2022 Joel Workin Scholarship Announcement

Thank you for being a public witness to God’s extraordinary love for our world!

We invite you to apply for a scholarship for publicly-identified lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer+ Lutheran candidates for rostered ministry. The eligible applicant must be an LGBTQIA candidate for rostered ministry who is a member of Proclaim, the professional community of publicly-identified LGBTQIA Lutheran rostered ministers and candidates. Proclaim is a program of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. All application materials are due no later than February 3, 2022.

This honor is given in the name of Joel Raydon Workin, one of our movement’s saints. Joel was one of the three seminarians who came out about their sexual orientation to their Lutheran candidacy committees in 1989 (and were subsequently refused ordination). This act of faithfulness was the spark that ignited our movement of resistance and affirmation of LGBTQIA people called to rostered ministry in the Lutheran church. Joel passed away from AIDS on November 29, 1995. Upon Joel’s death, friends and family established a fund to honor his memory. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is the custodian of the fund and scholarship. Each year, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries names a Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholar.

Due to events related to the pandemic of 2021, no scholarship was awarded. In 2022, however, The Workin Committee will award two scholarships in the amount of $7,400 for qualified educational or candidacy expenses to two LGBTQIA candidate for rostered ministry. In addition, the 2022 Scholars will be invited throughout the year to be involved with various ELM activities. We request that all funds be used prior to December 1, 2022 and if possible, that all funds be used for a single event or activity.

Previous Workin Scholars include:

  • Reed Fowler
  • Cassie Hartnett
  • Leon LaCross
  • Benjamin Hogue
  • Christephor Gilbert
  • Justin Ferko
  • Amy Christine Hanson
  • Gretchen Colby Rode
  • Rebecca Seely
  • Asher O’Callaghan
  • Emily Ewing
  • Laura Kuntz
  • Julie Boleyn
  • Matthew James
  • Jen Rude

The Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholar is someone whose character and abilities are consistent with Joel’s legacy. Among these are: academic excellence, personal and professional integrity, courage in response to the church’s discriminatory policies, a passion for social justice, faithfulness to Jesus Christ and potential to become an effective leader in church and society.

 

Application Materials

The scholarship application includes the following components:

  • Essay
    •  Attached is a PDF of Joel’s essay, “Overflowing.” Joel’s writing is a gift and we hope you find his essays useful throughout your ministry. Joel was a brilliant writer and your essay is one of the most important parts of your application. This year’s writing includes a brief paragraph response and a 1,000 – 1,500 word essay on the attached Workin essay.
  • A copy of your current resume.
    • Please note any Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries/Proclaim activities.
  • A professional recommendation from someone (professor, pastor or other rostered professional) who can testify to your qualifications specific to this honor and award.
    • The recommendation letter should be on official letterhead.
  • Copy of your transcript from seminary or divinity school (unofficial is fine).

 

All materials are due no later than Thursday, February 3, 2022.

All application materials must be submitted electronically in PDF to workinscholarship@elm.org. Please put “Joel R. Workin Scholarship Application” in the subject line. You may submit your letter of reference with other materials, or your reference letter writer may email it directly.

The scholarship committee will notify applicants of its decision on or before Feb 7, 2022.

On behalf of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Joel’s family and friends, and the members of Proclaim, we commend this opportunity to you and invite your application. We hope that you will consider honoring Joel’s memory in this way.

If you have any questions, please email operations@elm.org.

 

The Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship Committee:

Michael Price Nelson (chair)  

Greg A. Egertson

Rev. Jeff R. Johnson

Rev. Becca Seely

Rev. Matt James

Rev. Kelsey Brown

 

2022 Joel R. Workin Essay

Joel Workin was known for his prophetic and expansive voice. His friends refer to his “humor, incisive mind, and deep, caring spirit.” Even now, decades after these essays were written, Joel’s words are fresh and relevant. We bring Joel’s voice to life each year as we invite Workin Scholar applicants to read and respond to Joel’s writing in new ways. Each year, we seek to find Joel’s voice in new ways through new voices.

