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Welcome new ELM Program Director Olivia LaFlamme!.

Welcome Program Director Olivia LaFlamme! 
Dear ELM Community-
Join us in welcoming new ELM Program Director Olivia LaFlamme! Olivia (they/them/theirs) comes to ELM with a rich background of social justice work and spiritual practice, and we are excited to welcome them to the team. You can learn more from Olivia’s writing below, and read their bio. Olivia lives and works from Chicago, IL. Say welcome: olivia@elm.org
In Celebration,
Rev. Amanda Gerken-Nelson
Executive Director, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

“No Coincidences: Following Knowledge, Time, Ancestors, and Queerness”
By Olivia LaFlamme, ELM Program Director

I’ve made academia my home. The classroom was the birthplace of my intellectual curiosity, my understanding of my identities, and my passion for liberation. I felt like I could never

know enough, could never read enough, and always pushed myself to integrate every piece into my larger worldview; constantly evolving. Then it became time for me to shift to become a knowledge-producer. I had to ask myself what do YOU think? What are the connections YOU are seeing? How do you articulate something that hasn’t been said before? This process tested everything I thought I knew about myself. It was really hard. I realized that I didn’t trust myself or what I knew and I definitely didn’t believe that I had something unique to contribute (hello, imposter syndrome!).

 
It was around this same time that I began to build a relationship with my ancestors; inviting them to assist me and guide me. I asked them for confidence, inspiration, and motivation. I felt their presence, I saw signs, and I trusted that there were people who had my back at all times. With this energy, I began to critically engage the combination of queerness, time, and spirituality. How are queer people living out a different experience of time? What does engaging in an intentional relationship with the past (or those who have come before us) do to heal queer people today? Can spirits speak to us and can we speak to them?
 

It was like BOOM! One day I woke up and just realized that I have something important to say. Thanks to the faith that I have in powers bigger than this world, I know it was no coincidence. Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries came to me on the coattails of that moment. I finally felt like I could say 100% yes, I have something to offer here and I’m confident in casting a vision. I’m still an academic at heart, but I think that takes many forms. Knowledge is everywhere, and I want to practice what I know in as many ways as possible. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn from ELM as well as contribute to its strengthening and growth. Thank you!


I’m excited to work with ELM because: I get to combine my professional life with my already fused personal and political commitments to centering marginalized experiences. I know it is my mandate to contribute to the movement for positive social change in any way that I can, and ELM’s work brings together faith and anti-oppression frameworks in powerful ways that I’m ready to learn from as well as be a part of building.
I’m inspired by: queer people of color that are blazing a trail in the name of our ancestors and demanding liberation and visibility! Intersectional queer feminist theory! Spiritual practice as self/communal-care!
These three things bring me joy: going to the beach with my partner, crafting for someone I love (knitting, crocheting, collaging, painting, anything really), and eating huge amounts of delicious food with friends and family.
When I’m not working, you can find me: listening to a true crime podcast, pondering good ideas for my next film, attending a lecture/book talk/discussion, or wandering around the contemporary or impressionist section of an art museum.

Bio: Olivia LaFlamme (they/them/theirs) is a Black queer feminist. They have an M.A. in Women and Gender Studies with an emphasis on queer theory and a B.A. in Comparative Women’s Studies with a concentration in Social Justice. Olivia is a budding filmmaker (focused in documentary) and their thesis project, entitled “Spirits Speak,” is an experimental documentary exploring queer temporality as it is demonstrated through ancestral/lineage projects (spiritual, archival and artistic). They have a background in organizing, administration in the university, and teaching.
Raised in the Assemblies of God Christian church, they have since cobbled together several religious traditions that inform their own spiritual identity. Olivia views faith in the Supernatural as crucial to their ability to move through this world that would seek to destroy their gender non-conforming, Black and queer body. They have an amazing and supportive partner, three younger siblings, and loving parents. They are looking forward to working and building community with everyone involved in ELM.
 
Pictured: Proclaim Members welcome and bless Olivia at 2018 Proclaim Gathering
Photos by Emily Ann Garcia

Drumroll please… Announcing #Proclaim300!.

We’ve got news for you.

