Proclaiming in the Open
As many of you may know, I love the ancient languages on which our Scriptures are based. In the New Testament, the act of speaking out is denoted by the words “kēryssō” and “euaggelizō.” The first word literally refers to the sound that a crow makes, so you could think of giving a sermon as “crowing.”
The second is related to the word “angel,” which literally means one who announces, and is the basis for “Evangelical,” meaning “the Gospel” or “good message,” the word that begins our denomination’s name, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
In Latin, one term for these actions of speaking out is “proclamo,” “to call or cry out.” The root verb of “clamo/clamare,” means “a loud cry, shout, or complaint.” Think of the word “clamor.” But sometimes, isn’t it necessary to cry out? Sometimes there are truths that cannot stay silent, that need to be named, voiced, and even, sometimes, shouted out.
The week before last, I attended the yearly retreat gathering for the Proclaim community, a community of which I have been a member for many years. This community exists to bring together and support clergy and seminarians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identifying (LGBTQ; the word “queer” includes many who find this term as one of support and identification rather than as a curse term), people whose sexual orientations and gender identities have, at times, been silenced, people who have been told not to proclaim about that aspect of their lives, even though it is an aspect that runs as deep as any can. You can learn more about the community online at www.elm.org/proclaim. I even have a biography there!
At the Proclaim retreat, which drew together about 80 people this year (including spouses and significant others), we had a chance to see old friends and make new ones, to worship, pray, and sing together, to engage in discussion over meals and at leisure, to learn together about ways to heal ourselves and our communities from violence, and to proclaim the deepest truths of our lives and callings, in a way that for many of us is still a challenge.
The Proclaim community now includes around 275 individuals. Many still have a challenging time finding a call, and many more are seminarians who are not able to be placed, as I was, in a supportive internship parish. The community has 4 chaplains who minister to these ministers. I was grateful to be nominated for one of these positions, and even more honored to be selected as a Proclaim chaplain. I will learn more in the next 2 years about the needs and prayers for this community through being a dedicated listener and prayer for people who are going through what I have gone through, in the wilderness of a church body that has not caught up with where Trinity is.
Trinity is the only Reconciling in Christ church in the south suburbs of Chicago. This means that we are the only Lutheran church that openly welcomes people like me, people whose sexual orientations and gender identities have historically been excluded from the fellowship of Christian community. We are not the only welcoming Lutheran congregation, but we are the only one that has publicly made that statement. We are a congregation that proclaims our welcome to LGBTQ people who, though dispersed in our communities, are still living, raising families, seeking community, and in need of the message that God loves them as much as God loves any of us.
We have a message of welcome to proclaim, out in the open. The messages of God’s love that we bring to others and our surrounding communities are literally saving words for some people. As I continue to become more acquainted with our community, I will continue to bring the message that Trinity welcomes all people, truly, not regardless of, but because of who God created them to be. That means you.
I need a lot of help in getting this welcoming message out. If you can think of someone in your own life, anyone who needs the message that God loves them and that our community at Trinity will support them, please consider proclaiming to them that simple, yet saving message. I am grateful for all that you are already doing to support and grow our community.
We may still be small in number, but we are great in spirit, and God is with us.
May God bless you every day!