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June 29, 2020

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Lutheran Church in America’s (LCA) vote on June 29, 1970 to amend its bylaws to read, “A minister of this church shall be a person (amended from ‘man’) whose soundness in the faith, aptness to teach and educational qualifications have been examined and approved in the manner prescribed in the constitution and who has properly ordained…” in the evening session of its fifth biennial convention.

Only four months later, on the morning of October 24, the American Lutheran Church (ALC) voted to adopt the recommendation of the Church Council “that women be eligible for call and ordination in The American Lutheran Church” during its fifth general convention. On November 22, the ordination of Elizabeth Alvina Platz into the clergy of the LCA made headlines and the cover of The Lutheran because she was the first Lutheran woman ordained into the ministry of Word and Sacrament in North America. Less than a month after the ordination of Platz, Barbara Louise Andrews became the first woman ordained into the ministry of the ALC on December 20, 1970.

Six years later, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada (ELCC) voted to accept women as candidates for ordained ministry at its 1976 convention and four years later, Carol Qualley became its first ordained woman. Also in 1976, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC) wrote its constitution in such a way that women were eligible for ordination from its inception. The constitution adopted on December 3, 1976, at the church’s founding convention. Janith Otte-Murphy was ordained by the Pacific Synod of the church on October 30, 1977.

Today, we thank God for the calling that has been placed on the women who have served and who are now serving as pastors in the North American Lutheran Church. Countless lives have been touched and blessed by their faithful witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ over the past 50 years. May God continue to raise up faithful and faith-filled women and men to serve in the ordained ministry in Christ’s Church.

Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd who cares for his flock: We ask you to bestow upon your Church the gifts of the Holy Spirit in abundance, and to raise up from among us faithful and able persons called to the ministry of Word and Sacrament. Inspire them to spend and be spent for the sake of the Gospel, and make them holy and loving servants and shepherds of the flock for whom you shed your most precious blood. Grant this for the sake of your love. Amen.