Rev. Tim Feiertag
- Everett, WA
Trinity Lutheran Church, a Reconciling In Christ congregation in downtown Everett, Washington
What brings you joy in your ministry?
I find joy in the surprise of experiencing the presence of God. Sometimes that happens while singing a hymn. Sometimes it happens in the words of promise during communion. Sometimes it is while wrestling with a text until I hear a word of grace. Sometimes it comes through the life of the gathered community, in laughter, in learning, in serving. Perhaps I ought to expect God in all of those places, but God continues to catch me off guard in delightful ways.
Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?
At each phase of my ministry journey, I have been blessed with mentors and heroes who have inspired, comforted, and challenged me in various ways. Right now, I am inspired by the congregation I serve. This community truly seeks to be a place of welcome, particularly to our neighbors who are experiencing concrete needs for food or shelter and those who are in need of a word of grace, to know that they too are beloved children of God.
What are your interests outside of ministry?
My favorite forms of self-care are hiking, karaoke, and country western dancing. I enjoy wandering about, gawking at architecture or at nature. In singing, I like to keep my repertoire wide both in genres and in decades. In dancing, I like both leading and following.
Best meal you've ever eaten?
Impossible to narrow down. I am quite skilled at savoring, regardless of the price or complexity of the meal. Some meals are great because of the food. Some meals are great because of the company. Some meals are great because of the adventure. Some meals are great because of the comfort. Some meals are great because of the memories. How can I narrow all that down to just one meal?!?
My roots are in rural north-central Missouri. I studied social work at Valparaiso University, a Lutheran school near Chicago. After nearly a dozen years of work in the child welfare system in and around Kansas City, Missouri, I headed to Berkeley, California, for seminary. I completed my pastoral internship in Portland, Oregon. For more than three years, I oversaw the Reconciling In Christ program, the Lutheran roster of LGBT-affirming congregations and other ministry sites, for ReconcilingWorks (formerly known as Lutherans Concerned, an independent non-profit formed in 1974). After more than 6 years of waiting, I was finally ordained in December of 2015, called to a congregation in the Northwest Washington Synod of the ELCA.
Did you always want to be clergy?
As the child of a 4th generation Lutheran pastor, I grew up knowing that I did NOT want to become a pastor, having seen the requirements of the job through my little kid eyes. In the doctrinal wars of the Lutheran denomination of my youth, I also experienced some of the evils church people do to one another. In college, I discovered the field of social work as a vocation that was a fit for me. In college, I also discovered myself to be gay, and that seemed to confirm that ordained ministry was not for me.
I discovered that I enjoyed church politics, attending every synod assembly from 1994 to 2004. After seeing me there year after year, people kept asking me, "Remind me what congregation you pastor?" I wondered if perhaps others were seeing something in me that I ought to pay attention to. I also had became a leader in Lutherans Concerned/North America (now ReconcilingWorks), an independent Lutheran ministry focused on welcome to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Being in leadership in ministry made it hard to ignore the question of whether I should be in leadership in ministry!
But I was stubborn. So I tried to make a bargain with God. I agreed to visit a seminary of another denomination in my hometown during their ministry exploration weekend. I figured I would discover that seminary was definitely not a place for me, that I could return to my career as a social worker. Surely by the time I was eligible for retirement at age 51 the ELCA would figure out whether gay people could be clergy and I could start seminary then. Instead, I discovered that that one was not the seminary for me, but seminary was definitely where I needed to be. And that's when I began the paperwork to start the candidacy process.