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Roster Profiles

The Rev. Donna Simon

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The Rev. Donna Simon

Rev. Donna Simon is a Midwesterner by birth (and temperament), though she has spent much of her life on the West Coast. She is a graduate of San Francisco State University and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California.

Pastor Donna was called into ministry from a volunteer position as church youth director at Messiah Lutheran Church, Redwood City, California. After she began spending more and more time at church, working with youth and volunteering for pretty much everything else, her pastor encouraged her to attend seminary.  She began studies at PLTS in 1995.  She had the privilege of returning to Ann Arbor, Michigan–her first home–in 1998-99 for an internship at Lord of Light Lutheran Church and Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Michigan.

When Donna appeared before her ELCA candidacy committee in 1999 for the final step before ordination, she told them that she would not pledge compliance with the church’s Vision and Expectations Statement, which requires lifelong celibacy for gay and lesbian candidates. Though the candidacy panel recommended approval, the full committee postponed her approval pending change in denominational policy.

Donna was approved by the candidacy committee of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (a root organization of ELM) later that year, and called to serve Abiding Peace Lutheran Church in August of 2000. She has been blessed to be in ministry there ever since.

Abiding Peace’s mission in the world is continuing to advocate for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church, and working with other marginalized communities in and around the Kansas City Metro area. Abiding Peace is a proud member of Communities Creating Opportunity, a faith-based community organizing federation in the Metro.  Through their work with CCO, Abiding Peace has developed a strong outreach to our homeless neighbors in the Northland area. The congregation continues to look for new ways to serve and opportunities to be in mission for Jesus Christ.

Read here blog here.

Rev. Donna Simon was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Steve Robertson

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The Rev. Steve Robertson

Rev. Steve Robertson is a graduate of Luther Seminary and was ordained on June 10, 1979. Steve served as Associate Pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in East Bethel, Minnesota before becoming the Senior Pastor of Cambridge Lutheran Church in Cambridge, MN.  Following an 11 year ministry in Cambridge, Steve was called to become the senior pastor of Atonement Lutheran Church in Overland Park, KS. His last call in the ELCA was as the senior pastor of Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN.

In 2006 Steve was removed from ELCA roster after a three year leave of absence and discernment process.  Following this period in his life Steve fully came out as a gay man in a same sex committed relationship.  Steve is currently serving as a Spiritual Coordinator/Bereavement Counselor for AseraCare Hospice, Bloomington. Steve is  currently a member of St. Paul Reformation Lutheran Church.

The Rev. Dale Poland

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Rev. Dale Poland

Rev. Dale Poland is currently serving as a spiritual care provider at VITAS Innovative Hospice Care in San Jose, CA.  Dale, a native of Rio, WV, graduated from Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary with academic honors in New Testament Studies in 1991. Previously, he had earned a Bachelors’ of Science Degree in Forestry and Wildlife Resources from Virginia Tech in1987.

Dale was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor of St. Mark Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA), Wheeling, WV on July 14, 1991 and was  rostered with the West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod. In the summer of 1995 he was issued a new call as the sole pastor of St. Mark Church. In 1999 Dale left parish ministry and completed three successive CPE residencies at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh, West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown, WV, and St. Anthony Hospitals in Denver, CO.

Dale resigned from the ELCA ordained roster in 2002 over its unjust policies toward gay and lesbian clergy. In 2003 he was added to the roster of the ECP and later to the roster of ELM. Dale has worked in hospice care for the last ten years in Colorado and California and currently resides in San Jose, CA with his partner, Mauricio Cuevas

Rev. Dale Poland was reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster through the Rocky Mountain Synod in 2010.

The Rev.Terry Hagensen

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
Terry Hagensen

Rev. Terry Hagensen

“In my call to ministry, my relationship with the church is one of love, respect and forgiveness as I continue to be part of  the effort to bring full inclusion to God’s family and church.”

Terry and his partner Kevin Estenson have four kids and two grandkids. Terry is currently working for the medical business until he is received a call- then he hopes to return to full time ministry. Rev. Terry Hagensen was approved for reinstated to the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Dr. Jenny Mason

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

The Rev. Jenny Mason

The Rev. Jenny Mason served as an ELCA missionary in Santiago, Chile before being removed from the ELCA clergy roster in 2001 because of being an openly lesbian woman in relationship. More recently, Jenny served as Associate Pastor at Central City Lutheran Mission (CCLM) in San Bernardino, California, which was disciplined by the Synod for installing Jenny as an openly lesbian woman pastor. This resulted in the loss of both funding and official ELCA status as a congregation in development for this unique social ministry and active worship community.

