Recapping the ELM October Board Meeting

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by ELM Board Co-Chairs
Emily Ann Garcia and Matt James

Board Members who were present included Matt James (Co-Chair), Emily Ann Garcia (Co-Chair), Margaret Moreland (Secretary), Emily Ewing, Jeff Johnson, Kelsey Brown, Margarette Ouji, Jessica Davis, JM Longworth. ELM staff who were present included Amanda Gerken-Nelson, Olivia LaFlamme, Lewis Eggleston and Ivy Ellis.  Board members absent from the meeting included Jan Peterson (who joined via video when available) and outgoing board member Matta Ghaly.

This past October, ELM’s Board of Directors met for one of two annual in-person meetings at the beautiful Nicholas Center in Downtown Chicago. As we do in each meeting, we reminded ourselves of who Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is by reviewing and discussing our Belief Statement, Strategic Directions and Explicit Practices. At this meeting, we were able to engage deeply around what moves us in the daily work and what it may be time to revise or let go of as we continue to move forward with the work of ELM. As these conversations continue, we will be delighted to share more with all of you.

As part of our commitment as an organization and as a board to take anti-oppression seriously, all board members read Rev. Lenny Duncan’s book, Dear Church: A Love Letter from a Black Preacher to the Whitest Denomination in the United States in preparation for the meeting. This led to fruitful discussion about the diversity of experience in the room.  How do you know you belong here? In what ways does ELM need to repent for being part of an unjust system? What could it look like for ELM to offer reparations?  What do you hope ELM will do tomorrow?  These are just some of the questions we took on as part of this discussion, and the answers we are moving toward will deeply influence the direction of the organization as we grow into the future.

The board also got the opportunity to engage with ELM staff members around their goals for 2020.  Staff has done an incredible job diving into their work and the goals they’ve set for 2020 were both impressive and inspiring.  The board split up into groups to talk with Amanda, Olivia and Lewis about ways the board and board members can help support their goals over the next year.  We won’t speak for everyone here, but the Executive Team’s conversation with Amanda was very exciting!

All of these conversations will guide the board’s and staff’s work in the coming months as we live into our dreaming.  The board room holds a lot of energy for this work and we are very much looking forward to what the next round of conversations will bring!

The ELM Board’s next meeting will be a conference call in December.  The next in-person meeting with be held March 19-22, 2019 in Pennsylvania at the Pendle Hill Retreat Center.

Questions or concerns you may have for the Board may be directed to Executive Director, Amanda Gerken-Nelson ( who will pass them along to the Board’s Executive Committee.

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