Happy New Year!
Thank you for being part of another extraordinary year! The donations are still flowing in, but I am excited to say that we have achieved our 2016 goal! It is equally exciting to look back over the past year’s achievements we have made as a community on which to build an even more incredible future in 2017.
2016 kicked off with newness all around. After an amazing year-end of 2015 (which saw a 25% increase in Proclaim memberships and a solid financial foundation for the work of the year) we published the first LGBTQ 60-page candidacy guide, Mystery of the Ages: A Handy Guide for LGBTQ People Exploring or Preparing for Rostered Ministry in the ELCA. This electronic document is one of several that ELM offers up to congregations, rostered leaders, and those considering the ministry.
Later in that second month we gave great thanks for the work and ministry of our outgoing part-time administrator Marie O’Brien (of Grace Lutheran, Evanston, IL) as we welcomed our new Operations Coordinator, LSTC MDiv student Christephor Gilbert.
April brought the 2016 Proclaim National Gathering – Kindling the Flame – in Northern California. The 3-day event was kicked off with a gathering of our ELM/Proclaim instigators: the seven faithful and fabulous ones who were instrumental in the origins of ELM. Stories were shared and energy renewed for the ongoing journey.
In preparation for a greater presence at Synod assemblies this year, we produced (as part of our Ministry Engagement arm) two compelling communication pieces. First, a beautiful, full-color, 11×17 poster, that boldly proclaims who and what ELM is all about, and second, a sleek six-minute video that encourages congregations in ways to get ready for an LGBTQ leader. Our new communications materials made the job of telling ELM’s story at Synod assemblies across the country even easier!
In May, ELM and ReconcilingWorks were invited by the Southwestern Washington Synod to participate in an education event, presenting companion sessions on the theme “Welcoming LGBTQ+ People to the Pews and the Pulpit.”
The summer began with the announcement that Rev. Jen Rude, intrepid Program Manager since 2013, extraordinarily called pastor, and fierce LGBTQ advocate, was called to serve Pacific Lutheran University in Washington. We sent her off with a grand celebration and deep gratitude for her service with ELM.
Summer 2016 also brought an event that will forever be etched in our LGBTQ collective minds: the impossibly tragic mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Rev. Ángel D. Marrero, proclaim member and pastor to Santuario Luterano in Waltham, MA, gave a most poignant reflection as a gay Latino pastor.
Our 2016 Joel R. Workin Scholar was named. The honor fell this year to ELM’s own Christephor Gilbert, who shared a new way to think about grace.
ELM jumped at the chance to talk to ELM friend and Lutheran playwright, Tom Jacobson, right before the premiere of his new work Captain of the Bible Quiz Team in Los Angeles to rave reviews.
Early August brought the 2016 Churchwide assembly, a place where the clergy shortage was a hot topic, and the invisibly-visible presence of LGBTQ rostered leaders (on the lips and in the minds of our Churchwide leaders) gave ample opportunity for reflection and transformation.
The end of a busy summer brought new joy and new energy as we welcomed our new Program Manager, Rev. Asher O’Callaghan, to the team, and promoted Christephor from Operations coordinator to Communications and Development Coordinator.
Always looking for the Spirit on the cutting edge, ELM was present at the first #decolonizelutheranism conference, held in Chicago at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Proclaim was in full force at this event, with pastors like Tita Valeriano, Lura Groen, and Andrew Nelson as organizers and keynote speakers.
Speaking of keynote speakers, ELM’s very own Asher O’Callaghan was tapped to present at the 2016 Why Christian? Conference, also in Chicago, where he represented with the up-and-coming of religious leaders like Nadia Bolz Weber, Onleilove Alston, and Rozella White.
Our seminary teams fostered community and sharing all around fabulousness at our seven Lutheran seminaries and affiliated theological schools.
The brain-trust of ELM, our delightful and dedicated board members, gathered together in Chicago at the Nicholas Center for an in person board meeting, where we laughed, prayed, and dreamed about the future of ELM and our strategic vision.
And as the year came to a close, we realized that the work was just beginning, work that must now unfold within a new political climate in the united states, one that has already proven to be a tenuous and tension-filled area where it is even more important to proclaim the inclusive message of the Gospel, a message that ensures everyone – regardless of one’s multiplicity of identity- has a privileged place at God’s table of grace.
While the months ahead may seem daunting, we know that it is all possible with you, ELM’s ardent supporter at our back! ELM donor and playwright Tom Jacobson recently said, “This is not business as usual. We’re living in extraordinary times and we need extraordinary leaders.”
Thank you for your extraordinary support which provides us the resources to carry on this much needed work.
Here’s to our partnership in 2017!