Imagery of church-related people and places.


What’s on your summer reading list?

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Perfect reading spot. Photo: Rachel Vagts.

Perfect reading spot. Photo: Rachel Vagts.

What’s on your summer reading list? We’ve got a few suggestions for you!

You may not realize all the resources that already exist to help LGBTQ people considering and following a call to ministry.  ELM  knows it’s good to be in  community, rather than work it out by ourselves. So we put our best minds together and wrote this wisdom down.

All of the following resources have been created by teams of grassroots volunteers, led by ELM staff. We’ve gathered wisdom from pastors, candidates, bishops, candidacy committees, call committees, synod staff, allies, lay leaders, and all kinds of folks!

Please check them out and share them widely – all can be downloaded free from the ELM website. Limited printed copies of some resources are available thanks to a special grant from the Philip N. Knutson Endowment. Contact us for more information:


Enrich and Transform – Welcoming LGBTQ Candidates into the Call Process (Booklet & Video)

enrich and transform coverIs your congregation ready to talk about how to welcome LGBTQ people in your pastoral call process? It’s never too early to start this conversation – in fact, the sooner the bettter, and especially BEFORE you start a call process! This six-minute video and 10-page booklet are a ready made discussion and planning document for your congregation. You’ll learn how the extraordinary gifts of LGBTQ pastors can enrich and transform YOUR congregation and community – and find detailed information about how to get ready to consider or welcome and LGBTQ pastor.

Enrich & Transform – the Movie! Check out this 6-minute story about what happened in one congregation when they called a gay pastor.

Internship and LGBTQ Interns – A Guide for Supervisors and Committees – is your congregation considering hosting an LGBTQ intern? Would you like to? Are you right now and running into unexpected questions? Please check out this resource for detailed information about making this a positive and healthy experience for all of you.


Mysteries of the Ages (“A handy guide for people exploring or preparing for rostered ministry in the ELCA”) is a detailed, candid collection of stories and step-by-step instruction on how to navigate the candidacy process. LGBTQ people considering or following a call to ministry will want to read it, share it with your candidacy or internship committees, give it to your family and friends who don’t quite “get it” and then pass along a copy to your non-LGBTQ friends because they are also going to be THRILLED that such an amazing resource exists.


Candidacy and LGBTQ Individuals – An Offered Resource for ELCA Candidacy Committees. This guide is already being used by a number of candidacy committees throughout the ELCA. Are you a friend looking to help? Check with your synod office to find out if they know about the resource, and if not, give them a copy! One volunteer attended a candidacy committee meeting prepared to share it, and unbeknownst to her, the Bishop already had prepared a 15 minute presentation about how the resource can help improve conversations with LGBTQ candidates!


treasure coverTreasure in Clay Jars – Stories of LGBTQ Leaders in the Lutheran Church, which is chock-full of stories and photos of our faithful and fabulous members and their stories of coming out, first-calls, candidacy and generally serving the church with humor and integrity.

Joel R. Workin’s very important work Dear God, I am Gay – Thank You! is also available. Joel was one of the first four seminarians who came out to their candidacy committees in 1988. Joel’s voice is alive and well in the church today!


We have created each of these resources because we believe the extraordinary gifts of LGBTQ people in ministry enrich and transform our church and communities. And we know that it’s not easy to be faithful and fabulous all the time. ELM helps overcome barriers to ministry so LGBTQ people can fully live out their call to ministry.

We’re able to create and share these all of this thanks to the generous and wonderful friends who support ELM. Thank you to those who give to ELM!

If you have not made your gift this year, we invite you to donate now to help us share these resources and develop others.

And then, settle back into your hammock and start reading…ahhhhhh, summer!

