by Jen Rude, program director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries
We live in an in-between time: between God’s promises made and fulfilled, between the Christ who came as a baby and the Christ we wait for to come again. Once again our Advent themes speak truth to so many of our lives.
The in-between time is profoundly felt by many, including those in our Proclaim community who are waiting for their first call. Seminary is complete. Internship done. Candidacy papers and committees approved. Assigned to a synod, done. But still waiting for the call of a community to share their gifts of preaching, teaching, sharing the sacraments, pastoral care and more.
This past week Randy Nelson, our Candidacy Accompaniment convener, and I hosted a video chat gathering for those in our community who are in this in-between time. We gathered over computers and phone lines from California to Massachusetts. And I was once again amazed by the creativity, depth, and faithfulness of these gifted and called pastors of our church.
Perhaps your congregation could benefit from some of the extraordinary gifts of these or other Proclaim leaders. When you need pulpit supply, ask a local Proclaim seminarian or person awaiting call (look in the new year for an easy way to find out who’s available in your area via the ELM website!). As your community enters a call process for a new pastor, consider intentionally opening that process to a gifted LGBTQ candidate.
Thank you for your support of these leaders and others. One of the ways your gift to ELM helps is to provide scholarships for seminarians and those awaiting call to attend the annual Proclaim retreat, a time to refresh, renew, network and be sustained for ministry. Because while connecting over computer screens and telephones is valuable, sharing a meal together, worshiping together, or sitting by the lake and just talking, is priceless.
Quick Question: What do you guys want for Christmas? By Bruce Jervis
My spouse, Jim Kowalski, and I both read the e-mail a few years ago one afternoon in late November. It was just a few lines long, from a dear friend asking what we wanted for Christmas – sent ahead of time so that our reply could inform his gift shopping before our mid-December planned get together. A few days later, two different relatives separately asked the same question by phone.
We thought about it for a while, trying to come up with something to suggest. Something nice, but easy for the shopper to find. Something that wasn’t too big and was definitely affordable. Nothing came to mind. Sure – there were things we wanted (like to demolish and fully remodel our upstairs bathroom – since done!) but nothing that we felt right to ask for as gifts from family and friends. We knew we had to give an answer or else be given something that sat there, not needed or wanted – and ultimately never used.
As we were giving our annual gift to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, we spent a few minutes reflecting on the amazing work ELM does, supporting LGBTQ clergy and the ministries they serve. We smiled with joy thinking about the ELM-affiliated pastors who make such differences in the lives of those they proclaim the Gospel among. Then it just clicked – why not ask our friends and family to make donations to ELM as our gift!
We asked. They gave! Many of them continue to give each year. We’re truly grateful for their ongoing support of an organization we love!
Maybe your friends and relatives would want to give to ELM as their gift to you, too! Please consider adding support of ELM to your Christmas wish list this year. Thank you!
Bruce Jervis and Jim Kowalski are long-time supporters of ELM and members of St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco. Jim currently serves on the ELM Board.
by Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries
This past Monday night, my partner David and I were driving to an orchestra concert at school. We had an “NPR” moment – those times when you are trapped in your car by a story you want to hear. This was a report about charitable giving and since Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries exists because of the generous investment of individuals and congregations, I was curious.
One thing that jumped out for me was the comment that most people do their charitable giving after they’ve paid for everything else – fixed expenses, savings, and personal enjoyment. Of course, I’ve always thought that the friends of ELM who write checks faithfully to us to support LGBTQ pastors and seminarians were a unique bunch. So I have to think we are different than the norm in this regard too. I’ve met many of the people who have been involved with ELM over the years. And for most, supporting ELM is a priority.
I thought about David’s and my giving. The biggest charitable check we write each month is to ELM, second biggest to our congregation, and then we have a few other organizations we support. Okay, we don’t actually write the checks (it is 2013 after all), rather they are automatically deducted from our account. They come out each month, right after our paychecks go in. That way, they are just part of what we do every month. Every year, when we add all of this up, David says, “We gave THAT MUCH away?” I don’t say that to pat ourselves on the back for being generous or to intimate that David isn’t aware of what we give. Rather I share it for three reasons: 1) if I’m going to ask you to write a check to ELM, I want you to know that my family does it too; 2) making a gift each month really adds up to quite a surprising amount for the things we care about; and 3) since it’s automatically deducted we just give it without trying to decide each month if we can swing it or not.
It’s the season when you are being asked to give (you may even have a letter from me in your mailbox or on your table). For all who support non-profits at any level, I say THANK YOU. You probably hear from every organization that “we couldn’t do it without you.” And it’s true. And who would want to? Doing this work with all of you is way too much fun.
Advent Blessings to you. Thank you for all you do for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
ELM is honored and excited to release the final version of “Candidacy and LGBTQ Individuals.” This one-of-a-kind resource was created for ELCA candidacy committees working with LGBTQ candidates. You are encourage to share this widely! We released a draft version earlier this year in order to receive feedback and we are grateful for the suggestions and comments you made. The document is stronger because of this communal effort.
This resource is timely in Advent, a season when we become more keenly aware of the now and not yet of so many things. Now, more and more gifted and called LGBTQ people are attending seminary and serving as rostered leaders. This is cause for joy and a celebration of these unique gifts in our church. And, at the same time, some gifted and called LGBTQ people continue to face barriers in seminary, candidacy and the call process and are told “not yet.” We hope this offered resource will serve to honor the now and not yet as we both recognize the reality of barriers AND celebrate with joy the gifts of our LGBTQ leaders.
We are thankful to the ELCA for their support of this project and for all the faithful ones who contributed to this gift. And thanks be to God who was, who is, and who is to come.
Learn how you can support LGBTQ leaders and allied ministries. The Fall-Winter MISSION Newsletter is now online. You may have received a copy in your mailbox a few weeks ago. Now’s your chance to tell your friends about the work of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and why you support it!
This edition includes details about the 9 strategic steps we will take over the next 3 years to support LGBTQ leaders and allied congregations and ministries: Identify 90 congregations open to calling an LGBTQ pastor! Identify or create 12 HEALTHY internship sites for LGBTQ interns! Expand our role as a leader in innovative ministries! But wait, there more…
Freed and compelled by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to proclaim God’s love and seek justice for all, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries envisions a church where all may serve God according to their callings.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries affirms and supports LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders and those pursuing a call to rostered leadership while engaging allied congregations and ministries to proclaim God’s love and seek justice for all.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
We give thanks for the light you give to those who sit in darkness.