Reverend Jim DeLange, LGBTQ rights supporter, dies :: Bay Area Reporter

Reverend Jim DeLange, a direct ally who championed the LGBTQ community in the Lutheran Church, died Aug. 20 at his home in San Francisco. He was 88 years old.

Pastor DeLange had suffered from dementia for many years, his daughter, Lynn Krausse, wrote in an email, and added that she and other family members were by his side. For the past few years, Krausse has said his brother, Brad DeLange, has been his primary caretaker.

In 1981, Pastor DeLange accepted the call to St. Francis Lutheran Church, a small downtown congregation on the east end of San Francisco’s Castro Ward, the city’s major LGBTQ neighborhood, one noted. obituary written by Pastor DeLange. Through his efforts, the congregation extended its outreach to the gay community, just as the AIDS crisis was hitting hard. St. Francis Church grew and quickly established itself as a voice for gays and lesbians in the Lutheran Church.

In 1982, the congregation called Reverend James Lokken, a gay man, as a part-time assistant pastor. In 1984, the congregation called Reverend Michael Hiller, another gay man, as a part-time assistant pastor, according to the obituary. Both of these calls were endorsed by the ancient American Lutheran Church. In 1990, the congregation called and ordained a lesbian clergy couple, Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart, as assistant pastors and assigned them to work with another recent gay seminary graduate, Jeff Johnson, to develop the Lutheran ministry of lesbians and gays. For this latest action, Congregation St. Francis was accused by the local bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America of violating the ELCA constitution, tried, suspended from membership for five years, and ultimately , was expelled from the ELCA in 1995.

In 1994, Pastors Frost and Zillhart became pastoral staff at St. Francis Church, and under the leadership of Pastor DeLange, LLGM moved into a national organization, called Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministries. The organization is now called Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and has over 250 LGBTQ ELCA pastors and seminarians on its roster.

With the 2009 change in ELCA policy toward LGBTQ pastors, St. Francis was brought back into the ELCA. During the Festival of Reconciliation in 2011, an official ceremony marking the end of the expulsion of St. Francis from the National Lutheran Church, as noted by the Bay Area Reporter at the time.

“Jim and the Lutheran faithful of St. Francis in the Castro, along with their allies, have changed the church,” wrote Michael Pappas, a gay man who serves as executive director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, in an email. “Jim was a passionate leader who challenged, exercised, worked and prayed for the church to become an open and welcoming place for all of God’s people. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is still a church in transition, but thanks to the courage and passion, it is infinitely closer today to being, in his words, “the church it should be – a church that makes a difference in the lives of individuals, in the whole church and in the world”.

Pastor DeLange was also involved in ministry to gay men early in the AIDS epidemic. As gay people moved into the old Victorian homes in the Duboce Triangle and Eureka Valley farther south on Market Street, many longtime heterosexual St. Francis parishioners had moved to other parts of the city and the bay area. And few new residents attended Lutheran services.

“There were gay people in the congregation when I became a pastor. It was a small congregation,” DeLange recalled in a 2011 interview with BAR.

But in 1981, Pastor DeLange soon found himself providing pastoral care to many gay men raised as Lutherans who had succumbed to a mysterious illness that had not been discovered until that summer.

“Most of the time what happened was that there were people in the congregation who said their friends were sick and asked me if I was going to visit them,” he said. he declared. “Hospitals were also calling to say there was a gay man here who is a Lutheran and very ill. That implicated me.”

SF Interfaith Group

In 1989 Reverend DeLange was invited to join a steering committee that formed the San Francisco Interfaith Council. He served on the SFIC Board of Directors for 23 years, including eight years as Chairman, from 2004 to 2012. During that time, he and his colleague, Rita Semel, raised the profile of the organization, developed the board and raised the funds to hire Pappas as its first executive director.

“His many years of leadership solidified the infrastructure and foundations of SFIC as we know it today,” Pappas said in an email. “He was a friend and mentor whose sage advice I both trusted and appreciated.”

Fran Johns served with Pastor DeLange at SFIC in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“Jim’s outstanding work for justice and equity for the LGBTQ community is part of what has earned him such high regard,” Johns wrote in an email. “But he was also gifted with an ability to reach out to religious communities of all traditions, and his sincere love and concern for all of humanity made him unique as a religious leader.”

Marilyn Saner, an Episcopal who served with Pastor DeLange on the interfaith council, wrote in an email that he was friends with José Julio Sarria, a gay man and drag queen who founded the imperial court system , and was in the procession for Mr Sarria’s funeral at Grace Cathedral in 2013.

Early life

Pastor DeLange was born July 6, 1934, and was from St. Paul, Minnesota, the obituary says. His mother was the youngest daughter of Swedish immigrants who had moved from Ystad in Skåne to St. Paul in 1903. His father was the grandson of Norwegian immigrants from Bergen and English grandparents from Yorkshire. He attended St. Paul Elementary School and graduated from North St. Paul High School in 1951. He entered the University of Minnesota that fall. His college education was interrupted by the Korean War and he joined the United States Navy in January 1953. While in the Navy (1955-1958), he resumed his college education at the University of Minnesota. Upon his release from the Navy in 1958, he was transferred to Concordia Theological Seminary in Springfield, Illinois. He graduated in 1962 and was ordained in his home church, Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Maplewood, by his family’s neighbor and longtime pastor, the Reverend Paul Krause.

In 1957, he married Beverly Hansen (now Beverly Bradley, Ph.D.) in St. Paul, according to the obituary. This marriage gave them two children, Lynn Rene born in 1959; and Jay Bradley in 1963. They divorced in 1970. A second marriage also ended in divorce. In 1991, at a synodal assembly in Fresno, Pastor DeLange met Diane Nelson. They were married at St. Francis Church a year later. After 20 wonderful years together, Diane passed away from cancer in 2011.

Reverend DeLange is survived by his sister Rochelle and her husband Floyd Schrodt; his nephew Dean Schrodt and his wife Wendy; his niece Shari Nelson and her husband Chuck; his daughter Lynn Krausse and her husband Jeffrey; son Brad DeLange; two stepchildren, Matthew Nelson and Adrienne Nelson Brown; and four grandchildren: Ellen Armstrong and her husband Troy, Paul Krausse and his girlfriend Lauren Fenske, Gordon and Glenn Brown.

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