by the Rev. Amanda Nelson
Executive Director, ELM
Editor’s note: Have you heard it’s the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation this year (1517-2017)? During the months of October and November, ELM’s blog will feature reflections on how the church continues to re-form and the role of LGBTQ+ leaders.
“This is our confession and that of our people, article by article, as follows”
With these words, Dr. Phillip Melancthon concluded the introduction to the Augsburg Confession: a document composed by Melancthon, Dr. Martin Luther, and their colleagues that to this day stands as the confession of the Lutheran Church.
It was written at the request of Emperor Charles V who invited Luther and the Reformers to present their beliefs at a meeting of religious and political leaders with the purpose of quelling conflict and reuniting the Roman Catholic Church in the region.
You see, thirteen years before the Augsburg Confession was written, Luther had caused quite a stir when he posted 95 theses on the church doors in Wittenberg disputing theologies and practices of the Roman Catholic Church.
Charles’ desire to snuff out this new movement was not to be. A flame had been lit in the hearts of the Reformers that not even the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire could put out. Having found in scripture the love and grace of God, Luther and his cohorts could not turn back and would not back down.
Such is the history of the Lutheran Church: we are a tradition rooted in public witness and bold proclamation. Our forebears spoke truth to power at the risk of their livelihoods and lives so that people may know that it is God’s gift of grace that reconciles all of creation.
This is the torch that we in the Lutheran tradition are asked to pick up and carry in our communities.
“Power” in today’s world may be embodied differently than it was 500 years ago, but, there are still “Emperors” and “the Church” to contend with; and, there are bodies taking on the role of modern day “Reformers.”
It was Church leaders with power who composed the Nashville Statement this past August – a document of explicit hate for gender and sexual minorities. And it was modern day Reformers who spoke truth to power with documents like the Denver Statement and the Connecticut Statement with explicit love and grace for all of God’s creation.
Public witness and bold proclamation still matter.
ELM didn’t write a statement to contend with Nashville; rather, the lives and ministries of our Proclaim members and staff ARE our statement.
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries stands firmly in our belief that the public witness of LGBTQIA+ ministers transforms the church and enriches the world.
In the words of a cis het white man whose name our church bears: here we stand, we can do no other!
As a publicly out Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Rev. Amanda Nelson embodies in her ministry the public witness and bold proclamation of LGBTQIA+ leadership and has seen how her queer identity breaks down barriers for those who feel ostracized by the church. As the Executive Director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Amanda endeavors to speak truth to power by sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ pastors and deacons in the ELCA and ELCIC.