Rev. C. Jane Carl, MCC pastor, was born on Epiphany, 1940, in Grand Junction, Colorado to parents Arthur and Xelia Carl, Jane Carl followed middle brother & lifelong partner in crime, her best friend, Richard Carl aka Dickie, who came in second to oldest brother, “Little Billy Graham” and preacher from age 16 on. Arthur “Sonny” Carl. Dad was also a radio broadcaster and part-time sheriff before being reassigned to Los Angeles, then to Denver when Jane was five. All were one, musically-gifted, Salvation Army family of the 1940’s and 50’s. In listing things she was thankful for in 2019, Jane wrote:
- “My Salvation Army Officer parents, who taught me independence and how to laugh, cry and serve the unserved—and break the rules when necessary;
- My Salvation Army upbringing and the years of ‘Fundamentalist’ Bible Study that taught me the basics of Who God Is;
- My musical family that taught me to express myself in song;
- Doris Akers and the Sky Pilot Choir, who taught me love and that God knows everything about me and loves me unconditionally;
- Rev Troy Perry and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, who taught me to study the scriptures in context;
- For my ‘calling’ to Ministry as a Deacon and then Pastor;
- For my seminary training at Samaritan College, teaching me to think outside the box;
- Susan Deitrick who has given me un conditional love and teaches me new things every day;
- For our beautiful home and property, our extraordinary animals who make every day a joy;
- For my very large group of friends and acquaintances who make my life so complete.”
“I thank My God in all my remembrances of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that the One Who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil 1:3-6 [RSV])
Of the many great leaders in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, one of the most subtle, humble, and overlooked might be Rev. C. Jane Carl. The Spirit-led Afterthought. She was one of the early members, fitting in with just about everyone in the leadership because her father, Lt. Col Arthur Carl, founder of the Los Angeles USO via the Salvation Army, had taught Jane that it didn’t matter how famous folks were, they all put their pants on the same way. Since she’d started out at age three singing three-part harmony with her two brothers, Dick and Sonny, then meeting many of the Hollywood stars through her father, she got it. Even though Jane had an incredible voice, she never sought anyone’s praise or any kind of fame. She knew Who gave her the gift, and That is Who she always sang for. The folks sang, played musical instruments, and preached on street corners as well as indoors for the Salvation Army. Jane broke away from the Salvation Army after high school when she discovered Sky Pilot Radio Church and Music Leader, Doris Akers. Dick soon followed, joining the choir with her. In fact, she and he assisted when Doris left Sky Pilot and started her own, People’s Tabernacle of Faith. They helped the new pastor find a place to live when he came to pastor in Hollywood, discovering the deep-seeded racism nearly everywhere they tried until they finally landed a good place in Watts. In fact, Jane talked of how the two of them had to go into Watts during the great riot to rescue that pastor & his family until it was over. Of course, Jane and Richard, sang in Doris’s choir before he went off and got married. Jane continued with DJ and Jean, rode the circuit as part of The Gospel Notes from Canada to Mexico with Doris leading. Her singing with such gentle, Gospel soul was greatly influenced by Doris Akers.
Jane first attended MCC Los Angeles when Troy Perry was preaching in 1969. Unfortunately, that was the day the Los Angeles Times decided to come with cameras set up right behind her. That scared her away till she returned in 1972. From then on, Jane was married to MCC. She came to know and love nearly everything about this new fellowship. She would be at every conference, business meeting, frequently the choirs as well; that is, until the Texas conference where she had to keep singing even though she probably had strep throat. The choir director apparently handed her Chloraseptic and told her to spray and keep singing. That is when she lost a vital part of her voice. She did keep singing, though, until maybe 2010, when she was diagnosed with COPD. There weren’t many committees Rev. Jane Carl wasn’t involved in at one time or many, serving on, most notably, the Clergy Review & Credentialing Committee (CRCC) for nine years, chairing it for four or five of them, and the Judicial Committee. She was an Exhorter (later called Student Clergy) at the Cincinnati MCC; helped found the Columbus MCC, later called New Creation MCC; pastored Pomona MCC, later called Pomona Valley MCC, for 9 years, and even created the Pomona Valley GLBT Coalition; co-pastored MCC Ocean of Life in Costa Mesa, CA, with Life Partner, Rev Susan Deitrick for 7 years; did interim pastorates at Santa Ana’s Christ Chapel MCC, and Broken Arrow MCC in Springfield, Missouri, while she and Susan spent a couple years in the Ozarks between California and Ohio, for what was to be a healing time after California’s pace and Susan’s breast cancer.
