What do you hope people learn about the ELCA from the episode—and what do you hope ELCA members might take away from it? Join Us This Sunday. ... His congregation helped him connect with the Fab 5 from Netflix's "Queer Eye… See what's happening at Atonement and join us. We always just tell them that we're filming their backstory... and you're coming another day.' The original hero that had been cast for that episode fell very ill and production had to re-cast that episode very quickly. Hepler and Atonement, which is located just off Frankford Ave., starred in the premiere, the first of a series-long 10-episode season. There’s a pattern of prayer that we’ve begun to use over the past couple of years here at Atonement called the Examen. If you're unfamiliar with Queer Eye, that's fine, but it's most definitely a series you should give a chance before dismissing entirely, especially those of you turned off by the name, because you're probably among those who could most benefit from its lessons. […] Church of the Atonement In the Fishtown, Philadelphia. "You know, I think I've just had more time to process it," Berk said of the differences between the two church visits. Living Lutheran is an opportunity for church members to express individual perspectives, and does not necessarily reflect official positions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Submission to and use of LivingLutheran.org is subject to the policies of the ELCA, including but not limited to the, https://www.livinglutheran.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/LL-Queer-Eye-v3-Vimeo-720p.mp4. When The Fab Five arrived, they were unable to renovate that area because a leak in the ceiling had led to mold and other issues. And the driving force behind Atonement becoming "the quirkiest church in FIshtown" is Pastor Noah Hepler, a man who has struggled with his own identity as a gay man while trying to navigate his way through a belief system and community that wasn't afraid to tell him in very plain terms that people who acted on those feelings would be sent to hell without a second chance. He apologized to Bobby on behalf of the church. Events & Calendar. The first episode of Queer Eye season 5 featured the Fab Five traveling to Philadelphia and coming into the life of Pastor Noah Hepler. We are so excited that so many of you want to join our congregation on Sundays! When the Fab 5 realized that they had been assembly with a Philadelphia pastor for a makeover, it is secure to say they weren’t anticipating Noah Hepler. June 22, 2020. "On another hand, it made me kind of sad to have a man who was equally as hurt by the church as I was, if not more, feel that it's his responsibility to apologize to me, when the church is really the one that needs to apologize to him. And Tan helped him realize that there's life beyond cargo shorts and t-shirts, which was the area Hepler identified as the biggest basic change he needed to make heading into the makeover. Was the church going to be involved? He's done nothing wrong but continue to dedicate his life to an institution that has dedicated itself to judging him and breaking him down. And that was only scratching the surface. "I think the biggest thing for me personally was helping me identify what was wrong," said Hepler, sitting in the still-brand-new looking break room at Atonement. Hepler and Atonement, which is located just off Frankford Ave., starred in the premiere, the first of a series-long 10-episode season. And it was an episode that was sprung on us about 48 hours before we shot it. That was precisely the experience for Pastor Noah Hepler, who not only needed a new look, but the confidence to go along with it. By John Potter It’s kind of a guided meditation, so there’s a YouTube video that I would use quite a bit, and one of the things that the person leading the prayer says is “Come home to yourself.”. The church's job right now is to say we're sorry for how we've been complicit.". “Nothing that exciting happens in my life,” said Hepler. With rainbow accent lights and a purple backdrop, however, it doesn't take long to realize you're in a different kind of church. Karamo Brown took Hepler to meet Pastor Megan and Bishop Guy Erwin who is the first openly gay bishop in the Lutheran church. That’s inevitable, because they’re trying to cram my life into 45 minutes. "And [pause] so it was tough because I care for her deeply, and yet I was also realizing that I was going to have to radically change our relationship because it was on the way — the trajectory it was on was going to end in a very bad situation for both of us. Following his divorce, Hepler was looking for a new start at a new congregation, but because the recession had hit his home state of North Carolina earlier than others, there were a limited number of openings, so he decided to return to school to finish the doctorate he had previously started. I didn't even want to do this episode, I am not walking in this church. In denial of his sexual orientation, Hepler married and became a pastor of the Lutheran faith, despite the fact that at the time the church had still not changed its views on homosexual clergy (although that has since changed), and lived what he called "a lie that I had been told that I had begun to believe.". I wish I could go back in time and do it differently. So I didn't have a lot of time to process it. Photos: Courtesy of Ryan Collerd/Netflix Hepler said a main takeaway from his experience on the show was that he hopes the church will invest in healing vulnerability. It is kind of an old-school engagement with religion that at the same time is refreshed with this intensity and desire to really listen beyond just what we've heard so far... and it's a really good