Memoirs of an Assembly Hostess

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

Guest blog by Larell Fineren, ELM Synod Assembly Display Coordinator

When Ministry Engagement Convener Margaret Moreland called to ask me about volunteering to coordinate for the Table Display Hosts and Hostesses I imagined a bevy of Vanna Whites seductively pointing to various Tupperware items on kitchen tables across America.  Err…no…She meant hosts and hostesses for those myriad information tables that decorate the way to the Cookie Table at Synod Assemblies.  “Oh, that kind of host,” I said, feeling somewhat deflated.  But being a good queer Lutheran, I quickly said yes and resolved to make it a success.  

Fun at the Sierra Pacific Synod ELM table! Larell Fineren (second from left) with Proclaim members John Brett, Rev. Megan Rohrer, and Rev. Dr. Dawn Roginski

Fun at the Sierra Pacific Synod ELM table! Larell Fineren (second from left) with Proclaim members John Brett, Rev. Megan Rohrer, and Rev. Dr. Dawn Roginski

We managed to surface seven volunteers for the job.  Diane Linden-Johnson at Rocky Mountain, Lois Voss at Minneapolis, Jerry Vagts at St Paul, Terry Krueger at Metro NY, Michael Nelson at Southwest CA, Bob Goldstein at Metro Chicago,  the diversity team in Southeast Michigan, and me, Larell Fineren at Sierra Pacific, all rose to the hosting challenge.  My job also included making sure the supply boxes made it from Assembly to Assembly between our first one on April 28th and the last one on June 11th.  

We all reported good “table exposure” (no closets for us anymore!) which meant many visitors stopped by to talk and get resources.  In general, we felt about 50% of our visitors were well aware of ELM and Proclaim.  The other 50% got an earful when they stopped long enough to chat!  I talked to two young LGBTQ folks who felt called to ministry and wanted to go to seminary.  I was able to talk to them about our Candidacy Accompaniment program, of which they were unaware.  Other hosts also reported talking to potential ministry candidates.  Surprisingly, one host talked to two seminarians who didn’t know about ELM!  That was a shocker to me.  I imagined I was there mainly for the straight folks, to pitch our Ministry Engagement program.  But it made me realize how important it is to continue to get our message out there to EVERYONE—over and over again.  

One funny thing was how our clearly marked “Display copy only” booklets of Treasure in Clay Jars  and Enrich & Transform were slyly taken when we either weren’t at the table, or weren’t looking.  It was a bummer to have our materials disappear before others could see them.  But the Spirit blows where and how She wants–I had to assume they went where they needed to go.  

We all felt that hosting was enjoyable, worthwhile, and something we’d do again.  Would you like to host a table at your Assembly next year?  We’d like to at least double the number of Assemblies we’re represented at next year.  If you’d like to give it a go (and store some treasure in Heaven), please contact ELM Operations Coordinator Christephor ( and let him know.

larell F

By Larell Fineren. Larell lives in Petaluma CA and attends Elim Lutheran Church.  She’s a member of the Sierra Pacific Synod Council, where she happily provides a queer perspective on issues.

We are marching….

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Guest blog by Proclaim member Rev. Caleb Crainer

caleb pride 1I’m not a morning person, but on the morning of the LA Pride parade, I was in our line-up spot with donuts, t-shirts, buttons, and feather boas promptly by 7:30am. Soon after, the rest of our contingent trickled in and our friends from Hollywood United Methodist Church joined us for our annual Street Eucharist before the parade. Have you ever had the Psalm overshadowed by Jennifer Lopez’ new song? Have you ever had the words of institution covered up by revving motorcycles? It was kind of amusing, kind of annoying, and entirely holy.


caleb pride 2Each year our Southern California Reconciling In Christ congregations ( gather to volunteer at the various LGBTQ Pride events in the area. Originally we just marched in the Pride parade in Los Angeles, but now we also have a presence at parades and festivals in Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura County, and San Diego! It’s easily one of the most visible witnesses for the Lutheran Church in the state. This year we decided to do some Reformation education with our theme “500 years of FABULOUS posting!” Raul, a member at Hollywood Lutheran, totally hammed it up as a mohawk wearing Luther as we strolled down Santa Monica Boulevard lined with thousands of folks.

But Sunday’s celebration wasn’t like the others.