Some of the outstanding elements of this most fascinating, lively, amazing, God-partnered woman named Constance Jane Carl, better known from birth as Jane Carl: she was simply so real; so filled with life and love and joy. In the final two decades of her life, who was the first to want to try an adventure. She worked circles around most folks within 20 years either way of her age. Who else in those last couple years facing 80, would still be found still throwing over two hundred 40-50 lb. bales of hay for the horses, not to mention still riding her horse any time she could find a partner to ride with, sometimes just riding alone. She loved her horses, dogs, goats, and cats. When in the Ozarks, she absolutely fell in love with her not-so-little bovine babies. She would buy those day-olds, bring them home and raise them on bottles, half gallon jugs with baby bottle nipples on them. She would have been happy to spend the rest of her life there doing just that, but things changed, as she and Susan moved near Susan’s hometown in Ohio, purchasing their 5-acre “sanctuary” in 1998. Jane Carl spent the rest of her life on that little farm, riding her horse, loving her dogs, cats, goats and horses with Susan where they celebrated 35 years together before death intervened as a result of a tainted stent placed over a penetrating aortic aneurism discovered on January 17, 2020. Going into the hospital in Akron, Ohio and then Cleveland, even doctors couldn’t believe she was over 65, she had been is such great health. Sepsis, however, can take down the mighty as easy as the weak. Jane was “Promoted to Glory” late at night on Friday, the 13th of 2020, as would be declared via her Salvation Army roots: March 13, 2020, coincidentally, her mom’s birthday. Most all of her life, Xelia, Jane’s mother, had also been like her best friend.
Many followed Jane in her “Final Year Before Turning 80" journal on Facebook. It was quite fun for her at times; primarily rewarding as she emphasized that ALL had gifts that, when offered in service to God; All could become great and important parts very much needed by God and the world, even though All could not be stars like Peter, she preached at MCC Pomona. Without the Andrews, how would the leaders like Peter find their way? Jane meditated her way back thru the years, seeking to discover the highs and lows of a life lived as much in accordance with God's direction as most persons could possibly envisage. It seemed she was birthed in the Spirit of God's Special Love; called from the womb to be a servant of the Awesome Adonai, the One Who Calls Servants to respond. Unlike most gifted with a golden voice, Jane lived her life in humility; seeking only to give God the Limelight thru her singing, and eventually, thru her preaching. She said many times that the greatest calling she accepted was to the diaconate. The truth is, even thru her years of pastoring, it was the deacon who reached out and connected communities; who stood up and called folks on their unfaithfulness to God and to their human community. It was also Jane who helped the “Andrews” in life to realize their importance to God. MCCP didn’t start in the safest area, but one late night when Rev Jane was closing up alone, she was a bit afraid because of recent crimes happening near the church, God promised her she would always be safe. She claimed that promise.
When AIDS broke into our reality and began devouring mostly our beautiful young men, such downright paranoia fell over the community, our Fellowship, the entire world. It was a sad day when we began visiting our boys and had to tent up so that we looked like hazmat workers who go into poison-contaminated areas with every part of their bodies covered, zipped up, even faces protected. Jane said that she never suited up like that for her boys. Just the other side of the wall where the worship area stopped, Rev Jane, who initially was the hub of any LGBT happenings in the entire Greater Pomona Valley, aka Inland Empire, until she finally got the local leaders together and helped them form a Coalition, a center for our folks to support one another, come together, and even start up an Inland Empire AIDS Network. Before that last happening came to be; however, it took Rev. Jane going into hospitals and funeral homes, insisting that AIDS patients start being treated humanely, and that funeral homes discontinue dodging their responsibilities and accept the bodies of those who succumbed to this horrible disease. Then, she moved on to the schools and colleges; into the local Interfaith Council, where she was voted President and found herself intentionally educating the church and synagogue leaders on how to minister to the influx of these mostly young folks living with HIV+/AIDS. Of course, she'd always had a Deacons’ Pantry. This, by necessity became a major communal effort; finding ways to feed the many living with this disease. Her church had partnered with Rev Elder Jean White after the first time Jane invited her to preach, and the church voted to take on World Church Extension. It was a relatively simple maneuver to shift part of that spirit of giving to the local community as long as HIV+/AIDS remained such an opponent. Jane declared that while the church was faithful in their dedication to these needs outside of the church, God blessed them abundantly. Once a decision was made to purchase the then, beautiful, pale brick, Ontario church building with its vast Fellowship Hall and small, adjacent rental home, though, she felt like too many would be left worshipping a building rather than meeting the outside commitments. It had been too comfortable making the purchase as long as their one major contributor kept up the lucrative tithe that pretty much made that monthly payment. When that donor decided to switch loyalties for whatever reason, all the eggs that had been in that basket suddenly scrambled and turned sour. There was no way to replace that kind of money. In the midst of this, more and more tensions were challenging rather that worshipping. Again, once the giving component ceased to be the church’s commitment, the results were inevitable. For Rev Carl, it became apparent that her pastoral services were no longer what was needed at MCCPV. Her calling to pastor; however, was not over yet. Rev Jane Carl came to Ocean of Life MCC in Costa Mesa where we decided to co-pastor from 1987 to 1994.
