EcoFaith Recovery, Portland, OR: Rev. Robyn Hartwig, $12,000
This grant will fund the continued development of EcoFaith Recovery as a ministry of Lutherans and ecumenical partners based out of the metropolitan Portland area. EcoFaith Recovery develops and supports spiritual recovery from the addictive patterns of human life that contribute to the climate crisis, heighten social injustice, deprive people of spiritual meaning, and threaten life on earth. The grant will expand the Mission Developer position to ensure the goals of the program are met.
Anti-bullying ministry, Wisconsin: Rev. Cindy Crane,$6,000
Pastor Cindy Crane is starting a new ministry project that addresses bullying, and how people of faith can prevent and take action effectively against bullying. The ministry will work with the South Central Synod of Wisconsin’s parishes. The team will create action plans and resources on how to engage their congregations on preventing bullying. This ministry partnership will explore how to assist youth and adults who are targets of bullying. The team aims to create a model for how to address bullying issues that parishes can use in the South Central Synod of Wisconsin and beyond.
Pastor Cindy writes that this grant will, “make this new ministry possible as well as assist me in seeking re-rostering with a specialized ministry after 12 years of being off the ELCA roster because of my sexual orientation.” Cindy was one of the founding volunteers of Extraordinary Candidacy in the Midwest.
St Stephen’s Lutheran Church, Florida: Edwin Weber intern, $3,000
Because of recent increased demand for support to LGBTQ seminarians, ELM is launching a new grant category: ELM Internship Grants. Charles Edwin Weber received a grant for his internship at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Tallahassee, Florida. To the left is Charles being introduced to the congregation by Pastor Marda Messick on July 31, 2011. Charles is attending Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina and is a member of Proclaim.
We are taking a short break today from honoring our 2012 Grant Recipients in order to share this reflection from Pastor Jay Wilson about Trans Day of Remembrance.
Trans Day of Remembrance
by Pastor Jay Wilson
I’m talking about communities today, and I want anyone reading or hearing this to know that I mean you. When I say Trans Community, I mean specifically people who identify as transgender or get perceived as gender-nonconforming, but also all people who support us and work together with us against gender-based oppression.
Potential trauma trigger warning – Many who read this will have experienced some of the violence that I am naming. I will be naming some types of violence in a general way.
Trans Day of Remembrance has always made me feel more Lutheran – there’s the Law of gender-based oppression, impossible to separate from the layers of racism and classism and imperialism…and yet, there’s the grace of the community gathering, remembering, and sending us to go forth and change the world together. The hope is hope in our power together, cautious and tempered by the reality of the overwhelming brokenness in the world and the limits of our energy and funding.
Often, taking care of ourselves as creatures of God means we shut out the realities of this broken world. In trans communities, we struggle with these hard conversations of not feeling welcomed, where people who have sought safe space around gender or sexuality, and found that it’s only safe if you’re white, economically stable, or homed.
While many in the larger GLBT movements often strive to be “just like everyone else,” many of us in trans community know that we are not just like everyone else, that our bodies and identities are unique and important for challenging sexism. When we seek to be welcomed into the privilege of being called “normal,” we denigrate the people who are least likely to be accepted. “We’re just trans, we’re not crazy like people with mental illness.” “Trans people aren’t sex workers – we work regular white collar jobs.” And every time we do this, we push out of community the trans people who are psychiatric consumer/survivors, people marginalized into sex work, and we lose the strength that we could have gained in working together against the oppressions that tie us together. That trans people are stereotyped as having psych disabilities and being unemployable is not the real issue here – the real issue is that we live in a world where we don’t even question that it is accepted to marginalize people due to disability, race, and gender. We contribute to violence whenever we try to distance ourselves, personally or as a movement, from it by claiming that our status should be defined by our privilege, rather than standing with those who the world calls “the least of these.”
