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

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“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. 

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