St. Francis Gala Honoring Bp. Guy Erwin

Erwin Installation
Bp. Guy Erwin with members of Proclaim.


This festival Gala Dinner will honor The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, Bishop, Southwest California Synod. Please join us to celebrate the election of the first publicly identified LGBTQ ELCA bishop, who is a member of Proclaim!

ELM Executive Director Amalia Vagts and ELM Program Director Rev. Jen Rude are attending.  This event is a benefit for St. Francis and ELM. Get more information or RSVP by visiting here.

Rachael Johnson

ELM Bids Farewell & God Bless to Rachael Johnson

Rachael Johnson
Rachael Johnson

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries will say a sad and thankful farewell to staff member Rachael Johnson this week.

Rachael has worked in our Chicago office since October of 2008.  She began working two days a week as the Operations Coordinator, focusing mostly on administrative responsibilities for ELM. Over time, her role has grown to include managing most of our communications work, including maintaining the ELM website, blog and monthly eNewsletter. She has worked in all areas of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, from coordinating much of the Proclaim retreat logistics to fielding calls from donors and supporters. And on top of all of that, she’s kept our Chicago office humming! Many people in ELM have interacted with Rachael over the last nearly five years and she will be deeply missed.

We celebrate with Rachael as she and her partner, Johannes, begin a new life together in Oregon, where they both look forward to more opportunities to experience outdoor pursuits.

From Amalia, “I’m incredibly grateful for Rachael’s contributions to ELM during a time of great change for the organization. She’s been a steady and friendly voice and face and we will all miss her a great deal. I’ve heard from board members and donors this week expressing their sadness that she’s leaving ELM and their excitement about what lies ahead. On behalf of the whole ELM community, I say thank you, farewell, good luck & God bless!”

Anyone wishing to send a note of farewell can reach Rachael at her e-mail,, until Friday, August 9. Messages after that will be forwarded on to Rachael.

2013 Grant Recipient: Rev. David Eck

COUPLES ENRICHMENT: Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Fairview, NC: Rev. David Eck:  $2,000

Rev. David EckThis project grant will provide the starting money for LGBT Couples enrichment retreats. The program will offer 2 one-day retreats in 2013. The retreats will allow LGBT couples to come together for worship, Bible study, fellowship and relationship building. Rev. David Eck will lead portions of the retreat and it will serve couples in the Ashville, NC area.

“How will this ELM grant help you in your ministry?”

Pastor David: We are a small congregation with limited financial means.  This grant will help us to expand our ministry in a new and exciting way, becoming a more visible presence in the Asheville LGBT community. We became a Reconciling in Christ congregation earlier this year.  This project is the natural next step for us as a congregation that takes advantage of the gifts of the pastor and other church members we already have.

Pastor David hopes to develop a model for these kinds of retreats that can be shared with others across the country. The two day retreats are a chance to get their feet wet. Then they are setting their sights on an overnight retreat in 2014 and will go from there!

For more on ELM’s Ministry Grant program go to:

Rebecca Seely and Asher O’Callaghan named 2012 Workin Scholars

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries joyfully announces the 2012 Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholars, Rebecca Seely and Asher O’Callaghan. ELM named two scholars this year thanks to a generous gift.

The Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship program was created to honor the life and ministry of Joel Workin. Joel was one of the three gay seminarians who were refused ordination in 1989 after “coming out” to their candidacy committees. Joel’s family and friends created the scholarship fund following his death from AIDS in 1995.

This award comes with a scholarship to publicly-identified LGBTQ seminarians who embody Joel’s passion for justice and faith in their lives and ministry. In addition, the scholar represents ELM throughout the year. Co-Chairs of the Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholarship Endowment Committee are Rev. Jeff R. Johnson and Greg A. Egertson, beloved friends and classmates of Joel’s. The scholars were chosen from a pool of excellent candidates.

The scholarship is funded through the Joel R. Workin Memorial Endowment. Donors may make planned or immediate gifts to the endowment by contacting Amalia Vagts at 563-382-6277.