We’re fresh off the recent Proclaim Gathering near Baltimore Aug 5-8, 2018 bringing together over 60 LGBTQIA+ pastors, seminarians, and rostered leaders for a time of learning and community. On our final day, we announced big news we can now share with everyone.

Drumroll please… (click below video!)WATCH: #Proclaim300 Video 

Proclaim is approaching 300 members! And we’re kicking off a campaign to mark this momentum:

What is #Proclaim300?

Proclaim (ELM’s professional community for Lutheran pastors, rostered ministers, and those preparing for rostered ministry who publicly identify as LGBTQIA+) is growing exponentially! In September 2015, we reached our 200th member, and just three years later in 2018, we are approaching our 300th member. Wow! 

Photo by Emily Ann Garcia

Together, we will mark this momentum with:

1) A three-month visibility and fundraising campaign August- October 2018, helping a wider community know about ELM, including opportunities to financially support the increased membership of Proclaim and future of ELM, with a goal of 300 gifts of $300.

2) A week of celebration and gratitude September 17-23, 2018, sharing online about extraordinary gifts of LGBTQIA+ leaders, honoring those who have gone before us, offering prayers for a messy and beautiful community of God, naming barriers and triumphs faced by LGBTQIA+ people in the church, and inviting others to learn more about ELM and Proclaim.

What are our Goals for #Proclaim300?

#Proclaim300 has three main goals:

What are we asking you?

  • Celebrate your colleagues and partners in ministry. Thank a mentor, send love to a Proclaimer, enjoy this milestone!
  • Build our presence on social media by posting about #Proclaim300 and inviting others to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Follow the daily prompts September 17-23 and encouragefriends and allies to join in! Reach both inside and outside the church and queer community!
  • Grow ELM! Ask organizations, individuals, and congregations to give $300 (or more!) to honor and celebrate this exciting moment. Or raise these funds by guest preaching, having a special offering in Worship, starting a Facebook fundraiser, or hosting a giving gathering.

When can you start? NOW!

Give online, mark “attending” on Facebook, share gratitude with Proclaimers, start a fundraiser, forward this email, and ask your congregation, friends, and self: will you help us reach our giving goal?

In deep gratitude and excitement,

Anna Czarnik Neimeyer, ELM Associate Director of Development & Communications

Ben Hogue, Proclaim Member, ELM Fund Development Committee


Bios:

Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer and Ben Hogue love ELM as an ongoing justice movement, and enjoy fearlessly asking people to be part of the movement with their time, talent, and treasure! The friends and colleagues each studied communications & PR, and like serving communion, high fives, puns, and service work; Ben was a Peace Corps volunteer and Anna volunteered at Holden Village.

 

Photos by Emily Ann Garcia 


 

Farewell from Program Director Asher: Anointed and Sent .

In Deuteronomy, when Moses is giving his final blessing to Israel, he said to the tribe of Asher, “Most blessed of sons be Asher… let him dip his foot in oil.” (Deut 33:24-25).

As a farewell, Barbara K Lundblad highlighted this passage as she led ELM’s Board of Directors in reflecting upon my namesake in the Bible (Asher means “happy” in Hebrew) and invited the group to share affirmations. After each affirmation, they all said together, “Thank God for Asher.” Then they all extended their hands (through their webcams) as they prayed blessing over me.

I felt as though my foot had indeed been dipped in oil.

As I wrap up my time serving as Program Director for ELM, it is remarkable to look back on all we have accomplished together over these past two years: We’ve doubled our presence at synod assemblies across the country. The average amount of time that our candidates are waiting to receive their first-call has decreased significantly. More bishops and synod staffs are acknowledging and using our resources to address the imagination gap that has held our candidates back from getting quality first-call placements more quickly. And as a community, Proclaim has reached nearly 300 members! It has been a joy to witness how all of the new members have strengthened us and helped us grow both more deeply into our roots and out towards the future.

My final day with ELM will be Friday August 17th and until then I’ll be running on all cylinders as we head into The Proclaim Gathering next week, and then setting everything up for the next Program Director the following week.

My new call will be to serve as pastor of Highlands Lutheran Church in Denver, Colorado.

