The first class of LGBTQ seminarians to enter candidacy since the 2009 Churchwide decision to ordain openly gay pastors enters assignment this week. “Assignment” is the process where candidates for ministry in the ELCA are assigned to a specific region of the country. The country is divided into nine geographic regions. Candidates submit their geographic preferences, along with a large packet of paperwork about themselves, their gifts, and their visions for ministry. A small group of bishops and representatives from each region then gather to place each candidate. After regional placement, candidates begin the process of meeting churches and ministry sites to find the best match. We have been praying hard for all involved in this process: Holy Spirit, do your work!
Needless to say this is a time of extreme anxiety and anticipation for candidates who are wondering where they are going to live and what kind of ministry they might share. For LGBTQ candidates, there is the additional anxiety of wondering which congregations will be open to receiving the gifts of an LGBTQ candidate.
Eight members of Proclaim are in assignment this week and eleven additional Proclaim members await first call, some for several years. These candidates entered candidacy before the 2009 decision.
Proclaim offers support and accompaniment for those awaiting call. This accompaniment includes:
1) Tonight, we’ll gather via phone lines and computer screens to do a check in about how this process went for our Proclaim members.
2) We are also proud of our resource Candidacy and LGBTQ Individuals, which we hope is helpful to candidacy committees working with LGBTQ candidates.
3) Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has recently been invited to the March Conference of Bishops meeting (all of the bishops from each of the 65 synods gathered) to be part of a panel to discuss placement of LGBTQ candidates and rostered leaders. We look forward to sharing insights and stories from our community and to partner more closely with the larger church. Pastor Jason Glombicki (who is being ordained THIS Sunday!) will also be on the panel. Additional panel members include representatives from ReconcilingWorks and two bishops.
We are delighted to be part of this important discussion, which addresses ELM’s mission to create a more welcoming church and to proclaim God’s love and seek justice for all.
Blessings to those who are receiving assignments this week. We are grateful for your witness.