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

ELM Advent Haiku: Anna Gordy

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. Peace.

* Photo Description: Scene of a flower petal blooming in snow, with the words: Anxiously waiting, the eternal mystery, when…when will she come? Haiku by: Anna Gordy.

ELM Advent Haiku: Reed Fowler

This Advent season members of the Proclaim community have graciously offered moments of reflection with Advent-inspired haiku’s. We hope you take this time to reflect, wait, & prepare for what new life might lay ahead. Peace.

* Photo Description: Scene of the sun peering through a forest with the words “Soft mornings, mourning, Dwelling in the deep earth-soil. (God’s enfolding love)” on the forest floor. Haiku by Reed Fowler.

World AIDS Day

“Those People”
an excerpt from
Dear God, I Am Gay- Thank you
by Joel Workin

CW: mentions of scriptural ableist language

First, I want to say that God hates AIDS. God hates the suffering, the dying, the agony and loss that AIDS causes, just as God hated the disease, death and blindness and suffering of Jesus’ time. God hates it. God does not cause AIDS, nor is AIDS God’s judgment or punishment on anyone. There is no one in this church whose life is immune from tragedy- death, hardships, sorrows, maybe AIDS- bad and horrible things happen to us all, but this does not mean that God is punishing us with each bad thing that happens. We live in a fallen world. Bad things happen- to good and to bad people. Good things happen- to bad and to good people. God can maybe use the bad, can turn it into good, but God still hates it and does not cause it. The God who came to earth to be with the sick and the outcast, to give sight to the blind, and to set the prisoner free, who came to wipe away every tear from our eyes- this God is not up in heaven zapping those people with illness.

Now I know that many people in this room know what it is to be one of those people. Some of you know what it is like to be stared at in stores and restaurants because you are different. Some of you know what it is like to be discarded and disregarded at work, overlooked for a promotion because you are one of those people. But it seems to me many of us have also experienced that when the world rejects, God accepts. Because we know we have the love of God who will not refuse or abuse, discard or disregard. Others may have left us, but God is with us. Others may say no, but God says yes. Others may say, “You are one of those people,” but God says, “You are one of my people.”

What Jesus says is this- that God came to earth to be with those people, the outcasts and the discarded. And since that is so, then let us each say this: “Lord, let me be one of those people. Let me be one of those people who love too much. Let me be one of those people who sits with and eats with the refused and abused. Let me be one of those people who knows that perfect love casts out all fear. Let me be one of those people who knows that ‘in Christ there is no east or west, no north or south, but one great fellowship of love, close binding humankind.’ Yes, Lord, make me one of those people. I have been refused by the world, now let me be infused by your love.”


Joel Raydon Workin (1961-1995) was born in Fargo, ND, and grew up on a farm in nearby Walcott. He received his Master of Divinity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, CA. In 1986 Joel interned at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Inglewood, CA.
In the fall of 1987, Joel came out publicly as a gay candidate for the ordained ministry and was certified for call by the American Lutheran Church (a predecessor body to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). Following this courageous and faithful act, Joel’s certification was revoked by the ELCA and his name was never placed on the roster of approved candidates waiting for call.
Joel’s ministry continued in Los Angeles, however, at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and as Director of Chris Brownlie Hospice. On December 30, 1988, Joel married Paul Jenkins. Joel was a member of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, North Hollywood. He and Paul were active in Lutherans Concerned/Los Angeles and Dignity/Los Angeles. Paul and Joel both died from AIDS – Paul on June 6, 1993, and Joel on November 29, 1995. 
In the last weeks of his illness, Joel gave his friends and family permission to sponsor an endowed memorial fund in his name. The Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship Fund was thus established upon his death.

An Update from the ELM Board of Directors!

Greetings from the ELM Board of Directors!

Thank you for the extraordinary support you continue to provide ELM and the LGBTQIA+ leaders we serve! Your ongoing commitment to our organization inspires and empowers us to continue in our belief that the public witness of gender and sexual minority ministers transforms the church and enriches the world.

