This week’s Windy City Times included a story about Rev. Pieter Oberholzer’s current North American tour. Read more about the event and view a few photos here.
“IAM advocates that the South African religious communities should become more welcoming and affirming towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people.
IAM works as a catalyst, interacting both with the religious faith communities and the gay community, building bridges through our programmes and projects.”
ELM is support IAM ministries this year through an ELM Grant. Though Oberholzer lives in South Africa has been active in the ELM community for many years. He is touring North America to build partnerships.
Rev. Jen Rude, ELM board of directors member and Proclaim member introduced Rev. Oberholzer and talked about ELM’s work. The event was held at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square. Rev. Erik Christensen, ELM co-chair and Proclaim member is pastor at St. Luke’s. Additionally, St. Luke’s is a 2011 ELM Grant recipient–and home to the ELM office.
Pastor Virginia (Ginger) Georgulas died suddenly on Sunday, June 26, 2011. She had previously been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Ginger was a long-time ally of LGBTQ people in the Lutheran Church. Lutherans Concerned/North America honored Ginger in a message this morning, noting that she founded the North Texas Chapter of Lutherans Concerned and attended the first Reconciling in Christ training.
Pastor Jeff Johnson has posted a reflection on the University Chapel’s website. Ginger was a member of the Chapel in the 80’s.
Rev. Donn Rosenauer, member of the ELM Roster and Proclaim, shares this reflection about the role Ginger played in his life recently as he has sought to rejoin the clergy roster of the ELCA:
“When I knew I was moving to the Dallas area I thought I was moving to the “wilderness.” I called friends and asked for advice. I was alerted to contact Virginia”Ginger”Georgulas. I called from San Diego, and I knew from her first words I would have a new friend in the Dallas area. We were welcomed and extended an invitation for dinner our first week in Texas.
I would soon learned of Ginger’s fierce commitment to the LGBTQ community. For more that 20 years she worked on our behalf. Active in LC/NA, she established a chapter in Dallas. She was a friend to many in ELM. She worked in a focused and direct way to advocate for us through her many positions and contacts within the ELCA. She willingly, with wise counsel and support became my strong ally and supporter. She set up meetings with the local ELCA synod office. Ginger was a part of every conversation with the synod and opened every door to help establish conversations at every important level.
A number of weeks ago she became ill and was told she could expect another 14 months or more to complete her journey. She was insistent that I continue to work for re-rostering. Last Friday was our most recent conversation about working to fulfill this expectation.
I am grateful for her leadership, support and her advocacy for us all. The people of God have a great example to follow in this ‘Saint for Justice.'”
Ginger is survived by her husband, the Rev. Fred Behrmann. Upon her retirement in 2002, she and her husband relocated to Coppell, TX, and became members of Rejoice Lutheran Church, Coppell, TX. A memorial service, giving God thanks for Pastor Georgulas and her ministry, will be held at the time and location noted below. Clergy are invited to vest (green) and process. There will be a reception following the service. Pastor Georgulas’ pastor, The Rev. Phil Geleske of Rejoice, Coppell, TX, will preside.
Condolences may be sent to Ginger’s husband, The Rev. Fred Behrmann, at his home address: 145 Cherrybark Dr., Coppell, TX 75019-3557, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are requested to not send flowers.
We are expanding our outreach on the web to new people via Facebook. We’ve created a new Welcome page that explains a little about our mission, allows you to sign up for our eNewsletter and read the latest issue by clicking on the image. Additionally there is contact info, upcoming events and a way to donate online. Please send this link widely:
Please note: If you already “like” our page you will be automatically directed to the wall, but you can see our new welcome page by clicking on the “welcome” tab on the left.
Beginning this afternoon, at Peace United Methodist Church in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, Rev. Amy DeLong, Osceola, WI, will face charges for being open about her sexual orientation and partnered relationship and for officiating a holy union ceremony for a lesbian couple seeking God’s blessing within a worship service. You can learn more at a website devoted to the trial and Pastor Amy’s ministry.
These are deemed “chargeable offenses” for United Methodist clergy.
This trial may feel like a bad flashback for Lutherans–Pastors Ross Merkel, Steve Sabin, and Bradley Schmeling were all previously put on church trial in the Lutheran church because of their sexual orientation and/or relationships. Each of these three pastors was reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster following the ELC’s 2009 change in ministry policies.
Amalia Vagts, Executive Director, of ELM wrote in a note to Pastor Amy this morning, “On behalf of your friends at Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, we wish you God’s peace and grace during this week of this shameful trial. We walk this sad road with you, as we have walked it in the past with your Lutheran colleagues (Ross Merkel, Steve Sabin, Bradley Schmeling). That these trials continue seems unimaginable. I pray that they continue to open eyes, hearts, and minds to the expansive love and grace of our God who embraces all without exception.”