fit for me. So I appreciate the sentiment, but getting an apology from someone who was equally damaged by the church [and didn't participate in the harm], didn't feel right. And by the end, after spending some time with Hepler and seeing this different type of church, it was clear the impact the pastor had on The Fab Five's design guru. Matt Mullin We knew that the Queer Eye team seemed comfortable moving forward, so we just relied on that, that they were going to be able to figure out how it was going to happen. But that day that began as any other quickly morphed into the beginning of the transformation of a lifetime for Hepler. After what felt like the summer of celebs for Philly in 2019 (hello “Queer Eye” cast, Jason Segel, Sally Field, Andre 3000 and Idris Elba), the much-anticipated fifth season of the hit Netflix makeover show premiered Friday. He is already someone who is looked up to by the community at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Atonement, Fishtown, Philadelphia. [The Mama Tammye episode] was sprung on me so quickly, I was like, 'Nope. So they at least accelerated it, but I think being able to identify problems — again, every one of the [The Fab Five] touching on one aspect or another of how I was hiding myself from myself — I think they really identified that for me and I think that was one of my biggest issues. Pastor Noah Hepler of 'Queer Eye' was the "hero" who got a makeover on the first episode of Season 5. I was like, 'What is happening? And with services remaining halted until at least July as Hepler tries to keep his congregation safe from COVID-19, donations are harder to come by. "So, it was a parishioner who found a flyer, who also happened to be a member of [church] council at that time," Hepler explained. ... We have been humbled by the outreach in response to our Queer Eye episode on Netflix. With a rainbow flag and the hashtags #QueerEye and #Pride the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America took to their official Facebook and Twitter accounts to promote an a LGBTQ+ based television show "Queer Eye" which features an ELCA pastor on an upcoming episode. For example, the 125-year old stained glass windows are in desperate need of repair, but fixing them would eat up Atonement's entire operating budget for the year. Some of these I'm crying like I'm watching the show because there are people saying, you know, 'I'm in my 50s or 60s and I worry that I'm going to hell,' or 'I feel like I love God but feel so guilty that maybe you could help me come out.' But the bulk of it is stuff that I can afford even on my budget. This disconnect I had been feeling in my life, which was probably very central to these moments of depression that I would enter into, and this feeling that “I can’t figure out this whole pastor thing the way that I think maybe I ought to be” was playing out in my life. Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement, 'Queer Eye' star Bobby Berk on filming in Philly, how the show has changed and keeping it real, Queer Eye's Karamo Brown tells Jimmy Fallon that Philadelphians are 'tough nuts to crack', Philadelphia LGBTQ artist VINCINT is behind the new 'Queer Eye' song, Queer Eye's Antoni says he ate way too much food at Zahav while filming in Philly, A new indoor water park is coming to Atlantic City, South Philly Food Co-op finally opens after a decade of development, Record numbers travel for Christmas holiday despite COVID warnings, Thanksgiving surge, New study reconsiders blood donation restrictions for gay and bi men, Week 17 NFL betting lines, point spreads and playoff scenarios, Joe Biden plans to accelerate COVID-19 vaccine production by invoking Defense Production Act. I don’t know what to do with that.” It was something that bugged me because it seemed important, but I wasn’t connecting with that at all. It's not about trying to push us into an atmosphere that we can't live in.". So, as I’ve reflected back, I hope the big takeaway is actually for the church: that we as Christians, as Christian communities, invest ourselves in that kind of healing, strong vulnerability. Welcome to Atonement! And then people specifically asking if Pastor would help them with their own coming out journeys. The more we can be visible, the more people can see we are just like anybody else, the more acceptance there will be.". For Hepler, a lifetime of feeling as though he didn't belong, as if he was an imposter within in his own life, had led him to a stagnant place, one that found him timidly leading a small congregation and living in a building that had mold from a leaky roof. There was just no way out of it. There's a kind of vanity in me saying I'm not important enough — that's sort of an inverted vanity — and it's not about that. "Culture? And I've got to say, now that I've seen the episode, it's an accurate representation of my experience with them. And I always used to think, “Oh, that’s a lovely phrase and it sounds beautiful and I like the sentiment, but I have no idea what that looks like. In that episode, Fab Five member Bobby Berk wouldn’t enter “Mama” Tammye’s church because of the religious trauma he experienced growing up. But, as the world now knows, his life and ministry are the subject of the new season’s first episode, which premiered this month. "People, through hearing his story and my story, have been able to realize that they're not alone and it's not their fault. Talk about that again.' The fifth season of Queer Eye has only been out for a week and a half, but it's already having a massive impact on people from around the country, particularly Pastor Noah's episode. So they did the questionnaire — and obviously did a good job — and submitted it, and then they texted me and said, 'Hey, I just nominated you for Queer Eye. