Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries
Associate Director of Development and Communications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – September 20, 2018
“Proclaim” Community for LGBTQIA+ Lutheran Ministers & Candidates Celebrates 300 Members
CHICAGO, IL: Proclaim, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries’ (ELM) professional community for publicly identified gender and sexual minority ministers and candidates, has reached 300 members. To celebrate, ELM has launched the #Proclaim300 campaign to raise support, awareness, and funds. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries believes the public witness of gender and sexual minority ministers transforms the church and enriches the world.
On September 20, 2018, Proclaim celebrated reaching 300 members when Sergio Rodriguez (he/him/his), a seminarian at Wartburg Theological Seminary, joined the community.
The son of immigrants, Rodriguez says a mentor at a church in San Antonio “…reaffirmed my dignity as a gay Mexican Lutheran and made me aware that God calls people to ministry regardless of where they are in their lives, their gender, their sexuality, and their race.”
Rodriguez recalls, “When a classmate of mine encouraged me to join Proclaim, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was God gathering me to a community of fellow believers and leaders to join them in proclaiming the Gospel…that all may know the all-inclusive love of God.”
Says ELM Executive Director Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson, “We rejoice in the growth of Proclaim! This is an enormous milestone for our organization and for the church – this means there are 300 publicly-out LGBTQIA+ leaders who are dedicating their lives to calls of public ministry! This means that LGTBQIA+ folks are feeling more and more free and able to say ‘yes’ to God’s call – even in a church that for so long said ‘no’ to their leadership.”
ELM was founded in 2007 as a merger between Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries (LLGM) and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP), which for years ordained LGBTQIA+ ministers “extraordinarily,” outside the bounds of the ELCA’s official doctrine, which did not allow it.
In 2009, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America changed their policy to allow gender and sexual minorities to serve the church as out and partnered ministers. Even still, congregations can refuse to consider ministry candidates because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and LGBTQIA+ ministry candidates continue to face barriers and prejudice.
ELCA Bishop Kirby Unti of the Northwest Washington Synod reflects on the gifts of Proclaim members: “The church has entered a time when what we need are effective adaptive leaders. Our LGBTQIA+ ministers tend to be some of our best adaptive leaders. Their lives have relied upon adaptive sensibilities in order to thrive.”
Says ELCA Bishop William Gohl, “From Appalachia to the inner city, in suburbia and specialized ministries, Proclaim rostered ministers are blessing our Delaware-Maryland Synod with gifts that cultivate the more-inclusive and diverse communities for which this church prays and aspires to. I am grateful for the partnership of #Proclaim300 colleagues who are serving, that all the world may know the redeeming love of God in Christ, for all – without exceptions.”
To meet the needs of a growing Proclaim community – increased by 50% in the past 3 years – ELM’s #Proclaim300 campaign aims to raise 300 gifts of $300 by October 31, 2018 (Reformation Day), totalling $90,000.
“ELM’s goal is to continue to support Proclaimers at all stages of ministry,” says Gerken-Nelson. “A gift at any level is a blessing. We are grateful for the many who make these ministries possible!”
In addition to facilitating the Proclaim professional community, ELM’s Accompaniment program provides individualized guidance, mentorship, and resources for publicly identified Lutheran LGBTQIA+ ministers and candidates. ELM’s Ministry Engagement program advocates for these leaders by advising on church policy and equipping churchwide leadership, seminaries, congregations, allied nonprofits, and other organizations to employ and embrace Proclaim members.
Follow #Proclaim300 on social media September 17-23, 2018 to see and hear stories about the gifts of LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, plus) ministers through videos, images, personalized fundraisers, and testimonials.
For more information: www.elm.org
Follow #Proclaim300 Week Sept 17-23, 2018: www.FB.com/extraordinarylutheranministries
Contribute to the #Proclaim300 Campaign: www.elm.org/donate-now
Images for use:
“Sergio Rodriguez” (courtesy of Rodriguez)
“Proclaim300” (courtesy of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries)
“1 of 300” (courtesy of Emily Ann Garcia Photography, for ELM)
By: Sergio Rodriguez, Proclaim’s 300th member
From ELM: We did it! Proclaim (ELM’s professional community of publicly identified LGBTQIA+ ministers and candidates) just hit 300! Join us in a bold welcome to Sergio Rodriguez, Proclaim’s 300th member.
