Giving Thanks

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Scholarship recipients at the 2016 gathering give thanks! Photo: Emily Ann Garcia

by Amalia Vagts
ELM Executive Director


Today is a day of giving for LGBTQ+ organizations across the country. Thank you to all who give so generously in support of LGBTQ+ Lutheran ministry leaders. We would not be here without you! I want to invite those who haven’t given yet to make a contribution today in support of our 2017 Proclaim Gathering Scholarship Fund.

The Proclaim Gathering is the largest gathering of its kind. It brings together publicly-identified LGBTQ+ rostered ministers and candidates from across the country. The Scholarship Fund ensures that finances are not a barrier to students and those without call. This year’s Gathering, Healing the Violence, will be held July 16 – 19 in Chicago.

It’s so important that LGBTQ+ leaders gather.  Here’s what one attendee wrote after last year’s Gathering:

Attending the Proclaim Gathering helped me to feel like I belong to a community in a way I haven’t felt before. The Gathering allowed me to learn more about my own history as a member of this community. It also allowed for growth of relationships in a way that isn’t possible to do over video calls, Facebook, and email. The Gathering helped me to see my own story as deeply connected to others and as a sacred story.

It’s even more important that ministers and seminarians go home, renewed and ready to provide ministry to people who deeply need it. Another attendee from last year shared her thoughts about this:

The Proclaim Gathering replenishes my spirit to celebrate our history and envision our future together. It helps me return to my congregation renewed and better equipped for ministry.

Your gift of $50 or $100 – or any amount – will help us provide scholarships to all who need them. If you have the means, you can provide a full scholarship with a gift of $395. Any additional funds will help cover the other costs of the Gathering so we can keep the registration low for everyone.

While some attendees can use professional development funds to attend, most pay out of pocket – and nearly all cover their own travel costs as well. We keep the registration cost low so that as many in the Proclaim community can attend as possible. But many participants are in seminary or don’t have a call. Others serve churches that struggle financially. That’s why your scholarship gift is so critical.

The power of Proclaim is community. It means that even though LGBTQ+ ministers may feel isolated from time to time, they know they are not alone. They are connected through you and their friends in Proclaim. Your gift will give these leaders a chance to experience the strength of community.

And then, most importantly, they will go back to their congregations and ministry sites renewed for ministry in places and with people who need it.

Thank you for considering making your gift today. I’d love to add your name to the list of those who will receive thank you notes from the Proclaim Gathering this year – we love writing those notes!

Amalia Vagts (in yellow) looks unsure about Easter in this late 1970’s photo, but is definitely on board with it this year, especially after listening to her pastor’s Easter sermon and church council colleague’s meeting devotion to “practice resurrection,”  drawn from the poem “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front,” by Wendell Berry


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