Lutheran LGBTQ Rostered Leaders Retreat April 1-3, 2011

Photo of Bright Blue Sky
Photo by A. Vagts

Join other Lutheran publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) rostered leaders for a time of renewal, community building, and professional development. We are planning a fabulous weekend and want you to be there! This event is hosted by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

The retreat will be held at the George Williams College Retreat Center on beautiful Geneva Lake in Wisconsin.

The retreat is for all Lutheran publicly-identified LGBTQ rostered leaders, those seeking to be rostered, and seminarians. Partners are also invited to attend.

Early-bird Registration: $225.  After Feb 1: $260.

ELM practices travel equalization (a lovely but complicated process). We will share travel costs, so please budget approximately $260 for travel.  Please note: there is a free shuttle to the retreat center from the Milwaukee airport.

Scholarships are available. The application is due by Jan. 31. Announcements will be made as soon as possible upon receipt of application. Scholarship recipients will be excluded from the travel equalization pool, but scholarship funds will not be applied toward travel. The application is available here.

Please note, this retreat will be public and your name and photo may be used in connection with the retreat. If you have questions or concerns about privacy, please contact ELM Executive Director, Amalia Vagts at

Please visit for more information about the retreat, travel equalization, and to register online.

The Rev. Jay Wiesner

The Rev. Jay Wiesner

Jay is originally from New Ulm, a small town of German descent in southwestern Minnesota. He graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota with a BA in religion. After college, he attended Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. During his senior year, he publicly came out to the faculty and students at Wartburg and left to take some time off. He finished his Master of Divinity degree in 2002 and immediately began work at Bethany Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as Pastoral Minister of Outreach. He was called and ordained by Bethany on July 25, 2004. He served the congregation from 2002-2008.

Jay is pastoral director of The Naming Project. The Naming Project is a faith-based youth group serving youth of all sexual and gender identities. The primary focus is to provide a place for youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning to learn, grow, and share their experiences. In this way The Naming Project is a space in which youth can comfortably discuss faith and who they understand themselves to be–whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender…or straight.

Rev. Jay Weisener was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Ross Merkel

Ross D. Merkel, the current pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA, is the tenth pastor to serve the congregation since its founding in 1887. Ordained in 1978, he is a graduate of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. Prior to being called to St. Paul in 1982, Pastor Merkel served as a Refugee Resettlement Coordinator with Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest in Phoenix, AZ and prior to that as Associate Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Phoenix.

A native Californian, he graduated from the University of California, Davis with a Bachelor of Arts and then attended Brigham Young University in Provo, UT where he earned a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Library Science.

Rev. Ross Merkel was reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Sharon Stalkfleet

The Rev. Sharon Stalkfleet

The Rev. Sharon Stalkfleet was first called as a pastor to the Lutheran Ministry to Nursing Homes in Oakland and Alameda, CA. She started ministry and served in that capacity for six and 1/2 years ending her call in December 2008. She currently lives with her partner Larell in Alameda, CA with their dog Greta.

Rev. Sharon Stalkfleet was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Donna Simon

The Rev. Donna Simon

Rev. Donna Simon is a Midwesterner by birth (and temperament), though she has spent much of her life on the West Coast. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California.

Pastor Donna was called into ministry from a volunteer position as church youth director at Messiah Lutheran Church, Redwood City, California. After she began spending more and more time at church, working with youth and volunteering for pretty much everything else, her pastor encouraged her to attend seminary.  She began studies at PLTS in 1995.  She had the privilege of returning to Ann Arbor, Michigan–her first home–in 1998-99 for an internship at Lord of Light Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Michigan.

When Donna appeared before her ELCA candidacy committee in 1999 for the final step before ordination, she told them that she would not pledge compliance with the church’s Vision and Expectations Statement, which requires lifelong celibacy for gay and lesbian candidates. Though the candidacy panel recommended approval, the full committee postponed her approval pending change in denominational policy.

Donna was approved by the candidacy committee of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (a root organization of ELM) later that year, and called to serve Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in August of 2000. She has been blessed to be in ministry there ever since.