I must from the outset thank and praise our Triune God for the grace which brought us all here together for ministry in our world today. This message of the grace of God in Christ Jesus continues to shape and mold our communities from which God calls us and will call others like us to ministry.
Growing up the gay son of two Mexican immigrants, the notion that God would call anyone outside the sexual and gender norms of our Mexican-American society seemed contrary to God’s will. Though I loved Jesus, his mother Mary, and the church, I found myself at odds with the wider Roman Catholic institution because of my sexuality. While this effectively made me leave the church during my high school years, I found myself returning to the Roman Catholic church as I studied at Baylor University.
At Baylor University, I felt God called me to serve the capacity as a minister of the church and to test this out. I became the chaplain of two music organizations; the Baylor University Marching Band and Kappa Kappa Psi.
Despite serving in this capacity, I still resented my sexuality and found myself hungering for a God who would simply accept me for who I was and who I wanted to be.
During my senior year of college, God showed me the message of radical and inclusive grace for all through my studies of Dr. Luther’s works, conversation, and conversion to Lutheranism.
At that time, I felt that I needed to wait before I dived right into word and sacrament ministry. From the end of college up to this present day, I managed to complete a Master’s of the Arts in Theology from Concordia Theological Seminary, switch from the LC-MS to the ELCA, and move to San Antonio where I briefly studied Marriage and Family Therapy.
About two years ago, the weight of these changes finally took their spiritual toll on me as I contemplated giving up the idea of being a rostered word and sacrament leader in the ELCA.
I felt that I was unable to find an affirming congregation that would also attend to my identity as a Latinx Lutheran. Precisely at that moment, God made me aware of Gethsemane Lutheran Church and Jesus Maestro church in San Antonio where I met my future pastoral supervisor and Spiritual Father who awakened in me that call I felt so many years ago in college.
Moreso, he reaffirmed my dignity as a gay Mexican Lutheran and made me aware that God calls people to ministry regardless of where they are in their lives, their gender, their sexuality, and their race.
So when a classmate of mine encouraged me to join Proclaim, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that it was God gathering me to a community of fellow believers and leaders to join them in proclaiming the Gospel of our Crucified and Risen Lord that all may know the all-inclusive love of God!
Bio: Sergio Rodriguez (he/him/his) Growing up in the Texas borderlands in an immigrant household, my parents raised me to be aware of how the border defined our identities, culture, and lives as children of God. While my formative years were spent growing up in socially conservative Mexican household in McAllen, TX, I found affirmation, mercy, and unconditional love amongst my fellow musicians, religion majors, and friends at Baylor University.
Though I continued to struggle to integrate my Latinx identity with my faith, I felt God calling me in the midst of an emotionally difficult time of my life during my senior year of college to a position of leadership knowing full well the lucha that people of color face in the church.
Unbeknownst to me as I navigated through the institution of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod, God needed me to mature, develop, grow and learn further about what radical grace means for all people today.
Rather than be disingenuous to my God-given identity as a Latinx believer, I left the Missouri Synod while I finished a Master’s in Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary because God showed me the depth, the breath and the height of the love of Christ for all people with no exception to gender, race, sexuality, age, creed, capacity or the like
After taking a year off following graduation and moving to San Antonio, God kindled in me the passion, the confidence and knowledge for being a leader in the church for the sake of the world and moved me to start the candidacy process for rostered word and sacrament ministry. As I progress through my studies at Wartburg Theological seminary and candidacy process, God has continued to assure me there is no more certain calling for me than to proclaim Christ crucified for the sake of the world in word, sacrament, and deed.
By: Pastor Gus Barnes, Jr., Proclaim Member
The call began in the mid- sixties. Our family relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city that was healing from racial riots (and still has issues even in 2018). We rented a third story flat owned at the time by a LCA (Lutheran Church of America) pastor who was African American.
Upon an invitation to Lutheran Church of the Epiphany, now called All People’s, my brother Mark and I found ourselves playing church! Of course back then I was the presiding minister because I remembered all of the parts and I could sing! This church’s invitation welcomed me into the Lutheran fellowship, because I was baptized Baptist.