Young Latino Queer folks at Orlando’s Pulse Night Club had been viciously massacred just hours before. We didn’t know details or how many had been killed as we stepped off…but we knew that we would march for them. In the wake of the recent shooting at UCLA, our city was already on alert, but this was a level of evil we didn’t expect. The Police Department contacted the festival and parade organizers and asked them if they should cancel the celebration…their response: “You must not know who we are.” We are a movement born from the violent attacks of bigots, forged in the fire of scorn and ridicule, scarred by neglect and prejudice…and we are STRONG.

We waved our rainbow flags for our family who had been killed the night before, our friends who had died of HIV/AIDS, our neighbors who lived in closets and fear, and for ourselves.

Los Angeles’ Pride Parade was started in 1970, on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. The parade became known as “Christopher Street West” after the location of the drag-bar where our trans/drag/queer siblings had had enough with police brutality and oppression. Our west-coast parade, started by local clergy and leaders, was intended to display our pride in the midst of crushing hatred. We would remember, we would persevere.

caleb bio picI kept getting text messages from people all morning wanted to express their sorrow and solidarity and some said “I’m glad you’re safe.”  Little did I know, that the threats we were under were even more real and near than I even imagined.   Later while I was working at the booth one person said, “I’m glad they caught that guy in Santa Monica.”  A young man had been caught that morning with a vehicle full of guns and was reportedly headed for the parade. Who knew we had all been in mortal danger the entire time we’d been frolicking so gayly?

The truth is we never know what’s coming. We can be prepared, but our LGBTQ community is strong and defiant and passionate. We know that in order to find safety, we must risk everything. We dare to love and that is the gospel of Pride. We have strength in our vulnerability and promise in our uncertainty. It’s a gospel that resonates with our Christian tradition and it’s a gospel more people deserve to hear.

I’m so proud of members of Proclaim. I feel like every Sunday is like a mini-pride-parade for us, for God, and for love that brings us through. Happy Pride!


Crainer, Caleb (1)


Rev. Caleb Crainer serves as pastor of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Los Angeles, California where he enjoys group costumes, passing out buttons, and walking in long lines. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia.


More than can be counted: thanksgivings from Jen Rude

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted. Psalm 40:5, NRSV

Rev. Jen Rude.  Photo by Emily Ann Garcia.

Dear ELM Community,

As I move toward my last days on staff at Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, I want to share a few reflections and numerous thanksgivings – more than can be counted.

I first got connected to ELM in 2004. I was a seminary student wondering if I was wasting my time as an LGBTQ person in the Lutheran Church when I was introduced to an Extraordinary community.  I met living witnesses of possibility, faithfulness, courage and hope.  This seed of a connection led me to ELM gatherings with LGBTQ pastors and seminarians, receiving the Joel R. Workin Scholarship, being extraordinarily ordained, serving on the ELM board, and in 2013 joining the staff team as program director.  

Serving as program director with ELM has been a great ministry.  It has stretched me, inspired me and grown my faith.  I love the way our work together lives in the queer spaces of tension: challenging and joyful, thoughtful and creative, focused and flexible, prophetic and pastoral, critiquing and imagining, and most of all Spirit-filled.  

I feel honored to have worked with so many incredible people (like you!).  You, dear friends of ELM, are church to me.  You live out the best of who and what God calls us to be with faithfulness, boldness, hard work and joy.  I have learned so much from you.  I cannot imagine doing this work with a more faithful and fabulous group of people.   

More than a decade after I first “met” ELM, I am even more passionate about our work and filled with joyful gratitude as I think about you, the community of people doing this work.  Our work is still important.  Critical.  Life-saving. Challenging.  Holy.

As I move toward my new call as University Pastor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA, I look forward to my continuing relationship with ELM as an enthusiastic supporter and member of the Proclaim community.  

