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Celebrating Another Joyful First

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The following is the press release issued in joyful anticipation of the ordination of Proclaim member and ELM board member, Asher O’Callaghan.

asher with proclaim banner (2)

Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia

Asher O’Callaghan will be ordained Thursday, July 2, 2015 in Denver, Colorado to serve the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).

O’Callaghan is the first openly transgender person to be ordained through the regular process of the ELCA. Other openly transgender pastors were ordained prior to 2009 and outside the regular process of the ELCA. The ELCA voted in 2009 to ordain partnered gay and lesbian persons opening the door to widen the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) people in ministry (see O’Callaghan has been called by Zion Lutheran Church in Idaho Springs, Colorado to serve as their pastor.

O’Callaghan is a member of Proclaim, an active community of nearly 200 Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. Proclaim is a program of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a social ministry organization that supports publicly-identified LGBTQ pastors, seminarians, and their ministries.  O’Callaghan currently serves on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Board of Directors.

From Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries: “What a joyful day for Zion Lutheran, for the Rocky Mountain Synod, and for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America! Asher is exactly the kind of person that our church needs. His gifts for ministry and his witness as a transgender person continue to proclaim a message that God welcomes, loves, and calls all people.” Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is a social ministry advocating for LGBTQ pastors and their congregations.

From Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor of House for All Sinners & Saints: “Asher O’Callaghan has a fierce and practiced belief in grace.  He is an amazing theologian, an empathic caregiver and a true believer in the Gospel.  For these reasons and many others, I celebrate his ordination with great joy.  The Lutheran Church is about to receive a gifted, passionate pastor.”

From Asher O’Callaghan: “I’m thrilled to be getting ordained to be a pastor and leader within the church I love. The ELCA, Zion Lutheran, and House For All Sinners and Saints have helped to show me that we truly are living in a new day. The Church is changing: There’s no need to choose between living life as your fullest self and belonging to a community of faith. For transgender people, this means that there are congregations who will affirm, respect, and celebrate our faith and our gender identities.”

Zion Lutheran Church in Idaho Springs, Colorado is a small but mighty congregation with a strong sense of community. They’re going through a period of revitalization and have a good mix of ages, single people, and families. Zion Lutheran has been a Reconciling in Christ congregation for several years, which means they intentionally welcome LGBTQ people. Idaho Springs is a small, mountain town located about one hour from Denver.

The ordination service is scheduled for 7pm on Thursday July 2nd at House For All Sinners and Saints (which worships at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, located at 2201 Dexter Street, Denver, CO, 80207). Bishop Jim Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA will preside and Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber will preach.

Asher uses the pronouns him/he/his.


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