Please submit the following two pieces of writing.

 

  1. Please write a paragraph or two in response to the following question: What is the prophetic word that LGBTQIA people can bring to the church today?
  2. Please read Joel’s essay entitled “Overflowing” (linked here) and write a 1,000 – 1,500 word reflection on the passage below:
    • As an LGBTQIA person, where have you heard and spoken “Yes, period” and “No, period” on your journey of call thus far? In this challenging and uncertain time of pandemic and polarization, do you see the church being called to move more fully into God’s “Yes, period” and what particular gifts do you think LGBTQIA people bring to God’s people?

ELM Advent Haiku -Noah Herren

 

 


Image Description: Photo of a sparks & ambers from a fire with the words: salt and light converge, the Spark beckons from afar, Come! See! A New Thing… Noah Oliver Herren


 

Rev. Noah Oliver Herren (he/him/his) is the Pastor of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Atlanta, GA. Noah attributes his passion for ministry and spirituality to a journey of reconciling multiple theologies and his experience as a transgender man raised in the deep South. In his downtime you will find him amassing books he may read one day, forest bathing, binging Netflix, falling down virtual rabbit holes, creating things, and spending time with friends and family. 

ELM Advent Haiku: Caleb Crainer

 
 

 
Image Description: Photo of a manger on a hay covered floor with the the words A small beginning, A medium long lived life, A large unfurling by Caleb Crainer
  

 
 
Caleb Crainer (he/him/his) serves as pastor at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Los Angeles, California and Dean of the LA Metro Conference in the Southwest California Synod. He serves as the First-Call Accompaniment Coaching Convener in Proclaim. His favorite parts of ministry are getting to read whatever he wants and meandering into grace every day.  

ELM Advent Haiku: Carla Christopher-Wilson

 

Article Image
Image Description: photo of a starry night and church with the words, Held breath beneath stars, searching for one to way point. The Guide is within. By Carla Christopher Wilson.

 


 

The Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson (she/her/hers) is Assistant to the Bishop in Charge of Justice Ministries for Lower Susquehanna Synod and Associate Pastor of Faith Formation and Outreach for Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  CarlaChristopher.Com and @RevCarlaChristopher on Facebook or @Rev.CarlaChristopher on Instagram.

Queer Scripture Reflections – Rev. Kevin O’Hara

 

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

 But [King Rehoboam] disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus you should say to this people who spoke to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us’; thus you should say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”

 

– 1 Kings 12:8-11

 


 

This past June, I celebrated 10 years of ordination, and I must say, I know less now than I did when I first started in this ministry.  After taking seminary classes where I heard that people are rational and that slow, deliberate changes can align a church within a few years (or at least, that’s what I think I heard), I have learned that on this side of the pandemic and political aftershocks, rationality is not always a gift people possess (even at times in my own life, if I am to confess truthfully).

King Rehoboam was around 40 years of age when he started to reign and his tenure lasted almost 20 years.  If his leadership is credited with one thing, it’s that the dis-united kingdom of Israel fractured even more during his time.  No politician wants to be remembered for the fragmentation of society or the great civil war that could cause great risk economically and, familiarly, defensively.

So, I’m always surprised by Rehoboam, especially given his age, that as people cried out against the burden of inequality and inequity, he acquired separate advice from the elder leadership and from his friends.  The elder leadership cautioned slow but assured measures towards the labor union’s concerns; his friends sided with a dictatorial relationship: ramp up the oppression.  In fact, the friends were so flippant that they were willing to be debase themselves with a derogatory comment; “tell them,” they coaxed Rehoboam, “that your pinky finger is thicker than my father’s… [insert colorful description here].”  This argument borders a Levitical law about not uncovering your father’s nakedness [see Levicitus 18:6-7 and Genesis 9:20-27].  This vulgarity is just an example of how rash our world is today to dismiss voices we don’t want to hear.

