The Rev. Elder Don Eastman was formerly an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God. He received his theological training at Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Following graduation in 1966, he served an Assemblies of God congregation in Wisconsin as Pastor for six years. In 1972, he resigned the pastoral ministry to assume full-time secular duties as an official of the American Lung Association in Iowa.
In 1975, upon coming out as a gay man, Rev. Eastman resigned his ministerial credentials with the Assemblies of God and began a new ministry in the lesbian and gay community with Metropolitan Community Church. Since then he has pastored MCC congregations in Des Moines, Iowa and Dallas, Texas where he served for 8 ½ years. Under Rev. Eastman’s leadership from 1978 to 1986, MCC of Dallas grew to become the largest congregation in the world-wide fellowship.
In 1983, Rev. Eastman was elected to the Board of Elders of Metropolitan Community Churches. He was re-elected for five additional terms, serving through 2007. He has served full-time as the denomination’s Second-Vice Moderator, Treasurer and Vice Moderator between 1986 and 2007.
In 1996 Rev. Eastman was listed in Who’s Who in America, recognizing his role as an activist for the civil and human rights of gays and lesbians. In 1975, he joined Rev. Troy Perry and Jerry Sloan in a meeting with Iowa’s Lt. Governor to lobby for the repeal of the state sodomy laws. In Dallas, he met with the legendary District Attorney Henry Wade (of Roe v. Wade) to oppose the harassment of gay men through selective enforcement of various laws and frequent false allegations by local police.
Rev. Eastman also served as Director of the UFMCC HIV/AIDS Ministry from 1987 to 1996. He was a founding board member and the first chairperson of the AIDS National Interfaith Network from 1988 to 1992. It was in this role that he was invited to the White House in June, 1990 for the ceremony with President George H.W. Bush signing the American with Disabilities Act, which prohibits employment discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.
As a dedicated student of church life and growth, Rev. Eastman has been one of MCC’s most passionate advocates for ministry excellence in local churches. In 1995, he created the Strategic Growth Initiative, which provided training programs, consultation services and other resources to support thousands of local leaders in building healthier churches.
Rev. Eastman retired from the Board of Elders in 2007 and now resides in Sunrise, Florida. He continues his work to support local church leaders through the Ministry Excellence Connections at the Sunshine Cathedral MCC in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in association with Metropolitan Community Churches.
(This biographical statement provided by Don Eastman.)
Biography Date: April, 2010
MCC | Clergy Activist | AIDS
“Don Eastman had a profound impact on my life. I realize that more as time goes by. I joined MCC Dallas during his final years there. From day one I began unlearning a number of unhealthy beliefs that I'd picked up through the years. It's a long journey to move past the misinformation about the Bible, Christ & Christianity that many of us in the LGBT community internalize while we're growing up in Christian homes & churches. I'm still on that journey, always will be. Very thankful that Rev. Elder Don Eastman is a part of that walk.”
– as remembered by David Faulkner on June 2, 2012
“Rev. Eastman was my pastor in Neenah, Wisconsin in the late 1960’s and early ’70s. He was a strong and positive influence, at a very difficult time in my life. I have many wonderful memories of him. He was in my wedding party. After he moved to Des Moines we kept in touch and I visited him there. I met him briefly in an airport, but lost contact with him after that. I saw him on Nightline debating Madelyn Murray O’Hare. He has visited with presidents and has surely lived a more exciting life than I have. I am in my 28th year as a pastor in Rochester, Minnesota. I remember vividly, a sermon that he preached 45 years ago about the great feast that King Belshazzar served. ”
– as remembered by Bruce Kallies on January 24, 2014
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