The Rev. Paul Brenner

Rev. Paul Brenner

Rev. Paul R. Brenner, M.Div., M. Mu., began attending St. Francis Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA, in 2002 and was taken into membership at the Easter Vigil, 2003. He has served on the Worship Committee, the Board of the Friends of St. Francis Childcare Center, the St. Vincent de Paul Committee, facilitated the Adult Study Group for over two years, served as an interim pastor for a year and a half during St. Francis’ vacancy, and sings in the choir. A motet he composed was sung by the Men and Boys choir of St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Leipzig, Germany.

He has 30 years of leadership in the hospice movement, serving programs in Jacksonville, Florida, West Palm Beach, Florida, Rockville, Md. and Jacob Perlow Hospice at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York City. He served ten years as pastor of a Lutheran inner city parish in Jacksonville, Florida, and also served as an interim pastor in that community.

Presently he volunteers in the Creative Healing Project, a program with his son, Matthew, which provides art experiences for children and teens diagnosed with potentially life threatening medical conditions. Paul is  from the LCMS tradition.

Rev. Paul Brenner was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Lyle Beckman

Rev. Lyle Beckman

Contact Info for the Rev. Lyle Beckman:
Email: beckman@sfnightminisrty.org

New Night Minister in Town, by Catherine Cromelin (from the Bay Area Reporter – 5/17/2007)

Giving assistance to those often living on the margins of society and those who are in need of help whatever their circumstance, the San Francisco Night Ministry will install a new night minister this Sunday.

The Revered Lyle Beckman, 54, succeeded Father Don Fox, who recently retired after serving 11 years at the ministry. Beckman had been an assistant minister to Fox for the past three years and has been ordained for 27. Beckman, who is gay, has been living in the Bay Area since 2001 and spent the previous 20 years in congregations primarily in inner cities. He has also worked as a prison chaplain, a chaplain in a hospital psychiatric unit and at a congregation that did gang intervention work.

“I’ve always related well to people in urban environments and people who are a little bit marginalized by the church or society in general,” said Beckman.

The night ministry was started in 1964 by two clergy, one Lutheran and one United Presbyterian, who were concerned about the people of San Francisco at night when virtually all other support agencies were closed. They started the ministry, welcoming all denominations to participate, with support from local churches and private donors. Over the last 43 years the night ministry has made itself available to people on the street from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. every night of the year with a hotline and at least one ordained clergy person available wherever he or she is needed. The ministers will go to homes, bars, coffee shops, or hotels and they fill a number of different needs for those who call on them.

“Anything from active listening, which can involve praying or not, to making some realistic referrals in terms of the programs or agencies that might be useful for them in the morning,” said Beckman of the types of services the ministry provides. “But generally, if someone is really in crisis, we’ll just be with them and stay with them until someone can take over for us in the morning or until we know they’ll be fine.”

He said that most of the time, the ministry doesn’t create long-term relationships; rather, its role is to get people over a crisis. A few people do call the ministry on a regular basis and Beckman said that for those people, the ministry is a stable source of support.

“I think crisis is a relative term,” he said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of someone being lonely. At that moment in their life, that’s a crisis. At that moment they need to talk to someone because they’re feeling that loneliness so acutely. They can’t call their friends or they don’t have any. Older people can’t call their children because they’ll be afraid ‘mom is losing it.’ And so they call us.”

The night ministry has a fair amount of focus on those living in the Tenderloin, but staff will go anywhere in the city where they are needed. Beverly Barrows, administrative assistant, said that callers to the ministry’s crisis line are from all over the Bay Area and even from other cities such as New York.

Beckman’s new role as lead minister of the night ministry will include working with the agency’s governing board to plan for the future as well as talking about financial aid and promotion of the night ministry. He will also be responsible for training assistant night ministers and counseling staff who man the phones. In the coming year, he hopes to increase the number of ministers out on the street to three every evening, communicate with donors and supporters of the ministry more regularly through e-mail, and to establish a daytime phone line. Currently, there is at least one minister on the streets every night and a couple times a week, there are two.

In addition to Beckman, there are eight other assistant ministers working at the agency and approximately 38 volunteers who answer the telephones. Beckman estimates that they typically receive 15 to 20 calls a night and the minister out on the street will have the same number of significant conversations with individuals.

