I’m a member of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) and have been my entire life. I didn’t really get a solid appreciation and knowledge of what that meant from a historical and theological perspective until my college theology courses at Wisconsin Lutheran College (WLC). Through my study in coursework and research for papers, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of my faith body and why we do some of the things we do. This deeper understanding includes the origin and traditions of our liturgy, as well as the concept of fellowship. More recently I’ve been thinking and reading more about why women aren’t allowed to vote or serve as voting members on boards in our church. What I found was more than I expected.

Looking for answers

My interest in this topic came as a result of conversations I’ve had with fellow Christians and from my personal experiences at Church voters meetings and reading our church constitution. I looked at our synod’s website for answers and was unimpressed with some of the answers I found there. I more recently learned of an essay co-authored by someone I deeply respect, Dr. Paul Kelm.

Dr. Kelm served as a campus pastor at WLC while I was there, and I’ve always been impressed with the way the Holy Spirit works through his mind via reasoned, well thought-out arguments. This essay is no exception. It is very deeply thought out and researched, with concise arguments, built around the context and logic found in Scripture.

Official Responses

The synod’s official statement and response to the essay were disappointing. The statement was, at least, well written and respectful. The response was worse. It certainly didn’t have the same level of logical reasoning and deep research as the original essay.

The Shift_

I’m not sharing this because I believe ill-intent on the part of the synod officials, nor do I wish ill on our church body. On the contrary. Interestingly enough, much of what the essay states aligns with Martin Luther’s commentary on the scripture in question, so it appears the Lutheran church had actually shifted from its origins. Hopefully we can shift back.

The Papers

The Essay: “Women and the WELS: Connecting Church Practice with Scriptural Teaching”

The Official Statement

The Officially Commissioned Response by Pastor Dan Leyrer

Reaction to the Response