ELM congratulates and gives thanks for these two scholars.

Rebecca Seely

R. Seely

Becca has been involved with social justice issues for many years. She recently graduated from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut. She will be fulfilling her Lutheran Year at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary next year. Last year, Becca completed an internship as a chaplain at the Christian Hospital in St. Louis, MO. Becca received her undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, with a focus on European literature, history and philosophy and a minor in Jewish and Israel Studies.

While attending Wesleyan University Becca had her “own Damascus experience” while reading the Bible and classic Christian theology. She realized she was called to ministry. In her essay for the Workin Scholar program, Becca wrote,

“Reading about Jesus, I thought to myself, I believe this. I believe this crazy, amazing story. Everything I thought I knew about Christianity, about God, began to change, to become clearer. And Jesus Christ wasn’t opposed to justice—he is the one bearing the light. The dichotomy fell apart. The prison bars around my heart were opened. More fully myself than ever, I began anew in faith.”

Pastor Jeff Johnson serves on the scholarship committee and was a close friend of Joel Workin’s. Jeff said, “Becca has a way with words and images which for those privileged to have known Joel remind us a bit of him, who so loved language.”

Becca feels strongly that her coming out story and conversion story are forever linked as they are stories of new beginnings. Becca is passionate about creating open, diverse and safe spaces for all. When notified she received the scholarship Becca said:

“I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be named a Joel R. Workin Scholar and I am incredibly excited to learn, grow and serve with the ELM and Proclaim communities in this role over the next year.”

The scholarship committee felt that through her voice and unique experience they have discovered one who proudly gives voice to Joel’s memory and legacy for this coming year.

Read Becca’s Workin essay here. 

Asher O’Callaghan

Asher O'CallaghanAsher came to the Lutheran church via House For All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. In 2011 he finished his graduate coursework at Iliff School of Theology in Denver and begins at Luther Seminary this fall. Asher has a focus on service to others through mission work, caring for those with mental health concerns, and making personal witness as a person who found Christ anew in Lutheran liturgy and theology.

“I can’t help but take off my shoes and commend my feet to go and do likewise for the sake of others receiving what was offered to me at the queer-friendly church I incredulously stumbled into a couple years ago. There I saw bread being broken and heard words that shattered my heart and transformed my life: Beloved child of God: Behold who you are. Become what you have received.”

Asher brings an international perspective into his ministry work since he spent the summer of 2007 in South Africa and Swaziland. He collaborated with local mission partners and the 11 other members of his team to design and implement day programs, HIV/AIDS educational presentations, events, and activities for youth. Additionally, he worked to empower individuals recovering from mental illness by accompanying, supervising, and working alongside of them while volunteering at Boulder Mental Health Center for 2 years in college.

When asked how it feels to be named a Workin scholar Asher replied,

It is such an honor to receive this scholarship. I use the word “honor” because it’s not something I feel I get to deserve or earn but rather something that I simply get to receive. Joel’s prophetic yet pastoral voice was a blessing to the church and a hopeful blessed witness for LGBTQ individuals. The opportunity I have to be pursuing a path in ministry is a direct result of the work that’s already been done by Joel and other LGBTQ folks who have lived as God’s witnesses, prophets, and servants to the church. I feel profoundly humbled, convicted, honored, and blessed to continue in this heritage of proclamation—with every aspect of my calling, ministry, and identity.

The scholarship committee recognized in Asher a voice that is, like Joel’s, fearless and prophetic in its Gospel proclamation.

Read Asher’s Workin essay here. 


Speakers & workshop leaders at the 2012 Proclaim retreat

Keynote Speaker:BishopRobinson__042
The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire
(Photo credit to BProud Photography, Philadelphia)

V. Gene Robinson was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire on June 7,
2003, having served as Canon to the Ordinary (Assistant to the Bishop) for nearly 18 years. He
was consecrated a Bishop on All Saints Sunday, November 2, 2003, and was invested as the
Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire on March 7, 2004.