No doubt, you will not be surprised to hear that 2020 has been a year unlike any in the recent history of ELM. Some of the plans and priorities we set at the start of this year have had to be paused or delayed in getting going as our Board and staff adapted to the realities of a global pandemic.

Canceling the 2020 Proclaim Gathering was a hard and sad decision to make — the staff and many of the Proclaim members and Spice (Spouses of Proclaim members) on the Board know how integral that event is to the sustained care and celebration of our community. We are proud of the ELM staff and volunteers for the ways they have continued to buoy our community through creative programming and unceasing advocacy.

This fall, the ELM Board of Directors made significant progress in our strategic planning efforts as we look to discern ELM’s mission and vision in our current time and context. We engaged a visioning consultant as well as strategic conversation partners to help our Board and staff articulate both who ELM is and how we engage our mission in the church and in the world today as well as into the next five years. We are excited to share the results of our work with you in the new year!

ELM is an organization that takes anti-oppression seriously and strives to be anti-racist in all of the ways we engage both our ELM community and the wider community of the church and world. As such, the ELM Board underwent the first of a two-part training on ableism at our fall retreat and we continue our efforts to interrogate and review existing policies and practices while at the same time creating new organizational documents that help to articulate our values and give shape to how we function as a staff, Board, and community.

We are thrilled that the ELM Endowment will be making its first grants this winter to ministry partners who share ELM’s commitment to lifting up and supporting queer ministries and leaders. The ELM Board anticipates receiving recommendations from the ELM Endowment Committee (Peter Beeson, Amanda Gerken-Nelson, Jim Kowalski — chair, Margaret Moreland, and Margarette Ouji) at our December meeting with announcements and grants offered in early 2021. Thank you to Blanche Grube and Joe McMahon, who rest in light eternal, for their love and shared belief in our mission that inspired them to set the foundation for this Endowment. And, our thanks go to all of you who have ELM as part of your estate plan who will continue to make bold, faithful, queer ministries possible for years to come!

Finally, our thanks to our fellow ELM Board of Directors for their dedication, passion, and wisdom which help to fan the flame of our movement and to ensure ELM remains the beacon of hope, liberation, and justice for all queer leaders we strive to be.

With joy,

Emily Ann Garcia, Co-Chair

Matthew James, Co-Chair

The ELM Board of Directors

Emily Ann Garcia, Co-Chair

Vancouver, BC

Matthew James, Co-Chair

Racine, WI

JM Longworth, Secretary

Rutland, VT

Jan Peterson, Treasurer

Omaha, NE

Kelsey Brown

Brooklyn, NY

Jessica Davis

Norristown, PA

Emily E. Ewing

Des Moines, IA

Jeff Johnson

Berkeley, CA

Margarette Ouji

Berkeley, CA

Suzannah Porter

Baltimore, MD

Clyde Andrew Walter

Glenview, IL

A Post-Election Pastoral Letter by ELM Executive Director, Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson

On Holy Saturday, when believers find ourselves in the liminal space of “Yes! And, not yet!” we have a tradition of gathering for a great vigil. With the elements of fire and water to accompany us, we allow the grief and unknowing of the moment to take refuge in the company of the communion of saints, as we, together, nestle into the great wonder and mystery of God.

It is in this tender moment when we retell the stories of our faith that remind us that it is God who created us into being! It is God who parted the seas and liberated her people! It is God who breathed new life into dry bones! It is God who saved Daniel in the den!

It is God who is the great, creative wonder of the universe that raised Christ from death to life!

We locate ourselves in this narrative not simply as a tonic for our temporary woes. We locate ourselves in this great narrative to settle into the truth of God’s reign, which is from everlasting to everlasting.

Throughout God’s narrative, there have been kings and rulers and presidents — some great and some greedy. And, none of them are the saviors of the world; that is Christ alone.

We should not seek to find Christ in Caesar’s palace — Christ has not and will never reside there.

