Howard Erickson, founding member of LC/NA, Remembered

ELM extends our condolences to the friends and family of Howard Erickson, founding member of Lutherans Concerned. Howard died early last Friday morning of a heart attack and stroke at age 73. His memorial service was yesterday at Hollywood Lutheran Church, in Los Angeles.

We give thanks for the life of Howard Erickson and his early and dedicated lifelong commitment to an inclusive church.

Click here to read an extended obituary on the LC/NA website.

Rev. Jen Nagel Received at Salem English Lutheran Church, ELCA

(Post by Amalia Vagts, ELM Executive Director).

I arrived for Rev. Jen Nagel’s Rite of Reception this past Sunday and immediately felt energized by the colorful surroundings of Intermedia Arts, the temporary home of Salem English Lutheran Church.

Bulletin from the service

This feeling continued as we entered the worship space, which is a theater. The sounds of the fabulous Salem jazz ensemble filled the room. Pastor Jen wanted her rite of reception to occur within a worship service at Salem, and many in the congregation were actively involved in the service.

At the beginning, Pastor Jen welcomed all of us. She made special note of a couple parishioners typically unable to attend worship due to health issues, but who were present that morning. Bp. Craig Johnson, Minneapolis Area Synod, was present for the Rite, and was also the special guest during Pastor Jen’s lively kid’s sermon.

This was the third ELCA Rite of Reception for a pastor who was authorized for ministry by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. The grand services in San Francisco and St. Paul were important events for the community of believers who have long worked (and continue to work) for the day when the ELCA would recognize publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pastors.

This Rite of Reception at Salem was a wonderful, local service held in Pastor Jen’s own parish. All of these services have been great examples of how this Church is widening its welcome to include all of God’s children. Good news!

Rev. Jen Nagel to be Received to ELCA Roster on Sunday, Sept. 26

Rev. Jen Nagel (photo by Rev. Jayne M. Thompson)

Rev. Jen Nagel will be received to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America clergy roster on Sunday, September 26.

The Rite of Reception will occur during a 10:30 a.m. worship at Salem English Lutheran Church, where Pastor Jen has served since 2003. Pastor Jen was ordained at Salem English Lutheran in January of 2008. Salem English Lutheran is located at 2822 Lyndale Ave S. in Minneapolis. This will be the third ELCA Rite of Reception for extraordinarily ordained pastors.

Salem English is a transformational and urban ministry in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Pastor 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 at Concordia College in Moorhead Minnesota. She has served at Central Lutheran Church and Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, as well as in Africa, Chicago, Michigan, and outdoor ministry settings. Jen has served as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and the Minneapolis Area Synod Council. She is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Covenant Circle.

Earlier this year, Minnesota Public Radio interviewed Pastor Jen about the changes in the ELCA ministry policies. You can watch the interview here.

Pastor Jen and her partner, Rev. Jane McBride, live in Minneapolis with their daughter.

ELCA Receives 3 ELM Roster Members

The historic weekend service of Rev. Anita Hill, Rev. Ruth Frost and Rev. Phyllis Zillhart was a moving, joyful service. Thank you for all who attended, watched the live stream and ELM supporters over the years for making September 18 an amazing day. Below you will find links to various media and press on the event:

Photo credit: Joey McLeister, Star Tribune

Watch a video of the service here.

Bishop Rogness and Pastors Anita Hill, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart met with the press prior to the celebration. Watch the press conference here.

Minnesota Public Radio produced the piece “Lesbian clergy once expelled, now embraced

CNN profiled the event in a video “Lesbian pastors join Lutheran clergy

Star Tribune, a Minnesota-St.Paul area newspaper ran this article about Rev. Anita Hill “ELCA to make groundbreaking minister official

The Christian Post posted the article “ELCA Receives 3 Lesbian Ministers

Three ELM roster members to be received onto ELCA roster

L-R: Rev. Ruth Frost, Rev. Anita Hill, Rev.Phyllis Zillhart

ELCA Rite of Reception to the roster of the ELCA for Rev. Anita Hill, Rev. Ruth Frost & Rev. Phyllis Zillhart will be held on Saturday, September 18, 2:00 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 285 N Dale St., St Paul, Minnesota.