A 1969 graduate of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee, he has a B.A. in American
Studies/History. In 1973, he completed the M.Div. degree at the General Theological Seminary
in New York, was ordained deacon, and then priest, serving as Curate at Christ Church,
Ridgewood, New Jersey. Upon moving to New Hampshire in 1975, Gene co-owned and directed
an ACA accredited horseback riding summer camp for girls. As Founding Director of Sign of
the Dove Retreat Center, in Temple, New Hampshire, he led retreat programs for vestries,
diocesan committees, intergenerational groups, and all kinds of parish groups.

From 1978 to 1985, Gene was Youth Ministries Coordinator for the seven dioceses of New
England, serving two years on the National Youth Ministries Development Team, where he
helped originate the national Episcopal Youth Event. From 1983 until his election as bishop,
Gene also served as Executive Secretary of Province I, coordinating all cooperative programs
between the seven dioceses of New England.

Clergy wellness has long been a focus of Gene=s ministry, and in the nineties he developed the
ABeing Well in Christ@ conference model for The Cornerstone Project, and led clergy conferences
in over 20 dioceses in the U.S. and Canada. He initiated “Fresh Start,” a two-year mentoring
program for all clergy in new positions in New Hampshire, and co-authored the Fresh Start
curriculum, now in use in nearly half of the dioceses of the Episcopal Church. Much of his
ministry has focused on helping congregations and clergy, especially in times of conflict,
utilizing his skills in congregational dynamics, conflict resolution and mediation.

Co-author of three AIDS education curricula for youth and adults, Gene has done AIDS work in
the United States and in Africa (Uganda and South Africa). He has been an advocate for antiracism
training in the diocese and wider Church. He helped build the Diocese of New
Hampshire=s close working partnership with the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund,
advocated for debt relief for the world’s most impoverished nations, and lobbied for socially responsible
investment within and beyond the Church. He is a past member of the Board of the
New Hampshire Endowment for Health, which works for access to health care for the uninsured.
Bishop Robinson currently serves as a Trustee of the Church Pension Fund and a board member
of the NH Children’s Alliance. He holds two honorary doctorates and has received numerous
awards from national civil rights organizations. His story is featured in the 2007 feature-length
documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So.” In 2008 Gene’s book “In the Eye of the Storm: Swept
to the Center by God” (Seabury Books, New York) was released.

Bishop Robinson has been active particularly in the area of full civil rights for gay, lesbian,
bisexual and transgender people. Working at the state, national and international levels, he has
spoken and lobbied for equal protection under the law and full civil marriage rights. He has been
honored by many LGBT organizations for this work, including the Human Rights Campaign, the
National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, GLAD, NH
Civil Liberties Union, GLAAD, and the Equality Forum.

Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural
ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009. He is the subject of a new
documentary film “Love Free or Die: How the Bishop of New Hampshire is Changing the
World” which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2012. The Bishop’s next
book, God Believes in Love: Straight Talk about Gay Marriage, will be published by Alfred
Knopf in the fall of 2012.

Gene enjoys entertaining and cooking, gardening, music and theatre. He is the father of two
grown daughters and the proud grandfather of two granddaughters. He lives with his husband,
Mark Andrew, who is employed by the State of New Hampshire’s Department Health & Human


The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, professor at California Lutheran University, “Queering Lutheran Theology”

guy erwin headshotDr. Guy Erwin, who joined the CLU faculty in the summer of 2000, is the first full-time holder of CLU’s first endowed chair, the Gerhard and Olga J. Belgum Chair of Lutheran Confessional Theology. He also serves as Director of the Segerhammar Center for Faith and Culture. In the 2004-05 and 2005-06 academic years he served as CLU faculty chair. As holder of the Belgum Chair, he serves as a member of the CLU Office of University Ministries, coordinating the work of the Chair, the Segerhammar Center, Campus Ministry, and Church Relations. At present he also serves as an elected member of the University’s Appointment, Rank, and Tenure committee.