With a little sadness, much gratitude, and all love,

Jen esig

Guest post from Padre Ángel D. Marerro about Orlando

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

During these heavy and difficult days, we look to one another for understanding, comfort and direction. We wish to share with you these words from Proclaim member and ELCA pastor, Padre Ángel Marerro. This post was published first on the Huffington Post blog on June 13, 2016. Shared with permission of the author. 

Orlando: A Pastoral Response from a Gay Latino Priest
by Ángel D. Marerro

A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.” – Jeremiah 31:15 (RSV)

On Sunday, we woke up to the unspeakable horror of the most devastating mass shooting in the history of our country. For the past day, I have sat silently with my husband at home, crying in the face of the impotence of a world that, despite our social progress, still hates us.

In the midst of all this, I believe that Christian clergy in particular need to face an important reality: the church has blood on its hands. From our pulpits, and in our traditions, we have been complicit in fostering the sins of misogyny, sexism, racism, and homophobia. We are responsible for tolerating in our midst a poor, ignorant and murderous scriptural interpretation that leads to death and untold suffering. As a religious leader in the Boston-Metro Latino community, I cannot remain silent about this.

The words my husband Zach spoke to me have also been heavy on my heart all night. As a thoughtful interfaith leader that works primarily with Jews, Christians and Muslims, he eloquently reflected that “this isn’t simply ‘extremist Islam’, as some would like to paint it. This comes out of centuries of many religious traditions systematically demonizing and dehumanizing LGBTQ individuals. This hatred isn’t out of nowhere. It is in parts of Islam, yes, but it is within parts of Christianity and Judaism, as well.”

Facing such a reality, I feel I must apologize for the complicity and silence of the Church. I am sorry for the pain our sinful indifference and self-righteousness has caused, and continues to cause, throughout the world.

And in the midst of all this senseless suffering, I dare to do the only thing that comforts me in times like these. Here is my prayer for our communities today:

I dream of a day when being different is a reason to celebrate and not to fear.

I hope for a day when all God’s children can come together without condemnation.

I pray for a season where justice is not a matter of politics but of humanity.

I believe, like the modern psalmist proclaimed:

We Shall Overcome, We Shall Overcome, We Shall Overcome Someday
Deep In My Heart, I Do Believe, We Shall Overcome Someday


Padre Ángel D. Marerro is pastor of Santuario Luterano in Waltham, MA. Originally posted in the Huffington Post.  Orlando: A Pastoral Response from a Gay Latino Priest




Proclaiming through pictures & song

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

In beautiful photos taken by Emily Ann Garcia and words written and sung by Ashley Wai’olu Moore, we now present the 2016 Proclaim Gathering Video Slideshow:

What does the annual Proclaim Gathering mean to LGBTQ leaders?

Rev. Marvin Harvard. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia

To find a community of other LGBTQ leaders in which I was welcomed and celebrated was so life affirming. I return to my normal routine with a renewed energy and excitement about ministry. – Rev. Marvin Havard

There are places and times in my life when I am attacked for who I am. The powerful and positive affirmation at the retreat is life-giving. – Nancy Wichmann

Ferree, Laura

Laura Ferree. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia


For the first time I was in a space with faith folks that I didn’t need to hide or protect my identity.  It was inspiring and helpful to hear that my story and all other LGBTQ+ stories are sacred and have a place in the church. I will now honor my story more often rather than trying to hide my story.  -Laura Ferree

I think this retreat helped me to solidify my calling, challenged me to consider a new way of talking about ministry and provided me with confidence in who God has made me to be. – David De Block


The 2017 Proclaim Gathering will be July 16-19, 2017 in Chicago, IL.

Christephor Gilbert Named 2016 Joel R. Workin Scholar

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is delighted to announce that Christephor Gilbert has been named the 2016 Joel Raydon Workin Scholar. The selection committee was thrilled by the number of excellent applications and is thankful to all who applied.

