And Jesus said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15
Proclaim the good news! This is what members of Proclaim, the professional community for LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders, candidates and seminarians, seek to do with their lives and ministry. The mission of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries also includes this commitment to “proclaim God’s love and seek justice for all.”
And now, we are excited to launch a new resource – Proclaim Pulpit Supply. The next time you need pulpit supply in your congregation, either as a one-time or short term thing, considering inviting a Proclaim member. We have Proclaim members all over the country who are ready to share good news with your community.
Thanks for your support and partnership and for the ways you proclaim God’s good news.
This is good news for Christ our Emmanuel, Angela, and for our whole church. The above passage from 1st Corinthians is part of the service of ordination to Word and Sacrament ministry and a reminder of the call we share – serving Christ and stewarding God’s mysteries.
Angela graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in 2012 and has been living in New England while awaiting call. Angela also serves as a chaplain for Proclaim, the professional community for publicly identified LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders, seminarians and candidates.
As we celebrate Angela, we also call to mind others who are on this path. In the last few months we’ve had almost a dozen Proclaim seminarians approved for ordination. In a few weeks, February 18 & 19, this group of seminarians will go through the ELCA assignment process, determining the geographical area of the church where they might serve. During this exciting, stressful, at times quite mysterious, and hopefully spirit-filled process, we hold all these candidates in prayer. ELM’s Accompaniment program will be holding two conference video calls after the assignment process with approved candidates. We are eager to hear how the process went and where people are assigned as they await a call. Join us in praying for these candidates, those awaiting call, courageous faith communities, Christ our Emmanuel, and Angela Joy Nelson, as we all continue to serve Christ and seek to be good stewards of God’s abundant mysteries.
Guest blog by Emily Ewing, Proclaim member and Proclaim seminarian coordinator, 4th year student at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC)
Over Thanksgiving this past year, instead of spending time with friends and family giving thanks, overeating, and taking long naps, I was privileged to participate in the Dialogue of the Americas on Faith, Migration, and the Economy. Thanks to support from ELCA Global Mission, I didn’t need to pay for the plane ticket to Quito, Ecuador for the event.
The event was an ecumenical gathering of pastors and theologians from North America, largely the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean. I was the only seminarian at the event and one of the youngest people there. Throughout the event, people presented papers they had written around the topic of faith, migration, and the economy. In our breakout groups, we discussed wide-ranging issues from identity to the church, scripture, justice, and empire.
One of the topics that kept coming up for me was the concept of imago Dei—the image of God. Genesis 1:27 says, “So God created humankind in hir image, in the image of God she created them; male and female he created them.”* While we were discussing the themes around identity that came up during presentations, we kept coming back to an understanding of humankind as the image of God, or rostro de Dios (literally translated, it is “face of God”) in Spanish.
Some of our conversation was around who all this includes (we decided that it included everybody). This meant that when we heard Rev. Dr. Nancy Cardoso articulate the situation of many women who migrate, we had to recognize that the face of God is the face of sex workers and domestic workers throughout the Americas. This then led to conversation about how God’s face, God’s image in humanity, is not complete when some are marginalized, murdered, and oppressed.
From there, we explored the concept that most drew me in: that humankind is made in God’s image. It is not, in fact, any one individual who is made in God’s image, but only together, collectively that we are made in God’s image. To be the full rostro de Dios, we must all be present, all be in the face. This changes how we interact with each other. It’s no longer just that each individual we encounter bears the image of God, but that all those who are affected by oppression and marginalization, all those who oppress and marginalize and all those who are in between or do both at different times are the image of God together.
For those of us from the United States, it means that we have to ask ourselves what it means that we are building a wall through God’s face. We have to question the foreign policies that cause so much harm and suffering in other countries and lead to the movement of God’s face. We have to recognize our interconnectedness and our need for the Other and others in order to be complete.
*Note: In an effort to use more expansive and inclusive language for God, when necessary and appropriate, I alternate pronouns for God between ze/hir/hirs/hirself (gender neutral/third gender pronouns), she/her/hers/herself, and he/him/his/himself, rather than restricting myself to either “God” or “He” as can be more common.
Registration for Dreams & Visions, the 2014 Proclaim Retreat, begins this Friday, January 10th! The Proclaim Retreat is an annual gathering of Proclaim, the professional community for publicly identified LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders, seminarians and candidates. It is a time of renewal, learning, connections, laughter, worship, and play. This year we are gathering May 4-7, 2014 at Heartwood Conference Center and Retreat in Trego, WI.
