Epiphany Haiku: Lewis Eggleston

 
Image Description: The sun setting behind a small tree in a desert with the words: God giggles and burps, Mary prepares the donkey, Refugees embark… by Lewis Eggleston
 

 
Lewis Eggleston (he/him) is the Associate Director of Communications & Generosity at Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. He is an Air Force spouse living in Germany with his husband and their dog-child, Carla. In March, after spending nearly 10 years in candidacy, Lewis will be ordained into the ministry of Word & Service! *all the enthusiastic emoji faces*

ELM Board Statement Regarding Bishop Rohrer

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:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OKJoQSYI5b8yB3K-KPurzg_Jrl5wcOwy/view?usp=drivesdk

ELM Celebrates the Suspension of Vision & Expectations

The year 1990 brought us the creation of the World Wide Web, the launch of the Hubble telescope, the release of Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison, and it was also the year of the reunification of Germany when the Berlin Wall came down. 1990 was also the year when the wall known as “Vision & Expectations” was built into the newly created Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s candidacy process barring publicly-out LGBTQIA+ individuals from serving the church. Over 31 years later, we celebrate, this wall, too, has finally come down. 

Earlier this month, the ELCA Church Council “suspended consideration of an aspirational document to replace ‘Vision and Expectations’ until the need arises to develop such a document” ending an almost three-year review process.

“I thank God that V&E is gone!” Pastor Christina Montgomery (she/her) proclaimed when she heard the news. “That singular document forced so many brilliant LGBTQIA+ people to choose between answering God’s call to ministry and living their authentic embodied truth as God created them. It is my prayer that the ELCA continues to leap forward in its understanding of the gospel and reflect the radically inclusive love of Christ in all of its governing documents.”

ELM celebrates that, after living without “Vision & Expectations” for just over a year, the ELCA Church Council has made the decision to suspend “Vision & Expectations” and will not create a replacement (see background section below). 

“We are ever closer to a time when queer leaders can enter into candidacy as the called and faithful servants that God created them to be without having to justify — to themselves or candidacy committees — that their sexual and gender identities are holy and are gifts for ministry in this Church,” commented ELM Executive Director, the Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her). “Removing ‘Vision & Expectations’ is a monumental moment for our community.”

It is important to acknowledge that there continue to be pillars of discrimination and barriers to full-participation that permeate our Church — for example, “Bound Conscience” in the 2009 human sexuality statement “Gift & Trust.” White supremacy, trans- and queer-phobia, and ableism continue to plague our communities and congregations. While ELM believes progress has been made, we also fear that the church could slide backward on the arc of justice if the “need…to develop such a (new) document” is determined solely by those who have historically held positions of power and privilege in the Church.

ELM will continue to advocate in ELCA rooms of power for the most marginalized in our midst — just as it did for the abolishment of “Vision & Expectations.” There is still a great amount of ministry yet to do! 

For thousands of years, the church has obsessively created rules regarding human sexuality and leaders have argued against them. Martin Luther, himself, called clerical celibacy “devilish tyranny” and broke with the Roman Catholic church’s own vision & expectations when he married a woman. Our bodies and the way we express sexual intimacy with loving partners are areas the big Church does not model well, nor has it ever. However, ELM is committed to advocating for all sexual expressions & identities in our church while breaking down walls of injustice, flipping the tables of racial inequality & oppression, while continuing to serve as a resource for all its queer ministry leaders. 

Background: 

Vision & Expectations was created in response to four seminarians (the Berkeley Four) who came out publicly as gay to their candidacy committees in 1987. The newly formed ELCA Church Council approved a document in 1990 that declared that ministers who were “homosexual in their self-understanding” were expected to “abstain from homosexual sexual relationships” (see former ELM Executive Director, Amalia Vagts, article “A Short History of Vision & Expectations”). Though V&E was amended in 2009, following the adoption of the ELCA social statement “Sexuality: Gift & Trust,” to allow persons in same-gender “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous” relationships to serve in leadership roles of the church, its role in the candidacy process ultimately continued to discriminate against queer ministry leaders. 

In the fall of 2018, members of the Conference of Bishops along with ELCA staff began the process of revising V&E to reflect the then nation-wide right for same-gender couples to be legally married and the unification of the Word & Service roster resulting in a revision that included a name change to “Trustworthy Servants of the People of God” (see ELM’s public response).  ELM organized Proclaim members and partnered with ministries partners, like ReconcilingWorks and the Ethnic-Specific Ministries of the ELCA, to rebuke this revision and in March 2019, the ELCA Church Council declined to consider “Trustworthy Servants” and referred the document to the ELCA Domestic Mission unit for further review and redrafting. 

