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Archive for December, 2012

Join Margaret & Bennett – double your contribution today

Friday, December 28th, 2012
Photo of Bennett Falk and Margaret Moreland.

You can join Bennett Falk and Margaret Moreland and become ELM supporters today.

I just received a remarkable phone call.

Last year, Margaret Moreland and Bennett Falk (pictured at left) gave a year-end gift to encourage new and former donors to support Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

Margaret says they want to do this again – and this year they are providing a very generous match.

This means that your new and renewed donations will be matched dollar for dollar between now and Dec. 31.  Click here to give now.

At least 20 seminarians will be seeking an internship site next fall, and there are 10 great pastors awaiting call right now.  Your contribution of $50 or $100 – or whatever you can send now – is a sign of hope and assurance to these ministers and the church.

Your gift of $50 or more would really help these leaders.  A $50 gift means $100 towards ministry by LGBTQ leaders. $250 would mean $500.

How to Give

There are three ways to donate this year and qualify for the match.

Give online right now by clicking here.  You can make a gift using a credit card or directly from your checking account.

-Call me at 563-382-6277 to make a donation using your credit card or directly from your checking account.  I’ll be in the office until 5:00 p.m. CT on Friday, Dec. 28 and Monday, Dec 31.

-Mail a check to ELM, 2649 N. Francisco Ave., Chicago, IL 60647.  It must be post-marked by Dec. 31.

Margaret told me she and Bennett are glad to make this gift because they care so much about LGBTQ leaders and the ministries that support them.  I hope we can count you among our supporters this year.

Your gift must be made on or by Dec. 31, 2012 to qualify for this dollar to dollar match.  The gift you can give is the support we need to help these leaders and ministries.  Thank you to all of our wonderful supporters and to Margaret and Bennett for this extraordinary gift.

Amalia Vagts, Executive Director

P.S.  Email me at director(at)elm.org if you have any questions about how we’ll use your contribution — or visit our website, www.elm.org.

Your Support at Work: the Winter 2012 Mission is NOW ONLINE

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

newsletter winter 2012 singles (1)_Page_1You could wait for the MISSION to arrive by mail.  But if you are eager to read how you’re helping LGBTQ leaders and their ministries, you can check out our most recent newsletter on line.

The Mission is a chance to share stories about the ministry you are making happen. This edition of the Mission features updates on those in the candidacy process. It also highlights ELM’s  Candidacy Accompaniment program.  Because of your support we will be able to help some of the 20-30 seminarians looking for an internship congregation in Fall 2013.

Another exciting projecting is launching in 2013:

We’re glad to announce the ELCA has provided us with a grant to develop resources materials for ELCA synodical and Churchwide staff and volunteers based on our history of working with LGBTQ candidates for ministry and the direct experiences of the Proclaim community.

Download a PDF version of the newsletter here.

Spread the newsletter and news of ELM’s work! Want multiple paper copies of the Mission for your congregation, book club, etc? Email Rachael (Operations@elm.org) your name, address and how many copies you would like.

For back issues of the Mission go here.

2013 Proclaim Retreat Keynote Speaker: Bishop Yvette Flunder

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Proclaim retreat is a gathering of publicly identified LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians for a time of renewal, community building, and professional development. This year’s retreat, Wade in the Water will be held at Bishop’s Ranch in Healdsburg, CA, a retreat and conference center in the heart of California’s Sonoma County.

The 2013 Proclaim retreat keynote speaker will be Bishop Yvette Flunder. Bishop Flunder is the founder and pastor of The City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco, CA. City of Refuge is a thriving inner-city congregation that celebrates the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ.  In June 2003 Bishop Flunder was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship, a multi-denominational fellowship of 110 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all parts of the United States Mexico and Africa.

We are very excited to have Bishop Flunder join the Proclaim community at the retreat.

For more on ELM’s Proclaim retreat go here: www.elm.org/retreat/

Guest Blogger Brenda Bos: Why Our Message Matters

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Today we hear from guest blogger Brenda Bos. She is currently on seminary internship at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica. Brenda is a member of Proclaim and a 2012 Internship Grant recipient. She is a student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. The Rev. Jim Boline is her internship supervisor. 

Why Our Message Matters

Bishop: Will you proclaim the good news of God’s grace and Jesus Christ to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in our area?

Intern: I will and I ask God to help me.

Bishop: Will you serve as a beacon of hope to Reconciling in Christ Congregations, and to other congregations who are prayerfully considering inclusivity?

