The Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr, Janie, as she prefers to be called, describes herself as a lesbian, feminist, Presbyterian minister committed to justice issues for the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community, pursuing connections for wholeness with other oppressed communities claiming their freedom.
Janie was ordained a Presbyterian Minister in December 1974 to the Hazelwood Presbyterian ministry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, serving with mentor and friend, Wanda Graham Harris. She served 1975-1979 as Assistant Pastor of First Presbyterian in San Rafael, California. In 1979-1980, Janie became Executive Director of Oakland Council of Presbyterian Churches in Oakland where she was encouraged to resign because of being lesbian.
Janie began her "out" liberation work with and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people as the Minister of Pastoral Care in the Castro area of Metropolitan Community Church in San Francisco from 1980-1982 when her own Presbyterian denomination did not know what to do with this "lesbyterian".
In November of 1982 Janie, along with many friends, founded the Ministry of Light which became the Spectrum Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns. She served as their Executive Director for over 10 years. From youth groups, parent groups, PFLAG, support groups, family camps, AIDS Ministry, speakers bureau, this ministry has become the L/G/B/T center in Marin County, California, where it continues to flourish. Janie completed her work there on February 28, 1993.
In November of 1991 Janie was called to serve as one of four Co-Pastors at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York. She was denied that call by the denomination's highest court in November 1992. In March of 1993 The Downtown United Presbyterian Church invited Janie to become their evangelist to spread the good news by "personing the issue" and challenging exclusive church policies. Janie has traveled throughout the country, educating and informing Presbyterians and others working on behalf of greater inclusiveness for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
During the past eight years Janie has devoted much of her efforts to developing official regions to educate and advocate for a just and inclusive church, resulting in the creation of eight such regions. In 2002 these eight regional partnerships included five "out" Evangelists: Rev. Cliff Frasier, Presbyterian Welcome (NY); Rev. Don Stroud, TAMFS-Baltimore; Rev. Annie Petker, TAMFS-NCal; Tom Hickock, TAMFS-Chicago, now Eily Marlow and LaDonna Sanders, Field Interns; Mardee Rightmyer, TAMFS-South; and Regional Partnership Coordinator, Lisa Larges. This outreach educational and advocacy ministry is called That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS) sponsored by DUPC in Rochester and partnered with Westminister Presbyterian Church in Tiburon, California.
Janie was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 12, 1942, sharing her mother's womb with her wonderful twin sister, Joanie. They are the daughters of parents, Chet and Susanna Adams. Janie is the "wife emerita" of Jim Spahr and proud mother of sons, Jim and Chet. She is the "sister-in-love" of Bill Fenton (Joanie's partner) and Jackie Spahr (Jim's partner).
(This biographical statement provided by Janie Spahr.)
Biography Date: November, 2002
Spahr recorded an video interview in April 2015 at the Prophets and Rock Stars gathering at the Stony Point Conference Center which can be found on this page: http://tamfs.org/interviews/
Janie Spahr was honored in this closing celebration for That All May Freely Serve that held online on December 6, 2020. View a recording here.
Presbyterian Church (USA) | More Light Presbyterians (formerly Presbyterians for LGBT Concerns) | That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS) | Clergy Activist | Spahr, Jane Adams | EXHIBIT Rolling the Stone Away
“Janie came as a guest speaker to McCormick Theological Seminary, where I was an M.Div student from 1998 to 2002. At the time I didn't know where I stood on the matter of ordination of people who are homosexual. After meeting her, I knew exactly where I stood. She was the most pastoral human being I had ever met. That night, in my reflection time, I could only wonder at why the church would want to deny its members the ministries of this amazing woman. Since then, I have had more opportunities to know Janie. She continues to serve as one called by God to love and care for us all. She is as kind and caring of those who disagree with her as she is with everyone else. It is my privilege and joy to know Janie Spahr. Janie exudes pastoral care in the way she conducts herself, in the words she speaks, and in the manner she speaks. She is kind, thoughtful, and compassionate, and cares deeply about EVERYONE-even and especially those who have attacked her. She is my role model for ministry. ”
– as remembered by Rev. Helen DeLeon on March 16, 2012
Know Jane Adams Spahr? Tell us your experience.
(All entries are reviewed by the LGBT-RAN office before posting.)