This church groomed me to serve God’s people even though it was healing from the darkness of the racial riots. I served in many capacities in those years including becoming the first person of color to hold the office of Council President.
As attendance and membership declined, we collectively decided to give the building away so that a new congregation could begin. Epiphany offered me a full scholarship to Wartburg College and to Wartburg Seminary. As excited as I was about the offer, I turned it down… I felt the church was not ready for a man of color who also discovered he was gay.
The call continued as I attempted to identify my identity within a Black community that did not accept “homosexuality,” so my few relationships were with white men who “did not see color.” This acceptance was very difficult for my father, who blamed it on my mother’s side of the family: my uncle was gay and we did not talk about it.
After Church of the Epiphany closed, I journeyed to find where my sexuality and faith was welcomed. In 2000, I sang for a wedding at Reformation Lutheran in Milwaukee. After the service, Pastor Mick Roschke informed me that they were welcoming new members the following Sunday. My response was, “Ok! Ok what!?
I told him that I was waiting for a church to ask me to join! This, friends, holds true today: people are waiting to be asked and invited back to church!
I served this congregation faithfully for ten years until a change in leadership in 2010 assured that two of us would be let go. Sadly, I was one. The other was Director of Music, also gay. I served the Greater Milwaukee Synod since we became the ELCA, serving at three Church-wide gatherings- 2009, 2011, and 2013.
The sense of call became stronger and when my mother’s life ended in the spring of 2012. I enrolled at Wartburg Seminary with the assistance of a church who supported me. Year one was difficult due to a seminarian who wanted to “pray the gay away.” Thanks be to God, I finished in five years!
The call continues! I married my spouse Steve in 2017, graduated in May of 2018, accepted a call at Luther Memorial in Delevan, Wisconsin, with Ordination coming on September 15, 2018. Luther Memorial is a Reconciling in Christ congregation. I cherish the name Gus because I am one of G.od’s U.nique, S.ervants. Thanks be to God!
Bio: Gus Barnes, Jr. (He/Him/His) I will be ordained on September 15, 2018 by Bishop Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld, the ELCA’s second-ever African American woman pastor elected as Bishop. I will be her first ordained as an African American man who is openly gay, in an interracial marriage.
By Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson, ELM Executive Director
Two weeks ago I had the joy of traveling to the Bay Area of California to meet friends and supporters of ELM. Some of these folks I had met before while I was a student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) in Berkeley, and many were long-time supporters and old friends of ELM who are becoming new friends of mine!
As we sat around kitchen tables, I could barely contain my excitement to tell them that Proclaim anticipates welcoming its 300th member this fall!
“I just can’t believe it.” “Well isn’t that just amazing!”
These were just a few of the reactions to the news.
You see, many of these supporters have been a part of our movement since day one. Many of them attended the first Extraordinary Ordinations of Jeff, Ruth, and Phyllis in San Francisco in 1990; many of them served on the Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries Board, the grants committee, and even the West Coast candidacy committee for the Extraordinary Candidacy Project; many of them were present the multiple times our Churchwide body took up the conversation of LGBTQIA+ welcome and some were even arrested for their public, peaceful resistance. Piqued your interest? You can learn more here: www.elm.org/history/
For many of them, 300 members of Proclaim (meaning 300 publicly-out LGBTQIA+ seminarians, pastors, and deacons who have made a commitment to public leadership in our church) was only a dream!
We celebrated this momentous occasion, and we also took time to reflect on the process of how we’ve gotten to this point. I was quick to remind them that we got here because of them! Because of you!
Because of people who have believed in and adored LGBTQIA+ pastors with their whole hearts for years and have supported ELM and our ministry to support and advocate for gender and sexual minorities in our church!
As ELM celebrates #Proclaim300 and gears up to mark the milestone with #Proclaim300 Week Sept 17-23, I am so grateful to all of our supporters who have gotten us to this point and made this occasion possible!
While in California, I was also able to meet with communities who had helped to form me while I was a student at PLTS. And, it was my pleasure to share with them the story of Proclaim and ELM, and our joy at our accomplishments.
Thanks for ALL the ways you are joining us in this celebration! Will you forward this e-mail to help others support #Proclaim300? Could you make an ask to help us get to our goal of 300 gifts of $300, or consider a special gift yourself at www.elm.org/donate-now?