I do plan to remain a member of Proclaim. And while I’ll be stepping back from any leadership in the community to allow the new Program Director to lead, I do look forward to embracing the vision they cast and continuing in fellowship with the community.

It has truly been an honor and a joy to serve as your Program Director for nearly two years now. I will miss working with our fabulous staff and volunteers. And I am so grateful for all that I have learned in this position and will be carrying on with me to my next call. Thanks to ELM’s staff, Board of Directors, our supporters who make our work possible, and to all of the Proclaim members out there transforming the church. Serving with you has been a blessing – You have dipped my foot in oil!


 

 

Asher O’Callaghan (he/him/his) is super excited for ELM’s Proclaim Gathering which begins this Sunday, August 5th! Lately he has discovered the joy of making iced soy chai tea lattes at home in the afternoon as a little mid-day boost. He lives with his cat, Jack, in Denver, Colorado where he appreciates the late afternoon thunderstorms that this time of year offers.

 

 

Behind the Curtain: Meet the Proclaim Gathering Dream Team.

Each Year, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries hosts The Gathering for members of Proclaim (the professional community for publicly identified LGBTQIA+ Lutheran rostered ministers and candidates) and their families, for a time of renewal, community building, and professional development. We come together and embrace what it means to be publicly identified (“out!”) leaders as we care for ourselves, build community, and learn together.This August 5-8, 2018, over 65 Proclaimers from around the country will gather at Pearlstone Retreat Center outside of Baltimore!

Rev. Elizabeth Edman, author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity will be our keynote speaker, featured alongside workshops, social time, music, worship, small groups, and more. You can help sponsor a Proclaimer HERE.

In addition to ELM’s trusty Program Director Rev. Asher O’Callaghan, a small and mighty team has been crafting the Gathering’s schedule. Thank you to the Dream Team for all you do. Check it out!


FUN TEAM

Co-Chairs: Brian Hornbecker & Laura Kuntz

My name is: Brian Hornbecker

My pronouns are: he/him/his

I’m co-chairing the Fun Team because: I think the opportunity to kick back, relax, and have fun with friends and colleagues is one of the best parts of the Proclaim gathering.

I’m excited for: the chance to catch up with old friends and make new ones at the Proclaim Gathering.

Who I am: I serve as Faith Formation and Communications Coordinator at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Eagan, MN, just south of Saint Paul. I graduated from Wartburg Seminary last year and am candidate for the diaconal roster (although that is a long and complicated story). I live with my spouse, Josh Moss, who is also a Proclaim member and a candidate for the diaconal roster, and our nephew Trent in the Twin Cities area. We just bought a house, so most of our “fun” time lately has been occupied with moving and everything that comes with that.

My name is: Laura Kuntz

My pronouns are: she/her/hers

I’m co-chairing the fun Team because: I enjoy coordinating social activities to build community.

I’m excited for: making new friends and be in a space where my queer identity is celebrated at the Proclaim Gathering

Who I am: My wife and I live in Lakewood, Ohio where she is serving a call and I am in an interim position. We’ve been coming to Proclaim gatherings since we were seminarians and look forward to them every year. I love fly fishing and playing in stonewall sports leagues.


WORSHIP TEAM

Co-Chairs: Kelsey Brown and Josh Evans

My name is: Kelsey Brown

My pronouns are: she/her/hers

I’m co-chairing the Worship Team because: I believe innovative and expansive worship are essential to Christian Life.

I’m excited for: all the fun you will have at the Proclaim Gathering, I’m sorry I can’t attend!

Who I am: Kelsey Brown serves as Vicar at St.Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, California. She is originally from Long Island, NY but when she’s not in SoCal she calls Philadelphia and United Lutheran Seminary Home. She likes spoken word poetry, Drag Queens and dancing around her kitchen. She finds joy in lavender essential oils, Netflix binges and preschool laughter. 

My name is: Josh Evans

My pronouns are: he/him/his.

I’m co-chairing the Worship Team because: I am passionate about the church’s historic liturgy brought to life in new, vibrant ways, and I love experiencing the Body of Christ praying, singing, and communing together.

I’m excited for: worship (duh!) at the Proclaim Gathering — and also getting a chance to see so many wonderful people I haven’t seen since last year’s Gathering or haven’t met in person yet.

