A Final Word from Associate Director of Generosity & Communications, Deacon Lewis

“You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of our friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess”
Yesterday, it was announced that my position, and the Operations Support position, were eliminated at ELM. Amongst a backdrop of Pride celebrations at the same time as the Supreme Court wiped out the rights for persons of color and the queer community. In Brandi Carlile’s words, our collective “heads are a mess.” 
I spent the last 4.5 years on a journey, building up a movement, with my 400+ fellow queer seminarian & rostered ministry leaders- along with the thousands more queer & ally supporters from church pews to church councils to Churchwide. What an absolute joy & blessing. 
“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am”
It’s been the best & hardest ministry- overflowing in stories of a movement’s journey. When Amanda left ELM to begin her ministry with her congregation in Maine, at her goodbye reception I told her the Executive Director for ELM really serves as an unofficial Queer Lutheran Bishop. This persons serves as a leader of movement that advocates & offers support for 400+ vulnerable ministry leaders while partnering with other marginalized Lutheran communities in an effort to move the church towards liberation, using our collective bargaining power to lift up & raise awareness to things on a more macro level than what most individual pastors can give time & energy towards. I have been a humble participant & witness to this. 
However, this past year has been hard. The ELM staff has been overtasked trying to maintain and keep the ship afloat in lieu of having this unofficial Queer Bishop. As we’re all now aware, the new ED search happened at the same time when a major drop in giving occurred. ELM’s statement regarding Bishop Rohrer’s racist’s actions towards ELM staff & board members- remains the prime reason ELM is struggling and why Sharei and I are no longer able to do ministry at ELM. 
The irony is and what is ultimately so infinity hard about this ministry and every ministry, is that if ELM said nothing about the harm caused, we would be fine. But the new executive director would probably just now, be deep in the process of pulling Proclaim membership of the former Bishop and apologizing to the community for waiting so long to do so- years after the harmful actions happened, adding another apology in a litany of apologies to communities of color for once again ignoring harmful actions. It’s unfortunate that ELM broke the cycle of this harmful Lutheran pattern and had to pay a heavy price for living into its mission and values. 
And yet, I close my ministry with ELM with a deep heartfelt belief that queer ministry leaders will continue to change the church for the better. 
We still need Lutheran organizations that advocate for queer seminarian and ministry leaders. Ask any rural queer pastor seeking a call or who is currently in a call- there is still much more work to be done!
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as I did with ELM. I look forward to partnering with you, and ELM, in the movement forward.  
“I climbed across the mountaintops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby, I broke them all for you”
Blessings Beloved, 
Deacon Lewis


Deacon Lewis Eggleston (he/him) lives in Alexandria, VA with his husband and their pup, Carla. In his spare time (which I guess now is all the time), Lewis sings, a lot. He loves community theater, walks with the pup & husband, terrible tv, and great food with friends. 

Important Update From ELM Regarding Staff

Dear Community,

The ELM Board comes to you with hard news today. We regret to inform our community that due to our current financial situation, we have had to take immediate measures to ensure the continuation of our organization. 

Giving has significantly reduced from 2021 to 2023. ELM also saw a significant decline in donations after ELM’s call to anti-racist commitments following the actions of former Bishop Megan Rohrer towards Proclaim members, including board members and staff. The Board also takes accountability that donor connectivity with ELM decreased in the vacancy of an Executive Director since December 2021.

The measures we are taking to ensure the continuation of ELM include suspending the positions of Operations Coordinator and the Associate Director of Development & Communications at this time. The Board is in the process of issuing separation agreements with ELM staff members Sharei Green (she/her) and Deacon Lewis Eggleston (he/him), whose staff roles will end this month. 

We understand these measures have taken place at an unfortunate time while we honor Juneteenth and Pride Month. We regret the timing of this action, but found it necessary as the fiscal caretakers of the organization. 

We are grateful for the ministry of Sharei and Lewis and we lift up the years of service and the impact that each had on ELM. While Sharei and Lewis are no longer staff members at ELM, Sharei and Lewis will remain members of the Proclaim community.
You might wonder how we plan to fill those gaps in the meantime. The ELM board will continue to work tirelessly in support of ELM’s ministry and programs. The ELM board will continue to support the work of ELM’s Program Director, Olivia LaFlamme-Washington (they/them) and all LGTQ2IAS+ Lutheran ministry leaders and queer Lutheran movements. 

In the short-term, members of the Board of Directors are taking on all essential tasks in communications, development, and operations. The Board of Directors will be outlining additional volunteer roles to support the ongoing work of ELM and seeking faithful partners in those roles. 

