Guest blog by Larell Fineren, ELM Synod Assembly Display Coordinator
When Ministry Engagement Convener Margaret Moreland called to ask me about volunteering to coordinate for the Table Display Hosts and Hostesses I imagined a bevy of Vanna Whites seductively pointing to various Tupperware items on kitchen tables across America. Err…no…She meant hosts and hostesses for those myriad information tables that decorate the way to the Cookie Table at Synod Assemblies. “Oh, that kind of host,” I said, feeling somewhat deflated. But being a good queer Lutheran, I quickly said yes and resolved to make it a success.
We managed to surface seven volunteers for the job. Diane Linden-Johnson at Rocky Mountain, Lois Voss at Minneapolis, Jerry Vagts at St Paul, Terry Krueger at Metro NY, Michael Nelson at Southwest CA, Bob Goldstein at Metro Chicago, the diversity team in Southeast Michigan, and me, Larell Fineren at Sierra Pacific, all rose to the hosting challenge. My job also included making sure the supply boxes made it from Assembly to Assembly between our first one on April 28th and the last one on June 11th.
We all reported good “table exposure” (no closets for us anymore!) which meant many visitors stopped by to talk and get resources. In general, we felt about 50% of our visitors were well aware of ELM and Proclaim. The other 50% got an earful when they stopped long enough to chat! I talked to two young LGBTQ folks who felt called to ministry and wanted to go to seminary. I was able to talk to them about our Candidacy Accompaniment program, of which they were unaware. Other hosts also reported talking to potential ministry candidates. Surprisingly, one host talked to two seminarians who didn’t know about ELM! That was a shocker to me. I imagined I was there mainly for the straight folks, to pitch our Ministry Engagement program. But it made me realize how important it is to continue to get our message out there to EVERYONE—over and over again.
One funny thing was how our clearly marked “Display copy only” booklets of Treasure in Clay Jars and Enrich & Transform were slyly taken when we either weren’t at the table, or weren’t looking. It was a bummer to have our materials disappear before others could see them. But the Spirit blows where and how She wants–I had to assume they went where they needed to go.
We all felt that hosting was enjoyable, worthwhile, and something we’d do again. Would you like to host a table at your Assembly next year? We’d like to at least double the number of Assemblies we’re represented at next year. If you’d like to give it a go (and store some treasure in Heaven), please contact ELM Operations Coordinator Christephor (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let him know.
By Larell Fineren. Larell lives in Petaluma CA and attends Elim Lutheran Church. She’s a member of the Sierra Pacific Synod Council, where she happily provides a queer perspective on issues.