Who I am: I grew up in Michigan and I am a graduate of LSTC in Chicago, awaiting first call in the Metro Chicago Synod, and currently working as Interim Coordinator for Global Service Events at the ELCA Churchwide offices. In my precious free time, I enjoy reading, drinking coffee, enjoying all things Chicago, watching inordinate amounts of Netflix, and spoiling my two cats (Oliver and Sophia) and their canine sibling (Roscoe).


PROGRAM TEAM

Co-chairs: Peter Beeson & Reed Fowler 

My name is: Peter Beeson

My pronouns are: he/him/his

I’m co-chairing the Program Team: because I was invited.

I’m excited for: community, learning from the speakers at the Proclaim Gathering, and enjoying the nature (and organic farming) of the Pearlstone Retreat Center.

Who I am: Peter R. Beeson currently lives at work and has developed a newfound obsession with getting out of New York City, and finding mountains and trees. In his spare time he enjoys turning around declining organizations, fostering transparency, and teaching his toddler how to do chores.

My name is: Reed Fowler

My pronouns are: they/them/theirs

I’m co-chairing the Program Team because: I enjoy creative planning and creating space for introverts.

I’m excited to: connect with nature and other Proclaimers at the Gathering.

Who I am: Reed is a seminarian at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. In their downtime, Reed is at the pottery studio or hanging out with their partner, dog, and cats.

Making Room at the Table. ELM at Assemblies!.

ELM is all over the place. Did you see us?

One core program of ELM, along with Proclaim and Accompaniment, is Ministry Engagement. This means we show up for you: around decision-making tables, at synod and churchwide assemblies, on campuses, and in your congregations. Through Ministry Engagement, ELM seeks and partners with organizations and congregations open to the transformative ministry of LGBTQIA+ leaders.

We know that representation matters, so we strive to make room at the table where it may not have been open in the past. This year, ELM had a goal of hosting information tables at 12 synod assemblies (up from 10 in 2017) and blasted through that goal, hosting a tables and making room at a record 18 assemblies. A few of the new synods we expanded to this year include: West Virginia/Western Maryland, Virginia, Southeastern, Texas/Louisiana Gulf Coast, and Indiana/Kentucky. These synods match with one of ELM’s growing edges we’re working to address – expanding our presence and work in the South.

How did we do it?

We’re a small yet mighty professional staff, but could never have shown up in all these spaces if it weren’t for dedicated volunteers representing ELM at tables. Hear from Kari Louwagie, seminarian and member of Proclaim, currently in a summer internship at Messiah Lutheran in Mountain Iron, MN, on their experience at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly:

“Back in early May, I tabled for ELM at the Minneapolis Area Synod Assembly. Our assigned display table was right next to ReconcilingWorks, creating a lovely little rainbow corner where folks could learn about both how to support LGBTQ+ community members as well as candidates and pastors. Not as many people stopped by the table as I would have hoped, but the few conversations I did have were fruitful and life giving. 

One of the highlights of my synod assembly tabling experience was being able to bear witness to the good and holy work this organization does through sharing both provided resources and pieces of my own story as a Queer candidate for ministry. It was such a joy to represent and advocate for an organization that advocates for myself and so many other LGBTQ+ candidates and pastors.

 I must confess that I’m still getting used to being “out” in the church world, but the support I’ve received from ELM has helped give me the extra boost of courage needed to bring my whole self into my work.”

As Kari reflects, our connection with ReconcilingWorks has been intentional, as creating welcome in the pews of the church is often a first step to creating welcome within the pulpit, encouraging congregations to consider opening up call processes to LGBTQIA+ rostered ministers .

We’ll see you around the table!

ELM reps near you:

Proclaim Seminarian Team – LGBTQIA+ student reps at seminaries and divinity schools

ELM Seminary Advocates – faculty or staff members who serve as a liaison between ELM and their campus and as an ally and advocate for LGBTQIA+ students


Kari Louwagie (they/them)

Kari Louwagie grew up on their family dairy farm near Cottonwood, Minnesota.  They graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2016 with a degree in Religion.  From there, Kari went on to teach English in Madagascar for a year through Young Adults in Global Mission.  Currently, Kari is pursuing a Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Apart from school, their hobbies include playing the trumpet, singing, crocheting, and spending time outside.  Good coffee, cows, Biblical Hebrew, and general weirdness bring Kari great joy!

