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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Women's ordination: Unintentional pioneer

'Yes, she's in her office '

Brother and sister. This classic language in the Christian tradition expresses a radical and countercultural claim: We are beloved children of God in one family. Thirty-five years ago, “sister” in Christ needed to be calligraphied by hand on the preprinted ordination certificate presented to Elizabeth Platz on Nov. 22, 1970, the first time the former Lutheran Church in America used the word to describe an ordained pastor.

Platz had served as chaplain of the University of Maryland, College Park, for five years when the phone call came from Paul M. Orso, then bishop of the LCA Maryland Synod, asking her to put herself forward as a candidate for ordained ministry.

“Ordained ministry for women wasn’t a battle I fought. It was done over a period of years by men and women who wanted it addressed,” Platz says. “Here I sat with credentials, already in a call and connected to a parish. It was serendipitous.”

When a pivotal phrase in the LCA bylaws was changed from “men” to “persons” during the fifth biennial convention on June 29, 1970, the door was opened for Platz and now half of all ELCA leaders ordained in 2003 to walk through (see sidebar).


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