Making Room at the Table. ELM at Assemblies!

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ELM is all over the place. Did you see us?

One core program of ELM, along with Proclaim and Accompaniment, is Ministry Engagement. This means we show up for you: around decision-making tables, at synod and churchwide assemblies, on campuses, and in your congregations. Through Ministry Engagement, ELM seeks and partners with organizations and congregations open to the transformative ministry of LGBTQIA+ leaders.

We know that representation matters, so we strive to make room at the table where it may not have been open in the past. This year, ELM had a goal of hosting information tables at 12 synod assemblies (up from 10 in 2017) and blasted through that goal, hosting a tables and making room at a record 18 assemblies. A few of the new synods we expanded to this year include: West Virginia/Western Maryland, Virginia, Southeastern, Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast, and Indiana/Kentucky. These synods match with one of ELM’s growing edges we’re working to address – expanding our presence and work in the South.

How did we do it?

We’re a small yet mighty professional staff, but could never have shown up in all these spaces if it weren’t for dedicated volunteers representing ELM at tables. Hear from Kari Louwagie, seminarian and member of Proclaim, currently in a summer internship at Messiah Lutheran in Mountain Iron, MN, on their experience at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly:

“Back in early May, I tabled for ELM at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly. Our assigned display table was right next to ReconcilingWorks, creating a lovely little rainbow corner where folks could learn about both how to support LGBTQ+ community members as well as candidates and pastors. Not as many people stopped by the table as I would have hoped, but the few conversations I did have were fruitful and life giving. 

One of the highlights of my synod assembly tabling experience was being able to bear witness to the good and holy work this organization does through sharing both provided resources and pieces of my own story as a Queer candidate for ministry. It was such a joy to represent and advocate for an organization that advocates for myself and so many other LGBTQ+ candidates and pastors.

 I must confess that I’m still getting used to being “out” in the church world, but the support I’ve received from ELM has helped give me the extra boost of courage needed to bring my whole self into my work.”

As Kari reflects, our connection with ReconcilingWorks has been intentional, as creating welcome in the pews of the church is often a first step to creating welcome within the pulpit, encouraging congregations to consider opening up call processes to LGBTQIA+ rostered ministers .

We’ll see you around the table!

ELM reps near you:

Proclaim Seminarian Team – LGBTQIA+ student reps at seminaries and divinity schools

ELM Seminary Advocates – faculty or staff members who serve as a liaison between ELM and their campus and as an ally and advocate for LGBTQIA+ students

Kari Louwagie (they/them)

Kari Louwagie grew up on their family dairy farm near Cottonwood, Minnesota.  They graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016 with a degree in Religion.  From there, Kari went on to teach English in Madagascar for a year through Young Adults in Global Mission.  Currently, Kari is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Apart from school, their hobbies include playing the trumpet, singing, crocheting, and spending time outside.  Good coffee, cows, Biblical Hebrew, and general weirdness bring Kari great joy!

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