by Amalia Vagts, Executive Director
I often pinch myself that I get to be involved with the work of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Not only am I awed by the past courage and faithfulness of our founders, I’m daily inspired by the new vision of people with long-time and recent involvement in our mission.
I got a big dose of that this past weekend as the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries’ Board met for their first in-person meeting of 2014. This group of volunteer leaders provides the strategic vision and overall governance for the work of ELM. They are all closely involved with our programs (Proclaim, Accompaniment, and Ministry Engagement) and our committees (Development, Inclusions, Board Recruitment, and Finance).
We gathered Jan 30 – Feb 2 in Washington, D.C. for a three day meeting and retreat. We are always looking for the most economical, yet satisfying way to spend time together. This year we tried something new and found a home through the rental site AirBnB that would accommodate our whole group and cost less than a retreat center. Yes, it was a little bit like the Real World House! We loved having a place to ourselves in the heart of the city. Board member Rose Beeson coordinated fantastic, nutritious, and simple meals – and our total food bill was about a third of what we usually spend at a retreat center.
We spent time discussing the next steps in our strategic plan and recent development in our three programs. We celebrated that the Proclaim community has reached 148 members! We prayed about and discussed new ways to support the 11 people in the Proclaim community still awaiting first call, and those awaiting a new call. We heard from several experts – Steve Hitchcock, who inspired us with ideas about raising the funds we need to support our mission; John Beck, who will be working with our board on the Intercultural Development Inventory in the coming year; and YK Hong, who led us through a conversation about gender identity and expression and how to expand our understanding and work in areas affecting the transgender members of our community. We had thoughtful conversation about the changes in civil marriage laws and how this impacts our community. We reviewed our fundraising achievements in 2013 and examined the work ahead as we seek to bring new supporters in to learn about and engage in our ever-growing work. We had many moments of energy around the results and greatly expanding work of our three programs Proclaim, Accompaniment, and Ministry Engagement, led by our new program director, the Rev. Jen Rude.
Our current Board includes: Rev. Julie Boleyn (Co-Chair), Rev. Mike Wilker (Co-Chair), Dr. Jeremy Posadas (Secretary), Charlie Horn (Treasurer); Asher O’Callaghan, Rose Beeson, Rev. Dr. Elise Brown; Carolyne Schultz, M.S.W., Angel Marrero, Jim Kowalski, and the Rev. Dr. Randy Nelson. This is a hardworking and committed group of leaders. Please join me in praying for them, thanking them, and supporting the work they do to lead Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.