“This is the first time since discerning my call that I have felt 100% at home. For the first time since seminary I am not having to teach anyone about who I am, and I am finally not alone and it is an extraordinary feeling.” – Mack Patrick, Seminarian
In pictures and a few words, here are some of the highlights of this year’s Proclaim Retreat for LGBTQ Lutheran rostered leaders, candidates, and seminarians, held April 17-20, 2015:
Media Training with Macky Alston from Auburn Seminary. A powerful training equipping us as progressive people of faith to more effectively proclaim our messages. And seeing each other on camera was pretty fun, too!
A variety of workshops including: Prayer Practices, Greening Your Church, Redeveloping Congregations, Living Well, and more.
“I’m grateful for a community that can help me process the unique joys and challenges I face as an LGBTQ-identified pastor.” – Rev. Javen Swanson
Worshiping together, prophetic preaching, sharing communion, praying in multiple languages, praying through drawing, clay, music, and silence.
“You are beloved. These are words that, historically, those who identify as LGBTQ have not heard often, or even at all. However, as a member of Proclaim, I am reminded that I am extraordinary and beloved without qualification.” – Rev. Jill Rode
Walks around the labyrinth, conversations over meals, campfire singing, late night card games and theological discussions.
“It means so much to me to be part of a community not only where I am accepted for who I am, but that is so dedicated to serving God in spite of all the difficulties and obstacles we have faced to do so.” – Brian Hornbecker, Seminarian
Thank you to all of our ELM supporters for making this gathering possible. And an extra special thank you to our retreat sponsors:
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and Portico.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. – Galatians 5:22-23
This last weekend, as LGBTQ Lutheran pastors, seminarians and candidates met for our annual Proclaim retreat, we talked about the words we have used throughout our history to describe our work.
Behold, I am doing a new thing! was the phrase that rang out during the first extraordinary ordinations of openly gay and lesbian people in January of 1990. When people asked by whose authority these pastors were ordained, we talked about borrowing our authority from the future. And when asked for the theological framework for the ordinations, we turned to Martin Luther’s writing about irregular ordinations in instances where bishops were acting contrary to the Gospel. As a community of LGBTQ pastors operating in an extraordinary fashion came together, this group talked about being a community of resistance that was in principled non-compliance to an unjust policy requiring celibacy for gay and lesbian pastors. As we realized that change may be a long time coming, we shifted our focus from changing the policy to making ministry happen now. As we moved into the early days following the 2009 policy change, we spoke of changing the church through the ministry of publicly-identified LGBTQ pastors and rostered leaders. We affirmed these faithful and fabulous leaders – faithful in their call and fabulous in their LGBTQ identity.
Now we find new words: Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLYING. Not only are the numbers of Proclaim leaders growing, but LGBTQ-led ministries are multiplying – into new corners and wide spaces in the church and world. Those who are invested in and committed to celebrating the gifts of LGBTQ people in ministry are multiplying. When we nourish LGBTQ leaders, they bear fruit – which gives life to a world that craves it. Fruit is rich, delicious, nourishing, and colorful. And we are joyful and playful and ready to follow a God who turns the world on end.
At the end of our weekend, we invited each person to share a word, phrase, or image that they were left with after our time together: Gratitude. Possibility. Rich. Blessing. Proclaim. Friendship. Healing. Finally! Solidarity. Moved. Space. Beloved. History. Called. Family. Grace-equipped. Fruitful. Multiplying.
Next week – more stories and pictures from the 2015 Proclaim Retreat!
Guest blog by Proclaim member Robin Fero
“I picked this wedding card out for you and Jeff some time ago. It fit you just perfectly. I knew one day I would be able to give it to you”.
Sandy has been a dear friend of mine for over 10 years. She has been a supporter and a die-hard advocate for LGBTQ rights. We’ve sat together in PFLAG meetings and fundraising campaigns for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. She updates me on congregations within the synod that are in the Reconciling In Christ process.
Every time we are in contact, Sandy is eager to get an update of how the candidacy process and the seminary year are going.
Sandy, like many friends and loved ones along the journey, caught a vision of the future many years ago. It was a vision that, quite frankly, often gets blurred in my own set of eyes. Sandy dreamed of a day that this gay child of God could get married and also answer a lifetime calling from God to become an ordained minister.
It struck me that morning in the coffee shop how faithful Sandy was to that dream.
“You picked the card out before we were married?”
“Yes, it was just perfect for you two.”
I wish I could tell you how many times along the way I wondered how in the world I would ever get to even stand in a pulpit one day or stand in front of a judge and exchange precious vows with the one I love.
And I wish I could tell you how many times the Sandys in my life that God has blessed me with in the journey have said “I can see you up there!”
I thank God for my husband Jeff who witnesses my patterns of “how am I going to get all these school projects done before the end of the semester?”, and encourages me to see it through.
I am encouraged by all the visionaries in life!
I am so encouraged, I believe I will go buy that ordination stole today, because as Sandy so eloquently has said, “it fits you perfectly.”
Robin Fero is a 3rd year student at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. He is finishing up his last academic semester and will be doing his internship starting in July. Robin and his husband Jeff were married in October. They reside in Harrisburg, PA.
