Workshops to Study Pope Francis’ Letter on Climate

Our Common Home

sea-mountains-nature-water-largeAn Interfaith Study Group of Pope Francis’ Recent Climate Letter

The beginning of an Alameda County Interfaith Climate Action Network, a working group of CA Interfaith power and Light.

In the recent Climate Encyclical Letter from Pope Francis, he expresses a desire to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.” Prepare to be touched, surprised, and inspired by this letter from the Pope.


Wed. July 8, 6:30-8:30 pm, First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th St. (corner of 14th and Castro) 4 blocks from 12th St. BART station.
Monday, July 13, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, St. Ambrose Catholic Church 1145 Gilman St, Albany
Wednesday, July 22 location TBA
Monday, July 27, 6:30-8:30 pm, Temple Sinai, Oakland Wednesday, August 5, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, Church by the Side of the Road, 2108 Russell St. Berkeley
Monday,August 10 locationTBA
Wednesday,August 19 locationTBA
Monday,August 24 locationTBA
Wednesday, Sept. 2 location TBA

Questions? Interested in helping organize? Contact Heather MacLeod 510-459-3452

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Leaders at the Chapel: Andrew Stevens

Andrew_headshot3Name: Andrew Stevens


1. How long have you hung out at the Chapel? Why do you keep coming Back?

I started attending the Chapel when I moved to Berkeley in the summer of 2012. I keep coming back for the supportive, vibrant community, engaging theology and great sermons, and life-giving spirit I find here.


2. A couple of things Chapel people might be interested in knowing about you.

I am currently pursuing a PhD in Agricultural & Resource Economics at UC – Berkeley. (No, I’m not in seminary.) I’m originally from Minnesota (grew up in the suburb Eagan) and went to college at the University of Chicago (right near the LSTC seminary). Currently, in addition to serving as a co-HUB-cap for the Love Our Neighbor HUB, I am also a member of the Sierra Pacific Synod Council (2015-2018).


3. 2-3 sentences of “advice” to newcomers to the Chapel?

Jump in! You don’t need any special knowledge, experience, or social connections to get right in the thick of our life here at the Chapel. Our community can — and does! — nurture everyone no matter what their situation. Some people show up and put down roots for decades. Others (like me) are only here for a few months or years before the winds of life blow us somewhere else. There is a place for everyone here.


4. A change you would like to see happen at the Chapel during your term in office.

My goal is for the Chapel community — our congregation — to feel true ownership of the social justice work we do together as the Love Our Neighbor HUB. In the past, it feels like the congregation has supported what a small group of people were actively doing around social justice. In the future, I want it to feel like our whole community is engaged and active around our communal work in the world.



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First Regular Ordination of Transgender Person

Article originally appeared on ELM’s website.

Celebrating Another Joyful First

The following is the press release issued in joyful anticipation of the ordination of Proclaim member and ELM board member, Asher O’Callaghan.

asher with proclaim banner (2)
Photo credit: Emily Ann Garcia

Asher O’Callaghan will be ordained Thursday, July 2, 2015 in Denver, Colorado to serve the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).

O’Callaghan is the first openly transgender person to be ordained through the regular process of the ELCA. Other openly transgender pastors were ordained prior to 2009 and outside the regular process of the ELCA. The ELCA voted in 2009 to ordain partnered gay and lesbian persons opening the door to widen the acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) people in ministry (see O’Callaghan has been called by Zion Lutheran Church in Idaho Springs, Colorado to serve as their pastor.

O’Callaghan is a member of Proclaim, an active community of nearly 200 Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ. Proclaim is a program of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, a social ministry organization that supports publicly-identified LGBTQ pastors, seminarians, and their ministries.  O’Callaghan currently serves on the Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries Board of Directors.

From Amalia Vagts, executive director of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries: “What a joyful day for Zion Lutheran, for the Rocky Mountain Synod, and for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America! Asher is exactly the kind of person that our church needs. His gifts for ministry and his witness as a transgender person continue to proclaim a message that God welcomes, loves, and calls all people.” Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries is a social ministry advocating for LGBTQ pastors and their congregations.

From Reverend Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastor of House for All Sinners & Saints: “Asher O’Callaghan has a fierce and practiced belief in grace.  He is an amazing theologian, an empathic caregiver and a true believer in the Gospel.  For these reasons and many others, I celebrate his ordination with great joy.  The Lutheran Church is about to receive a gifted, passionate pastor.”

From Asher O’Callaghan: “I’m thrilled to be getting ordained to be a pastor and leader within the church I love. The ELCA, Zion Lutheran, and House For All Sinners and Saints have helped to show me that we truly are living in a new day. The Church is changing: There’s no need to choose between living life as your fullest self and belonging to a community of faith. For transgender people, this means that there are congregations who will affirm, respect, and celebrate our faith and our gender identities.”

Zion Lutheran Church in Idaho Springs, Colorado is a small but mighty congregation with a strong sense of community. They’re going through a period of revitalization and have a good mix of ages, single people, and families. Zion Lutheran has been a Reconciling in Christ congregation for several years, which means they intentionally welcome LGBTQ people. Idaho Springs is a small, mountain town located about one hour from Denver.

The ordination service is scheduled for 7pm on Thursday July 2nd at House For All Sinners and Saints (which worships at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, located at 2201 Dexter Street, Denver, CO, 80207). Bishop Jim Gonia of the Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA will preside and Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber will preach.

Asher uses the pronouns him/he/his.

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