Rev. Jay Wiesner, ELM, elected Dean of the Central Philadelphia Conference

We received the following news this weekend from ELM volunteer Candidacy & Credentialing Chair Fred Wolfe, a member of University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation in Philadelphia:

“In one of the less observed, but just as significant events of the Southeast Pennsylvania Synod assembly, the Rev. Jay Wiesner, ELM pastor of University Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, was elected Dean of the Central Philadelphia Conference. This is significant in that Jay was not there as a voting member, as well as that he ran against two other pastors. Outgoing Dean Tim Poston announced the results to thunderous applause in the over-crowded break-out-room. The Holy Spirit was indeed busy in Franconia PA this weekend.”

ELM in DC Again

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Co-Chair Pastor Erik Christensen and Executive Director Amalia Vagts (pictured at right) were in Washington, D.C. last week for the Human Rights Campaign’s Clergy Call. Pastor Erik and Amalia joined several hundred others, including ELM friends Pastor Jim & Diane DeLange and Pastor Bradley Schmeling, for the two-day conference and lobby day.

The first day consisted of speakers and conversation about transgender issues (including information about HRC’s new transgender curriculum) and diversity; and an update on marriage equality; and updates from President Obama’s Council on Faith-based Initiatives. The day ended with a lively two hour interfaith service.

The group met with members of Congress to discuss legislation that would add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and disability to federal hate crimes legislation and the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, which would make prohibit job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

ELM Pastors in DC

Pastor Jay Wilson (ELM) and Pastor Megan Rohrer (ELM) joined hundreds of other transgender faith leaders in Washington, D.C. this past week for the National Center for Transgender Equality’s Religious Leaders Summit and Lobby Day.

Pastor Jay and Pastor Megan met with members during a critical week as the U.S. House debated the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H. R. 1913), moving one step closer to the passage of the first federal law to include gender identity and transgender people in a positive way. This bill would add sexual orientation, gender identity, gender and disability to the categories included in existing federal hate crimes law and would allow federal involvement in instances when the local government is unable or unwilling to address hate crimes.

Get the story directly from Pastor Megan here:

(Photo: Rev. Megan Rohrer)

About Jodi Barry, no make that PASTOR Jodi Barry!

The Rev. Jodi Barry was ordained on Saturday, October 25, 2008. Jodi was called by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries to ordained ministry as a hospital chaplain. The ordination was hosted by Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church,where Jodi serves as part-time youth director in addition to her call as a hospital chaplain.

Jodi was the 16th person to be extraordinarily ordained, since the first ordinations of Pastors Ruth Frost, Phyllis Zillhart and Jeff Johnson in 1990. Pastor Jodi is the 8th person to be extraordinarily ordained in the last two years. We called these ordinations “extraordinary” because they happen outside the “ordinary” process of the Lutheran church. Jodi identifies as lesbian and is in a committed partnership. The Evangelical Lutheran Church currently prohibits gay pastors from serving unless they abide by church policy requiring celibacy for gay pastors. The tradition of these ordinations stems from the early Reformation writings in the Book of Concord: “When the regular bishops become enemies of the Gospel or are unwilling to ordain, the churches retain their right to do so…”

You can read about the event in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune by clicking here.

The ordination was beautiful and moving, with over 200 people in attendance and several dozen clergy involved in the service. Pastors Mary Halvorson and Dan Garnaas from Grace and Pastor Anita Hill from St.Paul-Reformation Church (in St. Paul, MN) led the service.

The next day, I attended church at Grace. Many members of the congregation greeted me and thanked me for the work Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has done to make Jodi’s ordination possible. Pastor Mary Halvorson’s sermon was about being “true,” in the sense of “faithful.” She referenced Saturday’s reforming act of ordination in her message and the first prayer of the day was for Pastor Jodi and her ministry. At the end of the service, members got up to make various announcements. Jodi stood to thank people for Saturday. She introduced herself as “Jodi Barry.” Several people called out, “no, PASTOR Jodi Barry!” and then there was rolling and sustained applause. Jodi talked about what the day meant to her. Another member, referencing the sermon, called out, “It was true!” And it was.

"I was there. I saw it."

“You have been revealed, I was there – I saw it – you are children of God, bearers of the message that we are all children of God. I will tell the truth about that wherever I go, and you will tell the truth about what you saw and heard.”
Rev. Erik Christensen’s sermon on 1/20/08

“I was there. I saw it.”

These words were a sort of refrain in Rev. Erik Christensen’s sermon at Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 20, 2008, the day after they called and ordained Pastor Jen Nagel.

The gospel reading for that day (John 1:29-42) began “The next day….” But before we could really listen to what would come next, we had to ask what just happened.

We had all witnessed an extraordinary ordination, attended by hundreds of people from across the Twin Cities and around the nation. Jen Nagel was the 13th pastor since 1990 to be called and ordained by a Lutheran congregation that was standing up to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s policy against ordaining pastors in same-sex partnerships (or those in principled noncompliance to that policy). We gathered to be reminded of our baptism and to set apart for public ministry Pastor Jen Nagel. Pastor Jen was the 13th since 1990, but she was the 5th since October of 2007, showing the momentum among churches opening their pulpits to pastors of all sexual orientation and gender identity.

Even those who weren’t there are witness to the powerful work that is happening because of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

Gifts to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries mean so much. We cannot operate with your support–ELM is funded entirely by individuals and congregations. We need your support now because this year we hope to do more than ever before.

Your gift to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries does the following:

  • Provides direct support to Mission Partners–openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Lutheran pastors serving congregations and specialized ministries.
  • Helps us reach out to new congregations, seminary students, and pastors not yet on our roster
  • Provides emergency response to pastors being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Raise awareness that God calls people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to ordained ministry in the Lutheran church.

Thank you for your support and for considering a gift!