ELM’s Executive Director, the Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her), served on a listening group along with the President of the African Descent Lutheran Association, the Rev. Lamont Wells (he/him), and other committee members representing concerned constituencies: deacons, seminaries, Bishops, a safe church specialist, ELCA candidacy staff and Church Council members. With the guidance of this group, the Domestic Mission Executive, the Rev. Phil Hirsch (he/him), investigated the purpose and need for a document like “Vision & Expectations” including a nation-wide survey on “What does the Church need?” and listening sessions at the Proclaim 2019 Gathering and Churchwide Assembly. This work produced the recommendation in March 2020 to suspend “Vision & Expectations” entirely until a new document could be drafted. This recommendation was approved by both the Conference of Bishops and the Church Council.  

In November 2021, after living and welcoming individuals to the candidacy process without V&E as a gatekeeper for just over a year, Rev. Hirsch recommended to the Conference of Bishops and the ELCA Church Council to “[suspend] consideration of an aspirational document to replace ‘Vision and Expectations’ until the need arises to develop such a document.” This was approved at the Church Council’s November 2021 meeting.



Queer Scripture Reflection: Lewis Eggleston

David & Jonathan 
 
“The soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”
 
“They kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more. Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever.’”
 
“they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more.”
 
“[David speaking of Jonathan] greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” -excerpts from 1 Samuel & 2 Samuel
 

 
Biblical literalism is frustrating. As queer people we’re expected to defend ourselves from very early ages, yes, as children, against the weaponized few verses that allude to queerness in the Bible. Then as we grow older we have to educate ourselves on Roman historical context & ancient foreign languages when Paul points to inappropriate relationships-not homosexuality; and we have to familiarize ourselves with early Hebrew/Jewish practices from Leviticus and extrapolate on the complexities of shellfish, pork, mixed fabric clothing, selling of daughters, & homosexuality on our spiritual lives. Queer people must become biblical scholars to survive, OR as many queer folks (and allies) have already done; they just walk out the church doors. In the ELCA we’ve been brainwashed to believe that we must stay quiet on queer issues so more congregations don’t leave when the reality is many, many more have stayed clear of our churches because the church does not go far enough to embrace all of God’s creation.
 
When we lived in Oklahoma I once debated a church leader and his wife. They were opening the town’s homeless shelter and while they greatly appreciated my help opening the shelter, they soon let me know that at some point they would be preaching against homosexuality at the shelter.
 
In this discussion I brought up the love story of David and Jonathan.
 
This church leader quickly friend-zoned David and Jonathan by saying he had a similar relationship with his guy friend. That it was a friendship that was different from the relationship he had with his wife, and that he loved his friend very much.
 
To which I said, “So you two have made life-long covenants to each other, wept into each other arms, kissed one another while also declaring that your love for each other surpasses that of women?”
 
As you can imagine, his biblical nuancing quickly began. It was only at this point he was willing to point to allegory, stories, contexts; that it wasn’t exactly what was printed in the text- basically he wasn’t a Biblical Literalist when it came to David and Jonathan’s story but everywhere else in the Bible was fine. That David couldn’t love Jonathan as he said, because he also liked women! Forgetting completely that Bisexuality exists. This man started doing what so many others in history have done before him, he tried to put the queerness back into the closet.
 
As a queer person, there is no other way for me to see this as anything other than a queer love story because it resembles my own queer love experience. The drama of family & disapproval, hiding your love & affection for one another, the feeling of you two against the world, together. Weeping, together. Vowing to protect each other at all costs. Making a covenant, together.
 
Today, my husband and I celebrate 10 years together, and what’s special about David and Jonathan’s story & their words to each other is that we used their words, their covenant to one another, in our own wedding.
 
So today, I celebrate queer love- both in Scripture & in my life.
 

 
Image Description: photo of the book of Genesis and the ELM logo with the title: Queer Scripture Reflections. 
 


Lewis Eggleston (he/him) 
is the Associate Director of Communications & Generosity at Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. He lives in Kaiserslautern, Germany with his husband and dog-child Carla. He was recently approved for ordination for ministry in Word & Service. He spends his free time running/hiking/or singing to the German wildlife. (Photo: Wedding Photo- Lewis left, his husband on the right.) 

ELM Executive Director Announcement

The Board of Directors of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries announces the resignation of Executive Director the Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her/hers), effective November 30, 2021. Over the last year, Amanda has discerned a call to serve the church in a new way by returning to parish ministry. 