ELM, in its predecessor organizations, began as a completely volunteer-led movement, and then operated for several years with a smaller staff. We have a rich history of faithful volunteers contributing to this critical ministry.  The visioning work that began with the conversations with Rozella and Chris through the LOVE report, and will continue with the Proclaim gathering, is just the beginning of what we trust will renew ELM through this season of ministry.

Financial support will be critical to sustaining and strengthening ELM for the future. The Board of Directors is reaching out to current and historic donors but also seeks to mobilize new donors and resources with interest in this powerful mission and work. We seek partnership in increasing financial investment in ELM’s ministry through all avenues. Please reach out to the ELM Board with any ideas on people and places to seek financial support.

Any specific questions at this time can be directed to board@elm.org.
Clyde Walter and Mycah McNett, ELM Board Co-Chairs,
in cooperation with the entire ELM Board of Directors

LOVE Report from RHW Consulting

Results of the LOVE Report from
Rozella Haydee White

ELM friends,

In Summer / Fall 2022, ELM contracted with Rozella Haydee White, The #LoveBigCoach, to conduct a survey and analysis to better understand ELM’s current state as an organization and also discern what ELM’s next chapter in ministry might hold. The survey process included 1-1 conversations with staff and Board members, group listening sessions with diverse stakeholder groups, and a broad-reaching survey sent to all ELM constituents. Over 120 people participated in this process. 

This winter Rozella delivered the following report and this spring Rozella met to review the report with the Board.

Highlights from the report include:

  • A key theme emerged throughout the surveying: there is significant grief that is present throughout the organization at-large. This grief is due to multiple factors outlined in the report.
  • There are differing thoughts about the vision, mission, and values of ELM. 
  • Many respondents had positive things to say about Olivia’s leadership as the Program Director. There is also confusion about the programs that ELM officially provides. Proclaim seems to be the only program that has an infrastructure and some clarity about purpose.  
  • There is confusion about what the work of the Board is and what is the responsibility of the staff. 
  • Many respondents believe that ELM’s commitment to anti-racism is critically important, however, there was not consensus in what this means for the organization writ large. 
  • Constituents at all levels are seeking stronger communication and connectivity.

From this research, numerous opportunities are named, numerous vulnerabilities are named, and Rozella offers considerations for ELM looking forward.

We hope you will take time to read the report and join us in continuing conversation and discernment about ELM’s future in ministry.

Mycah McNett and Clyde Walter
ELM Board Co-Chairs

LOVE Report – ELM

ELM Pride Blog Series: By Bishop Brenda Bos

We are Family!
By Bishop Brenda Bos

“We are Family! I got all my sistahs with me!” 

“We Are Family” was and is a beloved Pride anthem and a monster hit, rising up in the middle of my teenage years. Yes, children, I am THAT old. The age of disco may not have had cell phones, but we did have running water and cars, and on a Saturday night I might have taken a hot shower and gotten into my Ford Capri and gone dancing with my friends, many of whom, surprise, surprise, were gay men. 

This was the age of cocaine, which I did not use; I wasn’t even a drinker, but hyped up on Diet Coke and friendship, I danced and sang this anthem at the top of my lungs. 

“All the people around us they say 
‘Can they be that close?’
Just let me state for the record
We’ve giving love in a family dose.”

Yes, siblings in Christ, my fabulous rainbow clan, we are family. You may not know “She’s family” used to be code for “She’s queer too.” It came right after the lousy euphemism “My uncle has a friend” and before my least favorite, when we referred to partners as “lovers.” I mean, the term “lover” is a positive one, but always felt a little more illicit than I preferred. 

“No we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family jewel.”

OK, so this is a great gay anthem, always brings down the house. But WOW doesn’t have a compelling theological call? We are always trying to preach and teach we are the family of God, beloved children of our Heavenly Parent, Jesus is a brother and friend…. But most of us have experienced the true pain of not being family – either literally among our flesh and blood, or figuratively as we are not welcome in congregations, schools, peer groups, etc. To be honest, I never understand how people in the Lutheran church, steeped in the confessions of grace, can ever say I am not welcome among them. Am I not a beloved child of God? Are we not joined together as the Body of Christ? In Christ Jesus are we not all one? 

“We are family
Get up everybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family”

So the LGBTQ community embraced this song for all the right reasons (and the fact its always fun to say “Sister Sledge”!) and I pray someday the church will embrace this song fully too. Sing it loud and proud, beloveds: Because of God’s grace in your life, because of the power of the Holy Spirit:

“Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family jewel.” 
Adopted by God, beloved by our Creator. You are the jewel. You are the prize. You are family. 

