By Ashlei Buhrow
Proclaim Member and MDiv student, Luther Seminary
Well, it’s that time of the year! School is starting, new faces are coming onto campus, and there is a feeling of orderly chaos. For the first time in a long time, I actually am looking forward to the start of a school year. Why? Because I’m starting to see the ways in which I can use my gifts at Luther Seminary.
Last year was my first year of seminary, and that came with a lot of changes: turning 21, moving to a new state, living with unfamiliar people, and most life changing—coming out. In October of 2016, I told my friends and family that I was a lesbian, and not unlike many, felt very alone. I knew that there was a group on campus called Emmaus that was an LGBTQIA+ group, but I didn’t have the guts to reach out to them until much later.
Then, this group called Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM) kept coming up in my circles, and I was encouraged to get involved! I joined, and immediately got connected with Proclaim. Lucky for me, a position in the Seminary Outreach Team had opened up the following week—and I was invited to be the student representative for Luther Seminary. To be honest, I had no clue what I should or shouldn’t do; honestly, I didn’t even really grasp what it meant to be gay. But I knew I had support and always would be supported.
That brings us to this year at Luther Seminary. Everyone deserves to feel like they can be authentic and true to themselves, and that’s exactly what I hope to help bring to the Luther Seminary campus as part of the Seminary Outreach Team, and leader for Emmaus!Today, we tabled at the Open House hours during First Week orientation—rainbow and trans flags flying, with the addition of some Skittles and Starbursts. These past few years, a lot has changed at Luther Seminary, and so I decided to leave it up to the campus population to help decide what Emmaus and Proclaim will mean to them. Those who were interested placed their names, pronouns, and contact information on a sheet for me to connect with them; the sky is the limit after that! Some ideas currently in place are: working with Decolonize Lutheranism and Naked and Unashamed; learning more about LGBTQ+ rights and their roles in the global church; and facilitating more opportunities on campus for education on trans rights. I look forward to this school year and starting fresh, but even more so I am looking forward to being a person that people know is here for them and connecting them to resources they find helpful.
Ashlei Buhrow is a Master of Divinity middler (second year, for those not in the know!) at Luther Seminary, and in candidacy toward Word and Sacrament ministry in the Northwestern Wisconsin Synod (a surprising turn of events discerned only three days after she finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin)! Currently job hunting for something that feeds her passion for youth ministry and LGBTQ+ engagement, Ashlei enjoys testing out the breweries of Minnesota, spending time with her partner and her dog, and exploring in nature.