The Rev. Lionel Ketola

The Rev. Lionel Ketola

The first openly gay seminary student in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, Lionel’s openness regarding his sexual orientation resulted in the removal of his endorsement as a candidate for ordination by the ELCIC in 1988. For the next fourteen years, Lionel worked in the non-profit sector with a variety of church-related and social service organizations and trained as an expressive arts therapist.

Sensing the Spirit’s nudge to once again pursue his call to ministry, Lionel was endorsed for candidacy by ELM in 2004. On May 16, 2008 Lionel became the first openly gay man in a same-sex marriage to be ordained extra ordinem by a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Lionel is presently involved in a full-time CPE residency at St Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, along with a part-time chaplaincy ministry at Mackenzie Place, Newmarket ON.

Lionel and his husband Steven Loweth were married on new years’ eve 2003, and make their home north of Toronto close to family along with the beauty of Ontario’s “near north”.

The Rev. Steve Keiser

Rev. Keiser

Stephen Keiser is a co-pastor (along with Pastor Kari Hart) at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion in Philadelphia, where he has served in ministry since 2000.  His ministry foci include Christian education; leading the congregation in programs of advocacy and justice; evanglism; and strengthening worship leadership.  He shares the congregation’s vision as a community gathered to celebrate God’s welcome and sent to continue the life-giving ministry of Jesus Christ.

He is a graduate of Wheaton College (1981, BA in Philosophy) and the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (1999, M.Div; 2008, STM in Old Testament). Prior to entering seminary, he worked in branch management for fifteen years for Bell Savings Bank and Meridian Bank (now Wells Fargo).

Steve’s involvement with the larger church includes serving on the board of the Lutheran-Episcopal Campus Ministry at Temple University; serving as an admissions associate for the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia; conducting candidacy interviews for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the ELCA; serving as a chaplain to the ELCA Region 7 First Call  Theological Education program; assisting with development for the Bear Creek Camp.

Rev. Steve Keiser was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2011.

Email: prkeiser(at)

The Rev. James Bischoff

The Rev. James Bischoff

The Rev. James M. Bischoff was ordained in the former ALC on 27 June 1976 in Ottawa Lake, Michigan.  He is a graduate of Capital University (B.A. in music) and received the M.Div. degree from the Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary [now Trinity], both in Columbus, Ohio.

He served congregations in Michigan and in southern California.  While serving San Marcos Lutheran Church in San Marcos, California he met his partner, David Kroll, in 1995.  In August of 1998 Jim resigned his call to San Marcos Lutheran after some members decided that he should no longer be serving as a pastor.  In the fall of 1998 eighty former members of San Marcos Lutheran formed an independent Lutheran congregation, also in San Marcos, and called Jim to serve as their pastor.  He served The Church of All Saints for five and a half years.  Because he was no longer able to serve an ELCA congregation he was removed from the ELCA clergy roster after the three year period.  In 2004 Dave took a job relocation in Michigan and Jim resigned his call to The Church of All Saints.

Currently Jim and Dave are living in the Indianapolis area and Jim is trying to get into the candidacy program in the Pacifica Synod in order to be reinstated on the ELCA clergy roster.