Humble, honest, caring, empowering, joy-filled; One who always looked until she found “What God saw in others that God could love, that I might love in each person as well.”
This is why Jane was truly able to love nearly every person she met, especially in her church, but everywhere else she was. It was only evil that repelled her. In fact, she once said, “I love challenging the devil! He knows he has no power over me!” That is one reason she was called upon for church exorcisms. Her love was absolutely genuine, too. She wanted to be able to love God’s children as God loved them, and God gave her far more. Her eminence was her humble yet pastoral presence that could not be hidden even though others might be prone to disbelief or ridicule. She was undaunted by others’ disdain. She simply continued to try to find that God-piece within others, sometimes so that she could help them see and embrace it as well. As the Co-Pastorate evolved in the UUC church we shared for our evening services, AIDS continued to spread through the beach communities as well. God gave Jane a vision of a new ministry to reach so many who were unable to cook for themselves—the funny thing, I just realized, is that Jane was not even a cook. Nevertheless, she spoke with MCCOL’s BOD as well as the UUC folks, and together formed what they dubbed AIDS TEAM MINISTRY or ATM. The group would come together each week, finding out all of the legalities and nutrition regs as they began cooking, packaging, and freezing, then delivering 7 meals each week to every person living with AIDS as we were informed or requested. The last we were told, it was still happening through the UUC folks in Costa Mesa.
There is no doubt that the world really is a better place because Jane Carl lived among us all these years, impacting so many: Salvation Army, Long Beach State, Sky Pilot Church, People’s Tabernacle of Faith, and Doris Akers’ Gospel Notes group; MCC LA, MCC Cincinnati, MCC Columbus, NCR Dayton, Early Pomona MCC; Later MCC of the Pomona Valley, The Royal Court, DCRC, Judicial, (Any other MCC committees she was part of); MCC Ocean of Life, MCC Santa Ana/Christ Chapel, The Southwest District, Broken Arrow MCC of Springfield, MO; Any other MCC, including General Conference; even CUSEN, Central United States East District, when partner Susan served as what was initially considered "shepherd to the shepherds," lead position, always with Jane beside her. Before her voice gave out, living in Akron, Jane was blessed to sing in the Gospel Meets Symphony for two years. She and Susan also assisted at the United Church of Christ in the Akron Summit Lake area, probably the roughest part of the city, especially helping found an education, nutrition, mentoring youth program called Students with a Goal (SWAG). Jane even helped open a new Humane Society in Greater Akron which would be a no-kill facility. Then, in those later years, Jane helped organize a group with other horseback riders in the area, The Road Apple Gang, aka RAG. She initiated a yearly fundraiser called “Ride for the Troops” in which the fee to ride was to bring any of the food or pharm articles from the list given by the USO—another irony! She started life with the USO with her father, then ended up with an outreach for US Military thru the USO. The truth is that Rev Jane Carl ended her life in the ministry of writing her life story in brief that took her to her 80th Birthday. How overwhelmed she was by the incredible response from all over the world and certainly among the probably thousands who knew her or knew of her and practically ate those little kernels of her journaling piecemeal, wanting more. Sadly, the ride ended barely over two months after she stopped the writing and her body decided it was enough! In any and probably every other part of Jane Carl’s life, she was prolific around the Fruit of the Spirit. She could never be impressed by the gallery of gifts many displayed to prove their faith stories, unless the Fruit showed through. Certainly, Jane epitomized that Fruit all of her life. She never tried to advertise her gifts, but probably had most, if not all of them, using them only as needed. Thanks Be to God for such a Servant!
(This biographical profile written by Susan Deitrick.)
Biography Date: November 2023
“Rev. C. Jane Carl | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed March 05, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/c-jane-carl.