ELM Statement from the
Board of Directors
At its regularly called meeting on December 16, 2021, the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Board of Directors decided to suspend the membership of Bishop Meghan Rohrer in the ELM Proclaim community and events. This is a response to an existing pattern of behavior from Bishop Rohrer that misaligns with ELM’s Mission, Vision, and Values (click here to read), specifically as it pertains to being an anti-racist organization. This suspension is not only a response to recent harm done by the Sierra Pacific Synod Council and Bishop Rohrer to the Latinx community in Stockton, CA. This is a decision that ELM staff and Board have beendiscerning for much of 2021, leading to the creation of a formal ELM Accountability Team and process. The Accountability Team has attempted to work with Bishop Rohrer to specifically address how the bishop’s racist words and actions have harmed members of the ELM staff, board, and community. In September, Bishop Rohrer declined the Accountability Team’s invitation for continued work to repair these relationships.
If and when Bishop Rohrer decides to re-engage with Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, they should communicate directly with the co-chairpersons of the Board, currently Margarette Ouji and Michael Wilker. Bishop Rohrer’s suspension means that ELM will not include their name on ELM and Proclaim communications. ELM will not invite Bishop Rohrer to events sponsored solely by ELM. Additionally, ELM will be creating a new Facebook group for Proclaim’s trans affinity group, which is unaffiliated with any Facebook group that Bishop Rohrer has created or moderated in the past. We have requested that Bishop Rohrer remove references to ELM Proclaim membership in their publications, biographies, articles, and reports to the best of their ability until they work with the Accountability Team to repair the relationships with the ELM staff, Board, and Proclaim community.
ELM Proclaim members can expect communication in the coming days from the Board co-chairs and ELM staff about opportunities for conversation about these decisions.
In planning a public statement, the Accountability Team recognized that an explanation was warranted as to why ELM’s inaugural accountability process would be engaging a (the first) trans Bishop. It is true that there have been cis, straight Bishops whose actions and behaviors have warranted conversation and accountability. It is not lost on us, as an organization advocating for queer inclusion in the church for 30+ years, that the election of a trans Bishop was a dream for some until now. We have two things to offer this complex and valid confusion regarding our motivation. First, Bishop Rohrer has been a community member of our organization Proclaim. Valuing all of our members means that we intend to seek repair and reconciliation with every one of them. The accountability process (a vessel for reconciliation) is, fundamentally, an act of care. We believe that care should start within our own community. The second offering is to consider timing. ELM has not previously been the kind of organization that prioritized being in right relationship with one another in this way. Until recently, we have not had the explicit values or demonstrated capacity to facilitate an accountability process of this magnitude. ELM’s articulated commitment to anti-racist action contains a spiritual mandate to address the dynamic of race within our own community. What is required has changed, and what the organization can support has changed.
Both of these things propelled the choice to engage in a process meant to bring about right relationship and repair the harm that has been done intra-communally. Although Bishop Rohrer was the first person we have invited to this process, they will not be the last. Accountability is affixed as a pillar of ELM’s pursuit of justice.
We hope and pray that ELM and Bishop Rohrer can work together to repair our relationships and proclaim together the liberating, life-giving gospel of Jesus Christ. We trust that in God’s abundant grace, we may do so again someday.
Margarette Ouji, Board Co-Chair
Rev. Michael Wilker, Board Co-Chair
para leer esta declaración en español, haga clic aquí: