A huge thank you to the Revs. Timothy Weisman, Brenda Bos, and Emily Ewing for their work in visioning, compiling, and editing this resource.
Guest blog by Rev. Timothy Weisman.
Nearly four years ago, I began a call process with a congregation who needed a pastor. I had just received my assignment, and I couldn’t have been more excited. I spent hours (days!) poring over the congregation’s Ministry Site Profile, Annual Report, website, and Facebook page… while, of course, compulsively checking my email for another email from the synod office or call committee chair.
“So, how are you going to come out to them?” asked an Assistant to the Bishop shortly before my first interview. “Will you come out right away?” “Or at the end?”
“When will you come out to the rest of the congregation? During a sermon? Which sermon? Will you use the lectionary text? Or another? Or what if you did it during announcements time?”
“What will you say?” “Will you tell a story?” “What story?” “Will you talk about God?” “How?”
“Since your process will inevitably take longer than most, what will you do in the meantime?” “If you don’t complete this process, then what?” “Are you prepared to wait?” “How long?”
Yikes. It’s not like I hadn’t thought of these questions, but the reality was that I didn’t have solid answers—or, really, any answers. I was nervous enough as a young seminary graduate—and now I have to figure out when and how to come out to who and where. To be sure, I worked with an Assistant to the Bishop who is a veritable rock star, but I still felt very alone.
Fast forward one year. A friend introduced me to a 1998 resource from the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns called “And So We Speak.” Throughout that book, seminarians and clergy told stories—stories of their candidacy and call processes, stories of serving congregations as an LGBTQ leader, and more.
I immediately recognized this as the book I desperately needed back in 2011. I needed to hear how others journeyed through the call process. I needed to hear how others made sense of their fabulousness in the midst of their call. I didn’t need answers; I needed stories. I needed to know that I wasn’t alone.
I’m writing this blog to introduce a new ELM resource titled Treasure in Clay Jars – Stories of LGBTQ Leaders in the Lutheran Church. Modeled after “And So We Speak,” this book shares current stories and insights from LGBTQ leaders in the Lutheran church as they honor their identity while working their way through a long and lonely process.
“What do you think God thinks about you being LGBTQ?” “How did you come out to [fill in the blank]?” “What did you do ‘in the meantime’ or while waiting for a call?” Members of Proclaim responded to these prompts and several others as we assembled this resource. (Thanks to all the contributors!)
Whether you’re a member or prospective member of Proclaim, you’re on synodical or churchwide staff, or you’re an ally and supporter of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, I hope you’ll not only read these stories but also treasure them—there’s extraordinary power contained herein—as God, who is active in each narrative, tells the story of raising up a courageous people for ministry in Christ’s church.
The Rev. Timothy Weisman serves as pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Tim and his partner, Howie, are the proud parents of the most adorable puppy on the planet. (No, really.)
This post was updated on 3/23/15 to correct an error in the name of the group that produced And So We Speak. The correct name is the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns.