Laura and I have been married 7 years. We got married on August 22, 2009. As we made the drive from our home in Columbus to our wedding destination, we received word that the long awaited, much anticipated Churchwide decision* was made. We knew this decision would directly impact our immediate future because just a week after we were married we entered an academic year at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Standing on the shoulders of the many who went before us, we began that year full of joy and a lot of uncertainty.
Trinity is where we spent the first four years of our marriage. We traveled the journey to ordained ministry side by side and were supported by our seminary community along the way. We experienced welcome and support for who we are and for what we have been called to be and do. It was always clear that our sexuality did not define or hinder our life within the community. Trinity was and is a safe space for us. We were deeply moved when we learned of the board vote to officially become a Reconciling in Christ Seminary. We applauded the hard work of the students and of the unanimous support of the faculty. For us, this official status declares the welcome, love, and acceptance we experienced firsthand and for that we are grateful.
Our gratitude was only expanded when Laura and I were invited to be part of the official celebration recognizing Trinity’s Reconciling in Christ status. Wednesday, September 14 was that day of celebration. Laura preached and I presided. Four additional Proclaim members, Justin Ferko, Laura Ferree, David Young Romero, and Jeffery Ogonoski helped to lead worship and an additional Proclaim colleague, Rev. Brian Whitton was in attendance.
“So he told them this parable: ‘Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.” -Luke 15:3-6
Being invited back to Trinity for this celebration was one full of rejoicing. As Laura proclaimed, “Rejoice with me, for Christ is filled with joy when God’s people are reconciled together. Rejoice because the Holy Spirit has brought us to this place. Rejoice with me because in a world where we are taught that we are not like the other, Christ tells us that we are not to fear. Rejoice because Christ will never cease to search for all who are apart from God’s people. Rejoice because it is Christ who carries the weight of this reality and will continue to do so until all of God’s people are united as one.”
We know that we live in a world where this message needs to be proclaimed! We live in a world where people are desperately yearning to hear that they matter, that they have worth, that they are loved! Laura and I give thanks for the message of love that Trinity proclaimed to us during our time there and we give thanks for the statement they have made in taking this step.
We know the work isn’t done and we are thankful that Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Reconciling Works and Trinity Lutheran Seminary are continuing the hard conversations and advocacy. There was a time, not all that long ago, when it would have been impossible to serve in the ELCA, but now an entire worship service can be led by pastors and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. For this, we rejoice!
*In 2009 at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the social statement Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust was adopted by the assembly. Along with the social statement, ELCA polity was revised so that LGBTQ persons in relationships may now serve as rostered leaders in the ELCA (previously, LGBTQ rostered leaders were required to be celibate).
Rev. Sara Cogsil lives in East Lansing, MI with her wife Rev. Laura Kuntz. Together they balance work between their respective churches and time at home with their dog Toby. It’s always a joy when they can share in ministry together.