A Statement from ELM

He was a son. He was a brother. He was an uncle. He was a father. He was a grandson. He was so much more, and he did not deserve this at all….I need everybody to know that he is much more than this…..He had a smile that was angelic. He lit up the room. He was funny. He played. He was an amazing son. And I can never get that back.” – Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries denounces and laments the murder this week of Daunte Wright by Brooklyn Center law enforcement, and the murder of Anthony J. Thompson, Jr. by Knoxville law enforcement, along with the lives of the at least 33 Black people and 23 other people of color killed by law enforcement so far this year. Every time Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives are ruthlessly taken by the hands of white authority, the wounds of the world grow deeper and their cries resound in God’s ears. 

In the Gospel, Jesus names the love of God as central for the work of justice, and teaches that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. By linking love of self, love of neighbor, and love for God, Jesus calls us to refuse a self-love that is rooted in supremacy and death. The white members of ELM’s board and staff name our own culpability in the ways we have not lived up to this Gospel call to uphold Black, Brown, and Indigenous lives as not only beloved of God – but also made in God’s image and worthy of life in abundance. We join our voice in naming and repenting of those ways we have clung to dehumanizing systemic powers that offer security for some while producing death and suffering for many. We renounce the idols of white supremacy, the demonic forces of racism, and the death-dealing violence that come as a result. 

ELM recommits to an anti-racist identity at every level of the organization and implores white members of Proclaim, those who support ELM’s mission, and predominantly white communities of faith to the following calls to action:

Local Action

Donate to BIPOC activists on the ground in Minnesota and Knoxville: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-sponsor-emt-training-for-poc

Venmo: @MNTeenActivists

https://venmo.com/Appalachian-CommunityFund

www.blackcoffeejustice.com

 *Check in with and care for your siblings of color. DO SOMETHING: call them, send them a care package, pay for their dinner/groceries. Make specific offers to redistribute resources and ask what support they need.

National Action

Commit to reparations in the ELCA: Click on the following link to make a contribution through Immanuel Lutheran Church in Seattle to the 66th Synod fund. The 66th Synod Fund is named in memory of the Alpha Synod and Jehu Jones and is devoted to helping elderly Black ministers survive after years of serving congregations without the ability to have adequately paid their pastors. The endowment is led by a Board of Black women in the ELCA.

Sign up for and take action in the Movement for Black Lives: https://m4bl.org/Movement 

Get mobilized on the nearly 300 local and state pending bills designed to keep black and brown people from the polls: track them through the Brennan Center, support the ACLU’s work, and get involved with the League of Women Voters’ efforts.

Pray with Us 

We pray for Black, Indigenous, People of Color experiencing relentless racialized trauma, and its ensuing exhaustion and grief, especially for those who are also LGBTQ2SIA+, disabled, or members of other marginalized communities. We pray fervently for the families of Daunte Wright and Anthony J. Thompson, Jr. and their communities. We, the white members of the board of directors and staff of ELM, ask God to give us the strength and wisdom we are lacking to start removing the sin of white supremacist thinking and ways of life from our hearts and minds. We, the BIPOC members of the board of directors and staff of ELM, pray that white people do more – stand up stronger, fight harder, and find the mettle to scream at the top of their lungs that Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian and POC Lives Matter, and are beloved. We pray that the sacred divinity of Black, Brown, and Indigenous bodies be given the honor and reverence that our Christian faith demands. 


Image Description: Over a black background, the scripture verse from Jeremiah 6:14- They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. 

Queer Easter by Guy Erwin

Is anything queerer than Easter?
 
Easter is the “queerest” holiday I know. Even as I child, I remember being astounded by the bunny rabbits, eggs, yellow chicks and all the other visual cues for Easter—they were so random, and so odd—and so bright. Easter is a color riot. And then the Easter clothes: stuff that you didn’t wear the rest of the year because it was so…colorful! I’m of course using “queer” in this sense as being contrary to expectations, or somehow far beyond the ordinary—and by that definition Easter was the holiday that mystified me most. But I didn’t let it worry me; I was basically into it for the chocolate.
 
