ELCA Task Force on Women and Justice: One in Christ
Bishop Jeff Barrow
Though I am bishop of the Greater Milwaukee Synod, I continue to see the church through the eyes of the parish pastor. I feel it is a privilege to be asked to serve on the Women and Justice: One in Christ task force because issues of women and justice continue to be a pastoral concern. As someone who began ministry amid the first wave of women pastors, I value the gifts that women have brought not only to pastoral ministry but to so many aspects of a changing world. At the same time, there is an alarming concern for the imbalance of power that still exists in today’s society. I reside in Racine, Wis. along with my wife, Kate, son, Jackson, and daughter, Anneka.
I am a Lutheran pastor serving Kviteseid Lutheran Church in Milan, Minn. I am married and have both children and grandchildren. My interest in the Women and Justice: One in Christ task force is grounded in my belief that all people are created equal: this includes women. While serving in the United States Navy for almost 30 years I was part of several efforts to ensure that women had equal access to every opportunity the men of the Navy enjoyed. In my off time I play tuba and euphonium and build in my woodshop.
My hope is to develop a faith-based social statement reflecting the diversity of the ELCA and affirming the need to continually seek justice for all people while recognizing that women — and therefore children — are disproportionately affected by educational, economical and societal barriers. These barriers impair such things as access to health care, safety and security, both within our country and globally. I hope the statement will provide avenues for advocacy and action. My hobbies include cross-stitching and other crafts, as well as travel, especially to Yellowstone and the California coast. I enjoy reading when time allows. Years of involvement with women's ministries, travel to learn from women in our companion synods, work with domestic violence, and degree work in religion and social work, have all formed and reformed my vision and understanding of challenges, concerns and hopes women have for themselves and their children. I see justice for women as a work in progress. Our continual steps, small as they may be, work toward a better future and give me hope for those who follow us. In my years of service to the church, I have been a Women of the ELCA Churchwide Executive Board Member (2005-2011), a Synodical President and Board Member, a Lutheran Youth Organization advisor, a vacation Bible school director, and various other roles at different levels of the congregation, conference and synod.
I am a Solution Designer currently living in Philadelphia. I was drawn to taking part in the task force particularly because of my years of experience in the entertainment industry. I hope for a strong, clear and resounding statement. My hobbies include practicing martial arts and kettlebells. My favorite movies include "Amadeus," "The Raid," and "Inception." I also enjoy reading — my favorite books include "Infinity," "Under the Black Flag," and "Things to Think On."
I am a member of Christus Victor Lutheran Church in Ocean Springs, Miss., where I have taught Sunday school, served as a lector and participated in the music program. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading and traveling. My goal is that the task force is able to create a strong and clear statement that raises awareness of continued inequities that women suffer in our society. I hope that the social statement will lead to practices and policies in both the church and in society which will help to lessen, and lead to the eradication of, these inequities.
Fern Lee Hagedorn
I have served on staffs and boards and in advisory capacities with organizations including The Lutheran World Federation, ELCA Multicultural Ministries and Global Mission, Lutheran Church in America-Mission in North America, Lutheran World Ministries, ELCA Asian and Pacific Islanders Association, and the American Bible Society, where I headed the New Media research program. I was a founding member of the Asian American International Film Festival and have won awards for works in video and software. I presently serve on the board and am a local morning host on WJFF, an NPR-affiliate station with listenership in the Catskills (N.Y.) and Northeastern Pennsylvania. As an active member of St. Paul’s-Narrowsburg, N.Y., I am a teacher, musician and baker. I co-chair an ad hoc coalition of Lutheran congregations in the Catskills and write for the ELCA blog LivingLutheran.
I was born in Montana, raised in South Dakota, but have lived most of my life on the East Coast. I teach New Testament and Greek at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, one of the eight seminaries affiliated with the ELCA. I am dedicated to helping emerging leaders of an increasingly ecumenical church discover their own voices in the interpretation of Scripture. This means bringing the best of current biblical study and theological reflection together. My on-going “academic” project seeks to articulate a biblical theology that is deeply Lutheran and helpful to the ELCA of the 21st century. In a life that is increasingly busy and detail-rich, it is important to find space to work for the justice that God intends for all. I am thankful for the structure of the task force that provides me with the opportunity to contribute to this on-going work for women on behalf of all.
am 53 years old, born in a rural area of El Salvador, Central America. Thirty years ago, I came with my two children, then 5 and 2 years old, without documents to the United States, after I was denied a visa, to save myself and my family from the civil war that lasted 12 years and left at least 75,000 people killed.
