by Christephor Gilbert
ELM Communications and Development Coordinator
In February, the ELM Board of Directors voted to welcome the Rev. Matthew L. James as their newest member. Matt moved to Chicago in September of last year (with his husband, Deacon John E. Weit) to accept a call as the Director of Admissions at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). Prior to this call, he served for three years as Associate Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Worcester, MA, and as Protestant Campus Chaplain at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Matt received his Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological School at Philadelphia, and also holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism/public relations and communications from the University of Northern Colorado and a master of arts in media studies from The Pennsylvania State University. Matt is a member of Proclaim and a former Joel R. Workin Scholar.
I had the privilege of sitting down to talk with Matt about his various experiences, and was especially intrigued about his backstory as one of the first Proclaim members.
Matt’s journey to the ELM Board is in and through his experience as an LGBTQ+ candidate for Word and Sacrament prior to 2009, during the time of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP). The year was 2005, and through the movement of the Spirit and the guidance of his pastor at Luther Place in Washington, D.C., Matt began the candidacy process through ECP. Throughout the journey, including the three-year wait for his first call, Matt was bolstered by the pastoral and spiritual support he received through the cloud of witnesses that make up Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
He was excited to intentionally reengage with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries upon his move to Chicago and the new call at LSTC. It was then that he was contacted by Proclaim member and former ELM board member, the Rev. Rose Beeson, about serving on the board. Clearly, the Spirit at work, once again!
Matt is excited about the capacity ELM has to raise up LGBTQ+ leaders to serve – the hope, strength, and energy they bring to the church of tomorrow – but now! He affirms that there is much to celebrate post-2009, but still much work to be done to continue moving toward God’s preferential future.
When Matt isn’t finding the leaders of tomorrow at LSTC, or continuing to foster LGBTQ+ leadership through ELM, you might find him digging into scripture for inspiration, dreaming about finally taking those piano lessons, or adding yet another DVD or doll to his ever-growing Muppets collection (with Fozzie the Bear being his favorite).
Current members of the ELM Board of Directors are: Rev. Dr. J. Elise Brown (New York, NY); Rev. Brad Froslee (Minneapolis, MN); Charlie Horn (Pitman, NJ); Rev. Mike Wilker (Washington, DC); Dr. Margaret Moreland (Berkeley, CA); Rev. Emily Ewing (Peterson, MN); Nicole Johnson (Minneapolis, MN); Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad (Minneapolis, MN); Rev. Jeff Johnson (Berkeley, CA); Emily Ann Garcia (Vancouver, British Columbia); Rev. Matthew James (Chicago, IL).
Christephor Gilbert currently serves as the Communications and Development Coordinator for ELM, and is finishing up his second year in the MDiv Program at LSTC. When he is not working or schooling, he remembers fondly when he sang both “I’ts Not Easy Being Green” and “The Rainbow Connection” in fifth-grade choir.