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement. There was a moment where I had to fight against that, and there was that breakthrough and that openness, and then to feel a sense of healing—that’s what I hope gets carried through. "You know, I shared some stories with him about pastors and ministers who have messaged me saying that I've always thought that being gay was a choice and that gays were an abomination and evil. Contact us! 886 were here. Each episode also allows for a different member of The Fab Five to shine, and in Hepler's case, it was Karamo and Bobby who helped facilitate two of the most moving and impactful moments of the episode, the kind the hero never sees coming but often leads to the most meaningful change possible. There’s an encouragement from Augustine that, in finding God, we actually find ourselves. Members of his Church of the Atonement helped by connecting him with some notable lifestyle experts. We have set a tentative target date for late February for the new launch. Last year, Hepler received a boost in the form of a visit from The Fab Five, the quintet who make up the new cast of Queer Eye on Netflix. I went in knowing from watching the episode with “Mama” Tammye that there was likely going to be some conversation between Bobby and I. I’m glad it happened, because I’ve seen in some of the media [about this episode] that there’s a lot of emphasis on our conversation, and part of what actually happened was also his encouragement of me. Video: How Noah Hepler found “reawakening” in Queer Eye June 28, 2020 Noah Hepler , pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of Atonement in Philadelphia, is the featured “hero” in the premiere of the new season of Netflix’s Queer Ey e series. Before meeting Jonathan, Bobby, Antoni, Karamo and Tan, Hepler wasn't feeling all that beautiful, both inside and out. In our wider culture, one of the places that’s been really translated well is in Brené Brown’s work around vulnerability. Or through donations: Venmo Atonement-Lutheran Or PayPal rebrand.ly/018plqq elcota.org The time with Bobby was something else entirely. Pastor Noah Hepler and Bobby Berk, rocking his “fire-proof suit.”, "My feelings have definitely changed, because I've had time to process it," Berk added. © 2020 WWB Holdings, LLC. "I knew that I was going to be on [the show] but I had no idea what it was going to be like," Hepler said. and moved back into the parsonage next door. "The only way to change anyone's mind about negative feelings they might have about a group of people they know nothing about is by visibility. He reminded me of our theology of the cross. in part because that area is almost completely open to the church below. And I didn't have the strength. The season premiere featured Noah Hepler, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Philadelphia, […] This was a point of vulnerability for me that ended up not being what I expected. It's just there's things that I know now that would have made it a lot easier back then for both of us.". And she has had a huge impact on the world, and continues to have a huge impact on the world. If you listen to them either inside the show or outside of it, they're talking about intrinsic human beauty that can be found in anyone, and it's about highlighting that. 308 First Avenue Asbury Park, NJ 07712. Berk also said the authentic nature of the show is just that: authentic. And with each member of The Fab Five, there was a different part of Pastor Noah that needed work. I'm not a fan of trying to drag people back into the church, especially when they've been hurt because that just hurts more. "And it wasn't until — I don't even know what episode it was — our executive producer was like, 'Wait, you guys think they know you're here?' With Antoni, Hepler got out of his comfort zone as he was surrounded by "a gaggle of gays" in the kitchen. When Noah Hepler, pastor of Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Philadelphia, was nominated by a member of his congregation council to be a featured “hero” on the Netflix series Queer Eye, he was convinced he wouldn’t hear anything back. As a pastor, he had no problem helping others, but when it came to his own life, he was lost. "I also hadn't seen Queer Eye yet. It was kind of like meeting my own self for the first time. And so, I think it was within a couple of days, a week tops, the person who nominated me contacted me and said there's a casting director that would like to talk to you tomorrow. "After staying up late to watch the episode, I went to bed and at about 7:30 in the morning, my phone was going buzz, ding, ding, buzz, ding, ding, ding," Hepler recalls. I’m very thankful for those conversations with Bobby and his own encouragement that the help that this brings for others outweighs any pain or having to look at or reexperience the scars we might have felt from our upbringing—the help that this does is just so worth it. -Welcome to Atonement-About Us . The Fab Five are hitting Philadelphia in Queer Eye Season 5, ... Evangelical Lutheran Church of Atonement. "The communication we've gotten has just been amazing," said Emily Resnick, a member of the congregation for over two decades who also helps with administrative duties at Atonement. Worship Service 10:30 AM. So are the surprises in the show — the show's just very genuine.". Atonement itself is also partly responsible for Hepler's appearance on the latest season of Queer Eye, as a parishioner and member of the church council found the flyer and nominated him. "I totally appreciate the sentiment but it's coming from the wrong person. As my experience with the Fab Five began to unfold, I started realizing what that phrase