#Proclaim300 is a time to celebrate and thank those early movers and shakers and donors in our movement who paved the way for our 300th member to join our community.
#Proclaim300 is a time to go wild with joy for the community Proclaim is nurturing.
#Proclaim300 is a time to tell the story of how important ministries like Proclaim are for LGBTQIA+ leaders and for our church as a whole.
Bio: Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her/hers) got married this summer – that’s why her name has changed! Surrounded by those they love, Amanda and Tasha committed their lives and love to each on a small farm in Maine. Now they are planning a honeymoon to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia – if you have recommendations, they’d love to hear them!
Pictured: St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco made a special cake for Amanda’s visit & preaching, and gave a #Proclaim300 gift to honor the occasion!
By Allison Bengfort, Proclaim Member
What is the Proclaim Gathering? ELM’s annual Proclaim Gathering was held August 5-8, 2018 at Pearlstone Retreat Center outside Baltimore, MD. The Gathering brings together members of Proclaim (ELM’s professional community for publicly identified LGBTQIA+ Lutheran rostered ministers and candidates) and their families, for a time of renewal, community building, and professional development as publicly identified leaders.
I am new to Proclaim – just joined in April. As a seminary student at LSTC, I was aware of Proclaim’s presence and had heard good things, but it wasn’t until I entered the first call process that my need to join became apparent. In the midst of ignorant comments in interviews and losing call opportunities because of my orientation, I needed a community. Apart from initial welcome emails, this year’s Gathering was my introduction to the community. I am pleased to say that I went away from the experience excited about new friendships, inspired by the idea of queerness as central to Christianity, and heartened by the potential of this group of leaders. The Gathering exceeded my expectations, but more importantly, it offered something I hadn’t expected.
In the world of clinical social work, which is my background, we talk about something called “unconditional positive regard.” Unconditional positive regard is an intentional, emotional posture that the best therapists extend to their clients. As its name implies, unconditional positive regard assumes the best in the client. It assumes that the client is inherently good, worthy, and worthwhile. It is able to separate misguided choices and challenging behaviors from who the person is deep down. It is essentially a clinical description of love and grace.
While I had experienced unconditional positive regard from outstanding therapists, until the Gathering, I had never experienced this posture from an entire community of people, all at once. I felt it extended to me in conversations about my difficulties in the call process, in theological discussions about problematic aspects of Lutheran theology, and in conversations about bisexuality and being “queer enough.” I witnessed it being extended to others in sessions on polyamory that challenged more traditional views, in worship services that intentionally included expansive language, and in day-to-day interactions in which both friends and strangers were deeply seen and accepted. Experiencing this openness and radical acceptance made me want to participate in it – want to reciprocate and extend this attitude to others. It made it so much easier to turn to my neighbor and offer them the same attention and acceptance.
Ideally, this experience of communal unconditional positive regard would be the mark of the church. Can you imagine congregation members feeling this way every Sunday morning or at every church event?! Talk about changing the world. Of course, this is not the case at many churches, and it is also important to recognize that my experience of the Proclaim Gathering was likely not universal. That being said, I truly believe that this community of leaders has something powerful to offer. Our experience as queer people has taught us the importance unconditional positive regard, and God has empowered us to offer it to others. Thank you all for extending this unexpected gift to me.
Bio: Allison Bengfort (she/her/hers) is an approved candidate for ordination, currently assigned to the Metro Chicago Synod. Born and raised in the Midwest, Allison moved to Seattle in 2016 for a final-year internship and loved the area so much, she decided to stay while she awaits call. Allison holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Olaf College, a Master of Social Work from the University of Chicago, and a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. As a bisexual woman, Allison is passionate about dismantling systems of oppression in the church and the larger world. While awaiting her first call as a pastor, Allison stays busy teaching violin lessons, working at a church preschool, and playing lots of Ultimate Frisbee.
