By Margaret Moreland and Bennett Falk
We met Linda Christensen only twice: once at her son Erik’s extraordinary ordination in 2006; the other at Erik’s wedding to Kerry. She was so excited about both events.
I (Margaret) had heard from Erik about Linda several times before I met her. Whenever Erik talked about his journey to ordination, he always mentioned that his mother had been instrumental in nudging him toward the Extraordinary Candidacy Project.
Erik describes the first nudge this way:
“I was past college and considering seminary, but had no sense for how that would work as someone who’d come out in college and had no intention of being closeted. Mom mentioned a small church in San Francisco that participated in the “extraordinary” ordinations of three gay and lesbian clergy … and they had a cookbook: “Those People at That Church.” I remember her showing me the cookbook, and flipping through the pages,wondering who those people were.”
Linda remained a friend of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries: a regular financial contributor who, with her husband Larry, helped organize the Goodsoil Singers at the 2007 Churchwide Assembly and staffed the ELM information table at the 2017 Southeastern Iowa Synod Assembly.
Former ELM Executive Director Amalia Vagts remembers:
“Linda mailed a hand-written check each month for all the years I worked for ELM. Each month she wrote “Gratefully” in the memo of her check.”
Linda was truly a “friend of ELM,” but that barely hints at what there is to celebrate in Linda’s life.
Linda Christensen was a champion of what can only be called “tenacious love,” love that does not give up.
Tenacious love is not “safe.” It is not admiration of the already successful. It is risky; it is love for those who are pushed aside, left behind, ignored. It is love that does not acquiesce to injustice, love that is never embittered.
Tenacious love is not easily confined to the home or the classroom (or, for that matter, the church). In May, 1998 the Des Moines City Council considered (and ultimately rejected) an amendment to add “Sexual Orientation” as a protected class to the city’s Human Rights ordinance. In a contentious 2-hour meeting, Linda spoke: “I didn’t know how to have a relationship with God where you hate the sin but love the sinner, because having lived with my son for 18 years and knowing him, there was no part of my child I could hate.” Tenacious love speaks its mind.
More than a year later, when Iowa’s governor signed an order to protect LGBTQIA+ people from hiring discrimination in the executive branch of the state government, opposition forces rallied in Des Moines to demand that the order be revoked. The Des Moines Register reporter who had covered the 1998 city council meeting recalled Linda’s words and quoted them again: “The world needs a lot more Linda Christensens.”
On July 31, 2018 Linda passed away at her home in Des Moines, Iowa surrounded by the family she loved so dearly.
We give thanks to God for the life of Linda Christensen, and we pray for the strength to be agents of tenacious love.
Bio: Margaret Moreland and Bennett Falk
have been “the newlyweds” since their marriage in 1971. Margaret is secretary of the ELM Board. Bennett is known for Goodsoil Radio and Lutheran True Confessions (lutheranconfessions.com).