Lutheren "Pastor Denise"


I was driving cross-country in rural ND and I came upon a small town with a wood sided whitewashed, tall steepled Lutheren Church. The doors were open and I walked into the tiny church; and the pews and altar and oakflooring and stained glass were all original and had a warm glow from the sunlight. I sat down with the intention to pray for the struggling small towns of the U.S. and for the spiritual health of the young generation, that they do not succumb to the vices of popular culture, when a middle aged woman pokes her head into the church and says in a neutral manner, “Can I help you?” And I said “No… not unless you want to pray with me.” She said “I would love to pray with you!” And she introduced herself as “Pastor Denise” And she smiled and she sat down and we prayed to Jesus for the health of the young people of our country. As she left the pews, I almost said, “Thank you Father Denise.”, but instead said “Thank you Pastor Denise.” My question is, what is the correct spoken title for a Female Lutheran Pastor? Thx :smiley:

Why is this a question in your mind? based on your account, she gave you the title that you seek:
“Pastor” Denise.

One of the significant difference between the LCMS and the ELCA (which Pastor Denise undoubtedly is a member of), is that the LCMS does not ordain women, on scriptural, confessional, and historical grounds.


What is the proper title to address a femal Lutheran “priest”?
Ms Denise, or her last name if she told you it.

Not even the men are validly ordained, an woman can’t be ordained regardless. So, I would just call her “Mrs Denise”

The polite thing would be to refer to her as she referred to herself: Pastor Denise. Doing so doesn’t mean you consider her to be equivalent to a Catholic priest.

Just as we refer to the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury as Archbishop Rowan Williams, we would refer to other Protestant clergy by the titles they use. Similarly, we refer to the president of Uruguay as President José Mujica or a senator of Uruguay as Senator Firstname Lastname.


Then the proper response should have been an inquiry. Are you LCMS or ELCA? If ELCA then…thank you Pastor Denise of the ELCA not a member of the LCMS.:slight_smile:

I agree with being polite: I even call the LDS kids who come to the door by their honorific title, “Elder”

Otherwise… we might as well say - you heretical, apostate wanna-be priest Denise. And I’m sure Jesus would not like that!:smiley:


You could call the LDS kids…Elder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, formerly called Mormon, started by your Prophet Joseph Smith that I don’t believe in…how are you?

Why would you go out of your way to be rude to someone who had offered to pray with you when you were a guest in her church?

If you don’t want to encounter Protestant clergy, then it’s probably best to avoid entering Protestant churches.

Thank you.

Now that’s a long title. :smiley: But the inquiry isn’t needed. The fact that she claims to be Lutheran and a pastor would automatically excludeher from the LCMS… :wink:


Well, instead of worrying about things that might be interpreted as an opportunity for mockery, we can always engrave our First Pope’s words in our hearts:

[bibledrb]1 Peter 3:8-22[/bibledrb]

Actually, we don’t have any Lutheran churches here, but the Anglican’s use “Mr” and “Mrs” rather than “Fr” and “Rev’d”, though I know many CofE Priests do use Fr or Rev.

I wasn’t trying to be rude:blush:

What a wonderful story! I loved the imagery of this beautiful little church, and especially liked that you prayed together. I would have certainly addressed her respectfully as Pastor Denise. Even though I believe The Catholic Church is the catholic church, I believe that with the threat of radical secularism all Christians, rather than pointing to differences, must stand together.

Lutherans don’t claim to be or have priests. They are called pastors and that is the polite address for them.

I don’t think it proper or polite to tell Protestants whether that should or not ordain women, It’s none of our business.

I was a ELCA Lutheran a long time, almost too long, but when it came to Communion, I refused to take Communion from a woman pastor. We left one ELCA church when they called a woman pastor. The ELCA really should take Lutheran out of their name.

=andrewstx;9210291]Lutherans don’t claim to be or have priests. They are called pastors and that is the polite address for them.

While not common, it also is not prohibited.

I don’t think it proper or polite to tell Protestants whether that should or not ordain women, It’s none of our business.

Then let me. :smiley:


I was raised LCA/ELCA. One of the first women clergy came out of the parish my fatherserved as pastor of. I suspect, were he alive today, it would be something we would disagree on…
not to mention my membership in the LCMS. :smiley:


Aside from the issue of ordaining women, valid orders, etc by Lutherans, the OP’s question was more about proper titles of address. I lean toward using whatever title is customary for other members of that church. The way Pastor Denise introduced herself answers the question in her case. There are some churches whose clergy do not attend any seminary but qualify for their positions by in-depth Bible study with more experienced members. If one of these folks wants to be called Bishop or Apostle, I just swallow hard and call them by that title. Do we not prefer non-Catholics to address our priests as “Father”? I think that picking over the legiticacy of others’ titles and claimed status is far less productive that showing respect for our Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters.



She did not say “Priest Denise”, let it stand at “Pastor Denise”.

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