Holiday tableAs I sat down for Christmas dinner with my partner, his three kids, their mom and their stepdad, I asked everyone to take a moment to share some words of gratitude for the year.

“But this isn’t Thanksgiving!” objected our 14-year-old.

“You’re right,” agreed his stepdad, smiling. “But Amalia didn’t say, ‘Give thanks.’  She said, ‘Gratitude,’ and that’s what this day is for.”

During this continuing season of Christmas and into the New Year celebration, many of us take time to slow down and reflect.  For me, this kind of reflection leads to a sense of abundance, grace, and gratitude.  And ever the optimist, I’m always ready to leave the difficulties of one year behind and start looking forward to the yet unknown joys of the year to come.

Part of the reason for this heightened sense of gratitude and abundance is that this is also the time of year when many people choose to write checks in support of ministries and nonprofits they care about. While last week was filled with some relaxing time with friends and family, this week is busy for many of us as we process your contributions and send a note to you sharing our thanks. In fact, I’m taking a short break from those notes to write this post. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity and commitment of the supporters of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, and by their gratitude for this ministry.

“Thanks for your continued ministry!” one person wrote with their contribution.

“Thanks for the great work you do.” wrote another.

One member of Proclaim sent us an updated email address and included this note, “ELM really is an amazing organization that makes a huge difference in the lives of people, congregations and the world.”

Your contributions mean so much to us.  We couldn’t do the work you care about without them. ELM is funded almost entirely by contributions from individuals, congregations and ministries. Your contributions also mean more–they mean that you care about this mission. They mean that you also believe that by supporting LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians we can continue to change the church, to make it more fully inclusive to all people.

And so, today, on this second to last day of 2011, I give thanks for you, and for all that you do.

And in the coming year, I look forward to finding new and expanding ways for this community to work together for this common vision of an inclusive and welcoming church and society.


Margaret and Bennett’s Christmas Gift

Donate to ELMLong-time Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries friends Margaret Moreland and Bennett Falk have a special gift for ELM this Christmas. They’ve agreed to donate an extra $5,000  to match all new, increased and renewed gifts to ELM before the end of the year!

Please, while this post  is open, click on this link and make your first-time, renewed, or increased gift to ELM.

Margaret and Bennett know it will take more resources to do our ministry next year. That’s why they’re giving more generously than ever before, and asking you to do the same.

If you’ve been inspired by ELM’s ministry, but haven’t given, there’s no better time than right now.  If you donate $50, ELM will have $100 for ministry. If you donate $100, we’ll have $200 for ministry!

The financial support of individuals like you have helped ELM launch two new programs this year.  One is Proclaim, the new professional community for Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ.  There are 80 members of Proclaim, and we continue to grow.  The second is our Candidacy Accompaniment program.  Thanks to your support, ELM is currently working with NINETEEN leaders who are seeking rostered leadership in the Lutheran church. In addition, ELM supporters will invest $62,000 in congregations and ministries led by LGBTQ leaders in 2012.

This ministry is growing! We want you to be part of it.

Again, please, while this post  is open, click on this link and make your first-time, renewed, or increased gift to ELM.

We need your support. THANK YOU, Margaret and Bennett for this marvelous gift!

Margaret Moreland: Why I Support ELM

Starting this month, we are inviting people who support Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) to share how and why they are involved with our ministry. This month we hear from Margaret Moreland about when she first thought our ministry was worth supporting and why she’s continued to invest in our mission.

Margaret Mooreland
Margaret Moreland. Photo by Jay Wilson

“I first realized the need for the ministry that ELM does at the January 20, 1990 ordination service for Ruth Frost, Phyllis Zillhart, and Jeff Johnson. At the time of that service, I had not been thinking about LGBT issues in the church; I attended because I knew it was a controversial and interesting thing that was happening. During the service I heard the prayers of people who felt profoundly changed by what was happening in that service: people who had not felt welcome in any church in years, people whose gay or lesbian children had left the church, people who were afraid to follow a call to ordained ministry. At the end of the service I felt that I had only two options: leave the church that was causing so much pain or work to change the church.

I began to donate money to Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (LLGM) which had just been formed, but that was not enough. Happily about two years later, Pr. Jeff Johnson invited me to meet with a group of people to plan starting a candidacy program for gay and lesbian seminarians. I joined them and we started working on what became the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP). Since then I have served on the board of one of ECP, LLGM, or ELM almost continuously. I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without this wonderful ministry. I’ve met amazing, talented, wonderful people: the pastors and candidates who have been able to be called and ordained; the members of the congregations and ministries that called these pastors. Ministry happens because of the work of ELM.

The change of policy in the ELCA has not changed my commitment to the work of ELM.  LGBTQ clergy, rostered lay leaders, and seminarians still will have a difficult time being accepted in many parts of the church.  I will continue to support this work which has changed so many lives, including mine.”

Margaret Moreland serves on the board of directors for ELM and is currently chair of the Ministry Grants program. She lives in Berkeley, CA with her spouse, Bennett Falk.