Monday, July 21, 2014

Called to Proclaim Belonging: A guest post for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries

Photo credit to Emily Ann Garcia
A few weeks ago I was asked to write a guest post for the Proclaim blog on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries site.  The post can be viewed here in its context on that blog or appears in full text below.  

As I write this post I am just a few short weeks away from finishing my internship at First Lutheran Church, in St Peter, MN. I am the first intern for this congregation. When the congregation began discerning the possibility of having an intern long before my arrival, they compiled a profile that said, “We believe that our conviction of welcome and designation as a Reconciling in Christ congregation makes us makes us an ideal site for an LGBTQ intern.”  My interview went very well, and as I walked home, I thought, “I have found my internship site.”  On that very same day, Pastor Alan stated to the congregational council, “I have found our intern.” 

One of my fears prior to internship was that I would be known only as “the gay pastor.”  I was afraid that all of my work and my pastoral formation would be filtered through that part of my identity.  In a world that so often forces LGBTQ people to apologize for who they are, before they can even begin to live into their vocation, I have seen, heard, and experienced something exciting at First Lutheran Church.  This congregation’s convictions about hospitality and welcome are real, and they are living out the Gospel. In this place, I am Pastor Amy first, and a gay pastor second.

Like most LGBTQ people I have struggled with belonging.  Belonging in our families, churches, communities, and workplaces. The church is a particularly painful place for many of us. In representing my congregation as a Reconciling in Christ site at the Southwest Minnesota Synod Assembly, I had the opportunity to talk with many people about what it means to be a safe place of welcome for all people. As many lamented that their congregations might never openly welcome LGBTQ folks, and tears were shared for family members and friends who left these congregations, I was able to share some hope that there is a new day dawning in the church.

 Part of my sense of call is to unceasingly proclaim to all the beautiful, broken, and beloved people of God who feel pushed aside by our culture or the church itself, “You already belong.  You may feel like you are on the margins, but you are part of the Body of Christ.”  My call is also to baptize and serve Holy Communion to equip this Body for their own work for justice, peace, and mercy in the world.

My experience as an intern this year, as well as my participation in Proclaim, has given me the confidence to live boldly into my calling to ministry.  I no longer apologize for being who God created me to be, but instead give thanks that I am who I am, that I have this call and have this sacred task before me.

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