Intern: I will and I ask God to help me.

And with those words I was installed as the first intern of the Los Angeles chapter of Reconciling Works.   The chapter decided it was time to hire someone to be intentional about getting our message of grace out to the wider LGBT community in Southern California.  But we also realized it was time to “check in” with the ELCA congregations in Southern California, offering support and encouragement to congregations who are wondering about welcome. 

You’ll notice similar themes coming up for Proclaim as we figure out how to serve the church going forward.  For some of us, we’ve been out and pretty comfortable for several years.  We forget there are still hundreds of LGBT Lutherans who don’t know how to get support on their journey.  And we need to continue to boldly reach out to them.   There are straight allies who must remain silent, and the silence is excruciating. 

In the simplest terms, people of faith fall on two sides of inclusivity.  One side believes their faith calls them to love all people.  The other side believes their faith calls them to exclude sinners.  Loving, faithful people are on both sides of this issue.  And I feel called to listen, respect and love those who truly feel called by God to exclude me.  I’ve been on their side of the issue, and so I have compassion for their struggle.  I have also experienced the amazing liberation of grace and wish to share that as well.  We continue to learn the painful lesson that anger and hatred do not move us forward: compassion and dialogue do.

So often progressive clergy feel they have to be politically correct.  We cannot thump the Bible too hard.  We have to apologize for Imperialistic Christianity.  We’re sorry for the sins of the church, including the sins we have been subjected to in our ordination and coming out processes. 

But there are conflicted Christians who need to hear from us.  We don’t do any favors when we wear a collar and don’t proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christians are looking for clergy to help them find their position on LGBT issues.  If we, as Lutheran clergy or lay leaders, do not stand boldly on the words of Jesus Christ, but rather hem and haw and try to find a politically correct “non-offensive” stance, we have become like so much tasteless salt. 

Conflicted Christians are those who read their Bibles and think they are supposed to judge sexual minorities, but also read Jesus’ messages of love over and over again.  It’s been said the anti-gay message tends to be from the writings of Paul, while the pro-gay messages tend to be from Jesus.  Now, I’m grateful to our brother Paul: I think we all became Christians because of his work.  But I’ll pick Jesus Christ over every other voice in the Bible every time. 

We are called to love boldly.  We are called to live rightly.  We are called to proclaim the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and we will.  And we ask God to help us. 

Brenda Bos is a member of the Proclaim Communications Duo and a 2012 Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries seminarian internship grant recipient. She lives in Pasadena, California with her partner Janis Reid.  

ELM Worship Banners!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Last year at the Proclaim retreat, several people commented how wonderful it would be to have Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and Proclaim banners to use for special services such as installations and ordinations. After looking into several options, we felt we could only do service to ELM’s beautiful logo by commissioning some original artwork. Many of us at ELM are well acquainted with Holden Village and the former Village Artist, Kristen Gilje. We contacted Kristen and she was thrilled to have the chance to work on the project. 

Several generous Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries donors embraced the invitation to underwrite the banners. The banners will soon be finished and available for celebration events such as Proclaim members ordinations, installations and reinstatements. The banners were made possible by special gifts from Bonny and John Vaught, Erik Stevens, the Revs. Jen Nagel & Jane McBride, Jerry & Val Vagts, David Lester & Amalia Vagts, and other friends from Holden Village.

Kristen Gilje does commissioned work for churches and organizations all over the nation, teaches workshops and shorter classes in several places as well as privately in her home. She lives in the Bellingham, WA area.

You can read the process and see photographs by visiting Kristen’s blog here.

2013 Grant Recipient: Rev. Lura Groen

Monday, December 3rd, 2012

Rev. Lura GroenWe conclude in-depth looks at the 2013 Ministry Grant recipients with a congregation that continues working with their community.

PARISH MINISTRY: Grace Lutheran Church, Houston, TX: Rev. Lura Groen: $2,500    

Grace Lutheran Church in Houston continues to expand and minister to the Montrose neighborhood they have called home since 1922.  ELM donors have been supporting Grace Lutheran Church since 2008.  Thanks in part to the generosity of ELM supporters, this congregation was able to call Pastor Lura, who was extraordinarily ordained in July of 2008. Membership and attendance continues to grow.  This grant will allow Grace to focus on growth rather than survival.  Grace works on a number of justice ministries such as micro financing, AIDS walks, and supporting the local food pantry.

How will this ELM grant help you in your ministry?

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.

For more on ELM’s Ministry Grant program go to: https://www.elm.org/elm-grants/