Each month we are inviting people who support Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries to share how and why they are involved with our ministry. This month we hear from ELM Board Member Vance Blackfox about when he first thought our ministry was worth supporting and why he’s continued to invest in our mission. In Vance’s words:
I have had the privilege of working with and for youth and young adults in the church for most of my professional career. It was my ministry and devotion to caring and advocating for youth that kept me from being more fully engaged in working with organizations that were focused on justice issues related to the welcome and inclusion of LGBTQ people in the church, the ELCA specifically. My call to youth ministry kept me too busy, so I felt. I worked very hard to stay focused on the youth groups and young leaders that I had the privilege of journeying with in ministry.
Of course, I knew there were organizations like Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project who were working on behalf of the excluded, myself included, and who were making it possible for LGBTQ voices to be represented at the table. It was not long after the merger and creation of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries that I began to realize that some of the LGBTQ youth that I had journeyed with into their adulthood and who were now discerning vocational calls as adults, might be called to ordained ministry and wouldn’t be able to be fully themselves, as God intended, and be a pastor in the ELCA at the same time.
While I am not called to ordained ministry, I had come to realize that my passion for youth justice meant that I needed to offer myself to the work that would help open the door for their journey to ordained ministry and for a greater welcome in the ELCA. I was invited soon after this epiphany to serve on the board of directors for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, and have been blessed to be a part of a ministry and movement that has changed the Church and has changed me, for the better.
“It is a privilege to serve with all of the folks who have been doing this work for many, many years. I do this work and support ELM to honor them and to prepare for those who will come after us. Wado (Thank you).
Vance Blackfox serves on the Board of Directors for ELM and is the Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Vance, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, lives in Chicago and is a student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.