She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, OH, and a Doctorate of Ministry in Proclamation from the Lutheran School of Theology, Chicago. Jenny moved to the Twin Cities in 2005 to live with her partner Jodi Barry, and now works as a Congregational Partnership Organizer for a faith-based developer of affordable housing.

Rev. Jenny Mason was approved for reinstatement to the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

The Rev. Pieter Oberholzer

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Rev. Pieter Oberholzer, serves as a Missionary in South Africa, who works with Inclusive and Affirming Ministries with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and is called by St. Francis Lutheran in San Francisco, CA.  In 2011 Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) recieved $8,000 for a mission grant from ELM.

This new grant will fund outreach to churches in southern Africa that are welcoming and affirming, where LGBTQ people can participate fully and be strengthened in their spiritual, psychological and sexual identity as human beings. IAM will host programs that support, empower and stimulate dialogue. Check out their new website (above).

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South Africa has one of the most inclusive constitutions in the world. Sexual minority people herald it as a prototype of ‘how things should be.’ With such a progressive governmental leadership, one might assume that South African churches are equally inclusive and progressive. Not so, says Rev. Pieter Oberholzer. In fact, it is just the opposite, gay and lesbian Christians are not recognized or welcome in the mainstream Christian churches. In fact, they are routinely condemned and despised.

Although there are several Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) congregations, there were no organizations such as Lutherans Concerned, Affirmation, or Dignity. A Gay and Lesbian Christian Outreach (GLCO) committee member recently announced the intention to start the very first Integrity chapter in South Africa at the St George’s Cathedral.

This dichotomy between secular and church realities creates an extraordinary need for ministry to both sexual minority people and the churches themselves. The Rev. Pieter Oberholzer began GLCO in 1995 to address this need. Oberholzer was a pastor of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands. A South African by birth, during the apartheid era he took refuge in Holland to avoid threats on his life, not because he is black, but because he is gay.

Oberholzer also wanted to enter the ministry and believed the Netherlands was the only place such a possibility existed. When South Africa ended apartheid and Nelson Mandela was elected president in 1994, the new government included in the constitution a bill of rights for gay and lesbian people, the first nation in the world to do so. With a small grant from the church in Holland, Pieter returned to South Africa and started an ecumenical ministry to gay and lesbian people in Capetown. This ministry also provides advocacy to the mainline churches in South Africa. His is a courageous, lone voice crying in a wilderness.

Pastor Oberholzer is the only staff person of GLCO. His ministry includes counseling, resource development, public dialogue, and workshops. In 1998 he counseled 175 individuals, seven couples and five parents. In his sermon at St. Francis in January Pastor Oberholzer told of working intensely with one gay who was estranged from his parents. One night pastor Pieter received a call from the man’s partner that he had attempted suicide and was in a coma. When the man’s parents arrived at the hospital, Oberholzer had to tell them that their son was gay. The parents were so repulsed they refused to see their son and when he died, they denied him Christian burial. More personally, Rev. Oberholzer is not recognized as an ordained minister in South Africa.

Because no church will recognize his ordination and he has been absent from the Netherlands for many years he is no longer on the roster of ordained clergy of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands. When asked how he is able to continue in the face of such rejection and isolation, Rev. Pieter Oberholzer credits his life partner and his years in the struggle against apartheid. During that time Pastor Oberholzer was imprisoned with Steve de Gruchy among others. de Gruchy is the son of theologian John W. de Gruchy, a name that is familiar to many U.S. Lutherans.

Two years ago, Pieter visited San Francisco and St. Francis Lutheran Church. He came to St. Francis because of a listing identifying the congregation as a supportive advocate for gay and lesbian people. He and Pastor Jim DeLange became acquainted and a correspondence ensued. LLGM decided to support Rev. Oberholzer and GLCO because of the courageous and necessary ministry he provides and because Pastor Oberholzer’s experience parallels those of other LLGM ministry partners. LLGM is deeply blessed by his presence and ministry among us. On January 17, 1999, in a rite of prayer at St. Francis, the congregation and LLGM made a commitment to continue to support and recognize Rev. Pieter Oberholzer as an ordained minister of Christ’s Church.

The Rev. Donn Rosenauer

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

The Rev. Donn Rosenauer

As a parish pastor for 25 years, Donn Rosenauer has approached congregational stewardship and fund raising activities as ministries that strengthen mission goals that impact the larger community.

Rosenauer has served Lutheran congregations in Watford City, ND, Rochester, MN; Zumbrota, MN; Lincoln, NE and Seattle, WA. During his seven years at Zumbrota, congregational giving increased 80 percent. In Zumbrota he spearheaded a drive that resulted in building a chapel for the community hospital. In Seattle he chaired a successful fund raising drive for the Northwest Religious Broadcasting Commission. As a Paul Harris fellow, Donn raised significant dollars for the Rotary Foundation.

