Sunday, October 26, 2008

That's Some Reformation!

Shrimp here. The 100th issue of Lutheran (True!) Confessions, which was posted in time to be read in preparation for Reformation Sunday, leads off with a report of Saturday's extraordinary ordination of Jodi Barry -- which we mentioned here. All we have to add today is that the presiding minister was Anita Hill, herself a non-rostered co-pastor at Saint Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minn. It looks to us as if Miss Hill is the first recipient of extraordinary ordination to preside at one. [Ed. note: see corrective comment below.]

But, the really extraordinary announcement is this:
Another Call, Another Extrordinary [sic] Ordination: On October 19 First United Lutheran Church (SF) voted unaninmously to call Jay Wilson as pastor to the Welcome Ministry where he serves as Assistant Director and works with the poor and homeless.

Jay is a graduate of Wartburg College. He received an MDiv from Luther Seminary ("God could use someone like you") and an MSW with clinical emphasis from the College St. Catherine/University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. At Luther Seminary, he co-founded AGAPE, a group for LGBTQ students and allies, and transitioned female-to-male in appearance while living on campus.

Jay was removed from the ELCA candidacy process for reasons of gender identity and sexual orientation. He is approved for call by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and serves ELM as chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Ellipse.

Jay's ordination extra ordinem will be December 6, 2008 in San Francisco.
Did you catch that? While attending Luther Seminary, Jay "transitioned female-to-male in appearance while living on campus."

Naturally that Reformation caught Shrimp's eye. It also stirred our memories back a few years to when Forum Letter wrote about an unusual internship. Naturally, our copy of that particular issue is (we think) currently "filed" in one of several chests labeled "stuff to be filed" and Forum Letter wasn't online then, so we can't fill you in with (or direct you to) all the gory details. We recall it raising lots of questions, though, and found this follow-up in the December 2004 Forum Letter, recalling the October 2004 issue's "Learning Deficiencies at Luther" article.

Google found us some interesting things, such as this biographical note from something called the "FORGE Forward 2007 Conference"
Jay Wilson identifies as an aspie genderqueer FTM, disabled and postmodern Lutheran, geeky and queer, an activist and popular educator, Flickerite and a Trekker. Jay has worked in supported community living, radical social work, disability rights advocacy, summer camp health services, self-taught photography, information and referral, personal service assistance, church inclusiveness training, pastoral/chaplain ministries, and public speaking. Jay is trained as an emergency first responder, Master of Social Work, and Master of Divinity.
And if that isn't enough for you, here's the description of Jay's seldom used blog, Simul Iustus Et Peccator:
Experiences and questions from a postmodern Lutheran queer aspie genderqueer transguy insulin-pumping Trekker geek academic allergic vegetarian white 3rd-wave-feminist...who aspires to be a Disabled Advocate, photographer, pastor, Anti-Oppression, and power-sharer.

Simul Iustus Et Peccator is the Lutheran belief of being in a relationship of merciful justice with God through Jesus, at the same time being human prone to brokenness living in a very broken world.
Well, Shrimp'll give Jay "simul." Of course, there's a bio from Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, which begins:
Jay Wilson is a queer and genderqueer transguy, autistic and disabled, who identifies as a Lutheran postmodern, third-wave feminist, academic geek, disability rights activist, and social justice advocate.
Meanwhile, the e-mail address listed on Wilson's ELM bio lead us straight to this "doctrinal sermon" written by "Jaimie Wilson" for Professor of Systematic Theology Alan G. Padgett's Creation and the Triune God course -- one written for the hypothetical "union blessing" for "Jeannie and Marie." There is no indication of the grade Jaimie got for preaching a "doctrinal sermon" for blessing the union of two women.

And that got Shrimp looking at some 4-year-old e-mails related to that original Forum Letter article, where one correspondent had found articles via Google from the Luther Seminary student newspaper where Jaimie Wilson was, prior to the then-current internship, always referred to as a "she." Remember, "transitioned female-to-male in appearance while living on campus." Google doesn't find these articles today, though.

Which brings us back to the announcement of the ordination extra ordinem of Jay Wilson December 6 in San Francisco. First United Lutheran Church, a congregation ultimately removed from the ELCA for calling Jeff Johnson as pastor, has called Wilson to be a pastor!

Shrimp out, wishing you a happy Reformation Day.

8 comments:

Clam said...

I am at such a loss that I will only ask, can someone, anyone, please tell me what an "aspie" is?

Shrimp said...

Apparently it is someone with Asperger syndrome.

CFXMont said...

Do I have this correct? The only reason this person isn't eligible to be an ELCA pastor is that he is transgendered?

And I thought we Episcopal/Anglicans were in trouble.

Rev. Megan M. Rohrer said...

Hey all, just a couple of notes about your post. Anita is not the first ELM rostered person to preside at an ordination, Jeff Johnson has presided at several, so has Jane Ralph and Erik Christensen - there have probably been others.

Since there is no requirement that pastors cannot be transgender (only that they cannot be gay), the official reason given to Jay about why he wasn't able to go through the ELCA ordination was because his internship site was supervised by a head pastor (Robyn Hartwig) who is dually rostered by both ELCA and ELM.

What I think is more important to focus on is the amazing work that Jay has done at the Welcome Ministry. Since he began in April, he has helped more than 90 people who had been homeless for more than twenty years move into housing. If helping the homeless and hungry isn't God's work then I don't know what is.

For those who are having issues with Jay's transgender status, I would refer you to Isaiah 56:1-8.

Blessings all!
Pastor Megan
(Jay's happy co-worker)

Clam said...

One needs only read this person's self-description with a fair mind to understand that s/he is not remotely emotionally well-adjusted enough to serve in pastoral ministry. I am glad s/he is doing good work with the homeless in SF, but any assertion that such work is evidence of a call to ministry (or of the morality of her/his behavioral choices) is nothing more than works-righteousness.

Anonymous said...

Measure the "works prove/validate the call" rev. megan m. rohrer made against Heidelberg Disputation point #11: "Arrogance cannot be avoided or true hope be present unless the judgment of condemnation is feared in every work." Add to that the bewilderment of those destined to inherit the kingdom: "When did we see you hungry, thirsty, sick, in prison..." etc. They didn't claim any merit or knowledge of having done good works. Clam, your assessment is quite right.

Rev. Eric Brown said...

Hmmmm...how many who have commented have met Jay? Megan has. I have. There's often more to the story than meets the eye.
Peace in a time of war. Justice in a world of inequality.

Shrimp said...

Shrimp here, having just discovered that the Forum Letter articles referred to above had been posted ALPB Forum Online back in 2004.

We've added the links to those articles, "Learning Deficiencies at Luther" (from Nov. 2004) and "Luther Internship Redux" (from Dec. 2004) to our main blog entry as well as in this comment. Happy reading!

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...