might mean. I'm not a fan of trying to drag people back into the church, especially when they've been hurt because that just hurts more. It's from the same set of texts.". "We're hoping that when we reopen, we're going to have more people coming. Based on the early reaction, it seems like Pastor Noah's story could have a similar impact. And if that method of reading the bible has never produced anything healthy, it might be time to let go of it. From the outside, it looks just like any other church. And that also includes stopping for a couple moments in the bathroom, zhuzh myself up, and then going out, instead of not caring. Members of his Church of the Atonement helped by connecting him with some notable lifestyle experts. But there was a moment in my conversation with [Fab Five member] Karamo [Brown] that I felt the impulse to want to try to defend the church to protect it, and say, “No, the church is awesome.” And I think that’s kind of in our culture to want to not admit failure to protect our image, and to remain the cultural idea of a strong institution. "So, it goes back to my comment earlier about visibility. Some of that is clearly gift [quality]. That was a big thing for me, and that got reinforced after the reveal by friends who were saying very similar things. And it didn't take long for those messages of support to start flooding in. I don't know how he picked up on it, I guess he's good at his job — but he got to a really big roadblock for me that I wasn't — I mean, I knew it was there, but I didn't know how much it was just sitting in my life. "The clothing that they got for me, and the grooming products, they range [in price]. "At that point, it just becomes a conversation like the one we're having, except there's a camera there that you know eventually is going to produce [a show]. And now, I felt guilty about pulling other people into that, so we actually spent a year trying to process through what this would mean. "They're doing well," Hepler said. Sunday School 9:30 AM. I'm gone.' "We're always so, so aware — like when the cameras aren't rolling, we go out of our way to separate ourselves from the hero because we always want to make sure that the conversations that we're having on camera are real organic conversations. That is at the core—especially for those of us who are Lutheran—of our identity. But even still, we're going to livestream the Pastor's sermons just in response to people from literally all over the world saying they would love to watch them. Season five of “Queer Eye” dropped on Netflix on June 5, this time showcasing 10 residents of the City of Brotherly Love. "On one hand, I greatly appreciated his words," Berk said. It's not that kind of vanity that we often worry about, and that's what I think is beautiful. ... After the medical issue happened, not only was she the best option but in the end, I mean, I'm so glad we did it. "And I was like, this is exactly what we need to be doing, and I wanted an opportunity to carry that forward. "All five of them, they work as a team even though they're doing their own thing and you're meeting with them separately. And the changes he made on the show are sticking. The next thing Hepler knew, Netflix gave the green light and he was destined for a week with The Fab Five. That is at the core—especially for those of us who are Lutheran—of our identity. I hope the big takeaway is actually for the church: that we as Christian communities invest ourselves in that kind of healing, strong vulnerability. But she was one that was queued up, and was ready to go. Come connect to God and make new friends at one of our various worship services. "I've had time to put the emotions where they need to be and learn how to protect myself from those emotions, where back then, I didn't. Atonement Lutheran Church 909 E Main Street in Barrington, IL 60010 Facebook. And it just seemed as time progressed that divorce became more inevitable. ABOVE: Openly-gay Pastor Noah Hepler and the Fab Five, photo via Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement’s Facebook page. And that includes the surprise appearance by The Fab Five at the beginning of every episode, which was hard to believe was authentic given there's always a camera in the room before they arrive. But at the end of the day, I'm very glad we had the chance to share what we and Miss Tammye showed each other, because I think that her show had a huge impact on the world. Probably, but it would've taken me a lot longer and therefore drug the congregation through a lot more of me trying to figure out what I was doing. With Karamo, it was a meeting he facilitated with two other LGBTQ figures in the Lutheran faith, Bishop Guy Erwin, the first openly gay bishop in the church, and Pastor Megan Rohrer, the church's first trans pastor, that opened Hepler's eyes to the fact that he was not to blame for his negative experience with the church and the way its affected his life. "It's when we get them to forget there are cameras there and get them to forget that they are on a show is when we get an authentic experience, not only for the viewers but for our hero," Berk added. A pre-makeover Pastor Noah, center, meets with The Fab Five for the first time. That leak has been fixed — and a high-quality air purifier keeps him breathing safely — but more renovations are still needed, both to the parsonage and the church itself. In fact, there was one part that's some of the B-roll footage where the producer said this would be some of the most produced part, and after that it's going to be the camera, the Fab Five and you, and we're just going to fade into the background. "It still bothers me. Atonement Lutheran Church is a Christian community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a