by Amalia Vagts, Executive Director
As you may have heard me say a time or two lately – Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is growing. I’m thrilled to announce that we have hired Christephor Gilbert to be the new Operations Coordinator for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
Christephor (he/him/his) is a member of Proclaim, a student in the Master of Divinity program at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and is in Candidacy with the ELCA toward Word and Sacrament ministry. Prior to seminary, Christephor worked as the Program Manager for the Kentucky Center Governor’s School for the Arts in Louisville, KY, which was a natural move from his first career as a dancer, dance educator, and choreographer (MFA Dance, University of Hawaii, 1993). Christephor lives in Hyde Park with his partner Donald and their three cats. He is a member of Third Lutheran Church in Louisville, KY (where fellow Proclaim member, Rev. Steven Renner, is pastor).
Christephor will be working 8 hours a week for ELM, processing our mail and contributions and providing additional support for our communications work.
“It was a dream come true when, as a life-long seeker, I fell into the loving arms of an ELCA congregation that was not only radically inclusive, but also had at its helm an out member of the LGBTQ community. Now, as a gay Lutheran, part of my call to work in the church is to continue to support, encourage, and advocate for LGBTQ people in the ELCA. I’m excited and grateful to work with ELM and play a small role in the organization’s mission to support rostered leaders and seminarians, paving the way for a future where all God’s children, inclusive of their diversity, are welcomed and celebrated.”
Christephor will be working from Resurrection Lutheran Church in the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago. This is an exciting new partnership between Resurrection and Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries – although our connections run deep. Program director, Jen Rude was called by and extraordinarily ordained at Resurrection in 2007.
We’ve received a generous and wonderful reception from Pastor Kelly Faulstich and the people of Resurrection. Pastor Kelly writes,
“At Resurrection, we’re excited to continue our support of and ministry with ELM! Our members often share fond memories of ELM Program Director Pastor Jen Rude’s ministry when she served here. And, we have always been sharing space in a figurative sense, when it comes to supporting, equipping, and encouraging LGBTQ leaders in the church. Now we get to share physical space too! We’re looking forward to having Christephor among us.”
Christephor starts February 29. As we welcome Christephor we say a very thankful and fond farewell to Marie O’Brien, who was our “bridge” operations coordinator (and spiritual guide) in 2015. Marie is the parish administrator at Grace Lutheran Church in Evanston – another wonderful partner with ELM. Marie provided much needed support for 4 hours a week and has been a wonderful, energizing, and caring part of our team.
Our system this past year was temporary and was not ideal – as many of you experienced. In addition to Marie’s support, I’m grateful to Jen Rude for her extra work these last months – picking up our mail and then sending it via package delivery to Marie. This resulted in a week’s delay in our responding to your giving – and none of us here felt good about that. I am thankful that your contributions and letters will have a more direct route now – from our P.O. Box into Christephor’s caring hands as he takes the mail just up the road to Resurrection to open, record, and deposit your gifts.
And I am thankful for YOUR giving, which helps us grow our organization as needed to support the growing number of LGBTQ people called to ministry. Thanks to you, we are able to give Christephor this paid employment and connection with ELM while he is in seminary and are able to more efficiently and consistently stay in communication with you.
Please join me in welcoming Christephor!
by Amalia Vagts, (she/her/hers). Amalia loves being part of a team and is so thankful for Rachael, River, Marie, and now Christephor,for their work to receive and help with the wonderful contributions you send to support LGBTQ leaders and share with you the ways your support is making a real difference.