The Rev. Elder Nori Rost was elected to serve on Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church’s Board of Elders at the 1999 General Conference in Los Angeles. She became a licensed clergyperson in UFMCC in July, 1989 and was ordained in July, 1993. After serving as staff pastor for MCC Long Beach for five years, she became the solo Pastor at Pike’s Peak MCC in Colorado Springs, Colorado in January, 1994. Under her leadership the church grew from 25 to 125 members and purchased a new church facility with its annual budget growing from $30,000 to $100,000. She left that position in January, 2006 to start the social ministry Just Spirit: A Center for People of All Faiths to Work for Justice.
Rev. Elder Rost’s experience outside the local church includes Assistant District Coordinator of the Southwest District, Member of the UFMCC Strategic Growth Initiative Team, Faculty for UFMCC Practices and Polity Intensive, Faculty for UFMCC Proficiency Course, Supervising Clergy in a Teaching Church, Member of the Mountains and Plains District Tithes and Assessment Committee, Teacher for SGI workshops at General Conference in Sydney, Australia , July, 1997 and Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, August 1988, and Faculty of Ministry Training School (sponsored by Encounter Missions, International), speaker at MCC-Long Beach Charismatic Conference. She also represented MCC during her tenure as Elder on the NGLTF Interfaith Round Table.
Rost was raised in a non-religious home and came out as a lesbian in 1978, at the age of 16 years. She became a Christian and began attending MCC Modesto in Modesto, California in 1981. She states: "I always say I’m glad I wasn’t raised a Christian because I didn’t have all that baggage to sort through when I came out as a lesbian."
Rost graduated cum laude with a BA in Social Work from California State University in Long Beach in 1993, received her Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology, in Denver, Colorado in 2005. Following that she attended Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she received a Doctorate in Ministry in 2007. Her doctoral thesis is entitled "Speaking to the Rock: Transformation Opportunities for MCC." In addition, in May 1998, she completed a two-year course to receive a Certificate of Spiritual Direction (in the Ignatian model) from Benet Hill Center, a Franciscan convent in Colorado Springs.
Rev. Elder Rost is a graduate of the Leadership Challenge 2001 program. This is an exclusive three-year program which teaches collaborative leadership and communication skills for lgbt community leaders in the state of Colorado. Rev. Rost was one of 43 chosen from over 80 applicants for this program which is sponsored by the Lundy Foundation and underwritten primarily by the Gill Foundation and several other foundations and corporate sponsors.
In addition to her local church responsibilities, Rev,. Elder Rost also served on the Interfaith Coalition of the Southern Colorado AIDS Project. She was also actively involved in a political and educational group called Springs Together, which seeks to educate voters and combat the homophobic legislation that continually gets introduced at city and state levels.
She has also volunteered time with Inside/Out, a group for local lgbt youth, and has spoken numerous times to college and church groups on her experience as a lesbian Christian. She is a former member of the Colorado Springs Human Relations Coalition and the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center Board of Directors. Rev. Elder Rost also helped coordinate and officiated at the Matthew Shepard Vigil, which over 500 people attended.
In defining herself as a candidate for election to UFMCC’s Board of Elders, Rev. Rost said: "I believe God is calling us also to offer our gifts to the greater community in issues that extend far beyond the sexual orientation boundaries we too often use to narrowly define ourselves. God is calling us to be a prophetic voice against injustice in areas such as racism, sexism, nationalism and class-ism.
Additionally, we need to remember that the battle against HIV is not over yet. Too many members of our community still struggle with the devastating effects of this virus. We must continue to be leaders in providing pastoral care for people infected and affected with HIV and in seeking justice in the face of continued discrimination against people with AIDS. In other words, we must both preach and live the Gospel. There is a place for the UFMCC to continue its ministry and there will be for generations.
I believe God has a great future for the UFMCC. We are more than a footnote of history; in fact, I think our greatest work and ministry lie before us. I believe the next decade will be one of tremendous growth and outreach. I believe that our denomination will continue to move into the forefront of Christian thought and ministry. I believe we will champion the cause of social justice in ways that are both reforming and transforming. But we must be open to pouring new wine into new wineskins. As we do that, not only will the UFMCC survive, but it will also thrive."
In her closing statements for her doctoral thesis, Rev. Rost writes:
MCC stands at the threshold of transformation. We have, within reach, an opportunity to become an incarnational community again. We have the ability to make a different choice, to consider if maybe, just maybe, God is calling us to be a church that is different than the one formed almost 40 years ago; to consider whether or not God is calling us to step into the unknown chaos of transformational movement. We have been led out of captivity, the chains of oppression and bigotry loosed. However, in many ways it seems we are still wandering in the desert, going around in circles. I believe MCC can still be a place where people can receive life-giving water that refreshes and nourishes the whole person. My hope is that, as we come around once again to this place of holy possibilities, the leadership will step through their fear and beyond the familiar patterns of what is comfortable, and with the confidence that God is standing before us, speak with confidence to the rock so that the life-giving waters of transformation will gush forth in a new way for a new generation.
Rev. Elder Rost retired from the Board of Elders in 2003, and is currently serving as Minister of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Colorado Springs, CO. She remembers her years spent with MCC with deep gratitude and a rich appreciation for all that MCC has been and will become.
(This biographical statement taken from the 2001 MCC General Conference program book with additional information from Nori Rost.)
Biography Date: April, 2010