Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the ELCA, issued a statement Jan. 20, ahead of the ordination of Sally Azar on Jan. 22. “On Sunday the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) will for the first time ordain a woman into pastoral ministry, Sally Azar,” the statement read, in part. She invited the church “to join in the celebration by watching this short documentary about what women’s ordination means for the ELCJHL, and the livestream of the ordination service.”
The statement continued: “At the service Lutherans from all over the world will gather at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem to bear witness to the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in that place. I will be honored to participate, along with 18 of our synod bishops and church leaders, in this hopeful occasion in the life of Christ’s church.”
Eaton offered a blessing to Azar during the Jan. 22 service.
“The ordination of the first woman in Palestine is no accident. It is the result of the prayerful discernment, theological reflection and concerted effort of the ELCJHL — the first member of the Lutheran World Federation to adopt its Gender Justice Policy. This is an example for us all.
“In 2020 the ELCA celebrated the 50th anniversary of U.S. Lutheran churches’ decision to ordain women. This celebration continues through the work and witness of our church — and of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) — for gender justice and women’s empowerment. We give thanks for the LWF’s steadfast commitment to the ordination of women into pastoral ministry as a calling of God and a gift to Christ’s church.”