Photos by Emily Ann Garcia
By: Br. Matta Ghaly, CSJC, ELM Board Member, Justice & Recruitment Convener
ELM is responding to the Holy Spirit’s call by growing into an intersectional organization and a beloved community that is shaped by diverse experiences. I have known Rev. Shannon to be a gifted pastor, wise teacher and vocal supporter of LGBTQIA+ ministers. Her voice and experience will enrich our witness to the gospel and justice-making labor in God’s kin-dom. Read on to learn more:
The Rev. Angela Lynn Shannon grew up in a law enforcement family in Gary, Indiana. Pastoral ministry is her second career but first love and calling. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology/criminal justice from Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana. Rev. Shannon graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago in June 1996 and was ordained January 12, 1997, the feast day of the baptism of our Lord at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Gary, IN. She has served congregations in Indiana, Ohio and Texas. She has served as Dean of Student Life of Luther Seminary, St Paul, MN.
Rev. Shannon is the national Vice-President for the African Descent Lutheran Association. For over twenty years she has been involved in ecumenical and interfaith conversation at home and abroad. A self-described, church “blerd,” she loves liturgy and theology.
However, her driving passion is the ministry of reconciliation. As such, she is trained in conflict transformation. Says Rev. Shannon: “My deepest hope is that we will deepen our empathy for one another in these very odd times and restore hope. To engage a sustainable reconciliation, we must take a middle step towards each other.”
Rev. Shannon is a tireless bridge-builder whose vision invites us into multi-issue and collaborative work with other associations and communities. Along with the rest of the ELM Board, please join me in welcoming Rev. Angela Shannon!
Bio: Br. Matta Ghaly, CSJC. (all pronouns) is a candidate for the ministry of Word and sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and currently serves as vicar at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN. Along with a passion for congregational ministry, Matta feels a deep call to the@logical education and serves as adjunct faculty for Islamic and Quranic Studies at The Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, CA. In the midst of laboring, Matta is spiritually replenished through religious life as a Brother of the Community of Saint John Cassian (CSJC), a vowed apostolic community under the Episcopal Church. Matta is married to Rev. Sonny Graves (United Church of Christ), and finds a lot of joy in travelling, writing and teaching, composing multi-religious music, exploring unfamiliar food scenes and brewing delicious coffee.
I’ve made academia my home. The classroom was the birthplace of my intellectual curiosity, my understanding of my identities, and my passion for liberation. I felt like I could never know enough, could never read enough, and always pushed myself to integrate every piece into my larger worldview; constantly evolving. Then it became time for me to shift to become a knowledge-producer. I had to ask myself what do YOU think? What are the connections YOU are seeing? How do you articulate something that hasn’t been said before? This process tested everything I thought I knew about myself. It was really hard. I realized that I didn’t trust myself or what I knew and I definitely didn’t believe that I had something unique to contribute (hello, imposter syndrome!).
It was like BOOM! One day I woke up and just realized that I have something important to say. Thanks to the faith that I have in powers bigger than this world, I know it was no coincidence. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries came to me on the coattails of that moment. I finally felt like I could say 100% yes, I have something to offer here and I’m confident in casting a vision. I’m still an academic at heart, but I think that takes many forms. Knowledge is everywhere, and I want to practice what I know in as many ways as possible. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn from ELM as well as contribute to its strengthening and growth. Thank you!
We’ve got news for you.
We’re fresh off the recent Proclaim Gathering near Baltimore Aug 5-8, 2018 bringing together over 60 LGBTQIA+ pastors, seminarians, and rostered leaders for a time of learning and community. On our final day, we announced big news we can now share with everyone.
Drumroll please… (click below video!)
Proclaim is approaching 300 members! And we’re kicking off a campaign to mark this momentum:
What is #Proclaim300?
Proclaim (ELM’s professional community for Lutheran pastors, rostered ministers, and those preparing for rostered ministry who publicly identify as LGBTQIA+) is growing exponentially! In September 2015, we reached our 200th member, and just three years later in 2018, we are approaching our 300th member. Wow!
Together, we will mark this momentum with:
1) A three-month visibility and fundraising campaign August- October 2018, helping a wider community know about ELM, including opportunities to financially support the increased membership of Proclaim and future of ELM, with a goal of 300 gifts of $300.
2) A week of celebration and gratitude September 17-23, 2018, sharing online about extraordinary gifts of LGBTQIA+ leaders, honoring those who have gone before us, offering prayers for a messy and beautiful community of God, naming barriers and triumphs faced by LGBTQIA+ people in the church, and inviting others to learn more about ELM and Proclaim.
