Remembering Susan Mannina
Posted by: Administrator
On Saturday, August 30, 2014, our sister in Christ, Susan Mannina, joined the saints who have gone before us to be with the Lord.
As a young woman, Susan Mannina used the many gifts she received from God to serve at the Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Silver Spring, Maryland. The congregation elected her to lead them as their president when she was in her thirties. Leadership skills learned while working at the nation’s capitol were put to use as a member of two building committees, three capital campaign committees and a call committee. Her ministry included teaching children and adults, and service as Communion assistant. While on the staff at St. Andrew she was project manager for the relocation of the congregation and the construction of a new 58,000 square foot worship and educational facility.
At the heart of Susan’s faithful discipleship was the firm belief that God called women to use all their talents to serve God in the home, church and community. Her search of Scripture led her to question the idea that the God from whom daughters and sons receive spiritual gifts would also command daughters to not use certain spiritual gifts because they are daughters rather than sons. For this reason, Susan joined six other Lutheran Church Missouri Synod women in asking President Kieschnick and the synod’s Vice Presidents to meet at the synod’s International Center in Saint Louis. Given Susan’s leadership ability, the women selected her to draft what was an unprecedented request by LCMS women. In August, 2005, these women paid for all travel and accommodations for the opportunity to state why women ought to be full participants in the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) Biblical study of God’s design for the relationship between man and woman.
When the CTCR study, The Creator’s Tapestry, was completed Susan was not shy in expressing disappointment in a report that offered little study of biblical texts other than a repeat of the claim that God’s Law included specific timeless laws that prohibit women from using all the spiritual gifts given to them. The women had asked for an expanded use of biblical texts so that the context of I Corinthians 14 and I Timothy 2 would be given further exegetical study. That did not happen. They were also disappointed that LCMS women with advanced theological degrees were not included as contributors to this study.
Susan was persuaded the LCMS erred in its claim that the order of creation is the proper interpretation of Scripture and that the gifts of women should be restricted. When it became apparent that the LCMS would not engage in any further study of what it claimed were divine laws limiting the service of women in relation to their God and Father, Susan joined with others in calling for open discussion in the LCMS about women’s ordination.
Susan was one of the founders of Ordain Women Now in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and she chose the organization’s name. Without her advice, support, and encouragement, Ordain Women Now would not be. She saw us through a rough beginning when dominant forces in the LCMS were trying to silence and shut us down. With persistence and grace she consistently showed the face of Christ to all, and especially to those who opposed her stance. Had she been healthy during the formation of OWN, her dynamic leadership style, wisdom, and ability would have rapidly expanded our efforts.
Susan lived four years after she was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Even through the pain of cancer and its related treatments, Susan gave selflessly of her time and precious energy for this cause about which she was so passionate. She realized that even though her gifts were fully utilized in her congregation, the gifts of many women in the Missouri Synod are rejected by both Synod and congregations. In response to questions about why she stayed in the LCMS and advocated for discussion within it about the ordination of women, Susan wrote in part, “The reason I am challenging the LCMS to a discussion of women’s ordination is that many LCMS women are barred from using their gifts for ministry – be they teacher, leader, pastor, etc. I believe the LCMS is limiting God by limiting women’s service to Him and his church.”
Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen! Hebrews 13:20-21