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 and treasurer Charlie Horn about when he first thought our ministry was worth supporting and why he’s continued to invest in our mission. In Charlie’s words:
Several years ago, my home congregation was in the midst of a search for a new pastor. A few members were pushing for us to consider candidates from the Extraordinary Candidacy Project and, after lots of discussion, the decision was made to authorize the call committee to do so. I chaired that call committee and I can tell you that “breaking the rules” only made things more difficult (especially for someone like me who isn’t comfortable being a rules-breaker). Considering the results of that call process – we have a great pastor who fits well with our congregation – I’m glad to have been a part of breaking those rules, as uncomfortable as it might have been.
Breaking the rules is what led to the formation of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and its predecessor organizations. When Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries was founded, its purpose was to fund ministries led by LGBTQ folk, usually leaders not recognized by the “official” church bodies of the ELCA, LCMS, ELCIC, and others. The Extraordinary Candidacy Project broke the rules in a more direct way – it approved candidates for ordination who otherwise could not be approved because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. As I said, I’m not comfortable with breaking rules, and so it actually took being asked a few times before I finally agreed to be a part of ECP. Once there, though, I realized that what we were doing was the right thing.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries continues to “break the rules”, but in a different way. While the ELCA has changed its policies regarding rostering LGBTQ leaders, that doesn’t mean that the church has fully embraced these leaders. ELM helps to expand the opportunities for ministry for those leaders, providing support to candidates through our Candidacy Accompaniment program and internship grants, facilitating peer support through Proclaim, and assisting rostered leaders in their calls by making grants to some of the ministries they lead. We do this to make sure that great LGBTQ leaders are not lost or left behind because of barriers that may get in the way. I am happy to support these efforts through my financial giving, because the results are so tangible and needed by the church. Just as importantly, these efforts take time and commitment, which I gladly give by serving as Treasurer of ELM – and I’m proud to work with some really great people in doing so. And, as uncomfortable as it may make me, I have come to appreciate being challenged to break the rules – over the years I’ve learned that sometimes that is the approach needed to make things right.
Charlie Horn serves on the Board of Directors for ELM and is also ELM’s treasurer. He lives in Pitman, New Jersey with his partner.