Being a publicly identified LGBTQ leader in our church can be both a blessing and a challenge. Gathering for support, celebration, and community is critical for us and for the ministries we serve, so that we can continue, with boldness, to proclaim the Good News!
Help us get the word out about ELM, Proclaim, and the retreat. We are sending retreat posters to seminaries and divinity schools (poster pictured). Are there other places where we can get the word out? Email program director, Jen Rude (programdirector [at] elm.org), if you’d like us to send you some snazzy posters.
Check out the Proclaim Retreat site for more details, information about scholarships, and to register, beginning January 10th!
Thank you to the Philip N. Knutson Endowment, the Carpenter Foundation, and other ELM supporters for special contributions for this retreat.
Thanks to you, it’s been another full and productive year for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. If you missed a few stories, or just want to look back at all you helped accomplish, we’ve gathered together our top stories of the year.
Our Proclaim community grew to 143. This means that in less than three years, the number of publicly identified LGBTQ rostered leaders and candidates has TRIPLED. Wowza. We launched a new section on our website, Proclaim Profiles, to help you learn more about the leaders you are supporting. Read Profiles.
A number of folks in Proclaim received calls. For some these were first calls – including the Rev. Erik Haaland (called to Christ Church Lutheran in Minneapolis, MN), the Rev. Sara Cogsil (called to University Lutheran Church in East Lansing, MI), the Rev. Matthew James (called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester, MA), the Rev. Jeanine Reardon (called to St. Paul Lutheran in Evanston, IL and specialized ministry in chaplaincy). And others began new calls: Rev. Paul Clark (Chaplain at Fresno State University), Rev. Jenny Mason (Light of the World in Farmington, MN), Rev. John Roberts (Unity Lutheran in Chicago, IL), and Rev. Mark Allred (Program Director for American Indian & Alaskan Native Ministries for the ELCA).
Oh and then there was that other call…the Rev. Guy Erwin was elected Bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the ELCA making history (and the news!). Full Story. And a link to all the news coverage here.
We said goodbye to a beloved member our community, the Rev. Paul Brenner, who passed away on February, 24 2013. Full Story.
And we walked with many Proclaim members who still await call. Chris Wogaman shared his take on this experience in a guest blog. Read it here.
We held our biggest Proclaim Retreat yet! LGBTQ leaders and their families gathered for renewal and learning in sunny California. Full Story. Or if you like to see it in pictures, check out our retreat slideshow.
Thanks to you – and in response to a growing need – we greatly expanded our outreach to LGBTQ Lutheran candidates for ministry in 2014. Full Story.
We launched a major resource for ELCA Candidacy Committees working with LGBTQ candidates. Full Story and resource download.
This was a year of transition for the way that we support LGBTQ-led ministry. 2013 marked the final year (for now) of direct grants to congregations and ministries. We provided nearly $1 million in grant funds since 1995. In 2014, we are launching Ministry Engagement, a new way of connecting with ministries led by LGBTQ-leaders – and those that are open to it in the future.
You helped support fantastic and successful ministries like EcoFaith Recovery and pastors like the Rev. Robyn Hartwig in Portland, Oregon. Full Story.
You provided support for mission development ministry like Spirit of Hope in Detroit, MI, led by the Rev. Matthew Bode. Full Story.
You helped fund four internships for LGBTQ seminarians – from Denver, CO to Victoria, British Columbia! Full Story.
Other Noteworthy Highlights
Of course, a major development this year was saying goodbye to long-time staff member, Rachael Johnson, and expanding our staff to include a new full-time program director. We’re delighted that the Rev. Jen Rude began this important role in October of this year! Full Story
The Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Board of Directors approved a new mission and vision statement and affirmed a multi-year strategic plan. Full Story.
The Rev. Jenny Mason traveled to her former missionary site in Chile and had a powerful experience. Read More.
Executive Director Amalia Vagts was able to give an important LGBTQ perspective in The Lutheran. Read the essay.
Lastly, we launched a new 6 -minute video to help you introduce your friends and congregation to ELM. Share this video widely! Click the photo below to watch the video.
We couldn’t do any of this without you. We haven’t finalized our 2013 numbers, but over 425 individuals and congregations and two foundations shared their resources to help us raise $207,886 for LGBTQ leaders and LGBTQ-led ministries. Friends also gave special gifts totaling $14,300 towards the Joel R. Workin Endowment. All of this work happens thanks to your generosity and faithful support. Thank you for your wonderful involvement in 2013 and for joining us as we head into 2014!