Rev. Jason Clifton
Jason Clifton (he/him) was raised in the heart of dairy country in rural Wisconsin. He was a member of a rural congregation, you know that little white country church with the steeple and bell tower, and the cemetery right outside the front doors. It was in this setting that Jason heard the call to ministry. In 2006 he moved to Seattle to attend Trinity Lutheran College. At that point he figured that he would never be able to serve as a pastor in the church. However, it was during his time in Seattle where Jason learned to live into his full self, including what it meant to be a gay man. Jason has always loved rural living and farm life. After graduating in 2010, he spent a year as a residential volunteer at Heifer Farm (Heifer International) in Rutland, MA; a year set aside for discernment regarding seminary. In 2011, he began studies at Luther Seminary in St. Paul and served as an intern at Trinity Lutheran Church (non RIC) in Vermillion SD. During his final year of Seminary, Jason also served as an interim for Pleasant Valley Lutheran Church (non RIC) in Eleva, WI. Jason has been serving Our Savior’s Lutheran Church (non RIC) in Solon Springs, WI since they extended a call to him in the fall of 2015. The congregation and the community have been a great fit.
Mert (he/him) is a life-long Lutheran starting his activist gig in high school as President of his home church’s Luther League! Recently retired from his professional materials management position for a hospice in Ann Arbor, MI his passion is for everyone to know there is a place for them here, in this place that is Christ’s church, this place we call Lutheran.
His first contact with RIC was at Lord of Light Lutheran church and Campus Ministry in Ann Arbor, MI already a long term RIC congregation, where he learned anew about God’s welcome for all people, a place, he says, that changed his life forever. That led to involvement with Lutherans Concerned at the local Great Lakes chapter and as a Regional Director for LC/NA in the 1990s. Currently he is a member of the SE Michigan Synod’s Diversity Task Force on Sexual Orientation and Gender Expression. He is passionate about RIC and excited about the work that still needs to be done, the widening and deepening of the welcome that RIC is, telling the truth that God’s love has no limits.
Mert is thrilled to meet and walk with folks inviting everyone to join him as we journey together to this new place.
Rev. Ellen Taube
Ellen Taube (she/her), from Virginia, Minnesota, is a retired ELCA pastor and a member of Reconciling In Christ congregation, Gloria Dei in Duluth, Minnesota. In 2015 Ellen co-founded two LGBTQ support groups: “S.A.F.E. in Virginia MN” for adults (“Supporting Allies, Family, Friends & LGBTQ for Equality”), and “Range Together for Youth” for ages 14-20 (affiliated with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota). Married to Marlise Riffel since October 2013, her interests include divine comedy, power tools for home maintenance, gardening, and hydroponics.
Born and raised Baptist in Kansas City, Missouri. Herman (he/him) attended Northwestern University, obtaining BS and MBA Degrees. At his first job out of college, he met his wife, Mary, a Lutheran from Minnesota. They have been blessed with two adult daughters and three fantastic grandchildren. They have been members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church (RIC Congregation) Schaumburg, Illinois, for the past 30 years. Herman has served the faith community in a variety of ways at the congregational, synodical, regional and national levels. His professional career began as a CPA with a “Big Eight” Firm in the Chicago, Illinois area, followed by more than 20 years of financial management positions with large corporations. For the past 15 years, he has had a tax, financial planning, and business consultative practice, providing services in about 35 states and 6 countries. Herman is very pleased to be a part of the ReconcilingWorks family.
Rev. Lenny Duncan
Pastor Lenny Duncan (he/him) is a follower of Jesus Christ and is in a passionate love affair with Grace. He was issued a call to serve the people of Jehu's Table from the Metro New York Synod of the Evangelical Church in America as a mission developer (church planter.) He is also a frequent voice on the intersection of the Church and the cries of the oppressed. He pays special attention to Black Liberation movements in his work, but lifts up the frequent intersection with other marginalized peoples. He believes that the reason the ELCA has remained so white is a theological problem, not a sociological one. He holds a Bachelors of Arts from Lancaster Bible College, in New Testament Theology, and Ministry. He also holds a Master of Divinity from United Lutheran Seminary.
Mike Crandall (he/him), Dallas, Texas, has worked for the past 23 years in the telecommunications industry, currently as an Assistant Vice President of Infrastructure Program Management for AT&T. Married to Shawn Hudson since August 2012, his personal interests include cooking and food, theater and film, and travel.
Rev. Lauren Muratore
The Rev. Lauren Muratore (she/her) had a rocky relationship with the Church as she was growing up, but finally found welcome when a friend invited her to check out a local Lutheran youth group. It's incredible what a simple invitation can do; years later Lauren found herself enrolled at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (now United Lutheran Seminary), learning how to extend to others the same radical hospitality she was shown, in the name of Jesus. Ordained in 2014 and called to be the Director of Admissions, Assistant Dean of the Chapel, and Coordinator of Spiritual Formation for Gettysburg Seminary, she served in that role for three years before returning to Baltimore, where she currently presides over a cooperative ministry as the Redevelopment Pastor for Salem Lutheran Church (in the RIC process!) and the Priest in Charge for the Episcopal Church of the Redemption.
Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Leadership Development from West Chester University, leads annual anti-racism/historical truth-telling study tours to South Africa, really really likes art and her cat a whole lot, and is passionate about the work of reconciliation (with restitution), peace (with justice), and the Spirit of the Living God (in, with, and through God's people).
Rev. Tuhina Verma Rasche
Pastor Tuhina Verma Rasche (she/her) was born in Denver, Colorado and was raised in a devout Hindu household. She attended college at Clemson University, receiving her BA in French Language and International Trade in 2000. She continued graduate work at Clemson in Rhetoric and Professional Communication.
Tuhina’s first encounter with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was through campus ministry at Clemson. She attended campus ministry events regularly, but was encouraged to be herself at these events. She encountered the Holy Spirit in worship in 2005, and was baptized at Salem Lutheran Church in Glendale, CA in 2007. She attended seminary in 2008, first starting at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, then completed her Master of Divinity at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California in 2012.
Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary had just been named an RIC seminary when Tuhina began attending. She did her ministry in context placement at Christ Lutheran Church in El Cerrito, California, an RIC congregation. It was her internship site at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Oakland, California, when Tuhina fully began to comprehend what it meant to embody being an RIC congregation. She was mentored by Rev. Ross Merkel and the people of St. Paul Lutheran, especially when it came to embodying the liberating message of the Gospel for all peoples, what it means to fail in the midst of a broken humanity and broken institutions, and what it means to start again and anew in the work of liberation. She learned that the Spirit can move through polity, but that movement also calls for the people of Christ’s body to be actively engaged and pushing the boundaries created by human-made and broken institutions.
Tuhina currently serves as the Minister of Small Groups at University AME Zion Church in Palo Alto, California through a specialized synodical call from the Sierra Pacific Synod. She is the Young Adult Coordinator for Arts | Religion | Culture (ARC), managing their Emerging Leaders Fellowship Program. She is also a member-at-large on the Sierra Pacific Synod Council.
Jennie Strunk (she/her) was born a Southern Baptist in Manassas Park, Virginia. She lived in Virginia for 13 years, and then in Idaho for the next 13 years, where she obtained her MFA in Creative Writing. In 2011, she found her first Reconciling in Christ Congregation. There she experienced God’s fully inclusive love for all LGBTQ persons for the first time and was moved to dedicate herself to expanding ReconcilingWorks’ mission in order to create more spaces for LGBTQ Christians to worship in safety and belonging. Jennie now lives in Savage, Minnesota with her wife and two cats.