Brenda Bos (she/her) is the first openly lesbian bishop elected in the ELCA. She serves the Southwest California Synod, whose territory sits on the homeland of eleven indigenous peoples and includes the Hollywood sign, “The Valley”, coastal cities, farmland and urban deserts. She and her wife Janis spend their free time hiking with their dogs and making their house more fun for their young granddaughter. 

ELM Pride Blog! By Kelsey Brown

A Higher Love!
By Rev. Kelsey Brown

Maybe it’s the fact that we share a birthday?

Two proud August Leos with sass and chaotic energy to prove it. 
Or that we’re both former East Coast/Black Church choir singers
Maybe It’s her troubled past or her love affair with her long-time best friend. 
But I have always felt incredibly connected to Whitney Houston 
Brought to my knees by her death and to standing ovation by her voice.
When I think about Pride, of the thump of techno beats and the freeness of shared space I feel fully myself. I can’t help but think about how much more free her life would have been if she was able to move and exist as her true self. What her future would have been if she was called beloved and not given over to the fame game to be chewed up and spit out. If she, like some of us would have listened to her heart and not the harshness of her family, of their church…. of societies expectations. 
The first time I heard “higher love” by Kygo and Whitney Houston I was in awe! The words were moving of course but coupled with the dance beat – something just settled in my spirit. I was equal parts ready to find my rightful place in the middle of a gay bar dance floor to belt my face off and to burst into tears. 
“Think about it.
There must be a higher love.
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above.
Without it, life is wasted time.
Look inside your heart, and I’ll look inside mine
Things look so bad everywhere.
In the whole world, what is fair?
We walk the line and try to see.
Failing behind in what could be, oh.
Bring me a higher love!
Bring me a higher love, oh! 
Bring me a higher love! 
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?”
Isn’t that what we want friends? In the middle of this dumpster fire of a world – a higher love. A love that transcends any barriers, that transports us to the stars above. 
Don’t we want a world filled with more fairness – a full life and not a wasted one. 
I know in this community, of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and its programmatic branch, Proclaim I have been able to find this “higher love”. This love that uplifts and supports. This love that stretches and pulls towards. Full belly laughter coupled with the dark humor of “I’ve been through that before, here’s how to make it out the other side.”  I have loved our comradery, the both/and, the joy and the sorrow.
I have loved you. Each of you. For the gifts you bring to our community and for the hope you bring to our Church. 
Yet sadly, the Church continues to have debates about us without us. The world has perverted Christ’ message of welcome and care for the other to mean just some, or only people who look, think, and act like we want them to. Well… today instead of wishing them a few choice words I wish them a higher love – a more expansive view. I wish them what we have found to be true, that queerness and transness are gifts given by God – that our belovedness is not despite of our identities but because God created us to be so and in turn calls us beloved. I wish them that kind of love – the love we’ve been dreaming of. 

Rev. Kelsey Brown (she/her) describes herself as sometimes funny, frequently anxious, and completely committed to the liberation of all marginalized persons. Hailing from Suffolk County, Long Island, New York – she comes equipped with the accent & attitude to back it up. In her free time Pastor Kelsey can be found at the beach with a book of spoken word poetry, breaking it down on the dance floor, and exploring with Christian ritual creation. She believes with her full heart that God’s delight in diversity is call for us all to embrace the fullness of humanity.

ELM Pride Series Blog: Kyle Hanson

Feeling Mighty REAL!
By Kyle Hanson

Coming out in the 1980’s in South Dakota was not an easy task. I vividly remember sneaking over to the one gay bar in town, parking my car blocks away, and going through the double security doors that revealed what seemed like Oz at the time.

I remember fondly the joy of dancing and the freedom that came with the beats of music. It felt safe, it felt like I had found my people, and we danced for hours on end. One song in particular stands out to me, the Jimmy Sommerville version of an old Sylvester song “You make me feel (Mighty Real)”.

The lyrics sing out “You make me feel mighty real” and at the end of the song it repeats “I feel real, I feel real, I feel real.”  And I did feel real, for the first time in my life.

As I have grown older, I am discovering that I miss the freedom of dancing, the ability to let it all go and be part of a rhythm that is communal, larger than us.