But now years later, I’m a different person, and Easter is the most important day of the year for me—so important, in fact, that every Sunday is a little Easter. The empty tomb is at the very heart of our Christian faith—if Jesus didn’t rise, nothing else matters, and if he did, well…nothing else matters. But, I’m happy to report, Easter is still “queer” to me—it still confounds me, doesn’t fit in any box or category, and has not lost any of its astonishment. (Though I have now reconciled myself to the whole rabbit/egg/pastel thing as a high form of camp—my husband even has an amazing multicolor Madras plaid sport coat he could never wear any other day—and I have come to love the garish thing!)
 
Jesus’ rising from the dead makes no sense. It simply doesn’t conform to the way we know things work. It’s hard to understand—clearly the women at the tomb and the rest of the disciples had a hard time getting their minds around it. And it is precisely in this—in the challenge that the Resurrection presents to our logic and our senses—that the miracle comes forth: a murdered Messiah returns with a message of love and peace; someone who appears behind locked doors and vanishes just as suddenly can walk with friends and eat a meal—and at the same time sees into hearts, makes them burn, and scriptural mysteries suddenly clear in the instant of breaking the bread. None of these are “normal”—none fit in the usual categories of experience.
 
Queer theology is to me this wonderful irrationality, the dramatic paradox of a God who comes to us as a human—and who lives and dies with us, and then lives again. A human who delights breaking the rules other humans had made to hang on to control, can set us free from the things we fear the most. We, who have been told so many times and so many ways that we are not as God intended, and yet know the deeper truth that we are indeed precisely who God made us to be, and for whom Jesus lived and died and rose again—we know what it means to have a Savior who “queers” everything—even death and life. And we can wear the loudest plaid we want, and wear the frilliest and sparkliest hat, and shout for joy to the God who loves us so extravagantly, wildly—and queerly!
 
Happy Easter to you all!
 
 
 

Image Description: photo of Proclaimer Guy Erwin in a blessing with young adults: with his words “Queer theology is to me this wonderful irrationality, the dramatic paradox of a God who comes to us as a human—and who lives and dies with us, and then lives again.”- over the image. 


 
 
Guy Erwin (he/him) is the president of United Lutheran Seminary in Pennsylvania, and in 2013 was elected as the first out gay bishop in the ELCA and the first gay male bishop in any Lutheran church. He dresses very soberly, but loves bright vestments, his husband, his parrot, and Easter.

ELM’s Response to Pope Francis Statement

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries weeps with our queer Catholic siblings over Pope Francis’ words and the church’s refusal to bless queer love. Over the centuries, the Christian Church has committed and continues to commit atrocities against queer and marginalized communities: favoring cherry-picked scripture that, through a patriarchal and white supremacist lens, has inflicted real harm including suffering and death. 
 
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries celebrates the beauty and belovedness of all queer identities and the many ways queer families are formed. We claim the Theology of the Cross as a queer gift of grace: radical honesty about the world in which we live, radical love that holds our wounds along with our joy, radical liberation that centers the marginalized and stigmatized, and radical affirmation of our true identities as the beloved of Christ made in God’s image.
 
We also need to point out “the log in our own eye” by acknowledging that the church in which many of our leaders are called and ordained, the ELCA, is not exempt from similar statements, beliefs, and actions regarding queer children of God. The ELCA continues to enact policies that keep queer people from answering God’s call to ministry and subject them to harm.*
 
In his essay, “The Prodigal Church,” queer Lutheran saint, Joel Workin, imagines the church as the wayward prodigal child who returns home to the forgiving parent: the queer community. As the queer family waits expectantly at the mailbox at the end of the driveway for the church to come home, Joel finishes this imagery with these words: 
 
Childish as the church may seem and act, it is not a child. LGBTQ Christians, therefore, await a Church that comes home as an adult. Not happily perhaps, not jumping and skipping, even with some fear and concern, but of its own will and confessing with its lips and heart that “I have sinned against you and against God.” 
 
The queer community is still expectantly waiting like a loving, patient parent for these words of confession. In the meantime, ELM and the queer leaders we organize continue to communicate and embody the Good News of Christ’s radical love by boldly advocating for marginalized communities and loving our neighbors — and celebrating who they love.
 