In addition to a survey course in the history of Christianity, Prof. Erwin teaches seminar courses on topics in medieval, Reformation, and early modern history and theology, including very popular seminars on the life and thought of Martin Luther and St. Augustine’s City of God. Almost all of his courses are cross-listed in both Religion and History, and he occasionally teaches courses in the History department on modern German history and Scandinavian history. He also offers instruction on liturgy and worship in cooperation with the Music Department and occasionally teaches ecclesiastical Latin as a tutorial.

Erwin is a native of Oklahoma and an active member of the Osage Tribe of Indians. He is a member of a number of scholarly societies, a loyal alumni volunteer of his various alma maters, and enjoys book collecting, the study of genealogy, opera, letterpress printing, and his Jardine’s parrot. Dr. Erwin is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; he and his partner Rob Flynn are members of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood, CA, and are very active in Lutheran circles locally, nationally, and internationally.

Emily Ewing, Joel R. Workin Scholar, seminary student at LSTC, “Nonviolent Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence”Emily Ewing

Emily Ewing is in her second year of seminary at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. Originally from Vail, Colorado she graduated from Luther College in 2009 and spent a year living in eastern Slovakia working with Roma through the ELCA’s Young Adults in Global Mission program. Emily is also very excited and proud to be one of this year’s Joel R. Workin Scholars.

Laura Kuntz, Joel R. Workin Scholar, seminary student at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, “Rituals for Renewal and Self-Care”

Laura KuntzLaura Kuntz is currently studying at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio. Laura has a wide range of leadership skills and academic achievements including working as a chaplain at Ohio State University Medical Center and Staff Assistant at St. John’s U.C.C. She is completing an internship at Lake Park Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After the internship she will return to Trinity Lutheran Seminary to finish her degree.

Ross Murray, Director of Religion, Faith & Values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), “GLBTQ Voices of Faith in the Media”

Ross Murray is the Director of Religion, Faith & Values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Ross MurrayDefamation (GLAAD). In his work at GLAAD, he amplifies pro-LGBT voices of faith. Ross holds a BA in Youth & Family Ministry from Augsburg College and a MA in Outreach & Discipleship from Luther Seminary. He has worked with youth and families in rural parishes, camps, multicultural urban congregations, college campuses, and has presented models of youth & family ministry all over the country. Additionally, Ross is the Program Director of The Naming Project, a faith-based LGBT youth group in Minnesota. Ross is especially interested in helping people cultivate a holistic identity that includes sexuality and spirituality.

The Rev. Heidi Neumark, pastor Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, New York, “Living Beloved Community”

h.neumarkPastor Heidi Neumark currently serves Trinity Lutheran Church of Manhattan (ELCA). Trinity is a multicultural community with ministries that include: Mujeres en Progreso, a Latina support group, the Creative Learning Center after school program and Trinity Place, a shelter for homeless queer youth. Heidi also enjoys writing.

Her experiences in congregational and community ministry in the South Bronx led to her book, Breathing Space: A Spiritual Journey in the South Bronx. Presently, Heidi is working on a book about her discovery of Jewish roots and her grandfather’s death in a concentration camp. Heidi is married to Gregorio Orellano and they are the parents of Ana and Hans. Heidi is excited to share how the multicultural/class nature of Trinity lent itself to the launching of Trinity Place Shelter.

Rick Ufford-Chase, co-director Stony Point Retreat Center, “Ministry on the Borders”

Rick Ufford-Chase has served as the Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, an organization that has a Rick Ufford-Chasesixty year history of supporting Presbyterians who take bold action for the cause of peace. Rick has worked on the US/Mexico border for twenty years where he founded and directed BorderLinks and worked in a variety of efforts to support migrants and refugees in the borderlands. He and his wife, Kitty, are reservists with Christian Peacemaker Teams, and they continue to work to create humane border and migration policy.

