by Asher O’Callaghan
ELM Program Director
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isa 55:10-11
As the seasons are changing from summer to fall, so the schedules for many Proclaim seminarians are changing. They’re back on campus (or on-line in their virtual campus!) from their Clinical Pastoral Education settings, from summer jobs, and from internship placements. And many have come from wherever they called home to their seminary campuses and are beginning to settle into their first year of courses. At most campuses, orientation is over and the fall semester is officially underway.
Recently I had the joy of meeting with the ELM Seminarian Outreach Team for this school year. The team is convened by Ben Hogue, a 3rd year student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, and is made up of one or two seminarian representatives from each of the schools where Proclaimers are attending. We meet once a month to compare notes about what’s happening on each campus and share ideas and brainstorm on work to do within their campus communities.
Each of the representatives on the call was going to be involved in their seminary’s orientation for new students. We discussed ways that people were getting the word out about the Proclaim community and the work of ELM. It was great to hear about the work being done on campuses across the country. And it was a great reminder of importance of the whole scope of ELM’s work:
The Proclaim community gives seminarians who might be figuring out what it means to be out as an LGBTQ person and a public leader in the church a whole network of colleagues to walk on the journey with. The Accompaniment program provides resources and support as people move through the candidacy process and into first call. And Ministry Engagement works with synods and congregations to help create healthy call opportunities for these future leaders.
Even so, going through seminary is not without its challenges. The future feels like it’s up in the air. Finances are tight. It’s stressful figuring out how to be out on campus and as a public leader. And of course there’s all the reading assignments, deadlines, and papers to attend to.
To our seminarians themselves: THANK YOU! For saying “yes” to God’s call. For taking on the expenses and sacrifices that have followed. For offering up your gifts to God, the church, and the world. For being out and letting your light shine brightly so that others know that they are not alone, that God’s outrageous love is for them. Thank you for what you’re doing and who you are.
If you’re not a seminarian, let’s take a moment and hold our Proclaim seminarians in prayer:
Accomplish in us all the work you have called us to. We pray especially for LGBTQ seminarians as they begin another school year. We give thanks to you for their gifts, for their identities, for their willingness to heed your call and the sacrifices they’ve made to do so. Raise them up as bold, faithful, and fabulous leaders in the church for the sake of your world. Kindle in them the flame. Surround them with colleagues through Proclaim and use this community to support them during times of hardship. Strengthen them in your Spirit – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of God, a Spirit of joy in your presence both now and forever more. In the name of Christ, our head. Amen.
Asher O’Callaghan is very happy to know such fabulous leaders are in seminary and preparing for rostered ministry in our church. He remembers being grateful for the Proclaim community during seminary and prays that it continues to be a source of support and inspiration for others. Asher is celebrating the changing seasons with pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin beer, pumpkin pie, and an abundance of other pumpkin-flavored baked goods.