We join our queer Lutheran voices with those of our Roman Catholic siblings in boldly declaring “queer people are God’s beloved!” 
 
Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries anticipates a church in which queer leadership is valued, empowered, and celebrated: where queer-led ministries are dynamic and thriving; all marginalized communities are liberated and honored, and justice flows from the sacraments as they overwhelm us and bring us to life.

* “Human Sexuality: Gift and Trust,” adopted at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly in 2009, continues to define marriage in heteronormative terms (i.e. between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, etc.) and through a teaching called “Bound Conscience,” makes space for ELCA Lutherans to claim that “they believe same-gender sexual behavior is sinful, contrary to biblical teaching and their understanding of natural law…They therefore conclude that the neighbor and the community are best served by calling people in same-gender sexual relationships to repentance for that behavior and to a celibate lifestyle.” (p. 20)

The Zealous Ones

by Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan
 
 
One of the blessings of ecumenical relationships is the sharing of language and phrases that bring richness to our faith lives. Add to that the gorgeous vocabulary of the LGBTQIA+ family, and our attempts to harness faith in words get a little more productive! For me, to hear the words at holy communion from our Episcopal siblings, “Behold who you are; become what you receive,” centers me so firmly in the reality of the body of Christ, I have a hard time loving other welcomes to the table. “Consume me and be me!” Jesus says. And we do that in community, heading out the door to bear the love of Christ to the world, loud and unabashedly clear about who we are. So when we, as a community, step into the temple courtyards with Jesus in this week’s gospel text, I wonder if the words have a similar transformative strength in them. After flipping the tables in a fit of rage that we in our polite little circles have attempted to calm with the language of “righteous anger” or less violent images than our meek and mild Jesus getting pissed at those who were destabilizing the very systems intended to gather in the nations at the feet of God, some change comes to the temple. 
 
It is at this point that the words recalled benefit from some flipping of their own. A prophet is quoted, “zeal for your house will consume me.”  Consuming zeal. As an adjective it’s powerful. As a verb phrase of the present tense, it calls us to something new. What if we consume the zeal of Jesus in the same way we consume the body and blood of the holy meal? Consume the zeal and become one unafraid to flip the tables of injustice in the presence of the powers who would uphold them. Flipping tables is rough. It’s messy. Toes get stubbed and shins a little bruised. The wealth we hold in fits of security is scattered and shattered on the floor. But at the end of the day, the lonely seeker is welcomed into the family they might have only seen in dreams. 
 
I see you, zealous ones, my siblings seeking out the courtyards of exclusion and breaking down the barriers one at a time. I also see you, guardians of the temple gates, with systems and requirements that keep the weary world at bay and leave you sitting with your worthless boxes of coins and requirements. It’s time to flip the tables in the name of justice and mercy. Consume the zeal and let it drive us to a new reality of what it means to be Christ’s church, a house of prayer for all people. 
 
God of all people, you call us to break down the barriers that keep your children from experiencing the beautiful blessings of community. Forgive us for our part in constructing them. Give us the courage to flip the tables of injustice and the sustaining power of your presence within us to keep the doors open.  Amen.
 

 
 
Rev. Leslie O’Callaghan(she/her)  lives in Denver with her spouse Asher, their dog Francis, and three kitties who make life magical. She serves as Assistant to the Bishop for Faith Formation and Candidacy in the Rocky Mountain Synod, has attempted to learn the accordion and bluegrass banjo during the pandemic, and loves to find rest in the kitchen creating something delicious, usually with butter.

ELM Blog Survey

Thank you for being an avid reader of the ELM Blog!
 
Did you know, over the past decade ELM has curated a weekly blog with 750+ blog posts?! Many unique queer & ally voices have shared their ministerial experiences, their Gospel truths, their life stories, their hearts & souls in the ELM Blog. We’re grateful for their courage & prophetic voice!
 