What are our Goals for #Proclaim300?
#Proclaim300 has three main goals:
- Celebrate ELM’s Proclaim community. Raise each other up.
- Build the momentum. Raise friends.
- Grow our support! Raise funds.
What are we asking you?
- Celebrate your colleagues and partners in ministry. Thank a mentor, send love to a Proclaimer, enjoy this milestone!
- Build our presence on social media by posting about #Proclaim300 and inviting others to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Follow the daily prompts September 17-23 and encouragefriends and allies to join in! Reach both inside and outside the church and queer community!
- Grow ELM! Ask organizations, individuals, and congregations to give $300 (or more!) to honor and celebrate this exciting moment. Or raise these funds by guest preaching, having a special offering in Worship, starting a Facebook fundraiser, or hosting a giving gathering.
When can you start? NOW!
Give online, mark “attending” on Facebook, share gratitude with Proclaimers, start a fundraiser, forward this email, and ask your congregation, friends, and self: will you help us reach our giving goal?
In deep gratitude and excitement,
Anna Czarnik Neimeyer, ELM Associate Director of Development & Communications
Ben Hogue, Proclaim Member, ELM Fund Development Committee
Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer and Ben Hogue love ELM as an ongoing justice movement, and enjoy fearlessly asking people to be part of the movement with their time, talent, and treasure! The friends and colleagues each studied communications & PR, and like serving communion, high fives, puns, and service work; Ben was a Peace Corps volunteer and Anna volunteered at Holden Village.
Photos by Emily Ann Garcia
In Deuteronomy, when Moses is giving his final blessing to Israel, he said to the tribe of Asher, “Most blessed of sons be Asher… let him dip his foot in oil.” (Deut 33:24-25).
As a farewell, Barbara K Lundblad highlighted this passage as she led ELM’s Board of Directors in reflecting upon my namesake in the Bible (Asher means “happy” in Hebrew) and invited the group to share affirmations. After each affirmation, they all said together, “Thank God for Asher.” Then they all extended their hands (through their webcams) as they prayed blessing over me.
I felt as though my foot had indeed been dipped in oil.
As I wrap up my time serving as Program Director for ELM, it is remarkable to look back on all we have accomplished together over these past two years: We’ve doubled our presence at synod assemblies across the country. The average amount of time that our candidates are waiting to receive their first-call has decreased significantly. More bishops and synod staffs are acknowledging and using our resources to address the imagination gap that has held our candidates back from getting quality first-call placements more quickly. And as a community, Proclaim has reached nearly 300 members! It has been a joy to witness how all of the new members have strengthened us and helped us grow both more deeply into our roots and out towards the future.
My final day with ELM will be Friday August 17th and until then I’ll be running on all cylinders as we head into The Proclaim Gathering next week, and then setting everything up for the next Program Director the following week.
My new call will be to serve as pastor of Highlands Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado.
I do plan to remain a member of Proclaim. And while I’ll be stepping back from any leadership in the community to allow the new Program Director to lead, I do look forward to embracing the vision they cast and continuing in fellowship with the community.
It has truly been an honor and a joy to serve as your Program Director for nearly two years now. I will miss working with our fabulous staff and volunteers. And I am so grateful for all that I have learned in this position and will be carrying on with me to my next call. Thanks to ELM’s staff, Board of Directors, our supporters who make our work possible, and to all of the Proclaim members out there transforming the church. Serving with you has been a blessing – You have dipped my foot in oil!
Asher O’Callaghan (he/him/his) is super excited for ELM’s Proclaim Gathering which begins this Sunday, August 5th! Lately he has discovered the joy of making iced soy chai tea lattes at home in the afternoon as a little mid-day boost. He lives with his cat, Jack, in Denver, Colorado where he appreciates the late afternoon thunderstorms that this time of year offers.
Each Year, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries hosts The Gathering for members of Proclaim (the professional community for publicly identified LGBTQIA+ Lutheran rostered ministers and candidates) and their families, for a time of renewal, community building, and professional development. We come together and embrace what it means to be publicly identified (“out!”) leaders as we care for ourselves, build community, and learn together.This August 5-8, 2018, over 65 Proclaimers from around the country will gather at Pearlstone Retreat Center outside of Baltimore!