 


Announcing ELM’s 2018 Workin Scholar: S. Leon LaCross!.

Each year, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries names a Joel R. Workin Memorial Scholar 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. Our world can sometimes feel like an unwelcoming place, where hope and inspiration seem on short supply. But prophetic voices like Joel’s, and all those who applied for this scholarship, continue to highlight that publicly identified LGBTQ+ ministers and seminarians can be beacons of courage and powerful models of justice in action.Thanks to a generous endowment started by Joel’s friends and family, and other ongoing contributions, this award comes with a $6,000 scholarship for academic or spiritual study and is available for members of ELM’s Proclaim group who are studying to be rostered leaders in the Lutheran church.

We are thrilled to announce that this year’s Workin Scholar is S. Leon LaCross, seminarian at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Read on for Leon’s announcement letter and bio.

Congratulations Leon, and thank you for your prophetic voice!

To read Leon’s powerful scholarship essays, click HERE.

 

 


Dear Leon,

I am writing to inform you of your selection as this year’s Workin Scholar. It was the scholarship committee’s conclusion that your outstanding essay (reflecting on “The Cost” by the late Joel Workin), not only embodied the cost of coming out, but also paralleled a moral courage that Joel exhibited throughout his life. It was clear to us that you understood the cost of the closet as you explained your own coming out story, especially as you moved toward candidacy and reached a deeper understanding of yourself, as this paragraph demonstrates:

“I came out to the psychiatrist as queer during my psychological evaluation as part of the entrance process to candidacy.  I received a blank stare for a moment before he asked me what that meant. I suppose I had a choice to take the easy way out and use the tangible category of “gay”, but it wouldn’t have been authentic to myself.  Perhaps I was courageous, or foolish, or demonic in doing so, but I had to tactfully explain that I do in fact desire men sexually and romantically, but that also doesn’t exclude other genders from the equation. Additionally, I had to explain to him that in terms of my gender, I’m comfortable with my body parts and presenting as a man, but that does not tell my whole story as a non-binary person.”

Borne from your own self-insight, this was just one of the moving “coming out” reflections you shared which, to be honest, was matched by many of this year’s applicants.  But your essay radically departed from others with your own “coming out” as a survivor of sexual abuse. Your eloquent description of the pain in recapturing that childhood memory, the consequences it had on your development and your theological reflection on it was nothing short of breath-taking:

“Recovering that excruciating memory was a baptism of sorts: a baptism of blood and tears.  It was a closet baptism into a community of victims and survivors that no one wants to be a part of.  A communion of saints and martyrs that instead of rejoicing when another member is added weeps, gnashes teeth and rends clothing.  Jesus wept when I was baptized in my own blood and tears. God cradles me in the expanse of Their hand – perhaps too large for me to recognize that God is in this pain with me.  This shadow communion, this bloody baptism: this is why I have stayed in the sexual assault closet for so long.”

On behalf of the committee, I congratulate you on becoming this year’s Workin Scholar. May God bless you and continue to heal you, Leon, throughout the coming years and into all the years of your ministry.  On behalf of the committee, I congratulate you.

Sincerely,

Michael Price Nelson, Chair

Workin committee members: Greg Egertson, Rev. Matt James, Rev. Jeff Johnson, Michael Price Nelson, Rev. Becca Seely, Rev. Amanda Nelson


S. Leon LaCross (he/him/his/any)

Leon is a seminarian at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary pursuing a masters in Divinity with hopes to be ordained. His specific academic interests revolve around sex, sexuality, and gender in the context of the church. He is originally from Gaithersburg, Maryland, but has been in Berkeley, California, since commencing his MDiv. He grew up in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod until receiving his call to ministry in 2012 when he transferred into the ELCA.  When not doing church work (if there is such a thing…) he enjoys baking, crafting and spending time with friends and family. Additionally he is a connoisseur of tea with an ever-expanding tea library and tea pot collection.

