Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) expands ministry opportunities for publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people called to leadership in the Lutheran church as ordained pastors and rostered lay leaders. We believe that by supporting ministry by LGBTQ leaders we will change the church, and thereby, transform society to become more fully inclusive of all people.
Our organization began as a movement in 1990 within the Lutheran church in resistance to an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) policy that required celibacy for gay clergy. At a time when the ELCA barred noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy from serving, our predecessor organizations, Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, supported lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clergy and the congregations and ministries that called them. Over the past twenty years, we maintained a credentialing and rostering process for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender clergy who were previously barred from serving in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), (as well as currently in other Lutheran bodies); worked with congregations and ministries to secure calls for members of our roster; and provided direct financial support to the ministries led by these pastors. In 2007, Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project merged to form Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
When the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted in August of 2009 to open its ministry policies to partnered gay and lesbian pastors, some observers wondered if Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries would end its work. Initially, we focused on the process by which people who received their credentials through ELM would transition to the ELCA roster. In January of this year, our board of directors met to implement a strategic plan we had begun working on last September.
Far from feeling it was time to close our doors; we concluded that by creating a network for publicly-identified LGBTQ rostered leaders in a major Protestant denomination, we can participate in changing the church and transforming society. Furthermore, we concluded that we are strongly positioned to provide much needed support to LGBTQ people seeking to become rostered leaders in the Lutheran church. LGBTQ people know what it is like to be on the margins of the church. Through their ministry, LGBTQ rostered leaders are poised to offer an evangelical outreach to many and to work alongside others longing to be connected to a church that truly welcomes all.