In sharing her news with the Board, Amanda wrote: 

‘It has been an incredible honor and privilege to serve as the Executive Director of ELM for the past four years. I have fostered relationships that have both enriched my life and changed my outlook…I have been extraordinarily blessed to work alongside such a passionate Board of Directors and incredibly gifted and dedicated staff. I have enjoyed working and dreaming alongside you all, and I will continue to dream for ELM and support the organization in its new life.”

 

ELM is grateful for Amanda’s faithful service to the organization over the last four years and the ongoing relationship we will have with her as a member of Proclaim, ELM’s professional community of publicly identified LGBTQIA+ rostered ministers and seminarians. In her tenure as ELM’s second Executive Director, she has shown exemplary leadership.  In responding to the controversy over United Lutheran Seminary’s previous president and abolishing the ELCA’s harmful document Vision and Expectations, Amanda has amplified the voices of those most impacted and pushed for change, challenge, and faithfulness. Under her leadership, ELM’s staff structure has expanded, and the ELM Endowment became a granting source for creative, faithful, queer, and justice-based ministry projects. Amanda has gracefully led the organization through an ongoing global pandemic, and over the last year, worked closely with the Board of Directors in the strategic planning process that produced ELM’s new Vision, Mission, and Values

Her commitment to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries in these uncertain times has been filled with grace and consistency. ELM has long asked the question, “who is not here?” This is a question Amanda often asked of the Board, the church, and the staff.  As we move into the future, ELM is committed to continuing its growth into an organization that acknowledges its complicity in systems of white supremacy and racism, focuses on living in an active state of repentance, and does the hard and spirit-filled work of living into being an anti-racist organization. In her discernment, Amanda acknowledged the advent of a time for new leadership to empower ELM to live into its new and renewed identity. 

In this time of transition, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries will continue to organize queer seminarians and rostered ministers, confront barriers and systemic oppression, and activate queer ideas and movements within the Lutheran Church.  The history of ELM and its predecessor organizations is rooted in the conviction that our call and authority come from God.  As such, ELM will continue to support the diversity of queer Lutherans leading the church in and outside of denominational contexts.  ELM will continue to push for liberation from the ways bound conscience harms the church.  ELM will own our history and work for an intersectional, anti-racist present and future where the full diversity of the body of Christ is honored and their leadership valued.

We wish Amanda, her wife, and child many blessings. The ELM Board of Directors has launched a Transition Team to determine ELM’s next steps. The Board of Directors gives thanks to Amanda for her dedication and commitment to the holy work she has carried out as our Executive Director of ELM. As we continue the work to which God calls us and the discernment that is a gift in this time, we will regularly update you all, our extraordinary community, on our process of transition.

In Christ, 

The ELM Board of Directors


 
Image Description: photo of ELM Executive Director, Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson. 

Letter to Myself: Final Entry

During August & September, members of the Proclaim community (queer seminarian & rostered ministry leaders) will be writing letters to their younger queer selves offering life-lessons, guidance, & support. 

Image Description: Photo of hand-writtern letters and ink pen with the words “Letter to Myself” in the center with the ELM logo, right of center. 


 

Greetings Beloved Community, 

We hope you have enjoyed this blog series on letters to our younger selves. 

Every week thousands of people have interacted with each Proclaimer’s letter, sharing both affirmation & gratitude for the insights Proclaim members provided. The vulnerability and bravery shown by each Proclaim member was truly inspiring which has made us ponder, what you would say to your younger self? 

As the final chapter on this series, we invite you to participate by answering this question: 

What is one piece of advice you would share with your younger self? 

We invite you to share your responses on ELM’s Facebook page, our Instagram page, or even on elm.org as a comment to this blog entry! 

Click the links below to select where you would like to participate. 

Click here to go to the ELM Instagram page! 

Click here for the ELM Facebook Page! 

Thank you for all the ways you have supported queer ministry leaders during this series and throughout the year! 

“Letter to Myself”- Bradley E. Schmeling

Oh Brad, I want to tell you everything! But that would ruin the next decades and give us more certainty than is helpful for a white guy. Trust me that there will be ironies and victories that you can’t imagine now. 
 
What I really want to do is thank you. I still need the memories of that coming-out self; the way you totally embraced the moment, body and spirit. You pierced your ear and wore a rainbow ring necklace to synod assembly. One year, you went to gay bars after the Wednesday evening Lenten service every week. Although it didn’t happen very often, you worried that people might think you were straight.
 
