Kenneth Mark Storer was born into a hard-working Mormon family of A & W Root Beer stand proprietors on March 19, 1940, in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Some of the very first sweetness he served came in a mug. His first deep encounter with the Divine came over him as an awkward teenage boy, dancing under the stars while camping alone in the Rocky Mountain woods, the only place this slightly queer young man could move his body freely to the rhythms he felt within.
In the mid-1960s, following six years in the Navy, he followed his call to ministry in the only direction he knew at the time and began work in the Mormon Tabernacle of Salt Lake City, Utah. Even then he was seeking some mystical kernel of truth behind the names and forms of his birth religion. A wife, a son, Brigham Young University bachelor's degree (in History) and master's degree (in Organizational Behavior), police entrapment, and electroshock “conversion therapy” followed. In 1974 he fled to Atlanta, where he met Roger Hurd, whom he would leave six years later but never forget.
Not long for the South, in 1975 Ken and Roger returned to Salt Lake City, to be closer to Ken’s son. This is when Ken discovered the Metropolitan Community Church, a growing ministry to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities who were, at that time, rejected by virtually every faith tradition in America. Having found his first spiritual home, he answered again his long-felt inner call to ministry and sought ordination. By 1977 he was serving on the pastoral staff of MCC Salt Lake City, Utah. Shortly later in 1978, Roger and he moved together so Ken could serve as founding pastor of MCC Boise, Idaho. On learning that a local son had opened a church for “queers” though, Mormon elders of his nearby hometown of Idaho Falls opened formal excommunication proceedings against him, refusing his participation, comment, or defense. Like so many, he was happy to welcome a formal end to his relationship with such a dark and repressive institution as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He continued serving happily as pastor of MCC Boise, Idaho, and later MCC Tacoma, Washington, until 1984. Then AIDS entered his life.
By 1984, AIDS was cutting down the gay men’s community like a scythe, while most averted their eyes. Answering his next call to service, Ken became Director of Shanti Project in Oregon, an extension of the famous San Francisco institution. Through Shanti he was providing direct AIDS service throughout Mid- and Southern Oregon in an era when precious little could be done but give comfort and love to the dying, their friends, and their families. Living with HIV himself, he nursed the hearts and bodies of a world bursting silently into flame.
Approaching emotional collapse three years later in 1988, he followed the advice of his friend Bill Line to visit a Radical Faerie gathering at Breitenbush Hot Springs in Oregon. To condense an epic into a line--these two communities held him and healed him. He joined them and never left.
In 1988 he also first encountered the path of Universal Sufism brought to the West in 1910 by Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan and was initiated into the Sufi Ruhaniat International and International Sufi Movement. Through deep inner work and practice over the next 22 years--built upon the abiding experiential core of his entire life and ministry--he flowered into his full spiritual maturity and was recognized as an Initiator and Teacher (“Sheikh”) of these Sufi orders and a Mentor-Teacher in the International Network of the Dances of Universal Peace. In both roles, he brought love, harmony, beauty, and deep skill as a leader of many forms of “dance” and “play” to literally thousands who encountered him through his communities over the years.
On October 8, 2010, following a mercifully brief and intense encounter with lymphatic cancer, the breath of Reverend Sheikh Jamshed Ken Storer - known amongst the Faeries as Elk of the Armadillo Clan - left his body. He left a spiritual legacy of eleven initiates, several dance mentees, hundreds of spiritual friends, and an enduring place in the hearts and minds of the Pacific Northwest Sufi, Radical Faerie, and Breitenbush Hot Springs communities. His body is buried just inside the Breitenbush front gate, where he welcomed many thousands of people home over his 22 years caring for this land he loved so well. Come, come, whoever you are ...
(This biographical statement provided by Yusuf Leo Schuman.)
Biography Date: June, 2012
Islam | MCC | Radical Faeries | AIDS | Clergy Activist
“What a wonderful remembrance of a wonderful man. I love him and always will. I learned so much from him. He was not always easy to be with but his loving heart was always there shining and accepting of everyone. He was s most special gay man. Easy with everyone. I remember him with children at the Bush. So loving and just the right combination of male and female that only some gay men have. A real balance. My we all come to our end with the love of so many and knowing we have eased the way of those we met alone the path of life. Jamshed was by far the most "Whitman" sort of man I ever met. A gay man for all seasons. Karim Inayat in Portland.”
– as remembered by Kareem Phillip Moore on July 2, 2012
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