We Also Believe and So We Speak

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But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak…                                               2 Corinthians 4:13

This is a teaser blog. An experience of both instant and delayed gratification. Or, to put it in more spiritual terms – both now and not yet.

Asher O'Callaghan. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia.
Asher O’Callaghan. Photo by Emily Ann Garcia.

A small group of Proclaim members has been working on collecting stories of LGBTQ leaders within the Lutheran church – rostered leaders, seminarians, and those awaiting call. We were inspired by a similar resource from the United Church of Christ that came out (!) about 20 years ago. We received permission from those who created the UCC resource, And So We Speak, to create a Lutheran version.

But like any good story, putting together a collection of amazing stories takes time. So…. we’re still working on it. It’s “not yet.” But it will be worth the wait.

This resource will include interwoven stories about being called to ministry and coming out, the joy of queer faith, gender identity and images of God, and more.  But, it’s just too good not to share parts of it with you now. Much of the final collection will be longer stories about individuals in our community, but here are a few short nuggets:

What do you think God thinks about you being LGBTQ?

In giving me, a gay man, a call to ministry, God affirms my sexuality as a gift given and not a defect to hide. I know at the very core of my being, that God loves me, that God has gifted me, and that God wants to make use of me.
– Austin Newberry, First Call Candidate, Columbus, IN

How and why do you publicly identify as LGBTQ?

For me it’s about wholeness. It’s about living with integrity–as in the word “integral” meaning “necessary to make the whole complete”. My gender identity and sexuality cannot be separated from who I am in the world. When ministry is done well, people are inspired to live as the people that God has created them to be. I can’t do this kind of ministry if I myself am not living into the fullness of life that God has called me to.
– Asher O’Callaghan, Seminarian

I don’t know that it’s a conscious choice for me – I use all of who I am in my ministry, and being Queer is one part of how God created me, one piece of what I naturally use. But I’m glad for being Queer- it’s how God liberated me from a rules-based religion, and taught me grace. It’s how I learned about discrimination, and can now work for justice for all kinds of other people. And it helps me connect with folks who are scared of the church for all kinds of reasons- showing them that I can be my full self in church invites them to think that maybe then can be too.
– Rev. Lura Groen

How did you come out to the congregation?

In a meet and greet with the congregation, I was asked to share my story, and so in
sharing my call story, I chose to leave in my coming out rather than editing it out of the story. This not only gave me an easy way to come out, but it also couched it in the context of God’s call in my life, which I think was accurate and beneficial.
– Emily Ewing, First Call Candiate

How have you experienced being “The First”?

I am the first intern at my congregation (and also the first LGBTQ intern). Our congregation is also the first (and only) RIC congregation in our Synod. My experience has been wonderful and positive, as the congregation really lives into what it means to be welcoming. It has taught them that their convictions about welcome and hospitality are real and that they are living out the Gospel. I am Pastor Amy first, and a gay pastor second.
– Amy Hanson, seminarian

Your gift to ELM not only helps shape these stories of LGBTQ leaders in the Lutheran church, but also helps support the collection, publication, and distribution of this resource as a gift and resource for the whole church. Thank you!