“I’ve never been frightened or scared. I’ve been uncomfortable,” Beckman explained about his work at night. “It’s not the people, it’s the situations they find themselves in, and therefore, I’m in as well. Some of the rooming hotels in the Tenderloin are not the cleanest places. The assault on the nostrils from some of the hotels: the bugs, the roaches. I’ve spent quite a few nights sitting on the curb with folks and there’s rats running at your feet and that’s an uncomfortable experience. But, I’ve never been uncomfortable with a person.”

The night ministry’s crisis line is (415) 441-0123, 10pm to 2am everyday  www.sfnightministry.org.

The Rev. Jodi Barry

Rev. Jodi Barry (left)

Rev. Jodi Barry has been a chaplain at Mercy Hospital since May 2003. Prior to that, she was an on call chaplain at North Memorial Medical Center and Regions Hospital. Jodi is also the youth director at Grace University Lutheran Church.

Jodi was baptized, raised, and confirmed at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Maplewood, MN.  She graduated from Bethel College, St. Paul, MN with a B.A. in Literature (1990). Jodi has felt called to ministry since high school, and explains, “Once I started my “coming out” process regarding my sexuality, I thought my calling and my sexuality were incompatible.”

After college, Jodi went to Texas and left the church. Thankfully, she was invited to attend The Cathedral Of Hope, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC).

“While I was at church that first Sunday, I cried through the whole service, and especially during communion.  It was the first time I’d ever seen a woman preside, and the invitation to communion has stayed with me:  “you don’t have to be a member of this church, or of any church; all we ask is that you be seeking a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.”  It was my first time back in church as an “out” lesbian, and I wondered where this new relationship with God would lead.”

After moving back to Minnesota, Jodi attended United Theological Seminary (UTS) of the Twin Cities, graduating in 2001 with a M.Div. A year of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency followed, 2001-2002. Jodi is extremely grateful to her residency mates: Diaconal Minister Patty Lee, Rev. Karla McGray, and Rev. Pam Arends, and CPE Supervisor: Janet LaBrecque.

Jodi’s passions and callings include ministering to un-churched people, emergency preparedness, training, and starting new ministries at the hospital.

“Working at Mercy Hospital has been amazing! When I went there for my first job interview, I was quite sure that I had driven to the North Dakota border.  When patients ask me if I have a church, I joyfully respond that the hospital is my church, and my congregation changes every day. Chaplaincy ministry is ministry in the moment, and I feel so honored and blessed to minister to folks in extremely difficult times; it is a gift.”

Jodi and her spouse, Rev. Dr. Jenny Mason (pictured at right), live in North St. Paul. The love biking, yard work, eating out, and having family and friends over.  Jenny is currently working as a Congregational Partnership Organizer with Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, a developer of affordable housing. They met at an ECP/ELM roster retreat and dated long distance before Jenny graciously agreed to move to Minnesota. We also enjoy time with our “kids”: Ralphie our Sun Conure Parrot and Trixie our Golden Doodle. They really are the cutest, and a sure sign of what unconditional love looks like.

Rev. Jodi Barry was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Richard Andersen

Rev. Richard Andersen

Rev. Richard Andersen received his Life Coaching training from the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, California. He is a Certified Life Coach of adults and their organizational systems.  A graduate of Luther Seminary in St. Paul,  Andersen was ordained in 1986.  He was approved for reinstatement to the roster having served a Lutheran parish earlier in his life. His second career as a senior financial consultant at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans allowed him to help clients shape their futures. He draws on these life skills in his passion for coaching people through life-enriching change.

With colleague, Ruth Frost, Richard founded Third Act Life Discovery, a spiritual journey of the heart designed to help people live purposefully and embrace a full life. Andersen is working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary.  Richard is currently the Director of Congregational Relations for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.  “My life has revolved around being gay and acknowledging my call to serve the church,” Richard explains.

ELM Welcomes New Leaders

ELM welcomes two people to new leadership positions on the ELM Covenant Circle. The Covenant Circle is the volunteer leadership group for ELM.