In February, ELM will take a break from the weekly blog as we attempt to gather the community’s perspectives on where the ELM Blog should go in 2021 and beyond. To collect this information we’re asking you to fill out this survey. The survey is estimated to take between 5-10 minutes to finish and includes an opportunity to leave your email if you would like to be contacted to write for the ELM Blog. 
 
Again, here is the survey.
 
Thank you for your continued support of queer ministry leadership and we look forward to your input!

Meet ELM’s new Operations Support staffer, Sharei Green!

ELM is thrilled to announce Sharei Green as our new Operations Support staff member. Sharei will support Olivia with Programs & with our Proclaim Community and she will process ELM donations with Lewis and help Amanda with administrative tasks! We are truly grateful for all the gifts that Sharei brings to our community.
 
Please join us and give Sharei a big warm ELM welcome when you can! 
 

 
 
My name is Sharei Green.  I use pronouns like she/her/hers. I am from Chicago, IL where I am a member of Bethel Lutheran Church and a Master of Divinity student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. I love reading/listening to books, everything anime, comic-book superheroes (mostly Marvel), fantasy, dungeons and dragons, etc. I’m a total nerd.
 
I don’t necessarily identify as a community organizer; I operate out of organizing principles. It influences the way I show up in community. I’m known for my willingness to speak against power when necessary (It’s almost always necessary). I love to help people to see and realize their vision. I’m a student of life and firmly believe that there is something to be learned from almost every situation. There is beauty in the sharing of knowledge and I just want to be a part of it. I have a strong commitment to community healing, especially in African Descent communities and exploring Sabbath/rest as a form of resistance. 
 
I’m Excited to work with ELM because: I feel called to be in the community and build power and relationships with like-minded folks.
I’m inspired by: The ingenuity of marginalized folks.
These two things bring me joy:  Making things (crafting, cooking, building, crocheting, etc.), Reading!
When I’m not working, you can find me:  Most likely at home with my nose in a book!

An Epiphany Haiku: Libby Howe

This Advent season members of the Proclaim community have graciously offered moments of reflection with Advent inspired haiku. We hope you take this time to reflect, wait, & prepare for what new life might lay ahead. Here is an Epiphany Haiku for you, the final of the series. Peace.
 
 
 *Image Description: a computer on desk with a haiku on the screen, with the words Artificial light, Masking Sadness and grief, but The baby is real. Haiku by Libby Howe. 

Christmas Greetings from ELM!

Merry Christmas
from your friends at ELM!

We know that 2020 has been a challenging year and that your holidays may not feel as festive as they have in years past. We imagine that for the holy family huddled around the manger many centuries years ago “merry and bright” was not the general feeling then, either: fear, uncertainty, unquestionable love yet wondering “what’s next?” was more likely the mood. It’s only in retrospect that we can sing “Joy to the world!” and “Rejoice! Rejoice!” since we know the liberating love that was born that day.

If the songs fall flat this year and the traditions don’t live up to their usual warmth, that’s okay. Christ, Immanuel, is in our midst and with us in our grief.

The love that came into the world on that day continues to surround us, and our resilience as the beloveds of Christ is greater than we may realize.

May you and yours find the place in your body and spirit where the spark of that unconditional love resides and cherish it this blessed Christmastide.

ELM Statement

On Thursday, November 26th, ELM posted a GIF to our Facebook and Instagram accounts that included the phrase “Happy Thanksgiving.” In sharing this message without further analysis of the holiday and the narratives it perpetuates, ELM was complicit in the erasure of both the current and historic experiences of oppression and genocide that our Indigenous siblings face. For this, we are deeply sorry and repent our actions.

In our efforts to deepen our knowledge and awareness of both the historical and contemporary struggles faced by Native communities, ELM’s staff commit to additional training and learning. We will acknowledge the stolen land on which we reside at both in-person and virtual meetings and will get to know the histories of the Indigenous nations in the communities in which we reside.

We commend the videos below to you, our community, as they have been commended to us by Native friends of ELM. We also invite you to join us in our efforts to grow in awareness and appreciation for the gifts of our Indigenous siblings.

The Harsh Truth About Thanksgiving – Now This

Why These Native Americans Observe a National Day of Mourning Each Thanksgiving – Huffington Post

After the Mayflower