Christ resides with the poor and the desolate. Christ marches in the uprisings for Black lives. Christ huddles with the caged children in their cells. Christ tends to the under-employed and uninsured. Christ dwells with those without house or home.

It is there we will find Christ in the world — where we will find real truth and hope and purpose. 

This neither dismisses our duty to vote nor our strong calling to participate in the systems that govern our daily lives — those are acts of Christian love that seek to ensure that the Christian values of radical love and justice are embodied in those systems which have so much responsibility and power over God’s people — the very people with whom Christ resides.

Embedding ourselves in the great narrative of God and reminding ourselves of Christ’s presence in the world is a practice not meant to admonish our actions but to ground them.

No matter the queen or ruler or president who resides in Caesar’s palace, “Our soul waits for the Lord; they are our help and shield. Our heart is glad in them, because we trust in their holy name. Let your steadfast love, O God, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” (Psalm 30:20-22)

“The Art of Enduring, For Holy Saturday” by Jan Richardson

This blessing

can wait as long

as you can.


This blessing

began eons ago

and knows the art

of enduring.

This blessing

has passed

through ages

and generations,

witnessed the turning

of centuries,

weathered the spiraling

of history.

This blessing

is in no rush.

This blessing

will plant itself

by your door.

This blessing

will keep vigil

and chant prayers.

This blessing

will bring a friend

for company.

This blessing

will pack a lunch

and a thermos

of coffee.

This blessing

will bide

its sweet time

until it hears

the beginning

of breath,

the stirring

of limbs,

the stretching,



of what had lain

dead within you

and is ready

to return.

Amanda Gerken-Nelson (she/her/hers) — Amanda has not missed participating in an election since turning 18. Amanda gives thanks to her elders and comrades who have paved the paths for her right to vote, for agency over her body, to live publicly out, to be legally married, and to start a family.

Faith & Politics: Rev. Matt James

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6.3-5)

We spend much our lives not knowing, well, much of anything really! Especially about our faith, that’s why they call it faith right?! But it feels like lately, and especially right now, as we look to what everyone is calling a historic election, I don’t know of anyone who feels certain about the outcome of the election and what it may bring, whatever the results may be, whenever the results may be…

And I don’t really have any wise words of counsel or deep words of wisdom to alleviate all that this unknowing brings.

So we remain in this state of uncomfortable unknowing. Unknowing about the future of the United States of America. Unknowing about the future legitimacy-by-the-state of many of our relationships. Unknowing about how or whether our beautiful Brown, Black, trans, non-binary, queer bodies will ever be fully honored, fully embraced, fully protected by our elected officials.

But in the midst of this unknowing, all I can do, all I can manage really, is to trust in what I do know: my life, my identity as one baptized into the death and resurrection of my sibling, Jesus Christ. God’s own, God in the flesh, God who came to walk with us, and live with us, and whom we die with right alongside. It is my Savior, my Redeemer, the God who has seen multitudes of my forebears through the full expanse of what humanity might experience: pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy; fear and gladness; life and death. This is a God, I know can, has, and will hold me through all the days of my life.

And so dear ones, as you gather together in your communities, in whatever form that means for you. As we, together, wait and watch for what the future holds, know that I hold you in gentle prayer, know that your God, your beloved Creator, Redeemer, and, yes, Sustainer holds you in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

As we wait and watch, let us pray:

Holy One, Loving Creator,

You name us, and know us, and love us down to the last atom of our being. In the uncertainties, and doubts, and fears that these days throw at us. We thank you for the sure and certain knowledge of your lovingkindness poured out on your whole creation. 

We commend all that we have, all that we are: our decision making, our candidates and elected leaders, our fears, our anxieties, our mental illness, our protest, our joy, our beloved communities; Our whole being, O God, we commend to you.

In these days ahead, send us your Spirit and keep watch Divine One, that we may know your gentle presence, your overflowing grace, and your fierce love, made real to us in your Beloved, Jesus Christ, our Sibling, and our Redeemer. Amen.


May it be so, dear friends, may it be so.

Matt James, Co-Chair, ELM Board