Written by Emily Mullins
Four United Church of Christ ministers appear on the Huffington Post's list of "Most Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders." Bishop Yvette Flunder, senior pastor of City of Refuge UCC in San Francisco; the Rev. Jo Hudson, senior pastor at Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas; and the Rev. William R. Johnson, founder of the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns; and Rev. Gene Dyszlewski, a UCC minister currently running in the Rhode Island Senate race, have been recognized for their contributions to the LGBT religious community. The list, published last month, included individuals from diverse religious backgrounds.
"I spend a lot of time in the world, away from the church sometimes, in circles and in places where I'm sometimes the only voice of faith," said Flunder of her recognition. "The people who write for the Huffington Post know that."
In addition to being senior pastor at City of Refuge UCC, Flunder is also founder of the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, a San Leandro, Calif.-based organization that supports religious teachers and laity in moving towards a theology of radical inclusivity. The Fellowship defines radical inclusivity as "the intentional inclusion of every person in the community of faith," and the Fellowship aims to provide a safe place of refuge for persons who have been wounded by oppressive theologies and to provide a place of nurturing and training for those who feel called to ministry.
"The work we do around HIV, the work we do around women, the work we do around equality of same-gender-loving people (and) marriage equality, the work we do around how we treat the alien, the work we do around looking for ways to make peace and not war, that's where you'll find me, and that's why folks write about it," Flunder said.
Hudson's Cathedral of Hope UCC is the world's largest liberal Christian church with a primary outreach to the LGBT community and their friends, families and allies. It is the largest church in Texas, and one of the largest in the United States to be led by a woman.
Currently, Hudson is leading a Strategic Planning Initiative, overseeing the continuing development of the Interfaith Peace Chapel on the campus of Cathedral of Hope UCC and mentoring two new parish churches in Texas, Cathedral of Hope Houston and Cathedral of Hope MidCities. She is sought after locally, regionally and nationally as an inspirational teacher, speaker and workshop leader.
Johnson was the first openly gay person ordained in the UCC and the first ordained in the Christian Church in modern times. Throughout his career, Johnson has provided counsel and support to hundreds of LGBT seminarians and clergypersons in the UCC and ecumenically. Johnson was founder of the UCC Gay Caucus in 1972 (now the UCC Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Concerns) and served as national coordinator until 1977.
The William R. Johnson Scholarship Fund for openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender UCC seminarians studying to be parish ministers was founded in his name in 1999.
Dyszlewski has served as pastor of UCC churches in Rhode Island and Delaware. He has contributed years of community service, having served on the boards of directors of numerous civil rights and human service organizations including the Rhode Island Conference UCC, East Bay Center, Rhode Island Council of Community Health Centers, East Bay PFLAG, and the Delaware Alcoholism and Addiction Counseling Board, among others. He currently serves on the board of directors of We Share Hope and Marriage Equality Rhode Island, and recently ran for Rhode Island Senate as a strong proponent of marriage equality.
To view the complete list, visit the Huffington Post website.