Amalia Vagts, ELM Executive Director
October 11 was International Coming Out Day. For some, this is a day to help make the decision to start coming out about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. For many, the day becomes an annual ritual of “coming out” again. Visibility leads to understanding, to acceptance, to celebration.
Now we’re inviting you to come out and be proud about your support for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Many people say they support LGBTQ leaders in the church. We want to celebrate you for investing in these leaders and their ministries.
We’ve launched new Friends Circles to bear witness and give thanks to the wonderful people who sustain this ministry. These circles give us a chance to say thank you, and give you a chance to celebrate your work with ELM. We encourage you to share the good news of your support for ELM. We’ll thank our friends in our 2015 Annual Report and in new ways throughout the year.
- Extraordinary Friends – those giving $10+ monthly
- Faithful Friends – those giving $300 yearly (or $25 monthly)
- Fabulous Friends – those giving $600 yearly (or $50 monthly)
- Faithful & Fabulous Friends – those giving $1,000 yearly (or $84 monthly)
- Extraordinarily Faithful & Fabulous Friends – those giving $2,500+ yearly
Matthew 6:21 states it so beautifully: ‘For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I also like the version in The Message: “It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.”
When you invest your treasure in Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries…
- You help host the Proclaim retreat for a growing number of LGBTQ rostered leaders, candidates, and seminarians (now up to 170!).
- You help create resources like the candidacy guide, the call committee guide, and the First Call candidates handbook.
- You help address new trends, like a growing number of LGBTQ seminarians (currently 48!) through projects like the Proclaim Seminarian Team and Proclaim Seminary Advocates
- You help educate churchwide and synodical staff about the gifts LGBTQ leaders bring to the church.
You tell me it feels great to support this work. One long-time wonderful supporter was excited to find out they were now “Faithful & Fabulous Friends.” She told me, “I’ve been faithful before, but I’m not sure I’ve been fabulous!” We are thankful for ALL our friends!
Amalia Vagts, Executive Director, is thankful for a faithful and fabulous spouse who took part in a serious stewardship conversation and decided that he felt “extraordinarily” good about their decision to increase their monthly support.
Rev. Jenny Mason served as an ELCA missionary in Santiago, Chile before being removed from the ELCA clergy roster in 2001 because she was an openly lesbian woman in relationship. Jenny then served as Associate Pastor at Central City Lutheran Mission (CCLM) in San Bernardino, California, which was disciplined by the Synod for installing Jenny. 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.
Jenny 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, the Rev. Jodi Barry, and now works as a Congregational Partnership Organizer for a faith-based developer of affordable housing.
Rev. Jodi Barry has been a chaplain at Mercy Hospital since May 2003. Prior to that, she was an on call chaplain at North Memorial Medical Center and Regions Hospital. Jodi is also the youth director at Grace University Lutheran Church.
Jodi was baptized, raised, and confirmed at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Maplewood, MN. She graduated from Bethel College, St. Paul, MN with a B.A. in Literature (1990). Jodi has felt called to ministry since high school, and explains, “Once I started my “coming out” process regarding my sexuality, I thought my calling and my sexuality were incompatible.”
After college, Jodi went to Texas and left the church. Thankfully, she was invited to attend The Cathedral Of Hope, Metropolitan Community Church (MCC).
“While I was at church that first Sunday, I cried through the whole service, and especially during communion. It was the first time I’d ever seen a woman preside, and the invitation to communion has stayed with me: “you don’t have to be a member of this church, or of any church; all we ask is that you be seeking a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.” It was my first time back in church as an “out” lesbian, and I wondered where this new relationship with God would lead.”
After moving back to Minnesota, Jodi attended United Theological Seminary (UTS) of the Twin Cities, graduating in 2001 with a M.Div. A year of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) residency followed, 2001-2002. Jodi is extremely grateful to her residency mates: Diaconal Minister Patty Lee, Rev. Karla McGray, and Rev. Pam Arends, and CPE Supervisor: Janet LaBrecque.
