The LGBTQIA+ Affirming Task Force of Lower Susquehanna Synod provides resources to rostered leaders and congregations seeking to more effectively welcome and support LGBTQIA+ people into full equity and inclusion in the church.
The Rev. Carla Christopher Wilson is Assistant to the Bishop in charge of Justice Ministries for Lower Susquehanna Synod and also serves as Associate Pastor of Faith Formation and Outreach with Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster. Having previously served as Co-Chair of L.S.S. Toward Racial Justice Task Force and LGBTQIA+ Affirming Task Force, Carla remains a synod representative in the Statewide Policy Council of LAMPa (Lutheran Advocacy Ministries in PA).
A former Poet Laureate of York, PA, and multiply published writer, Carla regularly writes commentary and essays for ELCA World Hunger, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Disrupt Worship Project, and others. She is a member of Proclaim (the ELCA affiliated professional organization for out LGBTQIA+ clergy) and has served as Proclaim Representative to United Lutheran Seminary.
A second career pastor, Carla studied psychology, education, and creative writing at Columbia University in the City of New York and spent years as an educator and case manager in domestic violence shelters, state prison systems, and school districts before transitioning to professional community organizing with nonprofits like Food and Water Watch and Put People First – PA and partnering with organizations and institutions as a D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) consultant.
Carla has twice received the key to the city for her community empowerment and education initiatives, which range from co-founding Equality Fest, a multi-thousand attendee festival in celebration of LGBTQIA+ Marriage Equality, in 2014 and the Rainbow Rose LGBTQIA+ Resource Center in 2019, to creating a retailer cultural competency training model for urban renewal business districts used by York City. She has been a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator for dozens of organizations, nonprofits, and educational institutions around the globe, from Rutgers and Penn State to organizations in Kosovo, Albania, Flint, Chicago, Baltimore, Phoenix and Philadelphia in the last few years alone.
When not “pastoring”, Carla moonlights with the Poetry/Funk Fusion Band, Groove Ink, and spends time with her adored dogs (and human family too) in Lancaster County.
The Rev. Angela Hammer (she/her/hers) is a Redevelopment Pastor called to St. Paul Lutheran Church, Penryn. St. Paul Penryn was the first ELCA church in Lancaster County to become a RIC congregation (December 2019). Pastor Angie also serves on the Lower Susquehanna Synod Konde (our sibling synod) committee as the chairperson. Pastor Angie and her family lived in the Konde Diocese, Tanzania in 2016-2017 as volunteer ambassadors from the synod. She continues to visit the Konde about every two years, helping to maintain our covenant relationship. Pastor Angie is married to Andrew and together they have three children and a chocolate lab.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Zimmann (he/him/his) serves with the Advancement team as gift officer and alumni/ae relations director; he also serves as Adjunct faculty in the field of culture and ethnic studies. Martin helped shape the synodical partnership between the Southeast Michigan Synod and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Jordan and has helped to organize ELCA delegations to Jerusalem and the West Bank. He has taught at Siena Heights University in Adrian Michigan and Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio on a variety of topics, including Ethnic Studies, Literature and Composition, Climate Change and Sustainability, and Apocalypse Theology. Beginning in February of 2013, he served the English Congregation of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem and was assistant to former LWF President, Bishop Munib Younan for 1.5 years. Martin also served on the Diversity Task Force of the SE MI Synod from 2004 – 2012 and the Diversity Task Force at ULS from 2017 – 2019. He now lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Angela, and children Seth and Chelsea.
The Rev. Michael Allwein (he/him/his) serves as lead pastor at the Reconciling in Christ congregation, St. James Lutheran Church in Gettysburg. Mike was ordained in 1980 and has served congregations and college campuses in Gettysburg, Lancaster, Shippensburg and Chambersburg before accepting the call to St. James in 2004. He holds a BS in Secondary Education and an MS in Mental Health Counseling, as well as an M.Divinity degree. He is a Board Certified Counselor and a certified Spiritual Director. Mike has a passion for pastoral care, spiritual formation, and social justice concerns, wishing to address the trauma in our lives during these uncertain time by “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” Mike and his wife, Lois, have two grown sons, two grandsons and one granddaughter. He spends as much time as possible on the tennis courts, loves to ride bike on the battlefield and tries to grow more than only weeds in his garden.
The Rev. Joel Folkemer (he/him/his) is the pastor of Union Lutheran Church, a Reconciling in Christ congregation located in the west end of the city of York, PA. As a redevelopment pastor, he continually strives for the Holy Spirit to guide him and the congregation into reaching new people in both ancient and creative new ways. As Joel says “It is important for us to celebrate diversity in our ever changing and growing world.” In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, coaching his son’s baseball teams, encouraging my daughter in her Irish Step dance and love for legos, and of course spending time with his wife.
Vicar Marty Jo Irvin-Stellabotte (she/her/hers) currently serves as Vicar at St. Matthias Lutheran Church, a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Congregation in Carlisle. MJ is a senior at United Lutheran Seminary and will be graduating with a Master of Divinity in May 2021. She is a native of Blair County in the Allegheny Synod, where she serves on the assembly planning team, IGNITE lay leader education task force and reconciliation team. Before accepting the call to attend seminary, MJ worked in the fields of public relations, marketing, and fundraising for several non-profit and higher education organizations. MJ is pleased to serve at St. Matthias where she can proclaim Christ’s love for all and serve as an ally for the LGBTQIA+ community, having a number of family members and numerous friends who are part of the community. When she’s not at church, she enjoys spending time with her husband, 14-year-old daughter, dog and cats, exploring Carlisle and surrounding areas, going thrifting with her daughter, trying out new recipes, and relaxing with a good cup of coffee or a cold beer.
Beth McKinley (she/her/hers) After 15 years as a donor advisor for a variety of non-profits, including several Lutheran Church-related organizations, Beth transitioned her experience in charitable gift planning to the financial services industry. As a Financial Professional at Thrivent, Beth is building a practice that is focused on serving those who want to include giving in their financial plan, helping women feel confident in their financial future, and prioritizing the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. Along with the many organizations she supports with her time and financial resources, Beth is a founding advisory member of Serve the City: Carlisle. She is also as an active volunteer at Project Share and the newly formed Emmaus Village Development Committee. She also volunteers on the Pride Network, an Employee Resource Group at Thrivent.
Jonah Davis (he/him/his) is a senior year seminarian studying for his MDiv at United Lutheran Seminary. Jonah has strong interests in congregational renewal and new mission development. As a queer transgender individual Jonah is aware of, and has experienced, some of the unique challenges the LGBTQIA+ community face in church life. He hopes to accompany others on pathways of deep listening, relationship building, and Christ-focused engagement.