And We’re Off!

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by Amalia Vagts
ELM Executive Director

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has been engaged in a strategic vision process over the last year. Early on in the process, I shared with the board a valuable sailing lesson I’d learned years ago. Many know that when you want to change directions in a sailboat, you “come about.” And most sailors will alert their occupants to “prepare to come about.” One wise sailor friend of mine would always warn us to “prepare to prepare to come about.” While this was always said somewhat in jest, I’ve learned that with vision work, when change comes, things happen very quickly and it’s better to take the time preparing so you are ready when it’s time.

And it’s time! We’re excited to announce our new vision and strategic objectives. This has been an evolutionary process – the church, our communities, and our own organization have been in a period of growth and change. The work we did helps set the course for the incoming executive director and the work they will do with the board and staff to create and implement the next steps for ELM.


Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries believes the public witness of LGBTQ+ ministers transforms the church and enriches the world.

Our belief statement has evolved from focusing on the “extraordinary gifts” of LGBTQ+ ministers to an emphasis on public witness. This is a more active belief statement that describes the real change that is possible and is already happening because of the work of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.


Public witness: Model God’s liberation for all by publicly claiming the value of visible LGBTQ+ led ministry. Public witness is one of the core gifts ELM brings to the church – by being our true selves, we invite others to be their true selves. ELM’s focus on this brings purpose to our work and clarity to the point of Proclaim. This is so central to our identity that we must be clear and committed to it. Unwavering commitment to this value will provide clarity and direction in all of our work.

Boldly proclaim: Boldly address barriers and create space for emerging ideas, leaders, and movements. These times call for boldness. By proclaiming boldly we step into brave space, we engage in holy provocation, and we explore big ideas like funding emerging ministry. If we do not embrace boldness, our work could lead us down the road of safely fitting within the system. If we embrace boldness, this direction resonates with the history and spirit of ELM and meets a need in the church right now for truth-telling and action.


As part of this work, we also discussed and named some basic “explicit practices” that describe how we function as an organization. These simple statements describe our commitments and practices.

We listen deeply, we publicly claim our identities, we work collaboratively, we act transparently, we ask ‘who is not here?’, we speak truthfully, even when it is hard, and we laugh together.

I’m so thankful to the board and staff for their thoughtful and engaged work throughout this process. Thanks also to the wonderful Lisa Negstad and Michael Bischoff who guided us through this process.

We welcome your input and engagement as we move forward!

Amalia Vagts loves water metaphors and lives in a relaxed state, but ready to leap as required. Pictured here in Railroad Creek at Holden Village, 2007. 


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