You can learn more about the history of LGBT pastors in the Lutheran Church by watching the excellent documentary, Call to Witness, now available through Netflix. Click here to learn more about the film, Call to Witness.
In early April ELM launched Proclaim, the new professional community for publicly-identified LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians. Proclaim members are Lutheran rostered leaders who seek to renew and transform Lutheran congregations and ministries and serve God’s people through their ministry as publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. Proclaim is an Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries program.
Proclaim recently reached the 55 member mark and continues to grow. The group includes a diverse group of LGBTQ rostered leaders, ranging from those who’ve been in ministry for many years to others who are just starting out. The group includes leaders from places like the Midwest, Alaska, South Africa, the Bay Area, East Coast and even Texas! Visit www.elm.org/proclaim for a list of current members.
Proclaim offers its members professional development and support; participation in an annual leaders’ retreat; eligibility to apply for ELM grants and scholarships; and access to year-round networking and professional development resources.
Proclaim is open to any Lutheran clergy or rostered lay leader who publicly identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer. Proclaim also welcomes entranced seminarians to the community. You can learn more and download a membership form by visiting www.elm.org/proclaim.
Check the ELM news blog for updates about the work Proclaim members are doing.
Rev. Pieter Oberholzer, South Africa’s “Inclusive & Affirming Ministries” 2011 PRIDE Presentation, June 25: Chicago, ILWednesday, June 8th, 2011
As part Chicago’s LGBTQ Pride celebrations this month, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square is very proud to be hosting the Rev. Pieter Oberholzer. Oberholzer is the Founder and Chief Financial Officer of Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM), the largest faith-based LGBTQ-rights organization on the continent of Africa. On Saturday, June 25th from 10:30am to 12pm at 2649 N. Francisco Ave in Chicago, IL Pieter will speak about his work.
Founded in 1995 in Cape Town, South Africa, IAM has gained national and international recognition for its work in the fight against discrimination towards LGBTQ people and is the only organization in Southern Africa with the explicit mission of working with religious leaders in the mainline Christian church – especially those still adhering to patriarchal and fundamentalist values.
Earlier this year, Rev. Oberholzer was featured as an advocate for LGBTQ rights in a televised debate with Ugandan MP David Bahati over proposed legislation that would have made some homosexual acts punishable by death. That debate was aired around the world on BBC World, and the bill was defeated just last month.
Rev. Oberholzer will be speaking at St. Luke’s as part of a tour of North America that includes stops in Canada and Mexico, with other points in the United States. St. Luke’s is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that has been worshiping in the heart of the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago’s north side since 1900. Oberholzer is a member of the ELM Roster and Proclaim.
For more information, contact Pastor Erik Christensen at pastorerik@stlukesLS.org or (773)235-5420.
St. Francis Lutheran Church was one of the founding congregations of the movement that led to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. In the midst of the AIDS crisis, St. Francis was led by now retired ELCA pastor Rev. Jim DeLange, who was a pioneer in the movement to ordain publicly-identified lesbian and gay pastors. In 1990, a lesbian couple, Rev. Ruth Frost and Rev. Phyllis Zillhart were extraordinarily ordained (along with Rev. Jeff Johnson), and served as pastors in St. Francis, providing a visible witness of St. Francis Lutheran’s commitment to the LGBT community. Frost, Zillhart and Johnson, now pastors on the ELCA clergy roster, were members of the historic ELM roster and are part of the new LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders community, Proclaim.
In a recent Bay Area Reporter article, writer Matthew Bajko tells the story of Rev. DeLange’s and St. Francis’ early involvement in ministry to people affected by HIV and AIDS. Read the full article here.
In the following excerpt from that article, we hear the story of Grant Burger, a long-term member of St. Francis and supporter of ELM. Bajko writes:
“Even as St. Francis fought to change the national Lutheran Church’s policies, it continued to care for those living with HIV. Grant Burger found himself walking through its doors in September 1993 two years after learning he was positive.
“I was born and raised Lutheran. My relationship with God is very important to me independent of what the church told you,” said Burger, who had been referred to the church by the Lutheran Gay and Lesbian Ministry. “They recommended I come to St. Francis and check it out, so I did and never left.”
What he found, Burger said, was a support network that helped him through his darkest moments, especially prior to the introduction of protease inhibitors in 1996 when he was close to dying.
“I found a family, not just people sitting in some pew,” he said. “It was just huge to know St. Francis welcomed me unconditionally and loved me with no shame at all. It speaks to just what love is all about.”
Mark Allred, a member of Proclaim, has received a call from the Alaska Synod as Interim Dir. of Evangelical Mission (DEM). Allred will also be exploring a possible Mat-Su Native Outreach (SAWC) in Palmer and Wasilla, Alaska.
Allred’s ordination will be on July 10th at Alaska Native Lutheran Church in Anchorage, Alaska at 7:00 p.m. All are welcome!