Rev. J.J. Warren (he/him) is a public theologian, activist, and the author of Reclaiming Church: A Call to Action for Religious Rejects (2020). He was born in bustling Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but raised in the quiet village of Penn Yan in the “Finger Lakes” region of Upstate New York. In high school, J.J. enjoyed theatre and the “Drama Club” community, starring in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” in his senior year and co-directing black box performances for the community. After graduating from the local high school (Penn Yan Academy), he began a Bachelor of Arts degree at Sarah Lawrence College, a small liberal arts college nestled just outside New York City in Bronxville, New York.
At Sarah Lawrence, J.J. thrived. He was finally surrounded by an LGBTQIA+ affirming community and able to dive deeper into a vast array of disciplines, including creative writing, English literature, Islamic Studies, International Law, Philosophy, Christian texts and theologies, and anthropology. On campus, he was affectionately known as “the pastor guy,” who was almost always available to sit with folks on the secular campus, many of whom had been harmed by the church, and help them to construct affirming theology. In the junior year of his undergraduate degree, J.J. was accepted to study at Oxford University in England for a year, where his academic passions were further stimulated, generating much of the historical and linguistic work that would later make up his first book, Reclaiming Church. J.J. became a “warden” at the chapel of Wadham College, assisting with weekly evensong services and preaching on Pentecost during his final semester there. It was also during this time that he first met his fiancé, Dr. Richard Lopp, a quantum physicist from Germany who was working on a Ph.D. in Canada at the time. Their wedding is scheduled for September, 2024.
After his return from Oxford and toward the end of his final year at Sarah Lawrence, J.J. traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, as a reserve delegate elected from the Upper New York Conference for the 2019 Special Session of The United Methodist Church’s General Conference (the highest legislative body of the denomination). This conference was specifically called in an attempt to resolve the decades-long impasse within the denomination related to the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ persons. On the second-to-last day, J.J. stood to speak and delivered an impromptu speech that changed his life forever. What began as a slow procedural note quickly transformed into a passionate plea for inclusion and unity, which prompted even the denomination’s bishops (seated on the platform at the head of the conference) to break the procedural rules and stand in support of his calling and words. J.J.’s speech went viral, and his advocacy has been covered by HuffPost, NBC, and Brut Media. J.J. then spent the summer of 2019 and following fall traveling to over 40 churches, Colleges and Universities, and conferences around the U.S. as part of his “Reclaiming Church” tour, which advocated for LGBTQIA+ inclusion and sought to unify progressive voices within the denomination.
After graduating from Sarah Lawrence in May of 2019, and amidst traveling to events across the country, J.J. began a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree at Boston University School of Theology (BU STH '22), which is known as “the school of the prophets.” After receiving his M.Div. from BU STH in May, 2022, J.J. moved to Vienna, Austria, to begin a Ph.D. in Advanced Theological Studies at the University of Vienna. At the University of Vienna, he works as a doctoral researcher at the intersection of Paul Tillich’s theology, queer theology, and ecclesiology (the study of the church). In June, 2023, J.J. was Commissioned as a Provisional Member (clergy) in the New England Conference of The UMC, and he currently serves as the Executive Director of Young Prophets Collective (YPC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that seeks to “equip and empower a global community of young LGBTQIA+ religious leaders and allies who use their voices for liberation.” In April of 2023, YPC launched a virtual church led by and for LGBTQIA+ persons of faith and persons with disabilities, and is open to allies of all ages.
(This biographical statement provided by J.J. Warren.)
Biography Date: September 2023
Rev. J.J. Warren was one of the honorees at LGBTQ-RAN's 2023 GALA:
Methodist (UMC, United Methodist Church) | Theology | Author/editor | Activist (religious institutions)
“Rev. J.J. Warren | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed December 03, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/jj-warren.