 

 

 

Seeing Us in Ministry Changes Things.

By Rev. Donna Simon

My first “official” call was to the bishop’s office. I had arrived in Kansas City, Missouri, in the evening, August 30, 2000. The next morning, I arrived at my first church office (yay!) and called Charles Maahs, bishop of the Central States Synod. When I told the administrative assistant who I was, there was a pause. Then she connected me with Bishop Maahs, and I apologized.

My apology was clear: I wasn’t apologizing for being a lesbian, or for accepting the call Abiding Peace Lutheran Church extended me in his synod. I apologized for the extra work my acceptance would create for him and his staff. Even after spending over half of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was still Midwestern enough to apologize for something that wasn’t exactly my fault. As I told the bishop that day, there was no other way to answer God’s call to ministry and maintain my own integrity than to do so via the extraordinary candidacy process.

A team from Abiding Peace met with the bishop and members of his staff regularly for months. In the end, Bishop Maahs censured us, but didn’t recommend the removal of the congregation from the ELCA, as had been the case with the last congregations to call openly gay or lesbian pastors. We were barred from serving on synod committees (a sort of Br’er Rabbit briar patch of a punishment). And for ten years, I attended the synod assembly as the “Visitor” serving as pastor of Abiding Peace.  

During that ten years, things changed. Other people—really good people and really great pastors—were ordained by the Extraordinary Candidacy Project.  In 2009, the rules changed, and eventually most of those folks were received to the ELCA roster.

I knew that change was afoot earlier, though. In 2004, I was leaving morning prayer at the fall Bishop’s Convocation to grab a cup of tea and go to the plenary room, when a colleague from rural Kansas approached me, looking very serious.  

“I want to talk to you,” he said.

“Oh good,” I thought.

He pulled me into the now empty worship space and said these immortal words:  “I’m on the other side of ‘the issue’ from you. But you’ve been coming around here for a few years now, and we’ve gotten used to you. You’re kind of like an old shoe. So I guess what I’m saying is you should keep coming around.”

All these years later, and I remember his words precisely.  Don’t have a clue what I said, though. Probably something brilliant like, “Um, okay.”  When I tell that story to other people, they are generally appalled.  But for me it was a signal that seeing us in ministry changes things. The change is slow. It’s one person at a time. But it happens…and the next thing you know, you’re working in that synod office you called with an apology all those years ago.


 

Rev. Donna Simon serves as pastor of St. Mark Hope and Peace Lutheran Church and as one of two Directors for Evangelical Mission of the Central States Synod of the ELCA.  In both capacities, she focuses on mission, service, and justice for all persons. She was ordained extraordinem in Kansas City on October 28, 2000. Donna lives in the parish she serves with her wife, Colleen, and several cats and dogs.

Announcing new ELM staff! Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer & Hannah Dorn.

Thanks to ongoing donations from people like you and a newly active endowment, ELM is growing! Join us in welcoming:

Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer, Associate Director of Development & Communications

Anna (she/her/hers) joins us with a background in outdoor ministry, social justice education, and nonprofit development, with past roles founding new initiatives at Holden Village and St. Norbert College’s Cassandra Voss Center. Anna lives & works from Seattle. Say welcome: anna@elm.org

Hannah Dorn, Program & Administrative Assistant

Hannah (she/her/hers) joins us with a background in business, management, and nonprofits, with past roles at Services for Independent Living, and current role managing a rock climbing gym. Hannah lives & works from Chicago. Say welcome: hannah@elm.org

***

“No Pulpit, No Pews, Just Pastors.”

Anna Czarnik-Neimeyer, ELM Associate Director of Development and Communications

Last Sunday morning, I went to church. There was no pulpit, no pews, no organ or hymnal. But there were pastors. Lots of them.

And also lots of glitter.

I marched in the Seattle Pride Parade with Open Door Ministries (an LGBTQIA+ inclusive ministry of the ELCA’s Northwest Washington Synod) and dozens of Lutherans from several churches in the area.

I marched, holding my sign next to a pastor as she waved, blew kisses, and curled her fingers into a heart gesture extended towards parade onlookers in the stands.

