by Laura Ferree
Master of Divinity student, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and member of Proclaim.
Proclaim, a program of ELM, is a community of 250 publicly-identified LGBTQ+ Lutheran rostered minister, candidates, and seminarians.
On January 3rd, 2017 I arrived at the Columbus, OH airport excited to board a plane and make my way to the Holy Land. I was embarking on this trip with my school, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, as my January term course. I did not know what to expect as we were boarding our flight to Tel Aviv. Part of me was nervous and the other part was so excited to walk on the same land where Jesus walked.
After flying all night our plane finally landed in Tel Aviv and the trip became real. From the moment we stepped foot on holy ground our trip was off to the races and not slowing down! We traveled from Tel Aviv to Galilee to Caesarea to Zippori to Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum to Jericho to Bethlehem to Battir to Jerusalem and the list could go on. We had a jam-packed schedule! We were always being shuffled from one place to the next while our tour guide, Khalil, shouted, “Yella people!” meaning hurry up or let’s go in Arabic.
I remember one point in the trip when “Yella people!” was being shouted but I couldn’t hurry up! As I was getting on our bus after a stop by the Sea of Galilee I looked out the window and saw Proclaim members. I shouted, “Those are my people!” and ran off the bus, ignoring Khalil saying “Yella Laura!” We had just a short time to reconnect before I was pulled back onto the bus so that we could continue our journey but I remember feeling filled with joy as I saw “my people” in a land that is so far away from home.
This is not the last place that I saw “my people”. There were three ELCA seminaries in the Holy Land at the same time and we all happened to be staying in Jerusalem during the same time. A seminary meet up was arranged and I could not contain my excitement during the day that our meet up would happen knowing that I would get to see Proclaim folks for the first time in almost a year. This community is so interconnected that we even find each other while we are in a foreign land.
That night of community in the Holy Land reminded me to kindle my flame and allowed me to remember how meaningful the Proclaim community is to me. As I continued to bump into Proclaim friends throughout the trip it always brought me joy to remember that I am a part of such a tight knit community of folks who free me to proclaim God’s good word to all.
Laura Ferree lives in Columbus, OH and is a second-year Master of Divinity student at Trinity Lutheran Seminary. Once she survives this spring semester, Laura will start as the intern at Luther Memorial Church in Seattle, WA.