Photo of Christephor

Christephor Gilbert

Christephor (he/him/his) is a member of Proclaim, a student in the Master of Divinity program at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is in Candidacy with the ELCA toward Word and Sacrament ministry.  Prior to seminary, Christephor worked as the Program Manager for the Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts in Louisville, KY, following his first career as a dancer, dance educator, and choreographer (MFA Dance, University of Hawaii, 1993).  Christephor lives in Hyde Park with his partner Donald and their three cats.  Christephor currently works one day a week as operations coordinator for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Christephor’s home congregation is Third Lutheran Church in Louisville, KY (where fellow Proclaim member, Rev. Steven Renner, is pastor).

Each year ELM names a Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholar  to honor the life and ministry of Joel Workin. Joel was one of the three gay seminarians who were refused ordination in 1989 after “coming out” to their candidacy committees. Upon his death, Joel’s parents, Ray and Betty, and other family and friends created the scholarship fund in his name to keep his prophetic voice part of the movement.

Joel Workin (left) and Paul Jenkins

Joel Workin (left) and Paul Jenkins

You can read more of Joel’s writing in the collection, “Dear God, I am gay – thank you!” The announcement is made in connection with Joel Workin’s birthday, which was May 29.

Workin Selection Committee Chair Michael Nelson wrote to Christephor,

“Your comparison of the grace of a dancer to God’s grace was captivating from the very first paragraph… I think what most moved us as a committee was your expansive language in describing God’s grace: that like the dancer, God’s grace is there for us when “gravity gets the best of you … a potential that was hovering just under the surface … And in the dark falling, in the everlasting emptiness, the grace is there.” …As Lutherans who recognize grace as key component of our theology, you opened our eyes to seeing grace in an entirely different light.”

Upon learning that he had been selected, Christephor replied,

“The passion, pain, hope, anger, and joy that Joel put to words in his work gives voice to a truth that is already writ large and deep on my spiritual center, a truth that ripples out beyond his experience and mine.  Each moment in the life of a queer Christian is set, remembered, and re-lived with each passing generation.  Change happens, sometimes at light-speed and sometimes so slowly you can barely tell that anything is different.  But then God’s grace is always breaking through.  And sometimes that grace shows us where more change must take place.

But we are in this together, a community of souls and a cloud of witnesses.  As Joel says, our greatest grace is to be ourselves—and to live without reservation into our place in the church.  Mary Oliver speaks to this community in her poem “Wild Geese.”  The final haunting lines remind me that the stories of others who have gone before, people like Joel Workin, tell me I belong—and encourage me to continue telling the stories:  ‘Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things.’

I like to think that when we each feel as though we are the only one, all it takes is the honk of another to remind us that the flock is just overhead.

It is an honor and a delight to be the 2016 Joel Raydon Workin Scholar, and I am deeply thankful to the selection committee, the staff and board of ELM, and Joel’s parents who carry on his legacy.”

The award comes with a $2,500 scholarship for academic or spiritual study and is available for members of Proclaim who are studying to be rostered leaders in the Lutheran church.

The Workin Selection Committee includes three personal friends of Joel’s – Michael Price Nelson; the Rev. Jeff R. Johnson; Greg A. Egertson; and former Workin Scholar, the Rev. Rebecca Seely. ELM Executive Director Amalia Vagts did not serve on the committee this year as one of the applicants was an ELM staff member.

Opportunity: ELM Seeks Program Manager

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

elm_logo-acronymExtraordinary Lutheran Ministries is seeking a full-time program manager. Interested candidates should email their cover letter and resume to Amalia Vagts, Executive Director,, with PROGRAM MANAGER in the subject heading. Initial deadline for applications is June 21, position open until filled.

About the position:
Grounded in the belief that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer-identifying (LGBTQ+) people have extraordinary gifts for ministry, the program manager builds and supports community through the Proclaim program; walks with and equips leaders through the Accompaniment program; and connects with and uplifts congregations through the Ministry Engagement program. The program manager equips and labors alongside volunteer program conveners and works in partnership with the executive director and operations coordinator on strategic work and communications for these programs. Location flexible/telecommuter position.

