Supporting LGBTQIA+ Candidates for Ministry

ELM has been supporting and encouraging LGTBQIA+ candidates seeking rostered ministry in the Lutheran church since we began. Since 2009 the doors of the ELCA are now open to gay and lesbian pastors – and increasingly to bisexual, transgender, and queer-identifying people. However, LGBTQIA+ candidates still confront homophobia, heterosexism, and discrimination from the church  and in society.  ELM seeks to help the church live into its inclusive vision.  One way we do that is by accompanying and supporting LGBTQIA+ people called to ministry.  Our church needs these gifted leaders!

Download the one-page handout on Acccompaniment for LGBTQIA+ Candidates

The number of LGTBQIA+ persons in the candidacy process continues to grow. We think this is great news and a sign of the Spirit’s work among us!  While official policies have changed, navigating the candidacy and first call process as a LGBTQIA+ person can still be challenging.  ELM’s Accompaniment Team seeks to make sure that LGTBQIA+ candidates are aware of the program and of the team’s availability to support them in the process. 

In addition to direct work with those in Lutheran candidacy and first call candidates, the Accompaniment Team also seeks to develop relationships with synods and seminaries and to make resources available to candidates, candidacy committees, and synod staff to ensure respectful, effective, and meaningful engagement throughout the candidacy and first call process.

Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia
Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia


Are you an LGBTQIA+ person seeking to become a rostered leader in the Lutheran Church?

ELM is available to provide accompaniment, mentoring and advocacy as you enter or return to the candidacy process and while you await first call. We have a grassroots network of people experienced with Lutheran candidacy and LGBTQIA+ people who can provide guidance for you.  No need to go it alone!



For seminarians, candidates, or those in discernment:

Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia
Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia

+ The ELM Seminarian Outreach Team is a group of Proclaim members from each of the ELCA seminaries and those at non-ELCA schools who work together to connect and share resources with LGBTQIA+ seminarians on their campuses.

ELM Seminary Advocates are faculty or staff members at ELCA seminaries and some divinity schools who serve as a liason between ELM and the school and as an advocate for LGBTQIA+ students.

+ The Mysteries of the Ages: a handy guide for LGBTQIA+ people exploring or preparing for rostered ministry in the ELCA  -A peer-to-peer resource sharing insights and wisdom during initial discernment, candidacy, CPE, internship, first call and more.

For Candidacy Committees:

+ In December 2013, ELM released the resource, “Candidacy and LGBTQ Individuals.”  Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries has been working with openly LGBTQIA+ candidates for ministry for many years and has learned quite a bit in the process. This resource has developed out of that work and through extensive review and conversations with LGBTQIA+ candidates, Candidacy Committee members, seminary staff, and synodical personnel.

You can reach us at with questions, comments, or if you are seeking support and wish to learn more about this work.

History of Extraordinary Candidacy

Photo by Emily Garcia

Extraordinary candidacy began in 1993 with the formation of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project. The goal of extraordinary candidacy was to provide a way to ministry for people who were qualified to serve as Lutheran rostered leaders, but who were barred from serving in Lutheran denominations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  

Until 2009, the ELCA barred people in same-sex relationships from serving as rostered leaders.   All pastors were required to sign a statement that they would refrain from same-sex relationships. Dozens of people who would have been turned away from their call have been able to serve because of extraordinary candidacy and dozens of congregations were served by these leaders.  The Extraordinary Candidacy Project used procedures and policies nearly identical to the ELCA’s, and those credentialed for ministry attended Lutheran seminaries.  The Extraordinary Candidacy Project became part of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries in 2007.

Following the 2009 ELCA decision to allow people in same-sex relationships to serve as rostered leaders, ELM suspended its extraordinary candidacy program and turned our focus to providing accompaniment to LGBTQ people who are in candidacy in the Lutheran church.