Lois Voss finished her role as co-chair at the end of May. Lois, an early leader in Extraordinary Candidacy Project played a key role during the merger process and inaugural years of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. The organization advanced during its early years thanks to her detailed and dedicated leadership.

Rev. Jen Nagel (above) is the new ELM Co-Chair. Nagel will share the role with Rev. Erik Christensen. Nagel was the former Collegium Chair.

Pastor Jen began serving Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN in 2003 and was ordained on January 19, 2008. She combines urban ministry experience, a love for working with congregations in the midst of transformation and change, and a deep care for the people of Salem and the neighborhood. Her work includes the usual pastoral duties (preaching, teaching, worship leadership, pastoral care) as well as walking with Salem in this time of re-development and partnership–a challenging balancing act and yet one that gives Jen energy.

Jen is trained in intentional interim ministry. She holds an M.Div. from University of Chicago-Divinity School, completed work at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and earned a B.A. at Concordia College, Moorhead Minnesota. She’s served at Central Lutheran Church and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, in Africa, Chicago, Michigan, and outdoor ministry settings.

Jen has served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. She is a leader in the Minneapolis Area Synod and currently serves as the Collegium Chair of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Covenant Circle. Jen’s spouse, Rev. Jane McBride, is a pastor in the United Church of Christ and they have a young daughter.

Rev. Jen Rude (below) is the new Collegium Chair.
Rev Jen Rude currently serves as Youth Outreach Minister at The Night Ministry. At The Night Ministry Jen works with street-based youth, including young people experiencing homelessness and LGBTQ youth. Jen engages with youth (ages 13-24) by building relationships, providing access to basic needs, cultivating youth leadership skills, creating opportunities for arts expression and nature exploration, and providing pastoral care and spiritual companionship.

The Night Ministry was founded in 1976 by local churches and synagogues. As part of her work with The Night Ministry, Jen continues to build bridges with local churches, synagogues and other community groups through volunteer experiences and advocacy education.

Jen graduated from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA in 2005 and was extraordinarily ordained at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Chicago in November 2007. Jen enjoys cooking, Chicago in the summertime, taking a trapeze and silks class and making crafts.

ELM Co-chairs Approved for ELCA Roster

In separate synod committee decisions late last week, Rev. Erik Christensen and Rev. Jen Nagel were approved for the roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Christensen and Nagel serve as co-chairs of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, an organization that expands ministry opportunities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Lutheran pastors.

Rev. Christensen has served as ELM co-chair since its inception in 2007 and Rev. Jen Nagel began the role on June 3, 2010. Christensen and Nagel are among the first gay or lesbian pastors in relationships to be approved for the ELCA roster.

Rev. Christensen, a graduate of Candler School of Theology, Emory University (M.Div., ’02) and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (S.T.M., ’04), was approved for ordination in May 2005 by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. He was called to serve at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square in Chicago, IL and was ordained there on October 21, 2006. Rev. Christensen was approved by the South East Iowa Synod on Friday, June 11. The same committee had denied his approval in 2005 because of the previous ELCA policy banning people in same-sex relationships from serving as rostered leaders.

Christensen currently serves as pastor of St. Luke’s. The congregation has grown significantly during Christensen’s tenure and has become a well-established part of the thriving Logan Square neighborhood. July 9-11, St. Luke’s is sponsoring “Boulevard Bash,” a three-day live music and food festival, a first for the area.

Rev. Nagel currently serves as pastor of Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN and has been there since July 2003. Nagel was ordained on January 19, 2008. Salem English Lutheran has received recognition for its work in urban renewal and transformational ministry. Faced with an unsustainable large city church building, workforce housing will be built on a portion of their land and a smaller, sustainable ministry center will be renovated and shared by Salem and ecumenical partner Lyndale United Church of Christ.

“Sixteen years ago I began candidacy to become a pastor in the ELCA. I never dreamed the journey would hold so much grace or be quite this long. I stand on the shoulders of many who have gone before and so many who have faithfully served, some facing deep pain and struggle. I give thanks for the policy changes that have led us to this day and for a more open conversation about the gifts and burdens of sexuality for all of God’s people. The ministry I share with the people of Salem will continue and, I trust, be transformed still by the Holy Spirit’s amazing power,” said Rev. Jen Nagel following the decision.

