Joining our Partners: Until All Are Free

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by Amalia Vagts, ELM Executive Director

I never get over how incredible it feels to be in the company of other LGBTQ people and allies of faith. It’s a remarkable feeling – as Pastor Erik Christensen says of the Proclaim Gathering – it’s one of those rare times when you don’t have to “explain yourself to anyone.”

So it was with great joy that I joined others this past weekend at the ReconcilingWorks assembly, “Until All Are Free” as LGBTQ people and allies gathered from around the United States and Canada.

Participants at "Are you my Pastor" training
Participants at “Are you my Pastor” training

Pastor Jen Rude, ELM Program Director, and I led a half-day pre-event called, “Are You My Pastor?” This training was created through a grant we received from the Philip N. Knutson Endowment. We spent time exploring ways and reasons to create an intentional congregational plan to welcome LGBTQ pastors into the call process.

We’ve been seeing since 2009 that while the doors are open to partnered gay and lesbian candidates, many barriers to ministry still exist. One of those barriers is a lack of calls open to LGBTQ candidates. And while many congregations truly want to be welcoming in their call process, we’ve learned that it takes some intentional conversation and planning to have the best results.

Fortunately, we have lots of experience with this! By working with pastors, call committees and synod staff who’ve been through it, we’ve created Enrich & Transform – a guide for call committees wishing to including LGBTQ and other diverse candidates in their call process. If you haven’t seen this resource, please check it out and use it!

Our Ministry Engagement program will be refining this workshop and looking for ways to share this information with others throughout the church.

“Until All Are Free” was a wonderful chance to connect with new and old friends and to learn about the future plans for ReconcilingWorks. We had fun catching up with all the Proclaim members who were there and welcomed our newest member, Pastor Daphne Burt!

Proclaim members at "Until All Are Free."
Proclaim members at “Until All Are Free.”

The weekend included a festive evening celebrating some true giants in our movement – outgoing ReconcilingWorks Executive Director Emily Eastwood, Pacific Northwest rabble-rousers Karen and Paul Jolly, and our wonderful, visionary and deeply faithful Pastor Anita Hill (member of Proclaim and of the historic Extraordinary Roster).

Thank you to our friends at ReconcilingWorks for a great weekend! Now, on to the important work we all have to do “until all are free.”

Amalia VagtsAmalia Vagts, Executive Director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, is especially thankful today for spaces that welcome flamboyance, loud whoops of joyful exuberance, and stone butch lesbians.