Which brings me to my point: I know less now than what I did, and I’m afraid that I’ll know even less as the years go on.  Dear fearless(?) leader, remember King Rehoboam.  Challenge the voices that exclude or want to make lives harder out there for those who are already working more than their fair share and not getting farther in their equality and equity.  Don’t forget that progress means we’re always fluctuating between conversations and holding the tensions of many voices.  And when you want to go harder (as will happen), remember that the severance of God’s word and world are at stake.

 


 
 
Rev. Kevin O’Hara (he/him) is the pastor of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Pleasantville, New York.  He has served as conference dean, chair of a local campus ministry, and on various synod committees.  He enjoys reading, gardening, and playing with his cats and turtles (yes, turtles play!).
 

Queer Scripture Reflections – Bridget Gautieri

 

 

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

The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

John 17:22-23


It is not easy being a foreigner. I have been living in Leipzig, Germany for a year now, and it’s honestly been the most difficult year of my life. I moved to a new country in the middle of the Covid lockdown, applied for jobs and a visa, searched for an apartment, and experienced the very tragic deaths of friends and family members. One of the hardest parts of being here has been the lack of a local church community.

Leipzig is in former East Germany, which is, as a whole, not very religious. The churches that are here skew conservative, and it is very apparent to me that welcoming LGBTQIA+ people is something that is simply not talked about. I’ve yet to see any LGBTQIA+-affirming statements on any church website, there are no rainbow flags flying from the front of church buildings, and I’ve not yet been to a church here where I felt fully comfortable and accepted as a queer person. Whereas in the US, both in my seminary community and in organizations such as ELM, it’s been relatively easy to unite my queer and Christian identities, in Germany, this is a lot more challenging.

While I haven’t found a church community in Leipzig, I have found the most loving and accepting queer community here. They have become my church.

For many of us LGBTQIA+ people, we have experienced Christ’s unfailing love in queer community more often than in Christian community. I yearn for the day when the two shall become one, not just in a few places but in all places. I want my queer community to receive love, support, and grace from the church, and I want my church community to experience the love, comradery, and deep understanding I have received and given in the queer community.

Finding a church that celebrates LGBTQIA+ people isn’t yet possible everywhere, but there’s more than one way to be church. My queer community in Leipzig has grieved with me, laughed and cried with me, accompanied me to doctor’s appointments, and even worshipped with me. God shows us time and time again that community like this is holy, no matter where you find it.  

I leave this blessing for you: May God bless you and help you find a community that loves you and uplifts you for who you are. May God bring you love and peace on your way. May God unite what has been divided, and may God help us to create communities where all are loved, included, and celebrated.

Amen.


Bridget Gautieri (she/her) graduated with her Master of Divinity from United Lutheran Seminary in May 2020. She has since relocated to Leipzig, Germany where she teaches English to adults and children alike. She will return to the USA in a couple of years to start her first call, and is thankful for this time of doing something different in a new country.

Queer Scripture Reflections – Drew Stever

 

We are all being transfigured.

 

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

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

— Matthew 17: 1-8


There was a 3×4 mirror on the wall across from me as I sat on the doctor’s examination bed while they unwrapped the bandages and took out the drains. 

It had been about a week and a half of recovery from top surgery. A week and a half of being bandaged, sore, and out of it. I wasn’t totally aware of the world (but I was somehow acutely aware of the fact that I had watched every single episode of The Great British Bakeoff.) 

I sat there and watched as she gingerly exposed my bare chest – you could see the wrinkles from the slight tightness of the bandages, a little bit of dried blood from the drains, and the quickly healing scars on my chest. 

I sat there silently while she inspected the incision sites, my (removed than re-applied) nipples, and the holes where the drains were in. I sat there and became totally unaware of her presence and became hyper aware of my body. Not me – my body. 