Full job description and guiding qualifications: Program Manager Job Description

“Get Ready” in 6 minutes

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

One thing we commonly hear about LGBTQ pastors is that congregations just “aren’t ready.” As you know, we like to say – “Let us help you get ready!”

Thanks to this fabulous new short video, call committees and congregations now have a 6-minute conversation starter about “getting ready” to welcome LGBTQ people into the call process.

This video follows the story of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Conshohocken, PA and their process to call a gay man as their pastor (Proclaim member Rev. Bryan Penman!).  It addresses questions including:

What do we do if we’re not sure we’re ready for an LGBTQ pastor?

How can we start this conversation in our congregation?

Why do we need to talk about it?

What are some special gifts of LGBTQ leaders?

Watch the full 6 minute video:

And we need your help! After you watch, please tell your friends about it. We’ve made this sweet 30 second trailer to make it easy for your to share on social media. Help us get the word out!

Thank you to the Philip N. Knutson Endowment in Campus Ministry and the St. Francis Lutheran Church Endowment for providing funds for this project.

+ And, exciting news!  We just received word that ELM has received an additional grant from the Philip N. Knutson Endowment to help distribute Enrich & Transform resources!

Jen Rude Called as University Pastor to Pacific Lutheran University!

Monday, May 16th, 2016


Jen Rude

Rev. Jen Rude. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia.

Rev. Jen Rude, who has served as ELM’s program director since 2013, has received and accepted a new call.

As announced today by Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, Jen will begin serving as University Pastor in early August. Jen’s last day as program director at ELM will be June 30th.

We celebrate with Jen, who has been a significant part of this movement for the last decade. Jen was an extraordinary candidate, ordinand and pastor; the first Joel R. Workin Scholar; a key member of the Extraordinary Roster and Proclaim community, an ELM Board Member – who helped create, launch – and name – Proclaim; a volunteer Proclaim Convener, and has served as Program Director since the fall of 2013. She will continue her involvement as a member of the Proclaim Community and as a supporter of ELM.

We give abundant thanks for the work Jen has done with ELM, especially as our first program director. Jen has worked in creative and deeply thoughtful ways to expand ELM’s three programs into thriving and growing work. These programs have experienced tremendous growth under Jen’s leadership. She has been a passionate and faithful leader, and a pastoral presence for the Proclaim community, staff and ELM board. She has been an exceptional colleague who has led with purpose and unparalleled integrity. She will be deeply missed by all of us who worked with her, and a tremendous gift to her new community at Pacific Lutheran University.

In Jen’s own words:

“ELM has played a critical role in my growth and formation as a pastor and as a person. It has been an honor, a gift, and a JOY to be in partnership with you and this community. I have loved my work at ELM with the board, program teams, the Proclaim community, and with all our communities and supporters. I am also incredibly grateful to Amalia, an extraordinary supervisor, mentor, and colleague. Her grace-filled, visionary, and faithful leadership is infused into the fabric of ELM.

I was not looking for a new call, but when this opportunity came up the Spirit kept stirring in me and I felt like I needed to at least explore it. This new call is a great fit for me and my gifts, and it comes with the great sadness of leaving my position with ELM. I will continue in my role as a Proclaim member, ELM supporter, and cheerleader for the awesome work of this organization and movement. I take this next step with a heart full of gratitude, confident that ELM will move into this next phase of its work as it has always done – with boldness, grace, humor, passion, faithfulness, and an overflowing cup of fabulousness.”

We’re thankful for a healthy organization with wonderful and passionate supporters, and a strong and committed board who will help guide the organization as we move into the new possibilities that will emerge from this unexpected change.We are putting together the next steps in our plan; beginning with reviewing the position and working on both short-term staffing and long-term hiring plans. We will keep our community informed as we move forward.

Confident in the Spirit who has led us through many changes, we will faithfully and joyfully move forward together in a way that strengthens our vision and mission.

We are thankful for the Chicago Metro Synod who affirmed Jen’s specialized call to ministry with ELM and we join the community of Pacific Lutheran University in celebrating this most fabulous new call for Jen!