The holy fire of those days is still being tended deep within me. I’m left with mostly joyful memories and still delight in remembering some of the stories that never need to be outlined at the Monday morning Bible study. The pain, uncertainty, and fear of those days has long complexified. It’s not forgotten but has forged a deeper self.
 
The cynic might say that it was simply a youthful rush of identity, a burst of liberating energy to “be me.” That’s wrong. It was the power of resurrection that surged from deep within the matrix of God’s creative love in every cell of my body. It was incarnation in time, spirit and erotic flesh; one body, fabulous members.
 
That power of resurrection came also from letting go of so many expectations and plans for a future in the church. If you remember, in 1992 coming out probably meant not having a second call. In seminary, so many had such hopes for you, and then they said, “You’ve thrown it all away.” However, you very consciously decided that being faithful was more important than remaining on a privileged roster.
 
I need your integrity still. Without sharing all the details of God’s future liberating work, I’m living in another time when giving up privilege is the requirement for life, this time not just for me but for people of color in this country and for the earth itself. I need you to remind me that resurrection is the promised outcome to letting go, sacrificing, dying. 
 
You are my teacher. I need to remember that you didn’t really know how to take next steps, but you did. Some of those steps were exactly right; some weren’t. I need to remember now that the wrong steps were often precisely the ones that made us turn a new direction. Remember that you can trust this sometimes painful journey, because the power of God at work in and around us.
 
You, young Brad (now “Bradley” after a silly attempt to sound more grown up), still love and laugh and dream within “older” Bradley.  You give me hope, and I need you to meet me in this moment. You remind me that the promise of resurrection is more real than confusion, fear, and the uncharted path. You, deep within, are the voice of Spirit. Thank you! 
 
With love and hope from the future,
Bradley
 

 
Bradley Schmeling (he, him) serves as the senior pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN.  He’s married to Proclaimer Pastor Darin Easler, and they live in Minneapolis.

Letter to Myself: Cari States-Codding

Hey, kid.  
 
If you met me, you wouldn’t recognize me. Right now, a lot of who I am isn’t OK with you. And that’s OK.  
 
You should feel safe and loved expanding into who you are, instead of squishing  yourself into the box of who you’re allowed to be. You’re the teen who puts on dresses for church, and feels anxious and disgusting instead of beautiful and radiant. You’re the teen with the long hair, who uses it as a cover against the world instead of using it as an expression of yourself. If you cover yourself enough, maybe no one will notice that there’s something wrong with you. Maybe God will notice you trying, and maybe that’ll be enough. Maybe you’ll be strong enough to endure and overcome this trial.  
 
But guess what? You’ve got it all wrong. God can’t fix you because there isn’t anything wrong with you. You are wonderfully, fearfully, beautifully, intentionally, and lovingly made. Right now, you’re still hoping that you’ll grow out of your queerness and be normal. Normal requires a reference point, but there’s no reference point for someone who is divinely created. It sounds impossible now but, in a few years, you’ll discover a whole new side of God,  and you’ll find yourself unwillingly back on the road to ordained ministry. Except, this time, a pastor won’t be telling you that church leadership of any kind isn’t your place because you are a girl. No, this time a pastor will be telling you that you have a gift, and you are a person who needs to use and share this gift.  
 
You’ll find a way out of fundamentalism, but it’s not going to be easy. Years later, there will be instances that will trigger you and you’ll once again be that kid without agency, who thought that being themselves and serving God were diametrically opposed, wondering if God’s mercy and love were really meant for you. 
 
Read the books of Mark and Luke. Look at that Jesus with your own eyes, the Jesus of love, of healing, of compassion, and of sassiness. Look at what God has to say to you. Contrary to what you’ve been told, having an understanding of the Bible that doesn’t align with church views isn’t you choosing how you view God. It’s not a bastardization of who God is; it’s a spiritual connection and revelation of who God is for you. Having a different understanding does not mean you have a wrong understanding. 
 
Remember those nights when you’d fall asleep, praying that God would make you who he needed you to be? Remember how you felt that those prayers were never answered? That’s because God already had made you who you needed to be, and she already had plenty of plans for you.  
 
You are loved, you are loved, you are loved. And, my dear, you are more than enough for God and for me.  
 
You’ve got this, and I’m proud of you. 
 
With love,  
Cari

 
Cari States-Codding(they/them or she/her) lives in Philadelphia with their husband, cat, and dog, all of whom are very supportive of a third-year seminarian. Cari is in the process of earning an MDiv, seeking ordination into Word and Service in the ELCA. When not reading about queer theology or disability theology, they can be found playing Dungeons and Dragons, watching a variety of Star Trek series, or at a dog park. Cari is on a continual quest to figure out where she fits in this big, hectic world of ours, and they hope that they never delude themself into thinking that they have a complete answer.