I both didn’t recognize myself, and also fully recognized myself at the same time. I didn’t recognize this new shape that was sitting across from me in the mirror. Yet, I did recognize this new shape because it felt like an old shape at the same time. An old home. A place that I had visited before, but couldn’t exactly recollect the exact time or date. A dream place that was now fully materialized before me. 

Transfigured. 

Suddenly I felt the presence of those who had blazed the trail in order for me and many others – Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Riviera, and Lucy Hicks Anderson. Michael Dillon, Alan L. Hart, and Willmer Broadnax. I could feel their pride, joy, compassion, and their hope. I could hear them deliver the message, “This is my Son, with him I am well pleased.”

I left that appointment believing one thing: that our current selves, that Jesus’ self, that the disciples selves, are only one evolution of who we are soon to become, who God dreamt us of being. If we find ourselves feeling burdened by the ways in which we currently find ourselves, wait. Have faith. Do not be afraid. Look. Notice your community (be it ancestral, or earthly.) The transfiguration will come.


Rev. Drew Stever (he/they) serves as Lead Pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in Hollywood, CA. He believes the world needs more laughter, so you’ll probably hear and see him and his family doing a lot of things that are just plain ridiculous and hilarious. They call it “Holy Hilarity.”

Queer Scripture Reflections: JJ Godwin

For the Love of Lazarus

 

We know the story of Lazarus. As a seminarian I love learning about John 11:35 “Jesus wept.” As they say: it’s the shortest scripture in the bible. And, the word wept, in the aorist tense, is from the root δακρύω, dakruó, to weep, and is only found in the bible here in this verse. 

What’s more, is that this weeping happens after Jesus asked for and was taken to where Lazarus laid in his tomb. Those around Jesus notice this weeping and call out: “Witness, see, how (Jesus) loved (Lazarus).” The word translated as “loved” in this text is translated from Greek, φιλέω, phileó, meaning “warm affection in intimate friendship, characterized by tender, heartfelt consideration and kinship.” This kind of cherishing of someone in Greek would probably include loving someone so deeply, so intimately, that it would be impossible not to kiss them.

Lazarus, a eunuch and his two barren sisters, Mary and Martha, seem to be Jesus’ family of choice, Jesus’ kin. In Bishop Rohrer’s book Queerly Lutheran, it states “Ancient Israelites believed there were more than two genders: male, female, barren women and Eunuchs. (p 63)” Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, now retired leader of Metropolitan Community Churches, shared in her book Outing the Bible that it was possible that Mary and Martha were sisters as much as Maureen and her lesbian partner, Joanne, are “sisters” in the musical Rent; when Maureen famously says in the song La Vie Boheme, “Hey, Mister, she’s my sister.”

Still, Jesus seems to love Lazarus so much that he thanks God, his Father, for hearing Jesus’ plea for Lazarus as the tomb is rolled away. (v 41) Jesus loves Lazarus so much that Jesus wants to be near him after being in a cave for four days (v 39). Jesus exclaims to Lazarus to come out (v 43) so that the crowd standing around Jesus may know that God sent Jesus here for this moment. (v 42). The name “Lazarus” itself is derived from Hebrew, אלעזר, Elʿāzār (Eleazar), meaning “God has helped.” 

For the love of Lazarus, for his queer kin, Jesus helped.

 

JJ Godwin(they/them) is a genderqueer certified peer supporter living in Texas with their spouse, Michelle; their dog, Radar, and cat, Summit. JJ is in their final year at Luther Seminary studying Divinity and seeking ordination in the Word and Service roster of the ELCA. JJ is in candidacy with the Deaconess Community and a member of Proclaim. JJ is called to mental health chaplaincy and can be found in peer support group ministry on HeyPeers.com and PeerHopes.com. JJ practices self-care sabbath by taking their blue Nissan Frontier 4×4, named Buckbeak, out for hiking and bike riding in nearby state parks, with spouse and dog.

