Thursday, February 6, 2014

How I Became the Pastor at Grace Evangelical Lutheran in San Francisco's Sunset District

The Journey To Grace:  I was the kid in Sunday School who collected perfect attendance stickers even when I'd travel.  I began my academic religious studies at Augustana College in my hometown of Sioux Falls, SD.  I went to seminary at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. 

I began my work as as the Executive Director of Welcome my second semester of seminary in June of 2002 and over the last eleven and a half years we have feed over 50,000 individuals, grown and given away 5.5 tons of food grown at community gardens, had 18,868 people join us for Bible Study that Doesn't Suck, provided 126 pairs of prescription glasses and touched countless lives. 

My work at Welcome has been lauded with an Honorary Doctorate from Palo Alto University and in a few weeks I will receive an honorable mention as an Unsung Hero of Compassion from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

I have been prayed for, supported and mentored by the congregations who called me to my work at Welcome: Christ Church, herchurch, St. Francis and Santa Maria y Martha Lutheran churches.

I served as co-pastor, with Tommy Dillon, of the Community of Travelers from 2010-2012 at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church in San Francisco's Diamond Heights.  "Community of Travelers" was a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice oriented, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient- future church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination.

Following in the spirit of Martin Luther, who rewrote the lyrics to pub songs to create contemporary hymns, I created a series of Vespers services from the tunes from popular music: Beatles Mass, Bob Dylan Folk Mass, and Lady Gaga Mass.  I also created the Gospel According to Pop, a series of video meditations, created to illuminate stories from scripture and special Gospel According to Pop Liturgies for Lent and an '80s Easter Mass.

I'm am grateful that I have been able to preach and teach all over the country, worship in so many diverse styles and theological expressions.  Now, I'm excited to partner with the congregation at Grace to discover what kinds of worship and faithful programs might reignite the Lutheran community that once thrived at the corner of 33rd and Ulloa.

On Sunday, February 2nd, the congregation at Grace Evangelical Lutheran called me as their pastor.  I am excited to see the unique ways we can support individuals who are hungry, to support the parents of the Grace Infant Child Care and to visit aging members of the congregation who have a hard time making it to church.

I hope you will pray for me as I begin this new chapter and that you will join us for an installation.  We'll let you know as soon as we set up the date.  If you would like receive email updates about the installation, contact

If you would like to join me as I my move to Grace, I invite you to join me for my first Sunday on February 16th - in person or on live stream.  I won't know who is new and if you're not sure when to stand up and sit down, we'll both be new together. 

Thanks for all your support on this journey.

The LGBTQ Journey:
Refusing to obey the unjust policies against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals (LGBTQ) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA), I was ordained Extraordinarily on November 18, 2006 and became the first openly transgender pastor ordained in the Lutheran church. Rostered by Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, I served on the organizations Covenant Circle as Director of Communications and as Director of Candidacy.

In 2009, the ELCA changed its policies to allow LGBTQ On July 25, 2010 I was one of 7 GLBT pastors in the San Francisco Bay Area who were previously barred from serving the church who were received/reinstated to the roster of the ELCA.  This service was the first of its kind and received national media attention.  Learn more on the blog for this service.

On February 16th, when I begin my first Sunday at Grace, I will become the first openly transgender solo pastor serving a congregation in the ELCA.   Two other trans identified pastors have served as associate pastors in Lutheran congregations (First United and St. Francis Lutherans in San Francisco, who were not members of the ELCA at the time the pastors were serving) and there are a number of openly transgender ELCA seminarians.  On February 16th, I will be the only openly transgender pastor serving an ELCA congregation.

The members of Grace called me to be their pastor because of the unique gifts I have for ministry and our mutual desire to reach out to neighbors in the Sunset, not because they were interested in making a political statement.  Still, I feel honored to be called to a congregation that is able to truly live out their name and share Grace with the world.  While the congregation may get some attention for calling me, I hope that over then next couple of years we can become equally well known for our faith centered worship, thoughtful mission and the ways that the members are able to care and support each other.


  1. We are so excited for you for this new step in your journey-- but even more excited for the Church which needs so many more people like you! Jim and Rebecca Shields, Houston

  2. Exciting news! Will be thinking about you from the opposite coast.

  3. So begins another journey in a lifetime of ceaseless exploration!!!

  4. As a son of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, I can't begin to describe how pleased I am that you're their new pastor. GELC has been served by some fine pastors over the years (two of them helped me take seriously the call to ministry), but at last I have some new hope for my home congregation taking a new path to discipleship. Bless you, Pastor Megan, because you're already a blessing to my folks, John & Anna Marie.