The Rev. Peter Rogness, Bishop of the Saint Paul Area Synod of the ELCA, presiding. The Reverend Barbara Lundblad, Union Theological Seminary, New York, preaching.

Clergy and rostered leaders are welcome to vest and process. Green is the color of the day. Please arrive by 1:15 p.m. to join the procession.

Celebration Dinner/Dance at the Saint Paul Hotel begins with conversation and cocktails at 6 p.m. Dinner served 7 p.m. with brief program followed by dancing.

This ticketed event will benefit the Wingspan Ministry of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, Lutherans Concerned/North America, and ELM. For tickets go here.

Rev. Dale Poland on his reinstatement

“Over the last 11 years, as a parish pastor and then a hospital chaplain, I have devoted my life to the faithful service of God, this Synod, the Church, and those in need. I have diligently sought to offer the grace and mercy of God to all. I have loved and continue to love the Church as the instrument of Christ’s activity in the world. But I can no longer faithfully and in all good conscience serve a Church that willingly and actively oppresses and condemns a significant proportion of the population that is gay or lesbian, like myself”…

With these words, I officially resigned from the ordained roster of the ELCA in 2002 and entered a form of “ecclesial exile”. I had received a phone call from my bishop in West Virginia the week prior requesting my resignation because I was living openly in a same sex relationship. At the time I wrote my letter of resignation I had no idea where I would go or what I would do in the future. I only knew that the ELCA would no longer be the place I called my spiritual home – not because I had abandoned the ELCA but because the ELCA had abandoned me. I never questioned by sense of call from the Spirit to Word and Sacrament ministry, I simply questioned where I would live out that call.

A year later I found the Extraordinary Candidacy Project and a group of pastors and lay people who offered me incredible words of affirmation and support. This welcoming Lutheran community allowed me to live out my call to ordained ministry as a hospice chaplain and to bring the God’s grace to others at the end of their lives. A few years later when the ECP became the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries I was proud to be the first ELM pastor to apply to the Association of Professional Chaplains for accreditation as a professional chaplain with the support and encouragement of my colleagues in ELM.

Following the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, I was surprised and overwhelmed by a flood of personal emotions. Did I really want to go back into the ELCA? Could I trust the leadership of the ELCA to fully welcome me again? Had the ELCA truly changed in the last seven years? After discussing the issue at length with my ELM colleagues and admittedly with some trepidation I decided it was time to find out. In the spring I met with the Bishop of the Rocky Mountain Synod, + Allan Bjornberg, and the Assistant to the Bishop for Candidacy, Madelyn Busse. They encouraged me to apply for reinstatement to the ordained roster.

On August 20 I met with the synod’s Candidacy Committee. My partner, Mauricio, came with me to the meeting. What I experienced from the committee was nothing less than an unqualified welcome. I was overwhelmed by their grace and hospitality. We had a fruitful discussion about my previous journey in the ELCA, the pain that was associated with my resignation, the ministry I have been doing since leaving the ELCA, and my sense of call now. Indeed the Church (or at least my corner of it) had changed significantly in my exile and for that I am so very grateful to the work of the ECP/ELM, Lutherans Concerned – North America, Good Soil, Wingspan, Soul Force, and other groups and individuals who worked and advocated tirelessly on behalf of the GLBTQ community to bring about this remarkable move toward greater justice and equality.

To be sure there is still work to be done – we have not reached full equality and sadly, as I learned from one of my ELM colleagues this week, there are parts of the Church that are still resisting the work of the Spirit. But the Church IS moving. I look forward to rejoining the ELCA ordained roster and I hope that I can continue to work along with many others to keep the Church moving toward even greater inclusion.