Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pastor Jen Nagel Received onto the Clergy Roster of the ELCA

On Sunday, September 26, Pastor Jen Nagel was received onto the clergy roster of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) at Salem English Lutheran Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rite of Reception was part of a 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship on that day. Bishop Craig Johnson, Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA, was the preacher. Salem is a transformational congregation on the edge of Uptown in south Minneapolis at 2822 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55408.

Rev. Jen Nagel said, "When I became Salem's pastoral leader in 2003 and when they voted to call me as their pastor in 2007, it's been the courageous, bold, Spirit-led actions of this gutsy congregation in the lead. I am grateful that we can celebrate this milestone, knowing still that there is much more justice to come. I'm also grateful to a cloud of witnesses who are part of this Kairos time: those praying, organizing, voting, and implementing the policies, and those who have risked and given to see God's reign."

Pastor Jen Nagel was received onto the roster of clergy as a result of the decisions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly that voted to eliminate the policy that had since 1989 precluded service as ministers by those in a lifelong, committed same-gender relationship. Until Sunday's Rite of Reception, Jen had been on the roster of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries (ELM).

Since 1990, ELM has credentialed pastors for ministry and maintained a roster of clergy barred from serving other denominations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, worked with Lutheran congregations to open their calls to members of the ELM roster, and provided direct financial grants to fund this ministry. ELM is an independent organization, not part of any Lutheran denomination.

Ordained as pastor at Salem Lutheran in January 2008, Jen had actually served as the pastoral leader for the congregation since July 2003. Jen has a Master of Divinity degree from the University of Chicago-Divinity School, completed work at Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota. Prior to Salem Lutheran, she served in Minneapolis at Central Lutheran Church and the Hennepin County Medical Center. She has also previously served in Africa, Chicago, Michigan, and outdoor ministry settings.

Jen's ordination was an act of ecclesial disobedience at the time. Her ordination was referred to as an "extraordinary" ordination in that it occurred outside the normal practice of the ELCA and was not recognized at the time. At the service on September 26, the ELCA will recognize her ordination and ministry.

Jen's reception onto the roster followed the reception of six of her colleagues in Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries in San Francisco, three others in the Twin Cities, and preceded those to take place in the weeks and months to come. In addition to these receptions of those whose ordinations were not recognized by the ELCA at the time they took place, there have been and will continue to be reinstatements of pastors who were removed from or left the roster of clergy solely for the reason of being in a committed, lifelong, same-gender relationship.

Jen has served as a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches, the Synod Council and Executive Committee for Minneapolis Area Synod, as Chaplain to the LCNA Board, and as Collegium Chair of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Covenant Circle. Currently Jen is the Co-Chair of the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Covenant Circle.

Jen and her partner, UCC Pastor Jane McBride, and their daughter, Eliza Grace, live in the Twin Cities.

For further coverage, see this segment of "A Church Divdied, Together" covering the story of Pr. Jen and Salem Lutheran, produced by Minnesota Public Radio. 

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