part of the St. Paul Area Synod. "That is definitely some of the messages I've been hearing," he said. We are a Reconciling In Christ congregation welcoming people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Like Hepler, he was raised in a strict Christian household and a church that vilified homosexuality. An ELCA bishop and an ELCA transgender pastor also make appearances on the episode. So that's what started that. But I think there’s also a part of that theology of the cross that’s connected, when Paul says that we carry this treasure and earthen vessels to show that it is God’s power that’s at work; clay pots are not where you expect to find the power of God (2 Corinthians 4:7). What were some of the moments from doing the episode that sparked a change for you—and how were they reflected in your ministry going forward? Hindsight is always 2020, but I think we'd still end up in the same place. "We never really understood. Hepler: When I had that first conversation with the casting director, the “Mama” Tammye episode was the one that she suggested that I watch, just to get an idea of what kind of show it was. Visit Us. We are a church that values and encourages diverse voices and lively dialogue in our faith and life. It is kind of an old-school engagement with religion that at the same time is refreshed with this intensity and desire to really listen beyond just what we've heard so far... and it's a really good fit for me. As for Hepler, he doesn't plan on leaving his quirky Fishtown church any time soon. Hepler says the two no longer communicate, and although at times he wishes they still did, he believes it's for the best. Jonathan showed him the transformative beauty of a haircut and a shave. Despite that both these men were greatly harmed by their church's views on their sexuality, they both wound up on very different paths. Eventually, Hepler knew he couldn't continue like this, and he came out to his wife. That was not my experience with the Queer Eye team. Following a conversation in the car in which he explains to Bobby one example of how positive views of homosexuality have been more or less written out of the scripture — not to mention his own revelation during his time with Karamo — Hepler does something unexpected. Fishtown pastor gets makeover, confidence boost on Netflix series "Queer Eye" WPVI 6/11/2020 Postal worker charged after nearly 2,000 pieces of mail, including ballots, found in trash As I’ve been able to reflect back on my experience, it was really an embodiment of what’s central to us when we talk about our theology of the cross, that we find God in the unexpected place. He didn't much worry about his appearance, and although he knew something needed to be done, he lacked the motivation to make the change himself, largely because he failed to see that he was a worthwhile cause. A typical episode of Queer Eye is about an hour in length and follows the transformation of that episode's hero at the hands of The Fab Five, each of whom specialize in a different area. And it may have continued to this very day if not for the help of five very special people who he says changed his life in a profound way. And so I definitely felt more comfortable walking into that church knowing that it was a church that accepts the LGBTQIA+ community and that the pastor was gay. He was raised in a … It's been so incredibly moving in so many ways.". "I'm like, 'What is going on?' Noah is the pinnacle Evangelical Lutheran pastor on the Church of Atonement in Fishtown, Penn. And then look for these others that are life-giving and supporting. Could you tell us about the conversations you two had, including your apology to him on behalf of the larger church? "I am taking more time, picking out what I wear," Hepler said, before revealing something that may make Tan cringe. Oh, oh...'". Atonement itself is also partly responsible for Hepler's appearance on the latest season of Queer Eye, as a parishioner and member of the church council found the flyer and nominated him. Meet Pastor Noah. Following a conversation in the car in which he explains to Bobby one example of how positive views of homosexuality have been more or less written out of the scripture — not to mention his own revelation during his time with Karamo — Hepler does something unexpected. The new season of Netflix’s hit show “Queer Eye” features an open Queer ELCA Pastor serving at Atonement Lutheran Church in Philadelphia, PA. So some days on cleaning days, that's what I might wear, but on the other days, I have to stop a moment — or I'm inviting myself to stop for a moment, I should say — to think about what I'm going to be doing that day and what will best help me be heard if I need to be heard. I sometimes describe my time with the Fab Five as kind of like the queer version of Via de Cristo or one of those other lay renewal movements: it’s very intense, it’s very fast and, in that, there was this reawakening to my own relationship with God and, therefore, finding myself again. "You hear a lot of stories about reality TV actually be an over-produced, sort of scripted thing. God bless him. His congregation helped him connect with the Fab 5 from Queer Eye, and the episode is part of the new season now on Netflix. Sateen, by the way, she's pushing 19 years old, so she's got some health problems but she's doing OK. We're looking forward to a check in with the vet after COVID really settles down.". In fact, The Fab Five didn't even realize this until Season 3 or 4, according to Berk. Frankly, I was having conversations with my council about this, because I was telling them, “I don’t quite feel like myself. And we're like, Well, don't they?' 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