5 Years of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

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Watercolor sketch of ELM-Proclaim banner by Kristen Gilje.

 ” I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.   – Isaiah 43:19

It was on Reformation Day just five years ago that Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries came into being, the result of a merger between Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (read more about the history here).

2007 was a very uncertain time in the Lutheran church for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people called to ministry. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s policy at that time demanded a life of celibacy for LGBTQ people called to rostered leadership in the church.  Many LGBTQ rostered leaders had left or been forced to leave, and many future leaders were abandoning or delaying plans to begin seminary.

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries was making a new way in the wilderness and new rivers in the desert for those supporting the ministry of LGBTQ people.   Our work continued the reforming tradition that began with the prophetic acts of extraordinary ordination on January 22, 1990.  Over the years, a total of 18 people were extraordinarily ordained, dozens remained in rostered ministry, and countless people stayed connected to the Lutheran church because of this ministry.

Since the ELCA changed their ministry policies in 2009, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has focused its energy on being a resource for LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians, ministry sites, and church institutions as we all live into this changing church.

The work of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is as relevant and vital as ever. The increased numbers of LGBTQ people who began seminary after 2009 are moving into the stages of internship, assignment, and call. Seasoned LGBTQ rostered leaders who once imagined they would only find one or possibly two calls in their lifetime, now can imagine following their call to ministry in a variety of settings throughout the church. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is poised as a resource not only for these leaders, but for the ministry sites calling them and the church institutions–candidacy committees, call committees, synodical offices and Churchwide leaders that engage and interact with them.

Since 2009, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has launched Proclaim, a professional community of Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. This group has grown to 116 strong in just over a year.  We have also launched a Candidacy Accompaniment program, which has connections with all ELCA seminarians and a growing number of partner theological and divinity schools, and is working with nearly 40 future leaders in the Lutheran church.  We have continued and redesigned our Ministry Grants program to ensure we are putting our treasure where our heart is by directly funding ministries and congregations led by LGBTQ rostered leaders.

Your financial support is greatly needed. Our work has more than doubled since 2009 and this ministry is funded almost entirely by individuals and congregations.  You can make your Reformation Day gift here right now, by following this link to donate.

God continues to call this ministry to do new things and we are responding to the needs of the church.  And it’s a joyful and marvelous experience!

“For we do not Proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord…”  2 Corinthians 4:5