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2015 – Year in Review

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Thank you for being part of a remarkable year for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. As we celebrated 25+ years of ministry by publicly-identified LGBTQ people we also experienced a 25% increase in Proclaim members during 2015 alone!

While we are still compiling final numbers as the last donations of the year still arrive by mail, I am thrilled to tell you that we are beginning 2016 fully funded and ready to go. I always like to reflect on where we’ve been before moving on to where we are going – so settle as we look back at 2015. As you do, know that you make this ministry real through your prayers, encouragement, and financial support.

2015 in Review….We started the year celebrating 25+ years of ministry by publicly-identified LGBTQ people with the anniversary of the first extraordinary ordinations.

More congregations and synods received a new resource Enrich & Transform  to help open the call process to LGBTQ people.

We engaged in deep in-person work at our spring and fall board meetings, and in anti-racism and intercultural competency training at the ELM board meeting and Proclaim retreat.

We released Treasure in Clay Jars – an expansive project that shares stories of LGBTQ people in Lutheran Ministry.

We made our way all around the country to be with as many of you in person as possible, and when we could, captured some great stories from the road – like this one from Jen’s seminary visits in the spring.

We welcomed our new 4-hour/week admin support maven, Marie O’Brien of Grace Lutheran Evanston and said farewell to our home at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church as they prepared to sell their building and began a rather unwieldy and irritating move to PO Box 14317 – thank you for your patience!

We celebrated with Rev. Ángel David Marrero Ayala as he was ordained called to mission development in the New England Synod.

We had an amazing Proclaim Gathering – including a day-long media training from Macky Alston from Auburn Seminary.

We had our first very Web-Chat update for ELM volunteers and donors.

We were present at synod assemblies in Rocky Mountain Synod, Sierra Pacific Synod, Minneapolis Area Synod, and Metro Chicago Synod through our Ministry Engagement work.

We celebrated with extraordinary congregations like Augustana Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C.

We rejoiced with Nate Gruel who was received onto the ELCA roster after a 36-year journey.

The ELCA celebrated the first “ordinary” ordination of a transgender person – the Rev. Asher O’Callaghan.

Named Justin Ferko as the 2015 Joel R. Workin Scholar, with a $2,500 grant towards his education, and invited his reflections on ministry.

Led workshops and were a sponsor for Until All Our Free, the ReconcilingWorks assembly.

Highlighted some fabulous ELM supporters – like Julie and Luther Grafe – who helped lead our Faithful & Fabulous Chicago campaign.

Shared many personal stories through the ELM Blog – including Rev. Lura Groen’s thoughts on our connections with the Black Lives Matter movement, Bp. Kevin Kanouse and his coming-out journey, Emmy Kegler’s new website Queer Grace, Miriam Samuelson-Roberts reflections on bisexuality, and Rev. Mark Erson’s “Gospel Night” services at St. John’s Christopher Street.

Proclaim reached 200 members this fall – and then quickly grew to 215!

ELM received a $30,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation to develop our Proclaim program in 2016.

Celebrated progress for trans* people called to rostered ministry,including Portico Benefit Services’ actions to remove all exclusions related to trans healthcare and expand trans-inclusive coverage.

Organized a peer-to-peer outreach effort, Faithful & Fabulous Chicago, through which over 20 new individuals and couples became new donors to ELM – giving a combined total of at least $6,500!

The Board incorporated some values around sustainability and productivity that staff members Amalia and Jen learned at the Rockwood Leadership Institute and moved to a 4-day/36 hour work week for full-time staff.

Celebrated the ways that seminarians are still at the forefront of our mission.

Developed even more resources for congregations who say they “just aren’t ready” for a gay pastor. And we started asking – What are you doing to get ready?

Ended the year with this joy – After very faithfully seeking first call, the Rev. Cara Knutson and the Rev. Tim Feiertag received calls and were ordained in December.

As I shared with those attending the 2015 Proclaim Gathering – ELM is fruitful and multiplying.

I know it can be hard to understand the full scope of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries’ work. For me, it often comes down to words like these from Mack Patrick after attending the 2015 Proclaim Gathering:

“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.”

You have created that feeling. Thanks for an extraordinary year!

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