Jodi’s passions and callings include ministering to un-churched people, emergency preparedness, training, and starting new ministries at the hospital.
“Working at Mercy Hospital has been amazing! When I went there for my first job interview, I was quite sure that I had driven to the North Dakota border. When patients ask me if I have a church, I joyfully respond that the hospital is my church, and my congregation changes every day. Chaplaincy ministry is ministry in the moment, and I feel so honored and blessed to minister to folks in extremely difficult times; it is a gift.”
Jodi and her spouse, Rev. Dr. Jenny Mason (pictured at right), live in North St. Paul. The love biking, yard work, eating out, and having family and friends over. Jenny is currently working as a Congregational Partnership Organizer with Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, a developer of affordable housing. They met at an ECP/ELM roster retreat and dated long distance before Jenny graciously agreed to move to Minnesota. We also enjoy time with our “kids”: Ralphie our Sun Conure Parrot and Trixie our Golden Doodle. They really are the cutest, and a sure sign of what unconditional love looks like.
Rev. Jodi Barry was received onto the ELCA clergy roster in 2010.
Rev. Richard Andersen received his Life Coaching training from the Hudson Institute of Santa Barbara, California. He is a Certified Life Coach of adults and their organizational systems. A graduate of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Andersen was ordained in 1986. He was approved for reinstatement to the roster having served a Lutheran parish earlier in his life. His second career as a senior financial consultant at Thrivent Financial for Lutherans allowed him to help clients shape their futures. He draws on these life skills in his passion for coaching people through life-enriching change.
With colleague, Ruth Frost, Richard founded Third Act Life Discovery, a spiritual journey of the heart designed to help people live purposefully and embrace a full life. Andersen is working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary. Richard is currently the Director of Congregational Relations for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota. “My life has revolved around being gay and acknowledging my call to serve the church,” Richard explains.
Well, what’s next for ELM? Many of you have been asking us in recent days, since the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to change their rostering policies regarding clergy in same-sex relationships.
In the coming days and weeks, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries will be talking about our next steps as we continue to support ministry opportunities people of all sexual orientations and gender identities called to ordained ministry in the Lutheran church. Check back in the next day or so for a response from the Covenant Circle of ELM.
We are interested in hearing from you! Share your thoughts by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You have been revealed, I was there – I saw it – you are children of God, bearers of the message that we are all children of God. I will tell the truth about that wherever I go, and you will tell the truth about what you saw and heard.”
—Rev. Erik Christensen’s sermon on 1/20/08
“I was there. I saw it.”
These words were a sort of refrain in Rev. Erik Christensen’s sermon at Salem English Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota on January 20, 2008, the day after they called and ordained Pastor Jen Nagel.
The gospel reading for that day (John 1:29-42) began “The next day….” But before we could really listen to what would come next, we had to ask what just happened.
We had all witnessed an extraordinary ordination, attended by hundreds of people from across the Twin Cities and around the nation. Jen Nagel was the 13th pastor since 1990 to be called and ordained by a Lutheran congregation that was standing up to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s policy against ordaining pastors in same-sex partnerships (or those in principled noncompliance to that policy). We gathered to be reminded of our baptism and to set apart for public ministry Pastor Jen Nagel. Pastor Jen was the 13th since 1990, but she was the 5th since October of 2007, showing the momentum among churches opening their pulpits to pastors of all sexual orientation and gender identity.
Even those who weren’t there are witness to the powerful work that is happening because of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.
Gifts to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries mean so much. We cannot operate with your support–ELM is funded entirely by individuals and congregations. We need your support now because this year we hope to do more than ever before.
Your gift to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries does the following:
- Provides direct support to Mission Partners–openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Lutheran pastors serving congregations and specialized ministries.
- Helps us reach out to new congregations, seminary students, and pastors not yet on our roster
- Provides emergency response to pastors being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
- Raise awareness that God calls people of all sexual orientations and gender identities to ordained ministry in the Lutheran church.
Thank you for your support and for considering a gift!