Posted on December 14, 2016, by Marg Herder
Emmy Rettino Kegler will be the featured speaker at the 2016 Gay Christian Network weconnect women’s retreat, which will take place on the afternoon of January 7, opening the 2016 GCN conference, “What’s Next.”
Emmy was kind enough to agree to be interviewed here on Where She Is prior to her appearance at weconnect. Here on this page you’ll find an introduction to her life and work. The next post is an interview with her.
Emmy Kegler is a web designer, church curriculum writer, and the curator of a new web encyclopedia of resources around LGBTQ life and Christian faith, Queer Grace. With a Master’s degree in Divinity from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota, she is awaiting a call in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) as an ordained pastor.
Both of Kegler’s parents worked as English professors at the University of Minnesota, so her childhood was spent surrounded by books and words. Though baptized into the Roman Catholic Church, she was raised in an Episcopal congregation, giving her an abiding love for intentionally crafted worship, for tradition that invites participants into its beauty and richness, and for faith-inspired social justice.
Although her parents prohibited video games until she knew how to competently ride a bike and swim (a necessity growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes), she eventually was able to talk them into the purchase of an Apple II and, later, one of the first available dial-up modems. She’s been fascinated by technology ever since.
Emmy’s years in evangelical and non-denominational traditions left her with a keen recognition that all believers bring gifts to God’s table, and a passion for theologically rich contemporary music, unscripted preaching, and prayer. She learned the power of community and compassion while participating in Episcopal, youth-led retreats.
In high school, she participated in extracurricular activities, including choir, theater, and competitive speech, all of which proved helpful in her development as a faith leader and creative professional. She came out as a gay woman at age sixteen and found support from her parents, her closest friends, and the progressive faith she had been raised in.
Emmy felt a call to ministry early, but knowing it would be a difficult road she decided to attend Saint Olaf College and major in choral education. Though she nearly flunked out of music theory, she found herself increasingly moved by the experience of Lutheran theology, worship, and practice. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America offered her theological grounding, a powerful connection to scripture, a rich musical history, and transformational worship and discipleship, even as the denomination was discerning its ability to call openly lesbian and gay pastors.
During college, she came to terms with her ministerial calling, and decided to pursue a Master of Divinity degree after graduation. Before seminary, though, Emmy returned to her hometown of Minneapolis to work for Augsburg Fortress publishers and to serve as children’s education coordinator at a local church. The church had a long history, but had found new life with an openly lesbian pastor and a growing Togolese immigrant membership.
During this time, the burdens of institutional church became clear to her, but so did the certainty that change was possible. She connected deeply to the true good news of Christianity’s two-thousand-year-old story. Over and over, she witnessed both the church’s capacity to wound and to heal, and she grew more convinced that she had to be a part of the transformation and recommunication of God’s love as shown in Jesus.
Beginning seminary at the age of twenty-six, Emmy hit the ground running, enrolling in the Congregational Mission and Leadership program. She also re-started and co-led a student group for education and fellowship around LGBTQ and Christian issues. She served as intern pastor at Light of the World Lutheran Church for two years, walking with the community as they moved from being a mission plant to an organized congregation with a public statement of LGBTQ welcome. She led pub theology and sat down with nearly every church member to hear the stories of their lives and faith journeys. All the while, she absorbed new ways of thinking about church and faith, and her hope that the broken and imperfect church still had something to offer the world continued to grow.
After graduation, while living in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area awaiting a call as ordained pastor in the ELCA, she contributed to a new confirmation curriculum from Sparkhouse and to Spirit and Truth Publishing’s narrative lectionary resources.
On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Emmy launched a fundraising campaign designed to bring her dream of creating an online resource featuring the disparate materials around queer faith to life. Queer Grace: An Encyclopedia for LGBTQ and Christian Life was born. To date, she has raised over $2,800 and the website is online and growing.
Currently, Emmy continues to write for Spirit and Truth, and designs websites for local churches and nonprofit organizations. In her free time, she bikes the many trails in Minneapolis, plays board games at local craft beer bars, devours fiction and nonfiction (her most recent favorites are Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath), and tries to teach her girlfriend’s dogs how to play fetch.
Index of GCN 2016 Conference Content on Christian Feminism Today
Introduction to the #GCNConf Series
Introduction to weconnect Featured Speaker Emmy Kegler
Interview with weconnect Featured Speaker Emmy Kegler
First Timer Reflections – Rev. Jann Aldredge-Clanton, PhD
First Timer Reflections – Sam Koster
First Timer Reflections – Bastian Bauman
First Timer Reflections – Kirsti Reeve