The Rev. Jan Griesinger, 80
The Rev. Jan Griesinger, former National Co-Coordinator of the United Church of Christ Coalition for Lesbian/Gay Concerns — now the Open and Affirming Coalition — died Dec. 9, 2022, in Athens, Ohio. United Campus Ministry at Ohio University, where she served as director for 28 years, shared news of her passing on Facebook. She was 80.
After her ordination in the UCC, Griesinger came out as lesbian in the 1970s. At that time, she began to advocate publicly for LGBTQ+ rights and recognition, especially within the UCC.
In 1984, she became one of the ONA Coalition’s two national coordinators, along with the late Sam Lolliger.
“Those were decisive years for the growth of our movement, including the creation in 1985 of the UCC’s national Open and Affirming program — the Coalition’s signature ministry since then,” ONA Coalition Executive Director Andy Lang wrote in a memorial about Griesinger. “Other milestones included the UCC General Synod’s condemnation of violence ‘against lesbian and gay people’ (1989) and its call for the right of LGBT citizens to serve in the military (1993).”
Griesinger’s impact on the UCC, particularly for LGBTQ+ clergy, remains felt today.
“She was the first person I ever came out to,” the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, director of the Center for Sustainable Justice at Lyndale United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, said in a recent commentary. Voelkel also served as national coordinator of the UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns, the name of the ONA Coalition from 1997 to 2014. “… When I became the interim national coordinator, years after I had come out to Jan, she was very kind and loving — her gruff exterior belied her very tender heart — and offered me sage advice on strategy.”
“I think if it weren’t for her, I would not be an out gay clergyperson in my beloved UCC,” the Rev. Douglas Fauth, pastor of First Congregational UCC in Baraboo, Wis., wrote in a remembrance of Griesinger.
“To the end of her life, Jan continued to advocate for LGBTQ freedom and dignity,” said Lang. “She was national co-director of Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) and remained active in many causes.”
According to United Campus Ministry, a memorial and celebration of Griesinger’s life will be held in the spring. A complete obituary is here.
“In Memoriam” features brief obituaries about prominent United Church of Christ leaders. For a listing of all recent clergy deaths, as reported to The Pension Boards, please visit this link.
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