Queer Scripture Reflections – Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson

 
Image Description: photo of the book of Genesis and the ELM logo with the title: Queer Scripture Reflections.
John 12:4-6 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)
 
John 13:29 Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 
 
Obscure and not often quoted scriptures, but ones that grip me when combing the scriptures for evidence of Jesus’ views and experiences of what it meant to be a family as an adult, since earlier in this blog series we explored the beautiful queerness of Jesus’ childhood multi-parent family. 
 
We know that Jesus asked 12 guys to leave behind their families to cleave to him for life using phrases very similar to traditional marriage vows. We know this group lived, ate, traveled, prayed, napped, and attended parties and weddings together. We know Jesus turned to them in fear and grief as his support network. We know they protected each other and were willing to fight for each other and worried about each other. They fought and forgave. They worked extensively at healthy and clear communication. Then there’s these Bible verses.
 
One of this created chosen family is referenced as keeping the common purse for Jesus and all the Disciples, not once, but twice. Not only does this unit of at least mostly same-gendered partners (I only trust pronoun translation so far after 2,000 years but that’s another blog) care for each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually, they are also united financially in a very practical and trusting way.
 
There is no mention in the texts about the Disciples if they were having sex. Nothing says they weren’t, as they traveled together and comforted each other. It’s almost as if intimate partnership could be aromantic, asexual OR romantic or sexual, and to name that as a primary definition of chosen family is of secondary importance. 
 
In short; the Disciples, queer. Beautifully, lovingly, richly, connected. The early church’s first and the New Testament’s most thoroughly documented and central family unit. There is much we can learn from their family/community of care.
 
 

The Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson (she/her/hers) is Assistant to the Bishop in Charge of Justice Ministries for Lower Susquehanna Synod and Associate Pastor of Faith Formation and Outreach for Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. CarlaChristopher.Com and @RevCarlaChristopher on Facebook or @Rev.CarlaChristopher on Instagram.

The Family of Jesus

 

by Alex Aivars

Then the people began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 

– John 6:41-42

 

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

I’ve been thinking more and more about having kids. My boyfriend and I have had a few conversations about the subject. 

 

A little research brings up a host of options for us. Those options include adoption, surrogacy, foster care, to name a few. 

With all of these options it will mean that for us to have a child and create a family with kids, it will involve more than simply the two of us. There will still always be at least one more person, maybe even more than one, or an organization, or some other type of legal entity, involved in the creation of our family with kids.

I see something similar in the creation of the family of Jesus.

At the conception of Jesus, yes, there were only two entities involved: God and Mary. When Joseph learns of this pregnancy without him, we are told that Joseph is thinking of leaving Mary. But God persuades Joseph to stay and for them to be husband and wife and raise Jesus as their own son.

This solidifies the family of Jesus. Except Jesus didn’t have only two parents, Mary and  Joseph. In the family of Jesus, there were three parents: Mary, Joseph, and God.

God became the third entity in the life and family of Jesus.

Those around Jesus didn’t understand the family structure that included Jesus. Those around him knew Jesus had earthly parents in Mary and Joseph. And yet, here was Jesus talking about coming down from heaven. At one point Jesus even says that he’s the Son of God. This made no sense to them. A person could only have two parents, not three. 

And yet, Jesus did indeed have three parents: Mary, Joseph, and God.

For myself and my boyfriend, the creation of a family with kids involves more than two people. Just like in the creation of the family of Jesus.

In our baptisms, we become part of this family of Jesus. God was, and continues to be, always with Jesus, doting on their son. God is always with us as well, doting on us. Because God will never leave us. All of us will always be children of God.


 

Alex Aivars (he/him) is currently in his first call as pastor of  St. Stephen Lutheran Church in Lansing, MI. Since this is a part-time call, he also develops websites for businesses, non-profits, and other churches. In his spare time he likes to read, hike, bike, ski, and make art out of post-in notes.