I watched the faces of these onlookers, and what I saw there was beauty, relief, joy, bittersweetness, and disbelief in recognition. Those attending the parade surveyed our group, led by a giant PVC pipe rainbow cross and a pastor in a straw hat perched atop a Jeep. They saw our signs, proclaiming God’s radical love and full inclusion of all people. They’d pause, then seeing the clerical collar, would shriek and leap with joy, as their faces morphed from confusion to elation in recognition: the Church is for them. God is for them. This pastor, sharing love from the march, is for them. Onlookers would literally reach out to try to touch us, clapping their hands and shouting “thank you.”

Later that day, lugging around my rainbow sign, a young queer person from the crowd approached me and asked where they might attend an inclusive church, and I was so proud to recommend my own ELCA congregation to them, pastored by members of Proclaim.

I came out in a Christian outdoor ministry setting, surrounded by other queer women of faith, knowing several queer pastors. But I often frequent circles where most people don’t have a pastor. In these spaces, it’s almost a bigger deal to come out as Christian than it is to come out as queer.

In many of my queer circles, folks have been so hurt by their faith of origin that they have left the Church, and sometimes their natal families. In many of my activist, academic, and social justice circles, there can be a certain tenor of suspicion related to religion, given the history of oppression in the Church; its collusion with racism, sexism, homophobia; and the outspoken voice of exclusionary-yet-loud fire and brimstone Christians who think they get to decide who and how God loves.

In my years of work doing outdoor ministry, nonprofit development, and social justice education, I’ve needed my faith and the leadership of pastors, often queer pastors and seminarians, to accompany me in ongoing struggle and discernment. I joined the ELM team to make sure there are more of these pastors in the world, and that they (you) are supported and freed from the confines of limiting paradigms and closed minds- freed to proclaim the good news, and freed to publicly proclaim the fullness of their identities. I’m thrilled and honored to join ELM.

Anna at a Glance:

I’m Excited to work with ELM because: of ELM’s unapologetic radical history of being on the cutting edge of creative justice and advocacy work in the Church, and its bold vision of inclusion and public witness for the future of a thriving and changing body of Christ.

I’m inspired by: the bravery and creative generativity of trailblazers, the first to do things in an environment not only oppositional, but seemingly devoid of solutions or joy. Prison abolitionist Angela Davis, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and those who came out early in the Church and followed their call to be extraordinarily ordained. Wow.

These three things bring me joy: sitting in a coffee shop writing for hours on something I care about; thrifting at Goodwill outlet and being active on my neighborhood’s “freecycling” website; singing and song-leading, including clapping along and harmonizing in church.

When I’m not working, you can find me: at a thrift store, eating popcorn or at a potluck with my friends or loved ones, doing activism or marching, walking the neighborhood checking out Little Free Libraries.

***

“Not Business as Usual”

Hannah Dorn, ELM Program & Administrative Assistant

During college, I worked at a small nonprofit called Services for Independent Living (SIL) in Columbia, MO.  As a business student, I struggled to fit into the corporate mold that the University of Missouri seemed to be grooming me for. When it came time to procure an internship, nothing within the norm felt right. So I prayed. I prayed for God to show me my path. The next day I woke up to an email with the subject line: “Interested in nonprofits and need an Internship?” Following up on that email led me to one of the greatest experiences of my life. SIL provides resources to  help disabled persons and low income elderly in the community live independently. At SIL, I learned the importance of appreciating one another for all that we are and that God was deliberate in the creation of each and every one of us.

Fast forward to my first adult job after graduating: I am sitting at a desk working a nondescript customer service position thinking Is this really it? This can’t be it. So I prayed. I prayed that God would, once again, show me the path. A month or so later I was  presented with the opportunity to take over managing the small climbing gym where I am a member. I leapt at the opportunity to leave the desk behind and combine one of my greatest passions with my work. I knew it wasn’t quite enough to make a living, but I had faith that things would pan out.

That faith led me here, announcing my new position as the Program and Administrative Assistant for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. I am so excited to see where this new part of my journey leads and to have the opportunity to continue combining my passions with my work.

