill proposal be taken up first and then adopted, there is work for the church to do in the way it expresses itself, especially pastorally for the people in the church. It will be important for the General Synod to give direction to the General Church Board and College of Bishops as to how these matters will be taken up pastorally for the wellbeing of the church.
No. The intention is not to bypass any statement of the church. The LCA/NZ has been discussing the matter of ordination for many years. In 1997 the Convention of General Synod gave the CTICR the task of studying the issue. There are proposals before the General Synod specifically to the removal of TA 6.11. However, the matter of ordination has undergone substantial theological examination and discussion across the whole church, which goes to the discussion of this statement in the Theses of Agreement.
The principles contained in TA 1 was gifted at the union of the church. It is a pathway where differences in exegesis on matters that affect church doctrine that is not church-divisive can be determined while remaining united.
This will depend on the nature of the amendments proposed and if the change would result in a change to the official position of the church. Should a proposal be significantly changed by amendment(s), the General Synod would need to determine whether they were same in substance.
We are grateful for the support of the LLL, the major sponsor of Convention of General Synod.