Peace to you these Holy Days

Stole hanging over cross
The stole used at many extraordinary ordinations hangs upon the cross. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia.

As we gather for worship in our own communities during these coming Holy Days we are connected with services across the church…for example the Welcome Church in Philadelphia, PA which will offer an outdoor Maundy Thursday service for those who are homeless in Philadelphia. You can read more about the service and the Welcome Church here. This church grew out of the Welcome Center at Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, where Rev. Steve Keiser serves as pastor. Rev. Keiser was extraordinarily ordained in January of 2009 and received onto the ELCA roster in 2011.

Grace Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas is holding services beginning today, including an Easter vigil, which Pastor Lura Groen is billing as “Fire! Story! Water! Bread! Wine! Mystery! Life!”  Pastor Lura, ELCA rostered, ELM board member and member of Proclaim, the professional community for publicly-identified LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians, was on Facebook this week learning how to dye eggs in preparation for the homeless LGBTQ youth they serve through Grace Place, a new project at Grace.

How are you preparing for this Easter in your congregation or community?

Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship for LGBTQ Seminarians Available Now

Joel Workin (left) and Paul Jenkins
Joel Workin (left) and Paul Jenkins

Joel Raydon Workin (1961-1995) was born in Fargo, ND, and grew up on a farm in nearby Walcott.  He received his Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, CA.  In 1986 Joel interned at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Inglewood, CA.  In the fall of 1987, Joel came out publicly as a gay candidate for the ordained ministry and was certified for call by the American Lutheran Church (a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  Following this courageous and faithful act, Joel’s certification was revoked by the ELCA and his name was never placed on the roster of approved candidates waiting for call.  Joel’s ministry continued in Los Angeles, however, at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and as Director of Chris Brownlie Hospice.  On December 30, 1988, Joel married Paul Jenkins.  Joel was a member of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, North Hollywood.  He and Paul were active in Lutherans Concerned/Los Angeles and Dignity/Los Angeles.  Paul died of AIDS on June 6, 1993.

In the last weeks of his illness, Joel gave his friends and family permission to sponsor an endowed memorial fund in his name. The Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship Fund was thus established upon Joel’s death on November 29, 1995.  In keeping with Joel’s wishes, awards from the fund are used to provide scholarships to publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer seminary students who seek to change the church and society through their ministry. The fund is managed by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, through the Lutheran Community Foundation.

Thanks to a special gift given by Joel’s parents in honor of the life of the late Bp. Paul E. Egertson, ELM will award two $1,000 grants from the memorial fund this year. Previous Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholars include Rev. Jen Rude, Matthew James, and Julie Boleyn.

This scholarship is available for publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Lutheran seminarians.  Applicants must be members of Proclaim.  Click here to download a Proclaim membership form. The deadline for applications is  Wednesday June 1. Electronic submissions should be sent to by Midnight Central Time on June 1st. Download the scholarship application here.

This award comes with a scholarship to LGBTQ seminarians who embody Joel’s passion for justice and faith in their lives and ministry. In addition, the Scholar(s) may be invited throughout the year to be involved with various ELM activities.  Co-Chairs of the Joel R. Working Memorial Scholarship Endowment Committee are Rev. Jeff R. Johnson and Greg A. Egertson, beloved friends and classmates of Joel’s.

We warmly invite you to apply or encourage eligible persons to do so.   If you would like to make a gift designated for the Joel R. Workin Endowment Fund, please contact Amalia  Vagts, ELM Executive Director at or 563-382-6277.  Please consider making a planned gift from your estate to this fund.


Proclaim Launches!

Proclaim LogoELM’s new program, Proclaim, launched this weekend during a gathering of LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians near Lake Geneva, WI. It was a fantastic gathering of folks from as far away as South Africa and Alaska.

We spent time getting to know one another, learning more about ELM and Proclaim, and learning from the brilliant and ever-entertaining Lisa Larges, from That All May Freely Serve, a movement partner from the Presbyterian Church.

Nearly 60 attendees joined together in worship, conversation, planning, as well as a raucous evening of  Trivial Pursuit, Banagrams, Euchre and Hearts. Attendees play trivial pursuitAs Proclaim evolves, you’ll be hearing more about how these leaders seek to renew and transform Lutheran congregations and ministries and serve God’s people by bringing the Good News.

For the Proclaim membership form click here.

Here’s what one attendee shared about the weekend:

“After spending this weekend with other GLBTQ people in the Lutheran church I am strengthened and renewed.  I don’t feel like I am going through candidacy, the call process and the Lutheran church alone.  I look forward to all that ELM can do for me and am excited about an opportunity to serve ELM and Proclaim as well!”

Proclaim Retreat workshop. Photo by Cary Bass
Proclaim Retreat workshop. Photo by Cary Bass

Another person wrote:

“We are building new community through Proclaim, strengthening our witness, empowering our vision, accompanying one another into God’s gracious future!”



P.S.  If you are excited about connecting with publicly-identified LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians in a synod near you, attendees got very energized about forming regional meet-ups, including the already dubbed Southern group, “Proclaim, Ya’ll!”