This week the Human Rights Campaign issued a State of Emergency for the LGBTQIA2S+ Community. Alongside the warning they issued a guidebook to help people navigate the laws and dangers as people live and travel within the United States. My fear is that these places of safety are disappearing and people’s ability to be REAL, to be fully themselves is under attack and in many places being real is dangerous.

My faith calls us to action for those around us who are in real danger, who just for being authentically themselves, created in God’s image, are literally and figuratively under attack. I am proud to live in Minnesota, a state that has taken a stand to become a refuge for people seeking gender affirming care. 

As we enter Pride month and our celebrations and our dancing, let us not forget that our freedom to be real is not guaranteed. Feeling mighty real, and loved by our creator, is not something that everyone experiences. I know first hand what it feels like to not be able to be your authentic self, to feel judged by the church, and to have to hide who you are. I also know the great joy in discovering that we are loved as we are, that we are celebrated unconditionally, and that in turn we can turn that love and acceptance outward to the world. The end of Sylvesters Song whips into a bit of a frenzy, and I remember spinning and singing and dancing- Make me feel – mighty real, You make me feel mighty real, I feel Real- I feel real- I feel Real. My prayers today are that YOU feel real, and that you can know the joy of fully accepting yourself for who you are. 

Happy Pride!

Pastor Kyle Hanson (He/Him/His) was ordained in 2020 and is currently serving St James Lutheran Church in Crystal as an associate Pastor. Kyle is also the Executive Director of Agate Housing and Services, an organization that shelters, feeds and supports people experiencing homelessness. https://agatemn.org

Kyle and his husband John are celebrating 20 years together this summer and live in Minneapolis with their children Jace and Henry.

ELM Pride Series Blog: by Mo Goff

I’m Coming Out – A Psalm by Diana Ross
By Mo Goff

I. Love. Disco! The Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire, Rick James, Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, and of course, The Village People… I loved all of it, especially back in the day! Disco music transported me—this nerdy, toe-headed, closeted, awkward teenage queer in a small town in the rural South—away to a fantastical place that only disco could… to a place where I could be me. And no artist did it better than the incomparable Diana Ross with her anthem: I’m Coming Out! The lyrics took on a psalmic quality for me.

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show

There’s a new me coming out
And I just have to live
And I want to give
I’m completely positive
I think this time around
I am gonna do it
Like you never knew it
Oh, I’ll make it through

It was released at a liminal time for the queer community. By 1980, the queer community had claimed important moments in our civil rights movement—first Pride celebrations, Stonewall Riots, ReconcilingWorks predecessor founded—and suffered terrible backlashes—Harvey Milk’s assassination and Anita Bryant… the AIDS genocide was just around the corner. And, in 1980, in this time and in this place where I existed, it was still painful to be gay, and it was not safe to be queer. But I had Diana Ross who gave me space, who transfigured me, who let me dream of an embodied inconceivable reality…

The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I am coming out

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

And, that is what I remember most about that period in my life. The hope that someday I could come out and that it would be amazing. In truth, it was not for another twenty plus years that I did come out, and it was amazing… and it was awful. That’s how it often can be for folx in our queer community. We achieve significant moments of affirmation followed by moments of cruel setbacks, but we persevere because we have to!

I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show (I’m coming
I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show

I’ve got to show the world
All that I want to be
And all my abilities
There’s so much more to me
Somehow, I’ll have to make them
Just understand
I got it well in hand
And, oh, how I’ve planned
I’m spreadin’ love
There is no need to fear
And I just feel so good
Every time I hear

And now, again, beloveds, the queer community is under threat. We are being circled by that loud, ravenous lion. From coast to coast and in faraway places, man-made works are underway to wipe away what God has made, to erase us, Imago Dei! All this because we audaciously exist, coming out loving who we do, and being who we are, even though some go to extremes to stop us from our Pride…

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show
I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show (I’m coming)
I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show

It’s June y’all! Pride is upon us! Now is the time to celebrate who we are and to be transported to that wonderful promise again! With the Holy Spirit leading the way, with Christ within us, and with our Creator by our side, we will trust and do the work. We will persist because God is with us, and so we will persevere!

I’m, I’m coming out
I have to shout that I’m comin’ out
I want the world to know, I gotta let it show
I’m coming, I’m coming out


Mo Goff (he/him) just completed his second year as an MDiv student at United Lutheran Seminary and is an endorsed candidate pursuing ordination in Word and Sacrament under the care of the Delaware-Maryland Synod. Before seminary, he worked in politics and public policy in Washington, DC. He and his husband, Rev. Shawn Brandon, reside outside of Annapolis, MD, with their dog, Lola, and cat, Eve.