Rev. Elizabeth Edman, author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity will be our keynote speaker, featured alongside workshops, social time, music, worship, small groups, and more. You can help sponsor a Proclaimer HERE.
In addition to ELM’s trusty Program Director Rev. Asher O’Callaghan, a small and mighty team has been crafting the Gathering’s schedule. Thank you to the Dream Team for all you do. Check it out!
Co-Chairs: Brian Hornbecker & Laura Kuntz
My name is: Brian Hornbecker
My pronouns are: he/him/his
I’m co-chairing the Fun Team because: I think the opportunity to kick back, relax, and have fun with friends and colleagues is one of the best parts of the Proclaim gathering.
I’m excited for: the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones at the Proclaim Gathering.
Who I am: I serve as Faith Formation and Communications Coordinator at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Eagan, MN, just south of Saint Paul. I graduated from Wartburg Seminary last year and am candidate for the diaconal roster (although that is a long and complicated story). I live with my spouse, Josh Moss, who is also a Proclaim member and a candidate for the diaconal roster, and our nephew Trent in the Twin Cities area. We just bought a house, so most of our “fun” time lately has been occupied with moving and everything that comes with that.
My name is: Laura Kuntz
My pronouns are: she/her/hers
I’m co-chairing the fun Team because: I enjoy coordinating social activities to build community.
I’m excited for: making new friends and be in a space where my queer identity is celebrated at the Proclaim Gathering
Who I am: My wife and I live in Lakewood, Ohio where she is serving a call and I am in an interim position. We’ve been coming to Proclaim gatherings since we were seminarians and look forward to them every year. I love fly fishing and playing in stonewall sports leagues.
Co-Chairs: Kelsey Brown and Josh Evans
My name is: Kelsey Brown
My pronouns are: she/her/hers
I’m co-chairing the Worship Team because: I believe innovative and expansive worship are essential to Christian Life.
I’m excited for: all the fun you will have at the Proclaim Gathering, I’m sorry I can’t attend!
Who I am: Kelsey Brown serves as Vicar at St.Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, California. She is originally from Long Island, NY but when she’s not in SoCal she calls Philadelphia and United Lutheran Seminary Home. She likes spoken word poetry, Drag Queens and dancing around her kitchen. She finds joy in lavender essential oils, Netflix binges and preschool laughter.
My name is: Josh Evans
My pronouns are: he/him/his.
I’m co-chairing the Worship Team because: I am passionate about the church’s historic liturgy brought to life in new, vibrant ways, and I love experiencing the Body of Christ praying, singing, and communing together.
I’m excited for: worship (duh!) at the Proclaim Gathering — and also getting a chance to see so many wonderful people I haven’t seen since last year’s Gathering or haven’t met in person yet.
Who I am: I grew up in Michigan and I am a graduate of LSTC in Chicago, awaiting first call in the Metro Chicago Synod, and currently working as Interim Coordinator for Global Service Events at the ELCA Churchwide offices. In my precious free time, I enjoy reading, drinking coffee, enjoying all things Chicago, watching inordinate amounts of Netflix, and spoiling my two cats (Oliver and Sophia) and their canine sibling (Roscoe).
Co-chairs: Peter Beeson & Reed Fowler
My name is: Peter Beeson
My pronouns are: he/him/his
I’m co-chairing the Program Team: because I was invited.
I’m excited for: community, learning from the speakers at the Proclaim Gathering, and enjoying the nature (and organic farming) of the Pearlstone Retreat Center.
Who I am: Peter R. Beeson currently lives at work and has developed a newfound obsession with getting out of New York City, and finding mountains and trees. In his spare time he enjoys turning around declining organizations, fostering transparency, and teaching his toddler how to do chores.
My name is: Reed Fowler
My pronouns are: they/them/theirs
I’m co-chairing the Program Team because: I enjoy creative planning and creating space for introverts.
I’m excited to: connect with nature and other Proclaimers at the Gathering.
Who I am: Reed is a seminarian at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. In their downtime, Reed is at the pottery studio or hanging out with their partner, dog, and cats.