Donn is a graduate of Texas Lutheran University with a major in communications. He holds a Master of Divinity from Wartburg Seminary, Dubuque, IA. Throughout his ministry, he served on numerous church and community boards and committees on local, regional, and national levels.

Donn has served as a Consulting Associate of Kairos for the past twelve years. During this time he has conducted major funding appeals in over one hundred congregations nationwide.

The Rev. Jeff Johnson

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

The Rev. Jeff Johnson

The Rev. Jeff R. Johnson has been privileged to serve as the pastor at University Lutheran Chapel and the Lutheran Campus pastor at the University of California, Berkeley since is fall in November 1999.

Prior to this call, he served as pastor of First United Lutheran Church in San Francisco’s Richmond District.  He was ordained on January 20, 1990.

Jeff is a 1984 graduate of California Lutheran University with BA degrees in History and German. In 1988, he received a MDiv (Master of Divinity) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. Upon graduation, he worked as Director of AIDS Education for Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, where he coordinated thefirst national ELCA Bishops Convocation on HIV and authored a curriculum series used by northern California Lutheran congregations responding to the HIV epidemic.

In 1990 he founded Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministry (now Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries) along with his colleagues, Pastors Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart, to provide an outreach to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Pr. Johnson serves on the steering committee of the East Bay Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice and is facilitator of the East Bay Interfaith Immigration Coalition.  He is on the Board of Directors for the SHARE Foundation for a new El Salvador. He serves on the Sierra Pacific Synod Council.  He is a member of the Sathergate Religious Council and the Spirituality Working Group at the University of California, Berkeley.  He is a supervisor in the teaching parish and internship programs at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Rev. Jeff Johnson with partner J Guadalupe Sanchez Aldaco

Previously, he has served as co-chair with Jeannine Jansson of Goodsoil at the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly in Orlando (2005), served on the Board and as president of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project, worked as an intern/mentor for Pacific School of Religion, was a chair of the Homelessness Task Force for the Telegraph Area

Association, and was on the board for San Francisco’s Religious Witness with Homeless People.  He was elected twice to be Dean of the San Francisco Conference of Lutheran Churches.

He lives in Oakland’s Piedmont District in a 1928 stucco bungalow with his partner J Guadalupe Sanchez Aldaco.  He enjoys a good mystery novel, learning Spanish, gardening in his back yard, fishing, home-repair, relaxing in coffee-shops, salsa dancing, walking by the Bay, and spending time with friends and family.

Rev. Jeff Johnson was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.

Cara Knutson

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Cara Knutson

I was born and raised in a family of faith that instilled deep values that continue to shape and form my identity to this day. Throughout my college years I searched to make my faith my own eventually discerning a call to ordained ministry while enrolled in graduate theological study. Through the next nine years I encountered many delays and roadblocks but still pursued where I felt God leading me. A wise friend once shared with me to pay attention to the opportunities that present themselves in life as this is one way a person can discern where God is calling them.

Through a series of events I was invited to apply to ELM and this summer was formally entered into the program. In the fall of 2009 I began seminary study at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton MN. I am looking forward to continued spiritual growth and formation through my courses at UTS and Luther Seminary and growing further into community with school, church, ELM and family.

My partner Maja Knutson and I were married in Des Moines IA in Aug. 2009 and are very excited at all the new beginnings in our life together. Maja’s family lives in the Twin Cities area and are delighted to have us living so close and have been incredibly loving and supportive.

Dr. Lisa Stenmark

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Lisa Stenmark

Lisa Stenmark earned her M.Div. from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, an MA in Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theological Union.  After serving for a year as an interim pastor in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she went on to Vanderbilt University where she earned her Ph.D. in Religious Studies.

She currently teaches at San Jose State University, in the Comparative Religious Studies Program.  She has been active in the science and religion discourse for over a decade and was the founder and Director of Women in Religion, Ethics and the Sciences (WiRES). She currently serves on steering committee of the American Academy of Religion’s Science, Technology and Religion Group, after serving as Co-Chair. Her scholarly interests include the implications of narrative trajectories for understanding the relationship between science, technology and religion, and rethinking the ways that religion, science and the science and religion discourse can and should engage in the public sphere and is currently working on a book entitled  A Disputational Friendship:  Religion, Science and Democracy.

In her spare time she practices Aikido (in which she has a Black Belt) and other martial arts, trains for triathlons and is an avid Science Fiction fan.