I worked very hard to support my family in the United States, as well as my family in El Salvador, learning English and training myself to prepare for other types of jobs different from cleaning houses, elderly care, babysitting and janitorial work. In El Salvador I was working as a judge's assistant in First Circuit Court, studied at the National School of Commerce and got a diploma in Business Administration. I have been working with community organizations, non-profits, and I have also started and maintained my own computer networking business in San Francisco. In Arizona, I dedicated myself to advocate for the undocumented community. I organized and assisted with marches, protests, lobbying, media campaigns and all types of community education regarding the unjust persecution of the undocumented. I want to work toward a humane, comprehensive and just immigration reform, to stop the separation of families and the abuse in prison, hospitals and schools that undocumented families are victims of in Arizona and the United States. Human rights, workers’ rights, civil rights and constitutional rights for all working families are important to achieve peace with justice.
I am serving a second term as a council member of Faith Lutheran Church in Phoenix, where I currently live and continue my work as a community organizer.
An avid theology nerd and feminist, I am also unabashedly a Star Trek and Joss Whedon geek; I spend my nearly mythical "free time" enjoying Seattle's rainy natural beauty, drinking copious amounts of tea. I am a member of Ballard First Lutheran Church and candidate for diaconal ministry with the ELCA Northwest Washington Synod.
I have served the church as a pastor for 11 years in a variety of settings. Currently, I serve as an interim pastor and a spiritual director in Bethlehem, Pa. I also work with the ELCA Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s youth organization and spirituality team. I yearn for meaningful and creative engagement at the intersection where justice, sexism, racism and social inequalities meet. As a member of the task force I plan to sit in that intersection and listen to the multiple voices who speak of these issues through word and action as we build this living document. My hope is that the work of the task force will lead us to speak from our place as Lutheran Christians as we participate in the ongoing dialogue with sisters and brothers throughout the world about what our role is in God’s kingdom.
I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. After receiving my BA in Sociology from Blackburn College in 1978, I pursued advanced degrees in nursing from Rush University. I have been a Certified Staff Nurse at the Center for Rehabilitation at Rush University Medical Center for over 20 years. I have taken my passion for healthcare abroad by participating in 15 short-term medical missions to places such as Mexico, Panama, Nepal and Cuba. I belong to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Elgin, Ill., and am also a current congregation council member. I have a passion for travel, reading and fitness. My goal as a member of this task force is to be able to contribute to the development of a faith-based provocative, yet practical, statement regarding social justice for women.
I am a lifelong Lutheran and a fifth-generation Lutheran pastor. Since 1993, it has been my privilege to serve as a member of the religion faculty at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where I rejoice in the opportunity to teach and mentor young people. My scholarly work focuses on the theology of Martin Luther and the Lutheran Confessions, which I strive to apply meaningfully and faithfully in new contexts. As the mother of two young adult sons, I pray and work for a world in which there is equality for all people, since we are all created in God’s image.
As a life-long Lutheran, I’m honored to have this opportunity to help develop new resources to address the damage that gender stereotypes and injustice inflict on women, men, families, congregations and our broader society. Gender injustice impacts each of us in various ways, inflicting psychological, emotional, physical or theological damage and it prevents us from becoming our authentic selves.
I currently serve as Associate Professor of Religion at Augsburg College, where my research and teaching focus on theology and the human person, images of God, doctrines of sin, LGBTQ and disability theologies, and the theology of Martin Luther.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Ala., I’ve lived and studied in the Seattle area, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Berkeley, Holden Village and the southern African country of Swaziland, where I did my pastoral internship. I earned my Ph.D. in systematic theology from the Graduate Theological Union, with additional studies at Luther Seminary and Pacific Lutheran University.
I am the author of “The Human Subject and Sin: The Anthropology of Pannenberg, Ruether and Fulkerson” and have also published chapters in “Transformative Lutheran Theologies: Feminist, Womanist, and Mujerista Perspectives,” and “The Devil’s Whore: Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition."
I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. I studied at City University of New York, New York Theological Seminary and Florida State University, doing my Ph.D. work in Philosophical & Religious Ethics. I specialize in bioethics, war and peace, social/economic/political theory, human rights and feminist studies and teach ethics, Christian ethics, theories of justice, Africana philosophy, and philosophy of religion at Bethune Cookman University. I also teach theology and ethics at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando as an adjunct. I co-wrote “An Introduction to Ethics,” and am currently in the process of writing a Philosophy of Religion textbook in Spanish for seminary and Bible institute use. I have written about topics as diverse as the ethics of human euthanasia, film theory, and religious philosophy. Presently I am a member at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church in Orlando where I work with our social justice group. I am a hunger specialist for ELCA World Hunger and work with my synod whenever we deal with social statements such as genetics and criminal justice. I am also on our bishop's task force on Immigration and Racism. I am very concerned about the political, social and religious climate that seeks to oppress women and roll back the achievements and strides made in matters of family roles, women's reproductive freedom and equal compensation.