Nagel holds an M.Div. from University of Chicago-Divinity School (’98), completed work at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago (’99) and Concordia College, Moorhead Minnesota (’94). She’s served at Central Lutheran Church and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, in Africa, Chicago, Michigan, and outdoor ministry settings. Nagel has served on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and on the Minneapolis Area Synod Council of the ELCA. Nagel was approved by the Minneapolis Area Synod on June 10. Nagel lives in Minneapolis with her partner, Rev. Jane McBride (a United Church of Christ minister) and their daughter.

Celebration for Abiding Peace!

ELM roster member Rev. Donna Simon’s congregation, Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in Kansas City, MO was celebrated at the Synod Assembly on June 5, 2010. About 30 people gave up their lunch breaks to celebrate the lifting of their ELCA censure. The congregation was put under censure in 2001 for calling and ordaining Rev. Simon outside of the ELCA policies. During the Synod Assembly pastors in the synod put together a short liturgy,

“It was a really lovely service, and we were touched by the response. I feel like our synod, under the leadership of our bishop, has begun to embrace a new day of inclusion”-Rev. Donna Simon (left)

Supporters thanked Rev. Simon for her witness and struggle, the candidacy committee as she concludes her reception process and the ELCA “for “the boldness and faithfulness of the people of the ELCA for the passage of the Statement on Human Sexuality, and for the ministry policies that have been adopted.”

We look forward to more celebrations of this sort across the country in the coming months. Read Rev. Simon’s blog here.

ELM Adopts Food Access & Information Access Policy


At the February ELM Covenant Circle (ELM’s board), ELM leaders participated in an 8-hour training by queer, trans (dis)ability trainer Colin Kennedy Donovan. This training led to a commitment by the Covenant Circle to explore expanding accessibility (in many forms, such as food, physical access and access to printed and online communications).

During the June Covenant Circle meeting a formal food policy and information access policy was adopted by consensus. The information access policy ensures that
web & print communications coming out from ELM can be shared and understood by all.

Part of the statement reads:
“We recognize that inaccessible communications have limited the ability of many people with disabilities to learn about and participate in our movement. We value the gifts and participation of people with information-related disabilities”

The food policy is in regards to food served at ELM events. Jay Wilson (left), ELM Diversity Chair explained, “ELM is committed to working against oppression and discrimination and for inclusion. As part of that commitment, we recognize that failure to meet the food needs of participants in ELM events can be a barrier to participation. This policy outlines the expectations for meeting the food needs of expected participants in ELM events which should be followed by event organizers.”

The policy will be implemented in regards to Holy Communion and all ELM hosted events where food is provided.

“Theologically and politically, Holy Communion as a symbol for our unity in Christ is strongest when we find ways for all people to participate as fully as possible. One relatively easy way to accommodate the elements to people with specific food needs [is] to always offer a low-allergen/gluten-free alternative host alone or in addition to other bread. Another easy way to increase communion access is to offer grape juice in addition to or instead of wine. The policy also describes safe-handling procedures to avoid contaminating communion elements with allergens.”

The board will consider a mobility access policy & environmental stewardship policy during their September meeting. The policies will be posted on www.elm.org later this summer. For more information on these policies please contact Rev. Jay Wilson: diversity(at)elm.org

Reception and Reinstatement Service Scheduled in Sierra Pacific Synod

A service of reception, reinstatement and reconciliation will be held for 7 ELM pastors in the Sierra Pacific Synod in July. The service is Sunday, July 25 at 4:00 pm at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in San Francisco, CA. The ELM pastors being received are Rev. Paul Brenner, Rev. Jeff Johnson, Rev. Craig Minich, Rev. Dawn Roginski, Rev. Megan Rohrer, Rev. Sharon Stalkfleet. The pastor being reinstated is Rev. Ross Merkel.

Since the August 2009 Churchwide decision many ELM roster members plan to join the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) roster. The reception process is the last step in becoming part of the ELCA roster for those who were extraordinarily ordained.

As we receive more details about this service and others we will let our supporters know about these joyous celebrations.