An Update from the ELM Board of Directors!

Greetings from the ELM Board of Directors!

Thank you for the extraordinary support you continue to provide ELM and the LGBTQIA+ leaders we serve! Your ongoing commitment to our organization inspires and empowers us to continue in our belief that the public witness of gender and sexual minority ministers transforms the church and enriches the world.

No doubt, you will not be surprised to hear that 2020 has been a year unlike any in the recent history of ELM. Some of the plans and priorities we set at the start of this year have had to be paused or delayed in getting going as our Board and staff adapted to the realities of a global pandemic.

Canceling the 2020 Proclaim Gathering was a hard and sad decision to make — the staff and many of the Proclaim members and Spice (Spouses of Proclaim members) on the Board know how integral that event is to the sustained care and celebration of our community. We are proud of the ELM staff and volunteers for the ways they have continued to buoy our community through creative programming and unceasing advocacy.

This fall, the ELM Board of Directors made significant progress in our strategic planning efforts as we look to discern ELM’s mission and vision in our current time and context. We engaged a visioning consultant as well as strategic conversation partners to help our Board and staff articulate both who ELM is and how we engage our mission in the church and in the world today as well as into the next five years. We are excited to share the results of our work with you in the new year!

ELM is an organization that takes anti-oppression seriously and strives to be anti-racist in all of the ways we engage both our ELM community and the wider community of the church and world. As such, the ELM Board underwent the first of a two-part training on ableism at our fall retreat and we continue our efforts to interrogate and review existing policies and practices while at the same time creating new organizational documents that help to articulate our values and give shape to how we function as a staff, Board, and community.

We are thrilled that the ELM Endowment will be making its first grants this winter to ministry partners who share ELM’s commitment to lifting up and supporting queer ministries and leaders. The ELM Board anticipates receiving recommendations from the ELM Endowment Committee (Peter Beeson, Amanda Gerken-Nelson, Jim Kowalski — chair, Margaret Moreland, and Margarette Ouji) at our December meeting with announcements and grants offered in early 2021. Thank you to Blanche Grube and Joe McMahon, who rest in light eternal, for their love and shared belief in our mission that inspired them to set the foundation for this Endowment. And, our thanks go to all of you who have ELM as part of your estate plan who will continue to make bold, faithful, queer ministries possible for years to come!

Finally, our thanks to our fellow ELM Board of Directors for their dedication, passion, and wisdom which help to fan the flame of our movement and to ensure ELM remains the beacon of hope, liberation, and justice for all queer leaders we strive to be.

With joy,

Emily Ann Garcia, Co-Chair

Matthew James, Co-Chair

The ELM Board of Directors

Emily Ann Garcia, Co-Chair

Vancouver, BC

Matthew James, Co-Chair

Racine, WI

JM Longworth, Secretary

Rutland, VT

Jan Peterson, Treasurer

Omaha, NE

Kelsey Brown

Brooklyn, NY

Jessica Davis

Norristown, PA

Emily E. Ewing

Des Moines, IA

Jeff Johnson

Berkeley, CA

Margarette Ouji

Berkeley, CA

Suzannah Porter

Baltimore, MD

Clyde Andrew Walter

Glenview, IL

A Post-Election Pastoral Letter by ELM Executive Director, Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson

On Holy Saturday, when believers find ourselves in the liminal space of “Yes! And, not yet!” we have a tradition of gathering for a great vigil. With the elements of fire and water to accompany us, we allow the grief and unknowing of the moment to take refuge in the company of the communion of saints, as we, together, nestle into the great wonder and mystery of God.

It is in this tender moment when we retell the stories of our faith that remind us that it is God who created us into being! It is God who parted the seas and liberated her people! It is God who breathed new life into dry bones! It is God who saved Daniel in the den!

It is God who is the great, creative wonder of the universe that raised Christ from death to life!

We locate ourselves in this narrative not simply as a tonic for our temporary woes. We locate ourselves in this great narrative to settle into the truth of God’s reign, which is from everlasting to everlasting.

Throughout God’s narrative, there have been kings and rulers and presidents — some great and some greedy. And, none of them are the saviors of the world; that is Christ alone.

We should not seek to find Christ in Caesar’s palace — Christ has not and will never reside there.

Christ resides with the poor and the desolate. Christ marches in the uprisings for Black lives. Christ huddles with the caged children in their cells. Christ tends to the under-employed and uninsured. Christ dwells with those without house or home.

It is there we will find Christ in the world — where we will find real truth and hope and purpose. 

This neither dismisses our duty to vote nor our strong calling to participate in the systems that govern our daily lives — those are acts of Christian love that seek to ensure that the Christian values of radical love and justice are embodied in those systems which have so much responsibility and power over God’s people — the very people with whom Christ resides.

Embedding ourselves in the great narrative of God and reminding ourselves of Christ’s presence in the world is a practice not meant to admonish our actions but to ground them.

No matter the queen or ruler or president who resides in Caesar’s palace, “Our soul waits for the Lord; they are our help and shield. Our heart is glad in them, because we trust in their holy name. Let your steadfast love, O God, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 30:20-22)

“The Art of Enduring, For Holy Saturday” by Jan Richardson

This blessing

can wait as long

as you can.


This blessing

began eons ago

and knows the art

of enduring.

This blessing

has passed

through ages

and generations,

witnessed the turning

of centuries,

weathered the spiraling

of history.

This blessing

is in no rush.

This blessing

will plant itself

by your door.

This blessing

will keep vigil

and chant prayers.

This blessing

will bring a friend

for company.

This blessing

will pack a lunch

and a thermos

of coffee.

This blessing

will bide

its sweet time

until it hears

the beginning

of breath,

the stirring

of limbs,

the stretching,



of what had lain

dead within you

and is ready

to return.

Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her/hers) — Amanda has not missed participating in an election since turning 18. Amanda gives thanks to her elders and comrades who have paved the paths for her right to vote, for agency over her body, to live publicly out, to be legally married, and to start a family.