Rick served the Presbyterian Church as the Moderator of the 216th General Assembly, the church’s highest elected office, from 2004 -2006. As a result, he continues to work with Presbyterian congregations to support their efforts to engage in mission with partners around the world, to become effective multi-cultural communities of faith, to move their members into active peacemaking efforts, and to develop leadership for the next generation of church.

Rick and Kitty have a son, Teo, born in 1995 and have now made their home at Stony Point, New York.

Friday Evening Entertainment:

Peter Donnelly

pdonnelly02_lrgPeter Donnelly’s music does not easily fit into any particular genre: a pinch of folk, a dash of pop, an occasional sprinkling of rock, and a whole lot of heart. Perhaps the one consistent thing about Peter’s music is that he sings about life, life as others see it, life as he sees it, and life as he would like to see it.

Peter is strongly influenced by the music of Greg Brown, Shawn Colvin, and Leonard Cohen, just to mention a few. With a distinct vocal quality, which cannot be overstated, he weaves lyric and melody with dexterity and artistry. Warm, intimate ballads and courageous, unapologetic and often humorous songs reflecting a myriad of contemporary topics are expertly melded with life’s little anecdotes into a very personal and thoroughly memorable performance.

Among his many projects, Peter is very proud to have been one of the originators (and still the current host) of Provincetown’s “Coffeehouse at the Mews.” For over a decade, this weekly ‘open mic’ (which runs from November through May) has been providing an open stage for budding and established musicians, writers, poets and other performance artists to practice their craft in front of a live audience.  Peter was also part of the trio Comfortable Shoes which performed across the country.

Peter and his partner live in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

2012 Proclaim Retreat, April 18-21: ¡Vamos Tod@s!


1. When you land,  call the following number: 201-833-4444

2.  Go to Terminal B, at the Ground Level, outside at the Passenger Pickup Area 4 and 5. You may have a wait, but it will not be longer than two hours. The Stony Point Van will be driving continuously between Newark Airport and Stony Point, filled with jolly Proclaimers!

3. If you have any travel issues, text or call Amalia: 563-419-7238.

Safe travels!


Attendees: Please plan your travel arrangements so you arrive to the center by Wednesday evening before dinner at 6pm and leave Saturday after 1pm.

The Proclaim retreat is a gathering of publicly identified LGBTQ rostered leaders and seminarians for a time of renewal, community building, and professional development. The 2012 retreat will be held at Stony Point Center, New York, April 18-21. Our keynote speaker is Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson, who will join us for most of the retreat.

This year’s theme is ¡Vamos Tod@s! (We are all going!/We are on the move!).  The theme is tied to the hymn, “Let Us Go Now to the Banquet.” (ELW 523).

(The use of the “@” is a way that some people seek gender-neutrality in Spanish.)

This retreat is open to members of Proclaim, significant others, and children 3 and under. For information on joining Proclaim go here.

The retreat begins with dinner on Wednesday evening and concludes with lunch on Saturday.

Proclaim is funded in part by a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.  An additional grant from the Advent Mission Fund from Advent Lutheran Church (New York, NY) provides support for expansive outreach efforts for our Proclaim and Candidacy Accompaniment programs and to increase ELM’s organizational commitment to inclusion.  Additional support for Proclaim and this retreat comes from individual donors and congregations.

More about the Event:

Proclaim Logo

This retreat will be the second gathering of ProclaimWe will gather together and embrace what it means to be publicly identified leaders as we care for ourselves, as we live in and amongst our communities, and as we serve as public witness to the Gospel.

The keynote speaker this year is Bishop Gene Robinson, the current bishop of the New England diocese of the Episcopalian church. Bp. Robinson is the first publicly identified gay person to be elected bishop in a major Christian denomination. His story is featured in the 2007 feature-length documentary, “For the Bible Tells Me So,” and his book In the Eye of the Storm: Swept to the Center by God (Seabury Books, New York) was released in 2008.


