Friday 6th April, 2001: In Which I Gain Employment and the District President Writes a Public Letter

The phone rang as I was just arriving home today.

“Hullo David, this is John, the principal at Thomas Mitchell Primary School. David, we'd like to offer you the librarian's position.”

Straight away I said "I'll take it” - I didn’t have to hesitate on this one bit.

Not until this moment have I realized that I made the right decision not to take the call to Adelaide. All of the fear of the last three months has gone. There is a certain fear lying ahead with this job - I mean it is one thing to say that you can do a job, and it is another thing to actually do it, but, oh my, what a job -I mean this will offer me the opportunity to actually become a librarian - not just a cataloguer. A real, proper librarian at last. When I stop and think about the time all those years back, when the principal of Luther Seminary first suggested to me that they would pay to train me for the position of Librarian at Luther, I had no idea where it would lead. It has led to this.

This is wonderful, this is beautiful, this is literally a God-send, and I thank God and I thank the intercession of our Lady and of all the saints for this. It is a grace, an undeserved grace. I had already given up on this position because I didn’t get a phone call yesterday, and I thought well, they’d offer the job yesterday and let the one who didn't get the job know today. And when I got the phone call even now, I was expecting that he was going to say “Sorry, but we’ve offered the job to the other person, but thanks for your application anyway,” but then he said “We’d like to offer you the job.”.

So, I go in at 9:40am on Monday the 23rd, and we take it from there. And that will be very interesting week, given that I start the music coordinator's job at Our Lady’s in Ringwood that same week. Unfortunately, this also means that I’ve now got to tell the Worship Resources folk that I will now be off their project after all the work they did to get me back onto it.

This afternoon we were at Pete and Susie’s for what will have been the last "Pastor’s and Wives" meeting. The group will still meet of course, although we will probably have to call it something else. We can’t keep calling it "Pastor’s and Wives" when several of us are no longer pastors. Someone suggested “People Getting Together With Their Children And Partners To Eat Around Food”, which I think is probably an accurate name for it!

Another issue tha has just raised itself, and this was only just mentioned as I was leaving from our meeting. They mentioned a letter that has been sent to all pastors and congregations of the Victorian District except Peter and I. But Peter found a copy - it came from the District President, and this is what it said:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age according to the plans of our God and Father to whom be glory for ever and ever amen.

Some events have happened in our District in recent months that perhaps are causing confusion and may be causing you to lose our trust in the gospel and in those who are called to proclaim it. Maybe some of you are also tempted to lose your trust in the Lutheran church of Australia and in those who are called to be leaders of the church. Four pastors of our district have resigned in recent times: Marco Vervoost has resigned has pastor of Melton in order to join an Anglican Catholic church as a lay person and to pursue a vocation outside the public office of the ministry. David Schütz has resigned from the pastorate of the Knox, Frankston, Casey parish and is seeking employment in his other vocation as a librarian. He is seeking leave of absense from the public office of the ministry while he tests his vocation within the LCA and his confessional position in regard to the Roman Catholic Church. Peter Holmes has resigned as pastor in Doncaster-Ivanhoe in order to join the Roman Catholic church as a lay person and to pursue a vocation outside the public office of the ministry. [N] has resigned as pastor of Hobart and has been granted 12 months leave of absense in order to test his vocation within the public office of the ministry. There is no relationship between the first three resignations and the fourth resignation.

The first three resignations have been triggered in part by the events that the last General Pastor’s Conference and General Synod. They, along with many others, were disappointed and even shocked that the Pastors Conference declined to advise the Synod on the doctrinal matter of the ordination of women. This disappontment and shock was accentuated by the fact that the Synod went ahead without that advice and debated and then voted on this doctrinal matter. The authority of the divinely instituted teaching office of the church was called into question and, some would say, even rejected. Bound up with this issue are other questions: the authority and interpretation of scripture, the authority of synod, the relationship between the public office of the ministry and the ministry of the people of God. These issues are not just Victorian District issues, there are other pastors in other districts who share these concerns. That these issues should surface in this district should not surprise us: whenever and wherever the church tries to maintain a confessional positon, there will be those who will push to the left or to the right that position. Given that the issues are concerns for the whole church, I have taken steps to ensure that the Church, through the appropriate channels, will be engaged in the discussion and in providing the necessary response. Marco Vervoost gave no opportunity to dialogue with him on these questions. I was simply presented with his resignation. David Schütz and Peter Holmes did raise the issues with me and with various public forums within the LCA. They also took their issues outside of the LCA and engaged in dialogue with the Roman Catholic church without my knowledge. A third pastor, [P.], appraised me of his concerns and kept me fully informed of his considerations and sought my comment on any steps he was considering. I appointed pastoral advisors to each of these men. I also took the step of calling a summit so as to enable these men to present their concerns to a select group of persons, and to hear their responses.

Sadly, it became clear on this day that David Schütz and Peter Holmes had made their minds up. Discussions are continuing with [P.], and I am confident about their outcome. I rejoice in the progress already made. These issues are testing our resources to the limit. We have three vacant parishes to serve with word and sacrament, we have deep theological questions to answer, and we have to try and address the variety of pastoral concerns that have emerged. In the midst of such upheavals, it is naturally for people to want to lay the blame somewhere: the church, the seminary, the president, the pastors, Some of you are feeling the testing of your faith severely, some of you are angry, some of you feel sad or disappointed, and some of you are feeling disillusioned. Some of you may even feel that the only possible response is to dump the church and to give up on God. I plead with you, my brothers and sisters, do not be bewitched by your emotions or your reason. Hold firm to the faith which has been given to you in your baptism, and which has been affirmed and attested to in Holy Scripture. Hang onto the cross with which you have been marked forever. These present trials are those which the saints of every time and every place have endured as our Lord himself says....etc.

Victorian District (including Tasmania)
Just to correct one thing in the letter above, which is otherwise accurate. The District President knew full well that we were "dialoguing" with flesh and blood Catholics (in particular, with Fr Anthony Fisher and Fr Greg Pritchard) at the time - because we told him. He was prone to selective memory on these points.

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