You can make concrete differences in the lives of LGBTQ people called to Lutheran ministry through your support of the programs & projects of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. One ELM program is Proclaim, a community of 150 LGBTQ seminarians & rostered leaders. Another is Accompaniment, supporting over 40 LGBTQ candidates for ministry through their candidacy process. A third is Ministry Engagement, which connects & highlights LGBTQ led congregations & ministries. We’re a growing, thriving organization and we need your support. Read on to see how you can support leaders like Pastor Sara Cogsil:
“I have relied on ELM for the logistical support and monies that helped to fund my internship and provide scholarships for the annual retreat…
I have turned to Proclaim for the many relationships that have been formed…
I have established colleagues that have been with me every step of the journey offering prayer, love and grace. For that I am truly grateful and I give thanks that the support hasn’t stopped once I was ordained, but continues to be life-giving in my first-call.”
The best way you can affirm Sara and other LGBTQ people called to ministry is through our new monthly giving community, Extraordinary Friends. You can affirm Sara’s ministry with as little as $10 a month. Your support is a powerful show of support for leaders who continue to be told “No” or “Not yet” by the church they long to serve. Our faithful and fabulous leaders are engaged in ministry year round – we can show our support by contributing to their ministry each month.
* Easy and efficient way to support leaders and their ministries.
* You can give directly from your bank account or credit card.
* You are being a good steward of ELM’s resources – which means we can spend more time helping ministry leaders.
* Invitations to special webinars and conversations with ELM leaders and Proclaim members.
* It’s green!
* Anyone can do it – just $10 a month to be Extraordinary!
Guest blog by Proclaim member Amanda Nelson, 4th year student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, CA
Bay Area members of Proclaim recently gathered for food and conversation at a local pizza joint in the Berkeley neighborhood known as “Holy Hill,” which is so named due to the nine seminaries in the area which make up the Graduate Theological Union (of which Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary is a member) and it was indeed a holy experience.
I’m not saying we were singing hymns or turning our pizza crusts into the host; but rather, for those of us who were able to gather, this time together was a great reminder of the powerful presence of God made manifest in the lives and ministries of our fellow Proclaim members. Holy indeed!
As seminarians, we had a chance to share where we were in our journeys and to receive wisdom and support from the ministers “in the field.” Around the table, stories were shared and we were able to lend support to those with new calls, those seeking calls, and those exploring new ways of making their ministries vibrant. It seemed to me that we, at this gathering, were able to experience a small taste, a sound bite, of what is experienced when we are gathered with our greater community at the annual Proclaim retreats – and it was awesome!
Pastor Jeff Johnson reminded all of us that “there is no greater professional association that you will be a part of than Proclaim.” I know this may seem like a strong bias at first, but Jeff is right: there is something invaluable to the association we share. The benefits of being a member of Proclaim are certainly the gifts of friendship and camaraderie, but there are also the gifts of advocacy, collective voice, prayerful support, empathy, innovation, education, and…I suppose I could keep going, but suffice it to say, the value runs deep.
It was great for us who live close by each other to get together and remind each other that this gift that is Proclaim is accessible all year – through the wonderful Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries staff and volunteers, but also through our fellow Proclaim members. I walked away feeling refreshed and reconnected. It makes me look forward to see everyone again in May at the Proclaim retreat!
This past weekend ELM was invited to participate in a panel at the Conference of Bishops to talk about placement of LGBTQ candidates for rostered ministry. The panel included Proclaim pastor, Rev. Jason Glombicki, ELM program director Rev. Jen Rude, Bishop Mark Holmerud, Bishop Ralph Jones and ReconcilingWorks Executive Director Emily Eastwood. The panel was organized and facilitated by Bishop Jon Anderson. Each panelist shared from a unique perspective to further the conversation.
Some of the things we shared from ELM’s perspective:
+ We have 150 members of Proclaim, publicly identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Lutheran rostered leaders, seminarians and candidates
+ 45 synods are represented in Proclaim
+ 39 of our members are seminarians
+ Our community has tripled in size in the past 3 years and we are continuing to grow
+ 2 weeks ago, 8 of our members received assignments. These 8 join 13 other members of our community who are still awaiting first call, some after years of waiting.
+ 15 members of Proclaim are on internship this year and will be looking toward assignment next year.
+ God has indeed blessed our church with an abundance of gifts in these leaders!
Things are shifting – the Spirit is moving in our church. During Q & A, bishops asked thoughtful and honest questions about how to best work with LGBTQ candidates. They shared stories of creative ministry, accompanying congregations becoming open to the gifts of LGBTQ leaders, and some bishops even shared parts of their own journey toward becoming more open.
Leading up the panel we shared the topic and collected thoughts from members of Proclaim, asking, “What would you like to say to a room full of bishops?”
Here are some of those thoughts we shared with the bishops:
1. Affirm our whole selves. During the assignment process, candidates want you to be talking about them as whole people, including, but not only, their sexual orientation and gender identity. In call processes, be in communication with candidates about how and when they want to come out to congregations.
2. We are qualified candidates. You are not being asked to take inferior candidates. LGBTQ candidates have fulfilled their requirements and have heard a call as strongly as their straight counterparts and have often endured a different kind of scrutiny in answering that call. LGBTQ candidates are a gift in our church, not a problem to be solved.
3. Help open possibilities. Be open and attentive to the gifts of your congregations, especially the gifts they may not have noticed themselves. We have experienced that some congregations may not have self-identified as being open to an LGBTQ candidate, but with thoughtful and open conversation with a bishop, they realized possibilities they had not imagined before.
4. Help provide access. Be sensitive to the reality that there are more limited call opportunities for LGBTQ people, and, unless there is some clear reason not to, allow a candidate’s paperwork to be seen by congregations, especially if the pastor or candidate has taken the time to review the congregation’s published info and contacted the synod office regarding that specific call.
5. Be aware of the legal landscape. State laws regarding marriage equality and protection for adopted children of gay and lesbian parents may be a factor for a candidate and their mobility. One candidate was assigned a synod where she would have no legal protection as the adoptive mother of her and her wife’s small child. They have since moved to a state that recognizes her family, but she is still awaiting first call after 3 years.
6. Help us do ministry in the waiting. Encourage your candidates to supply preach so they can be better known in the synod and so the church can receive their gifts. One member who was awaiting first call in the New England synod teamed up with a retired pastor – he offered to preside anytime she was invited to preach (and he let her keep the check!).
7. Our prayers are with you. One of our pastors who recently received a first call and will be ordained later this month shared these words for you: “Do not be afraid, but continue to walk with your clergy and candidates as the pastor to the pastors you are called to be, trusting also your call and the Spirit’s presence to guide you.”
The conversation continues. ELM continues to be a resource for synods, candidates, rostered leaders, and congregations working to celebrate the gift of LGBTQ people called to rostered ministry in the Lutheran church. Thanks for your partnership in this Spirit-filled work!