Here is a sample of sessions and discussion items for our time together:

  • What is the banquet that we are invited to?  What motivates/propels us forward?  What feeds our souls?
  • Discuss how LGBTQ leaders can shape and reshape church and community in the present and into the future.
  • Examine how LGBTQ leaders are a gift to the church.
  • Offer opportunities for LGBTQ leaders to hone and sharpen skills for ministry.
  • Create a vision of what this community and church might look like in 10 years–when we are all moving/going together.

Current Workshops

For more programming details about these presenters click here:  Speaker & Workshop leaders at the retreat

Keynote: The Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson, IX Bishop of New Hampshire

The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin, professor at California Lutheran University, “Queering Lutheran Theology”

Emily Ewing, Joel R. Workin Scholar, seminary student at LSTC, “Nonviolent Peacemaking in a Culture of Violence”

Laura Kuntz, Joel R. Workin Scholar, seminary student at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, “Rituals for Renewal and Self-Care”

Ross Murray, Director of Religion, Faith & Values at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), “GLBTQ Voices of Faith in the Media”

The Rev. Heidi Neumark, pastor Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, New York, “Living Beloved Community”

Rick Ufford-Chase, co-director Stony Point Retreat Center, “Ministry on the Borders”

Friday Evening Entertainment: Peter Donnelly


Stony Point meditation space

We will be staying at the  Stony Point Conference Center in New York.  Stony Point is just over an hour outside of New York City. Situated in the beautiful and historic Lower Hudson River Valley. Stony Point Conference Center offers delicious & locally sourced food, comfortable accommodations and stunning outdoor space.

Rooms will be shared with one other attendee. Please mark your roommate preference on your registration form. If no preference is indicated, we will assign you a roommate. If sharing a room presents an accessibility challenge for you, please contact

Each spacious room offers two single beds, two desks and a sink. Single-person bathrooms are located in the hallways. Each lodge offers a shared lounge and kitchenette with a microwave, sink and small refrigerator, as well as hot water for coffee and tea. Wireless internet access is available in most of the lounges, and in the main administrative building and dining hall. Dress for the retreat is casual.


Meals will be nutritious and tasty. ELM seeks to extend a spirit of hospitality in all things, including food. Please note dietary restrictions on your registration form, so that we may meet your needs. The retreat begins with dinner Wednesday night, three meals a day Thursday and Friday, and breakfast & lunch on Saturday. Snacks will be provided throughout.



Includes: Double-occupancy room for three nights, meals and snacks, programming, and your 2012 membership fee for Proclaim.

Single rooms are available on a limited basis. Registration for single occupancy will be $495.


Partners and spouses are invited and encouraged to attend this retreat. The retreat is designed to address the reality of living as publicly identified LGBTQ leaders. Partners and spouses are an integral part of this lived reality, experiencing the joys and challenges of this important ministry from their own unique perspectives. We want this perspective to be represented, and we want to support the vital and unique ministry of these partners/spouses. There may be moments where the conversation drifts into theology and church politics, likely reminiscent of those awkward gatherings in seminary. Be assured, there will be plenty of spouses/partners present to create a space for those who are not engaged by these kinds of conversations. Significant others will pay the full retreat cost of $375 for early-registration and $425 for regular registration.


Children 3 and under are welcome to attend at no charge. Please note there will not be childcare programming provided.


The recommended airport is Newark. Please plan your travel arrangements so you arrive to the center by Wednesday evening before dinner at 6pm and leave Saturday after 1pm.

If you registered after February 16, you are responsible for your own transportation to and from Stony Point. Traveling by bus, plane or train?  Please refer to the Stony Point Center website for transportation options. 

Important Dates!

Registration Deadline is March 30, 2012.

If you have questions, please contact Rachael Johnson,

Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project

The work of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries grew out of the work of two previous organizations, Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (founded in 1990) and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project (founded in 1993).

Early in 2006, a group of representatives from LLGM and ECP formed a vision team to begin discussing a merger.  On February 17, 2007 , the leaders of Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries and the Extraordinary Candidacy Project formally agreed to merge, forming a new organization. The leadership approved a vision document and created a team to draft a theology statement. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries was founded on October 31, 2007.

