Date of Award

Spring 2001

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Director

Carolyn J. Lawes

Committee Member

Annette Finley-Croswhite

Committee Member

Jane T. Merritt


Only relatively recently in the United States have women officially been able to preach, administer the sacraments, and minister fully to the spiritual needs of congregations as ordained Protestant clergy. For millions of Lutherans in the United States, 1970 was the beginning of a new era in their church when the Lutheran Church in America (LCA) and the American Lutheran Church (ALC) changed centuries of tradition and prepared the way for women to join the clergy. The third national Lutheran body, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS), at both its 1969 and 1971 conventions retained its conservative position, as it still does today, that the Word of God does not permit women to hold the office of pastor.

This thesis argues that for the LCA and ALC the duality of the push of internal forces within their churches and the pull of external forces in society moved them to accept women's ordination. For the LCMS, however, the push of its own internal forces was very different, and when confronted with the same external forces, this church body reaffirmed its opposition to women's ordination


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