Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Responds to Thrivent Changes
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries was deeply disappointed to learn of Thrivent Financial’s recent decision to exclude our organization from their various grant programs because they consider our ministry “divisive.”
Thrivent’s recent decision excludes certain organizations from member-directed giving via the Thrivent Choice program; employee gift-matching programs; and Thrivent chapter matching grants. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has received funds through all of these programs. These funds supported Lutheran pastors, Lutheran seminarians, and Lutheran congregations and ministries. This change in policy affects not just the organizations who are now excluded, but also the Thrivent members, employees, chapters, and congregations that are part of the LGBTQ community.
While neither Thrivent nor Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries are exclusively Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) bodies, many of our shared supporters are ELCA members. This action violates the spirit and the letter of the hard-wrought commitments the ELCA made in 2009 to “bear one another’s burdens, love the neighbor, and respect the bound consciences of all.” In those actions, the ELCA did not commit to a policy of neutrality, but to one of active inclusion of differing stances. In this conscience-respecting stance, the ELCA offered a model for how churches and faith-based institutions can honor both oneness and theological diversity. Thrivent’s action steps back from that bold witness and returns to a time when churches and institutions acted out of fear more than good faith.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries believes in a church wide enough to embrace differences of opinion.
The letter that our donors have received from Thrivent is disheartening. In the letter, Thrivent stated that Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is one of a “small number of organizations and issues that are so divisive they distract, or have the potential to distract, from the common purpose of Thrivent and its membership.” The letter further states that the Thrivent Choice program reflects the “shared values of our members, advisors, and employees.” It is impossible to reconcile those words with a decision to exclude organizations such as ours that are, in fact, supported by Thrivent members, advisors, and employees.
We urge Thrivent Financial to drop their disingenuously named “neutrality” policy and restore the meaning of member-directed giving by allowing its members, employees, and chapters to truly choose which organizations they wish to support.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries affirms and supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer 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. We are thankful for the many supporters and friends of our organization and those of our movement partner, ReconcilingWorks, also affected by this decision.
Learn more about Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries at www.elm.org.
What you can do:
We encourage you to contact Thrivent about this decision, especially if you are a Thrivent member or if your congregation invests in Thrivent. We remind everyone that many employees and members of Thrivent are supporters of ELM, ReconcilingWorks, and other affected organizations. This decision has been very difficult news for them too. It is important to be thoughtful, respectful, and kind in your communications. We want to encourage Thrivent to revisit this decision and to honor the meaning of “member-directed” giving. We believe that LGBTQ people are part of the church and that our lives, families, and calls are not “divisive.”
2. Call Thrivent: 800-THRIVENT (800-847-4836)
3. Contact your Thrivent Representative and set up a meeting or conversation to discuss your concerns.
4. Consider increasing your support for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, ReconcilingWorks, and other affected organizations through a direct gift from you or your congregation. We received $2,985 in funding last year through Thrivent member-directed giving. With a growing number of LGBTQ seminarians, pastors, and LGBTQ-led congregations to support, we need resources to encourage and support these ministry leaders. Contribute now.
5. Share this post with your Facebook friends, congregation, friends, and others.