Brief History and Purpose of Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (LLGM)

LLGM was founded in 1990 when two San Francisco congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) decided to call and ordain a gay man and a lesbian couple to be their pastors in violation of a church policy that prohibiting gay, lesbian and bisexual (with a same gender partner) pastors from serving its congregations unless they agreed to life long celibacy. These congregations not only believed that this policy was unjust, but also that it was critical for their credibility, integrity and evangelism that their congregations be served by openly identified sexual minority pastors who fully lived or endorsed same sex relationships.

These pastors were fully qualified for ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) but for their refusal to comply with the ELCA’s requirement of life long celibacy. The congregations that called them – St. Francis Lutheran Church and First United Lutheran Church – are diverse congregations that include all sexual orientations, ages, races, and genders.

LLGM became a model ministry demonstrating the gifts and benefits ordained leadership by sexual minority pastors bring to a congregation and community. The establishment of LLGM spurred inspiration for those seeking full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people and staunch adherence to policy from the institution. After a grueling trial the St. Francis and First United were expelled from the ELCA. In subsequent years an increasing number of pastors and seminarians were being forced from Lutheran ministry in the ELCA and turned to LLGM for help.

In 1993, LLGM’s sister organization, The Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) was started to provide a structure for pastors, other rostered ministers, and seminarians to gain or retain their professional credentials. The ECP provides the same strict and rigorous certification and rostering process for ministry candidates as the ELCA, but also honors relationships. In 1995 LLGM realized that at the same time there was a growing roster of ministers to serve, there were congregations interested in calling them. Therefore LLGM formally partnered with the ECP to create, facilitate, and support ministry placements for its roster and expand its work nationwide.

In 1995 LLGM awarded its first ministry partnership support. In addition, LLGM has provided emergency assistance, technical assistance and legal support to pastors, seminarians, and congregations facing discipline of negative ramifications because of their support of GLBT pastors.

Brief History and Purpose of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project

Founding members of ECP
Founding members of ECP

Formed in 1993, The Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) was created to credential openly gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender seminarians, candidates, ordained and commissioned ministers preparing for professional vocations in Lutheran ministry, primarily congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The Extraordinary Candidacy Project (ECP) was opposed to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) policy of mandated celibacy for sexual minority persons who seek ordination to Word and Sacrament ministry. In part, the ECP was a project of resistance to this policy, to its lack of consistent enforcement of the policy, and to its practice of encouraging intentional deception to avoid the ramifications of the policy. ECP understood the policy to be a fundamental violation of the creation of all persons as sexual beings and of the sacredness of the primary relationships of all people.

The ECP was more than resistance. It was a new way of being church in the world. If “ordinary” had come to mean “discriminatory,” we chose the adjective “extraordinary” to deliberately emphasize the “out-of-the-ordinary” nature of our project.

The ECP candidacy process was modeled on the candidacy process of the ELCA.


Candidacy, Community and Grants


Our work has historically centered in three primary areas: candidacy, community and grants. These three areas remain our focus, with a new approach in some of these areas.

CANDIDACY: We will shift from our past work–providing an extraordinary candidacy process–to focus on candidacy support and accompaniment for publicly-identified LGBTQ person who are in Lutheran candidacy.  ELM is currently developing a volunteer-based network of accompaniment for LGBTQ people in Lutheran candidacy. ELM will provide resources, chaplain support, advocacy and referrals.

COMMUNITY: In the past, the ELM Roster has been ELM’s community of LGBTQ rostered leaders.  Now, we are launching a professional network of publicly-identified LGBTQ rostered leaders from multiple Lutheran rosters. These leaders are committed to changing the church and transforming society through their ministry as publicly-identified LGBTQ rostered leaders. ELM will hold an annual conference/retreat open to all, provide year-round online networking, and professional development opportunities, chaplain support, and visibility.

GRANTS: We will continue to provide mission partner grants and scholarships for publicly-identified LGBTQ people called to and serving as rostered leaders in the Lutheran church.