Welcome Sign

From the road

Welcome Sign
Sign at the foot of ELM supporters’ driveway.

It’s a sunny Saturday morning and I’m sitting in a quiet coffee shop in the West Village of New York City. Today is the 8th day I’ve been on the road meeting with supporters and friends of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. My travels have taken me from San Francisco to Los Angeles to New York City. This may sound extravagant, but it is often much more affordable to book a multi-city trip and thanks to the wonderful hospitality I’ve received along the way, the expense to ELM has been very modest.

It can be difficult to travel. It is hard to be away from my home and my family. But I have been so royally treated – welcomed into people’s homes, fed, taken out, and been blessed by rich conversation about faith, life, ELM, and more.

This sense of being blessed is best expressed in this sign. This sign was hanging at the end of the driveway of supporters of ELM. Although we have talked by phone and exchanged letters, I had not yet visited this couple. The warmth and kindness exuding  from this sign was shared exponentially during my time with them. They were eager to hear the stories of LGBTQ leaders and how their support for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has been impacting people all across the church. They put my name in big letters, but what is clear is that their love is for this ministry and the collective work that we are all engaged in.

After I left Los Angeles, I received an email from a Proclaim member. A few of us had gathered at his home and he wrote that being with others from Proclaim encouraged him to lead a workshop on LGBTQ matters at a conference he was attending.  He wrote the following note to me about the workshop:

 “I was able to talk about Proclaim, about the positive impact that being public with my identity has had for my ministry and the support I’ve received from friends near and far through ELM. I also think the straight folks who came to the session also left empowered by each other and excited about finding ways to broach potential controversy in service to the Gospel. It was freakin’ cool.”

This ministry is “freakin’ cool.”  For many years, LGBTQ leaders were prevented from following their call to ministry. And still today, many barriers exist. Despite that, publicly identified LGBTQ people have been doing ministry throughout time, bringing their voices, hearts, passion for ministry, and faith to people longing to hear it.

I’m so very grateful to all of the people who have opened their guest rooms (am in my 4th guest room tonight), made dinner or breakfast for me, taken me out for a meal or coffee, shared in rich conversation, and, most of all, shared their support and passion for this work.


Celebrating the Ordinations of Two Proclaim Members!

Two members of Proclaim, the professional community for publicly identified LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders and seminarians, are being ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament!

Erik HaalandErik Haaland has been called to serve as Associate Pastor at Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He will be ordained and installed Sunday November 24, 2013 at 2pm.  In presence, in spirit, in prayers, we join Erik and Christ Church Lutheran in this celebration!


Cogsil_SaraSara Cogsil has been called to serve as pastor of University Lutheran Church in East Lansing, Michigan.  She will be ordained Saturday December 7, 2013 at 10am in the chapel at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH.  Sara will be installed at University Lutheran Church on Wednesday, December 11, 2013.  In presence, in spirit, in prayers, we join Sara and University Lutheran in this celebration!

For Erik and Sara and these communities of faith, praise be to God!

Jill and Gretchen

Guest Blogger: You shall go to all to whom I send you

Jill and Gretchen
(L-R) Jill Rode and Gretchen (Colby) Rode

Guest Blogger: Gretchen (Colby) Rode

Gretchen (Colby) Rode and Jill Rode are both members of Proclaim. Gretchen is the 2013 Joel R. Workin Scholar. 

I write to you as a newly married lady (legally in Minnesota!  Whoop whoop!) as of August 25th.  Being married (to the lovely Jill Rode) has been a wonderful life change.  Jill and I have been long distance for the last two years, so just being able to be in the same place for two months has been such a blessing.  Our wedding was an amazing time of worship with the people we love as they witnessed our vows and a wonderful time of celebration and partying afterwards.  It was awesome to be able to share this with our families (who have sometimes not been so excited about the same-sex marriage thing) and our friends who came from such distances to be there.  We are certainly blessed and continue to thank God for this time together.

In addition to being a newlywed, I have been spending this fall semester at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, as opposed to my usual academic home of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) in Berkeley, in order to join my wife at school.  I have been welcomed so warmly by the Luther student body with whom I have great opportunity to interact not only in classes, but in also in my work as one of the baristas at the campus coffee shop (and who doesn’t like the person serving them cappuccino?).  Sometimes I like to pretend I’m an undercover seminary spy collecting all the top secret information about Luther.  It is in this capacity that I have located the books that are sold for a quarter, the tunnel connecting the library and the dorm, and the only office in Northwestern that gives out red licorice.  In my time here, I have noticed some key differences: I have heard more about Law and Gospel and the different uses of the Law (I won’t say if there are two or three, you can argue about that amongst yourselves) in the last six weeks than I have in my whole life.  And, I find myself missing the frequent conversations PLTS seems to cultivate about how we interact with pluralism and promote activism within our Lutheran identity.  However, when it comes down to it, what I’ve really noticed about these two seminaries (and would wager I’d find if I spent semesters as a spy at other seminaries) is that they are full of a lot of big-hearted students yearning to figure out what all this Bible, theology, and church history will mean for us when we’re serving parishes.  And, even more than that, what all this Bible, theology, and church history mean for us as Christians.  Because, as seminarians, we are dying to understand this call we have and to work through that call to share the love of Christ in the world.

In the next few weeks, my wife and I will be filling out our assignment paperwork and undergoing approval interviews as we finish our second-to-the-last semester of seminary.  We are leaning hard on this call that we feel from God to serve our church.  We are thankful that we are in a church which finally ordains clergy in same-sex relationships and we are nervous about where we will be called and how our relationship will affect those opportunities in our country which is oh-so-slowly figuring things out when it comes to LGBTQ people.  It is an exciting time; when the anxiety seems to perk up it helps to remember the promise and command that God gave Jeremiah: “You shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you.”

Paz, Gretchen (Colby) Rode
Joel R Workin Scholar 2013