Press Release: Proclaim Celebrates 300 Members

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Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer

Associate Director of Development and Communications 206-971-1839


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 20, 2018

“Proclaim” Community for LGBTQIA+ Lutheran Ministers & Candidates Celebrates 300 Members

CHICAGO, IL: Proclaim, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries’ (ELM) professional community for publicly identified gender and sexual minority ministers and candidates, has reached 300 members. To celebrate, ELM has launched the #Proclaim300 campaign to raise support, awareness, and funds. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries believes the public witness of gender and sexual minority ministers transforms the church and enriches the world.

On September 20, 2018, Proclaim celebrated reaching 300 members when Sergio Rodriguez (he/him/his), a seminarian at Wartburg Theological Seminary, joined the community.

The son of immigrants, Rodriguez says a mentor at a church in San Antonio “…reaffirmed my dignity as a gay Mexican Lutheran and made me aware that God calls people to ministry regardless of where they are in their lives, their gender, their sexuality, and their race.”

Rodriguez recalls, “When a classmate of mine encouraged me to join Proclaim, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was God gathering me to a community of fellow believers and leaders to join them in proclaiming the Gospel…that all may know the all-inclusive love of God.”

Says ELM Executive Director Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson, “We rejoice in the growth of Proclaim! This is an enormous milestone for our organization and for the church – this means there are 300 publicly-out LGBTQIA+ leaders who are dedicating their lives to calls of public ministry! This means that LGTBQIA+ folks are feeling more and more free and able to say ‘yes’ to God’s call – even in a church that for so long said ‘no’ to their leadership.”

ELM was founded in 2007 as a merger between Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (LLGM) and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP), which for years ordained LGBTQIA+ ministers “extraordinarily,” outside the bounds of the ELCA’s official doctrine, which did not allow it.

In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America changed their policy to allow gender and sexual minorities to serve the church as out and partnered ministers. Even still, congregations can refuse to consider ministry candidates because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and LGBTQIA+ ministry candidates continue to face barriers and prejudice.

ELCA Bishop Kirby Unti of the Northwest Washington Synod reflects on the gifts of Proclaim members: “The church has entered a time when what we need are effective adaptive leaders. Our LGBTQIA+ ministers tend to be some of our best adaptive leaders. Their lives have relied upon adaptive sensibilities in order to thrive.”

Says ELCA Bishop William Gohl, “From Appalachia to the inner city, in suburbia and specialized ministries, Proclaim rostered ministers are blessing our Delaware-Maryland Synod with gifts that cultivate the more-inclusive and diverse communities for which this church prays and aspires to. I am grateful for the partnership of #Proclaim300 colleagues who are serving, that all the world may know the redeeming love of God in Christ, for all – without exceptions.”

To meet the needs of a growing Proclaim community – increased by 50% in the past 3 years – ELM’s #Proclaim300 campaign aims to raise 300 gifts of $300 by October 31, 2018 (Reformation Day), totalling $90,000.

“ELM’s goal is to continue to support Proclaimers at all stages of ministry,” says Gerken-Nelson. “A gift at any level is a blessing. We are grateful for the many who make these ministries possible!”

In addition to facilitating the Proclaim professional community, ELM’s Accompaniment program provides individualized guidance, mentorship, and resources for publicly identified Lutheran LGBTQIA+ ministers and candidates. ELM’s Ministry Engagement program advocates for these leaders by advising on church policy and equipping churchwide leadership, seminaries, congregations, allied nonprofits, and other organizations to employ and embrace Proclaim members.

Follow #Proclaim300 on social media September 17-23, 2018 to see and hear stories about the gifts of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, plus) ministers through videos, images, personalized fundraisers, and testimonials.

For more information:

Follow #Proclaim300 Week Sept 17-23, 2018:

Contribute to the #Proclaim300 Campaign:

Images for use:

“Sergio Rodriguez” (courtesy of Rodriguez) 

“Proclaim300” (courtesy of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries)

“1 of 300” (courtesy of Emily Ann Garcia Photography, for ELM)

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