Trans Day of Remembrance is one place of coming together to remember how closely we are all tied to one another’s oppression. The names and faces remind us that racism, poverty, classism, violence against women and children, are inextricably tied to gender violence. Make no mistake – we see that none of us are safe, no matter how much gender and socio-economic privilege we have, because this gender violence is so pervasive. But the names and faces witness to the brokenness that vulnerability to violence is not equal because we are not treated as equal.
We have so many names and faces to remember on this day, and for reasons of not losing hope and focusing on this particular form of violence, we hear specifically the people who were murdered for perceived gender/sexual identity. But we lose so many more people to violence in our communities – to suicide, to isolation, to bullying, to unsafe communities, to abuse inside and outside of families, to decisions to delay or never transition for safety. We lose people to the internalized violence of substance abuse, healthcare inequalities, to AIDS, to self-hatred, to fear. To poverty-inflicted illness, to job and home and shelter and government discrimination, to being disowned from families and to homelessness, to hunger and war. But we gather, and name some who we have lost, remembering all who we have lost. And in the gathering itself, we become the community that can become justice-creating.
To me, today is also when the cross-sections of trans communities gather in one place. This brings a hope in itself that we can gather and work together to bring gender justice along with new ways of being community together. Many communities are struggling hard with the work of building these community ties, working towards justice and accountability to the most oppressed among us. In many of our communities, we are overwhelmed by our lives and the task of gathering, and we unintentionally or intentionally fall short of welcome. We find ourselves on this day at the foot of the cross, with so much of our own suffering and the weight of the world, and we confess our inaction to change things and our own inflicting of oppression on others and ourselves. We confess the brokenness of our communities and our own privilege and oppressing of others. We confess our hopelessness, and our resignation that we will be back next year with a new longer list of names.
And then we sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, awkwardly at first, wondering how to harmonize when our voices feel too high or low for our identities, and our neighbor is weeping, while the squirmy are ready for bed and our hunger rumbles for the potluck…and despite our insecurities and divisions and the limitations of world bodies and minds, we get swept away over the rainbow in the power of forgiveness, grace, hope, community.
Trans Day of Remembrance was my first introduction to Trans Communities in Minnesota while I was struggling with gender oppression in my chaplaincy internship – it introduced me to a trans community that was welcoming and accessible to me as a genderqueer Lutheran disabled person. Later, another Day of Remembrance was a powerful experience processing in an interfaith service on my ELM internship. The next year, my partner and I had our covenant service reception in the same space that the Trans Day of Remembrance would be held the next evening, and we were happy to share food with the community that had brought us together as a family.
I believe the God of grace and love can and does come through loud and clear on this Day of Remembrance, as we gather around death. We are empowered today by the gospel to be a community that is safe and healing for all of our communities, not just the easy friends we see other days of the year. We are empowered to take on the burdens of our neighbors traumas, in knowledge that we are not alone in this community. And we are supported to share our trauma and grief with each other, while we all struggle to not be so overwhelmed by our own experiences.
In Lutheran community, we can name that the wrestling God of Jacob, the empowering community God of the Exodus, and the whispering Holy Spirit naming and renaming us as in relationship with God. The Genderqueer Spirit, sometimes named as female and sometimes male, is with us, whispering words of freedom from these oppressions that is an Already/Not Yet that we want to become now. And Jesus has promised to meet us precisely when we are the oppressed, when our brokenness and the brokenness of the world is too much to take.
This sharing of our burdens and forgiveness frees and prods us to move in unexpected ways, to bring hope to a roomful of people remembering how many we have lost this year. Our remembrances may be interfaith or secular, or we may simply remember in a line of the Prayers of the People in our congregations or newsletter. But don’t forget this day – the day when we say that we choose to be tied together in community so that we can create justice and freedom for us all.
Want to act toward inclusive trans and queer communities?