Letter to Myself: Cassie Hartnett

 
 
 
Image Description: Photo of hand-written letters and ink pen with the words “Letter to Myself” in the center with the ELM logo, right of center. 
 

 
 
Dear Younger Cassie—
 
This isn’t going to be one of those letters where I tell you about a bunch of stuff that’s going to happen or warn you not to trust that friend or wear that outfit. First of all, that’s cheating, and second of all, you definitely won’t believe me. You are, as one of our therapists will say, “committed to that narrative.” (There’s a freebie—future you definitely goes to therapy).
 
But more importantly, if I gave you advice based on the wisdom we’ve gleaned over the past ten to fifteen years (how old are you, anyway?), that would take away your chance to live those years in all their devasting, beautiful, ridiculous glory. If I have any advice to give you without spoilers, it’s that life is heartbreaking and absurd and wonderful and your job is to live every bit of it.
 
Although it sometimes seems like it, God didn’t form you from a chaotic box of cosmic Legos. Every part of you—even the ones you hate, like the talking too much or having a chubbier stomach than the other girls in ballet—is perfectly made to connect with others. And I know that’s hard to believe. Trust me. It’s something we still struggle with; we go down the rabbit hole of blaming ourselves because we’re not over it yet. Hence, therapy.
 
But chickadee, I have to tell you it’s so true. You are made of love, for love.
 
Right now you want what you think love is—the magic, the meet-cute, the cosmic alignment of the stars. Your attitude about fairytales is that “the idea doesn’t just pop into someone’s head if it’s never actually been real.” It’s been ages since we read fantasy novels under the desk during math class, but I’ll tell you a secret—I still believe that. Just not in the same way you do.
 
All the wildest things you can imagine could be true. I could tell you that there’s a path to a magical land in the back of that weird closet in church and I could tell you that kissing girls is one of the best things you’ll ever do—you have no way to know if I’m lying. We’re not the most patient of humans, so this drives you bananas, but the only way to see what happens next is to mess around and find out.
 
It will be painful. Loving God and loving the world and loving yourself is so, so hard. But it is also everything. Let yourself be in awe. Let it bring you to your knees. Let it turn you into someone who you genuinely can’t imagine right now. Don’t give up dreaming of what could be beautiful in the world, and go out there to find it. If you can’t find it—well, chickadee, someone has to create it, and why not you?
 
(Also, wear the red lipstick. It’s not too much and it looks great on you.)
 
Your pal,
Older Cassie
 

 
Cassie Hartnett(she/her) is the 
2019 Joel Workin Scholar and a graduate of Union Theological Seminary. Since finishing a pastoral internship year in Baltimore, she has been further exploring her vocation as a playwright, birth doula, nanny, and most recently, a counselor for adults and adolescents in eating disorder treatment. She is currently based in New Haven, with a full bookshelf, rainbow cooking utensils, and her cats, Ramona and Beezus.

Embodied

By Reed Fowler
 
 
When I think of “future church”, I dream of embodied Church.
 
Where we take seriously that our God is an incarnate God. 
 
Incarnate – incarnation – embodied in flesh.
 
Like God’s. Like ours. 
 
Dancing, swaying, moving, crying, laughing, feeling, being together, being with God. 
 
In our bodies, with our aches and pains and histories, holy and beloved and good as we are. 
 
Worshipping with our whole selves. Water splashing. Giving and receiving. This is my body
 
Paying attention to our heartbeats, our desires, our dreams, our fears. 
 
Heartbeats in-rhythm with God. 
 
I have spent much of my life in alienation with my body, ignoring it (ignoring myself). 
 
But how does that worship an incarnate God? 
 
How does that honor an incarnate God? 
 
I now dream of silliness, I dream of dancing, I know that my heartbeat echoes Creation. 
 
Our growth and transformation echo the trees and the algae and the mushrooms and the birds. 
 
God, shape us to your flesh. To your grace. 
 
How do we love our bodies? How do we love our neighbors? How do we love Creation? 
 
How do we love an incarnate God, if not through our own incarnate flesh?
 
 
Image Description: A Photo of Reed Fowler smiling, with the ELM logo along with the words: Future Church
 

 
Reed Fowler (they/he)is the 2020 Joel Workin Scholar and is completing their internship year at St. John’s Lutheran Church in NYC, as well as collaborating on an emerging housing cooperative. Reed loves books about magical libraries, watching reality cooking shows, and dreaming about garden layouts, tea blends, and looms.