Joy and thanksgiving for the upcoming ordination of Ángel David Marrero Ayala! Ángel will be ordained on Sunday, April 26th at 7:00 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Waltham, MA. Ángel has been called by the New England Synod of the ELCA and will be developing a new congregation in Waltham. Ángel serves on the Board of Directors of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and is a member of Proclaim, a community of 185 LGBTQ rostered leaders and candidates for ministry. Proclaim is a program of ELM.
From the invitation:
Por la gracia de Dios y conforme al uso apostólico Ángel David Marrero Ayala será ordenado al Ministerio de Palabra y Sacramento en la iglesia católica. Requerimos su presencia y oraciones para este evento. El clero está invitado a participar de la procesión. El color del día será rojo. Luego del servicio habrá una recepción en la iglesia.
By the grace of God and according to apostolic usage Ángel David Marrero Ayala will be ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the one holy catholic church. Your prayers and your presence are requested. Rostered Leaders are invited to process. The color of the day is red. There will be a reception after the service at the church.
As we celebrate the wonderful news of Ángel’s new call and ministry, we remember that 28 members of Proclaim continue to await first call. Barriers to ministry continue to exist as a reality for LGBTQ people – thank you for helping to change that through your support of ELM. And you also help tell the good news of new leaders like Ángel!
Guest Post by Dr. Norman Glaubenleben, Ph.D.
April 1, 2015
Earlier today, the selection committee for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries’ annual Unnamed Covert Sympathizer (UCS) Award announced that it will soon release the list of nominees for this year’s award.
The Unnamed Covert Sympathizer Award, established through a generous gift from an anonymous donor (rumored to be Bishop [Name withheld] of the Central Great Lakes Synod), honors those who have helped to further ELM’s mission without appearing to support either the organization or its goals. The award is something of a paradox: no recipients of the award have ever been announced, and in spite of the selection committee’s stated intentions, the list of nominees has never been published.
Each year after a date is set for announcing the year’s nominees, the selection committee is inundated with anxious requests from putative covert supporters who are concerned that public recognition might compromise their effectiveness.
Before the list of nominees is made public, a covert sympathizer may (for a modest fee to cover administrative costs) inquire if they’ve been nominated. For a slightly less modest fee, the sympathizer may request to be omitted from consideration. Inevitably, all the nominees will have withdrawn before the list is released.
Among people who should know, it is commonly supposed that administrative fees related to the Unnamed Convert Sympathizer Award have become a significant source of income for ELM, far outweighing, for example, the income lost from the Thrivent Choice Program.
In 2014, Thrivent invoked its new “Neutrality Policy” to rule ELM ineligible for Thrivent Choice funding, asserting that ELM is “among those organizations whose primary purpose is to advocate for or against an issue where there is significant disagreement within our [Thrivent’s] membership.”
ELM’s secret supporters could easily dispel the illusion of “significant disagreement” over whatever the issue is that Thrivent believes to be ELM’s primary purpose. Were the sympathizers to declare themselves openly in support of ELM, they would reduce to insignificance the perceived level of disagreement. Doing so, however, would both deprive ELM of a reliable revenue stream and undermine the sympathizers’ clandestine efforts on ELM’s behalf.
There have been repeated suggestions (by unnamed Thrivent spokespeople) that Thrivent Choice funds destined for ELM be laundered through safe, “neutral” intermediary recipients. Some observers have taken this to be an indication that the Thrivent “Neutrality Policy” itself is, in fact, the work of ELM’s covert sympathizers.
Nothing could be further from the truth. However, such speculation is completely consistent with the counterintuitive logic of secret supporter covert operations.
In 2012, following weeks of tense, closed-door negotiations and a reportedly frantic bidding war (said to include three mainline denominations, a Rocky Mountain megachurch, the political action committee of a Beltway evangelical think tank, and a Christian ashram), a deal was reached between a covert sympathizer and an undisclosed purchaser to transfer the trademark “Making Ministry Happen” to the purchaser for a cash settlement rumored to be in the low 7-figure range. The transaction fell apart when it was discovered that “Making Ministry Happen” is not in fact a registered trademark of ELM.
In February of this year, representatives of California Lutheran University (CLU) did nothing to address the rumor that an “unnamed” intermediary had floated an offer to buy Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary from CLU for ELM’s “Proclaim” business unit. When outright purchase proved too costly, the intermediary is said to have bid for naming rights, proposing that the seminary be renamed “Proclaim Lutheran Theological Seminary”. CLU has yet to comment.
Any of these projects, had they come to fruition, would certainly be award-worthy. But the covert sympathizers, still embarrassed over their 2009 failure to bolster ELM’s prospects by preventing policy change in the ELCA, have set an even higher standard for future achievements. No one who is aware of the covert sympathizers’ relentless behind-the-scenes work should be surprised in 2016 when ELM is reorganized as a Wisconsin nonprofit to pave the way for an offering of shares not unlike that made by the Green Bay Packers in 2012. For obvious reasons, the covert sympathizers will be unable to take advantage of the opportunity when the shares are available for purchase.
Dr. Norman Glaubenleben (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chief business analyst for the now-defunct Lutheran True Confessions. Opinions expressed by Dr.Glaubenleben are entirely his own (except where plagiarized) and do not reflect the opinions of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM), its staff, or board. Dr. Glaubenleben wishes you a very reflective Lenten season and a very enjoyable APRIL FOOL’S!