Abiding Peace’s mission in the world is continuing to advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church, and working with other marginalized communities in and around the Kansas City Metro area. Abiding Peace is a proud member of Communities Creating Opportunity, a faith-based community organizing federation in the Metro.  Through their work with CCO, Abiding Peace has developed a strong outreach to our homeless neighbors in the Northland area. The congregation continues to look for new ways to serve and opportunities to be in mission for Jesus Christ.

Read here blog here.

Rev. Donna Simon was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Steve Robertson

The Rev. Steve Robertson

Rev. Steve Robertson is a graduate of Luther Seminary and was ordained on June 10, 1979. Steve served as Associate Pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in East Bethel, Minnesota before becoming the Senior Pastor of Cambridge Lutheran Church in Cambridge, MN.  Following an 11 year ministry in Cambridge, Steve was called to become the senior pastor of Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park, KS. His last call in the ELCA was as the senior pastor of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN.

In 2006 Steve was removed from ELCA roster after a three year leave of absence and discernment process.  Following this period in his life Steve fully came out as a gay man in a same sex committed relationship.  Steve is currently serving as a Spiritual Coordinator/Bereavement Counselor for AseraCare Hospice, Bloomington. Steve is  currently a member of St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church.

The Rev. Dale Poland

Rev. Dale Poland

Rev. Dale Poland is currently serving as a spiritual care provider at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in San Jose, CA.  Dale, a native of Rio, WV, graduated from Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary with academic honors in New Testament Studies in 1991. Previously, he had earned a Bachelors’ of Science Degree in Forestry and Wildlife Resources from Virginia Tech in1987.

Dale was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor of St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), Wheeling, WV on July 14, 1991 and was  rostered with the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod. In the summer of 1995 he was issued a new call as the sole pastor of St. Mark Church. In 1999 Dale left parish ministry and completed three successive CPE residencies at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, WV, and St. Anthony Hospitals in Denver, CO.

Dale resigned from the ELCA ordained roster in 2002 over its unjust policies toward gay and lesbian clergy. In 2003 he was added to the roster of the ECP and later to the roster of ELM. Dale has worked in hospice care for the last ten years in Colorado and California and currently resides in San Jose, CA with his partner, Mauricio Cuevas

Rev. Dale Poland was reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster through the Rocky Mountain Synod in 2010.

The Rev.Terry Hagensen

Terry Hagensen
Rev. Terry Hagensen

“In my call to ministry, my relationship with the church is one of love, respect and forgiveness as I continue to be part of  the effort to bring full inclusion to God’s family and church.”

Terry and his partner Kevin Estenson have four kids and two grandkids. Terry is currently working for the medical business until he is received a call- then he hopes to return to full time ministry. Rev. Terry Hagensen was approved for reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Dr. Jenny Mason

The Rev. Jenny Mason

The Rev. Jenny Mason served as an ELCA missionary in Santiago, Chile before being removed from the ELCA clergy roster in 2001 because of being an openly lesbian woman in relationship. More recently, Jenny served as Associate Pastor at Central City Lutheran Mission (CCLM) in San Bernardino, California, which was disciplined by the Synod for installing Jenny as an openly lesbian woman pastor. This resulted in the loss of both funding and official ELCA status as a congregation in development for this unique social ministry and active worship community.

She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH, and a Doctorate of Ministry in Proclamation from the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago. Jenny moved to the Twin Cities in 2005 to live with her partner Jodi Barry, and now works as a Congregational Partnership Organizer for a faith-based developer of affordable housing.

Rev. Jenny Mason was approved for reinstatement to the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

ELM Celebrates as Rev. Steve Keiser Received to ELCA Clergy Roster

Rev. Steve Keiser
Rev. Steve Keiser

Rev. Steve Keiser was received to the ELCA clergy roster this morning during the 11 a.m. worship service at Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion in Philadelphia. Bishop Claire Burkat, ELCA Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod preached at the service and presided at the Rite of Reception.  Keiser is pastor at Holy Communion, along with Rev. Kari Hart.

Rev. Keiser is the 15th pastor who was extraordinarily ordained to be received onto the ELCA clergy roster.  Other ELM pastors and other LGBTQ rostered leaders have also been reinstated or received onto the ELCA roster.

The ELCA Rite of Reception is the formal rite developed by the ELCA to receive ELM roster members who had been extraordinarily ordained onto the ELCA clergy roster.

Click here to read an article about Rev. Keiser and Rev. Jay Wiesner from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s site.