ELM’s executive director Amalia Vagts wrote the “My View” contribution for the August 2013 edition of The Lutheran.
The August edition contains articles about the first twenty-five years of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Amalia writes about attending the first ELCA Youth Gathering (in 1988), the history of LGBTQ rostered leaders in the ELCA, and the new life these leaders are bringing to the church.
Proclaim member Rev. Mark Erson of St. John’s Lutheran Church in New York City spoke at the Pride Rally this year. Mark has been pastor at St. John’s since 2011 and is married to his high school sweetheart Scott Jordan.
Ten minutes before Mark took the stage at the Pride Rally he was told a surprise guest would be coming on after – Lady Gaga.
One of the six ministry grant programs Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is supporting this year is couples enrichment retreats in Fairview, North Carolina. Proclaim member Rev. David Eck is leading portions of the retreat. Proclaim is the professional community for Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. Proclaim is a program of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
Below David shares updates on the programs progress:
In 2012 the taskforce that guided Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Fairview, NC through the Reconciling in Christ process met to talk about how we could expand our ministry with the LGBT community. Rather than duplicate what other churches and organizations are doing in our area we discerned that no one was doing any LGBT couples ministry in a church setting.
Thanks to a grant from ELM, our dream has come true. Our first LGBT couples retreat was held on Saturday, May 11 with 12 couples in attendance. The retreat was led by Rev. David Eck who did the worship and Bible study portions of the day, along with his partner Gary Mitchell, who did the music. Rev. Stacey Jaudon, a licensed pastoral counselor and her partner, led the relationship building sessions.
The retreat was a rousing success in many ways. First of all, the couples who attended were enthusiastic and grateful that this kind of event was offered in our area. Second, the NC Synod published the retreat in their synod communications which is definitely a first in our state. We also gotexcellent local press as well with one paper doing anarticle on the retreat. Third, we worked with a number of other local LGBT organizations who also gave us publicity and the response to offering such a retreat was enthusiastic. Those who weren’t able to attend were glad to hear we are going to offer more retreats in the future.
Our next couples retreat is in October 26th. Our church has a booth at Blue Ridge Pride several weeks before the retreat. We hope to meet lots of new people there and spread the word! Myself and the members of Abiding Savior would like to thank those who helped make this grant possible. Without your support this retreat would not have happened.