Heber Rast Jr.
I worked as an engineer, and retired as Senior Project Manager with the Jacobs Engineering Group. I currently work as the Executive Director of South Carolina Lutheran Men in Mission, and I previously served two terms as churchwide President of Lutheran Men in Mission. Locally, I currently serve on my congregation council, sing in the choir and chair the stewardship committee. I am also on the South Carolina Synod American Missions Committee and serve the evangelism task force. Personally, I am deeply concerned about violence toward girls and women, domestic violence and the persecution and lack of opportunities for women in so many parts of the world. I hope that the outcome of this task force shows that our church really cares about these issues. My wife and I like the mountains, snow skiing and both serve with our local volunteer fire department.
Bishop Ann M. Svennungsen
I was elected February 2012 as bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod. This historic vote made me the first woman to serve as bishop in any of the ELCA’s six Minnesota synods. I have been a leader in congregations and church-related organizations for over 30 years. In 1996, I became senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Minn., at the time the largest ELCA congregation to be led by a female senior pastor. In 2003, I was named president of The Fund for Theological Education, a national, ecumenical organization devoted to raising up the next generation of excellent and diverse ministers and scholars. From 2007 to 2010, I served as president of Texas Lutheran University in Seguin, Texas; most recently, I was interim college pastor at St. Olaf College and held an appointment as Resident Scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at Saint John’s University. I also founded and serve as director of The Presidents’ Pledge Against Global Poverty — an initiative inviting university presidents to pledge five percent of their annual income to end global poverty. I am married to the Rev. Dr. William Russell, a Reformation specialist. We are parents to Sarah (Dan) Karlgaard, John Russell, and Mary Russell; and grandparents to John Karlgaard.
I am a pastor living in Brookfield, Wis., the fourth woman of color ordained in the Lutheran Church in the United States. I am married to the Rev. Fred Thomas-Breitfeld, who is also an ELCA pastor. We are parents of two adults and are blessed to have an adorable baby grandson. I have a passion for working for justice for all people, which I have expressed through being an anti-racist organizer with the Lutheran church. I ardently believe in the power of God and God’s preference for those in poverty, the dispossessed and the least.
Brad Wendel - Task Force Co-Chair
I am a law professor at Cornell University specializing in legal ethics and tort (that is, accidents and injuries) law. My graduate work is in moral, political, and legal philosophy, and I sometimes dabble in theological ethics. I am humbled to have been asked to serve as co-chair of this task force, which is made up of such an amazing group of people. I hope this process can be open, inclusive and healing, and that the finished product of the task force is accessible, thoughtful, informative and rigorous. Through this group’s work, the church can bear witness to the possibility of genuine equality for all of God’s people. My home congregation is St. Luke Lutheran, a vibrant place with ministries to the campuses of Cornell University and Ithaca College, as well as to the Ithaca community. I recently completed service as chair of the congregation council and was delighted to find that all of us were still friends at the end of each meeting. I am blessed to share my life with my wife, Liz Peck, and our two children, Ben and Hannah. In what spare time there is, I fly small planes, play drums, and enjoy cooking and eating.
Church Council AdvisorsRobert Moore
I serve on Church Council and am an advisory member to the task force. I hope to see a document that inspires and challenges women and men in the ongoing struggle for gender equality. I am senior pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, and serve on the Board of Regents of Texas Lutheran University. I am also active in the Houston-Leipzig sister city relationship and travel frequently in Germany.
I am the ELCA West Virginia-Western Maryland Synod representative on the ELCA Church Council. For the past six years, I was the editor of The Pocahontas Times, a small West Virginia weekly newspaper. In October, I sold my shares of the business, which I had owned since 1995, and resigned from that post. I have been a lifelong member of New Hope Lutheran Church in Minnehaha Springs, W. Va., where I have served as pianist, music director and congregational president. I have also served the Mountain Lutheran Parish as its first president after it was formed in 2005. I was appointed to the synod's LIFT team in 2009. My husband, Kenneth, and I were married in 1980, and have two daughters, Amanda and Valerie.