Hannah at a Glance:

I’m Excited to work with ELM because: I’ve seen in past jobs how key the background work within an organization is to keeping that organization running and fulfilling its mission. Knowing that I have even a small hand in ELM growing and providing support to more and more people gives me great joy. God has shown me that I don’t have to keep my passions and my career separate. I am so excited to continue combining my skills with the things I love to create a positive impact within ELM and my community.

I’m inspired by: my mom who, despite being a single mother, raised me to be strong, confident and unwavering in my love for Christ. She taught me to choose kindness in all things I do.

These three things bring me joy: when I give advice that I can see is genuinely needed and well received; when I get to teach people how to rock climb and help them train to be stronger climbers; when my 11-month-old nephew recognizes me and gets a huge grin on his face.

When I’m not working, you can find me: climbing at my gym, hiking with my boyfriend Matt, babysitting my nephew Franklin, trying a new beer at the tap room near my apartment, or hanging out with my wonderful cats Pablo and Lana del Kitty.

God’s Rainbow Light.

Family in Christ– we are gathered this morning as children of a God that invites us into community to #JustBe. In this service we pause to worship and commune…to pray for our world and for our LGBTQIA+ siblings throughout God’s creation (we pray especially for our brothers Ronald, Shariff and Nathan in Uganda) and then we go out to join the masses in hip shaking and change making.”

Vicar Kelsey Brown, LA Pride Sermon, 2018

I’ve been doing this Pride thing for a pretty long time, in fact my very first pride parade was over 10 years ago in New York City…little did I know, eleven years later I would take my spot on the streets of West Hollywood to be the street preacher at a Street Eucharist in LA Pride?!?

Pride is a marvelous thing! (FULL STOP) but as I said in my sermon Sunday morning on the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Blvd, Pride is something we hide behind. We all dust off our rainbow flags and throw on some Diana Ross’ “I’m coming out” the morning of June 1st but our people, in our pews and in the world need to know God’s delight in their identities 365 days a year.  

11 years ago my favorite thing about the Pride parade was dancing in the street, carefree; this year however my favorite thing quickly became being the face of the “Church” for the people of Southern California.

In a world that tries to silence us, scare us and blame us – we were able to go out and change hearts and minds simply by being present. We got to hand out buttons and put temporary tattoos on people and we got to have a lot of fun, but most importantly we got to look them in the eye, like Christ would have.

I, as intern of both St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica and SoCalLutherans.com was able to wear my collar and hold my girlfriend’s hand as we marched.  I couldn’t help but tear up as I passed people who looked at us with temporary confusion as they clocked my clerical collar but I kept on marching anyway because I couldn’t help feeling like maybe somewhere in the crowd stood a little girl like me who’d been told by her Church or by the world that she’s deviant or broken. I prayed our presence would reassure her that God hasn’t placed rules on who she can love.

That’s what pride means to me: it’s shining God’s delight for ALL God’s created.

Churches who march and attend pride events help bring that delight to the people who might need it the most – our very being there shakes up the notion of a God who hates who they’ve created, it peels back the curtain and it lets God’s rainbow light of love shine through.


Kelsey Brown (she/her/hers) is a 3rd year student at United Lutheran Seminary, Philadelphia Campus. She is currently serving as Vicar of St.Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica, California but is a native New Yorker.  She likes dancing around the kitchen, advocating for racial justice and the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and watching Netflix stand up comedy.

 

 

 

 

 

ELM Hiring – Program Director.

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is seeking candidates to serve as ELM’s Program Director.

Interested candidates should email their cover letter and resume to ELM’s Executive Director, Amanda Nelson at search@elm.org by July 10th, 2018.


About the position:

The program director builds and supports community through the Proclaim program; journeys alongside and equips candidates through the Accompaniment program; works to expand call opportunities at all levels of the church through the Ministry Engagement program; recruits, develops, and equips volunteer leaders for each program; and works collaboratively with the executive director, associate director, and the program & administrative assistant on strategic work and communications for these programs. The program director supervises one (part-time) staff person.

Applications will be accepted until July 10th, 2018. Position will be filled by August 15th.

Full job description and guiding qualifications: Program Director Position Description.


Questions may be sent to search@elm.org

ELM is committed to providing equal employment opportunities to all qualified individuals and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, marital status, veteran status, parental status, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.