Start locally, or start here:
-ELM former and current Ministry Grant recipients working at the intersections of oppression and justice:
Welcome: A Communal Response to Poverty, St. Luke’s Social Justice Ministries, Inclusive and Affirming Ministries in South Africa, Hollywood Lutheran‘s prison and homeless outreach, Grace Place youth shelter
Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Trans Youth Support Network (TYSN), National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP), or the anti-oppression groups near you!
Each year, ELM supports ministry by publicly identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rostered leaders through the Grants program. We have provided over $850,000 in funding for ministry by LGBTQ leaders since 1990. This year we received $133,000 in grant requests but had only $62,000 to give. Go here to make a gift today to support our ministry. The grant recipients are selected by the Grants program, led by Margaret Moreland.
Today’s features recipient is Welcome and the Center for Gay and Lesbian Studies Bay Area, CA: Rev. Megan Rohrer and Rev. Dawn Roginski, $9,000
ELM’s grant will fund a ministry that serves LGBTQ homeless youth through empowerment and fostering leadership. This ministry will also bring attention to their issues and bring in people of faith to provide support to LGBTQ youth. Specifically, the grant will allow Pastors Megan and Dawn to serve this vulnerable population and to encourage those with gifts for ministry to pursue seminary.
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square, Chicago, IL: Rev. Erik Christensen, $3,000
St. Luke’s is a congregation in redevelopment on the northwest side of Chicago in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. This support grant assists St. Luke’s continued redevelopment, expansion and a path to self-sustainability. St. Luke’s continues to offer a food pantry, early childhood music education, yoga classes and host alcohol & drug recovery groups. This is the 5th grant ELM has given St. Luke’s as part of our commitment to this redeveloping congregation. In cooperation with St. Luke’s, ELM has decreased the grant amount each year as St. Luke’s has worked to increase their own sustainability.
Grace Lutheran Church, Houston, TX: Rev. Lura Groen, $9,000
Grace Lutheran Church in Houston continues to grow and minister to the Montrose neighborhood they have called home since 1922. This fall the church launched a new campaign centered on the idea that Grace is “A Place to Come Home To.” Since the campaign began in September they have seen a significant increase in attendance. The campaign has encouraged members to get out and engage the community. They have started a monthly “pub theology” group at a local bistro, and the annual Blessing of the Pets at a park near the church was better attended than ever! This is ELM’s third year of funding for Grace Lutheran Church.
Pastor Lura shares:
“Perhaps most exciting for our small urban congregation has been the influx of young people in the last few months, many of whom come from religious traditions that have rejected them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. For the first time in years we have a young adult Bible study, started because our new members asked for it.
Of course Grace continues to minister to those most vulnerable in our community. Our weekly outreach to homeless youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Montrose Grace Place, continues to challenge and bless the congregation. We’ve recently expanded the program in response to the incredible need in our community. We ask for your prayers as we continue to search for the resources and patience needed to maintain this vital ministry.”
Next year Grace will celebrate its 90 anniversary!
Each year, ELM supports ministry by publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rostered leaders by giving out Ministry Grants. We have provided over $850,000 in funding for ministry by LGBTQ leaders since 1995. This year we received $133,000 in grant requests but had only $62,000 to give. Go here to make a gift today to support our ministry. The grant recipients are selected by the Grants program, led by Margaret Moreland.
Check back in with our blog at elm.org this week to learn the stories of those you support though your gift to ELM.
East Bay Lutheran Youth Program, Oakland: Rev. Craig Minich, $5,000
The East Bay Lutheran Youth Program is a joint youth ministry program made up of five congregations, which ministers to youth and their families from birth to post college. To the left is the Senior High Youth Group serving at Rebuilding Together-Oakland in October 2011 with Oakland Mayor, Jean Quan.
This ministry has been thriving for eleven years and is served by pastor Craig Minich. This grant will support the program by ensuring Craig can stay on as a full time minister and support the program during unforeseen financial changes in the congregations that make up the ministry.