Finding a Place in our Public Church

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A guest blog by Proclaim member Rev. Cindy Crane

Rev. Cindy Crane was a member of the historic Extraordinary Roster and was reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster following the 2009 changes in ministry policy.

cindy crane with bishops
Annual ELCA advocacy event in Washington D.C. Bishops Barrows, Arends and Hoyme with Senator Baldwin. Rev. Cindy Crane at the far right.

You are not only responsible for what you say but for what you don’t say.”   Martin Luther

I am inspired by our tradition’s many quotes and writings that direct us to love our neighbor. And it makes a difference to be doing advocacy work from a faith perspective with my ordination fully recognized. I realized just how much I valued doing advocacy work as a pastor within my first few weeks working as the director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy in Wisconsin (LOPPW) beginning in January 2014.

I was very attracted to the LOPPW position and thought I could draw on my background both in parish ministry and the work I’ve had in secular nonprofits. However, I didn’t expect to feel this – a sense of wholeness and of having returned from a sort of exile, an experience I only associated with going back into parish ministry if that would ever happen. But being part of the ELCA with a team of people around the country praying and grappling with scripture, social statements and current public policies when looking at injustice feels just right at this time in my life. I am thankful.

LOPPW is one of about 14 state public policy offices that receive funding from the ELCA. Four of those offices, including Wisconsin’s, have directors that are churchwide employees. ELCA World Hunger supports us to focus on hunger issues, which create a large umbrella. Some of the offices advocate for just policies related to the environment and taxes as well as for safety net programs and laws that can move in the direction of eradicating hunger. Right now LOPPW’s priorities are youth experiencing homelessness, human sex trafficking and Wisconsin’s plan for how to use its tax excess. In the case of youth who experience homelessness with their families we also support a higher minimum wage. Kudos to Bishop Eaton for writing a letter asking for a higher minimum wage to all of the U.S. senators.

LOPPW’s advocacy is on the level of public policy. We build relationships with political leaders and expand an advocacy network of ELCA members across the state. We also join with other faith-based groups and secular organizations to deepen our impact and support the efforts of others who act as instruments of God’s peace.

Needing to be open about who I am as a lesbian and having my ordination fully recognized before taking another position in the church were both a part of my activism. I don’t judge others who take different paths; I was completely to partially closeted for 10 years in the parish. I didn’t leave the ministry and not look back at the church but I didn’t look back at contradictions that wore at my spirit. I appreciate engaging with paradox, but not confusion.

Thanks to a grant from Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries a couple of years ago, I was able to start a part-time ministry 14 years after leaving the ministry. That ministry helped to crack the church door back open for me.    Now I feel graced to have returned this way to a full-time call with my activism in tact and in wonder of how God moves us to be advocates for others.

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