Robert E. Goss was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1976, and he resigned the Society of Jesus as an unlaicized priest in 1978. He served as a chaplain for Dignity Boston until 1982. Goss was co-founder of Food Outreach, an AIDS service organization that delivered frozen meals and food supplements to people living with HIV. Goss was a member of ACT UP St. Louis and Queer Nation St. Louis.
He received his Th.D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard University in 1993. His dissertation was entitled The Hermeneutics of Madness: A Literary and Hermeneutical Analysis of the Mi‑la‑ras‑pa'i‑rnam‑thar by Gtsang‑smyon Heruka, He transferred as clergy to the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) in 1995 and served as part-time theologian/clergy on staff with MCC of Greater St. Louis from 1995 to June 2003.
Goss is the author of Jesus ACTED UP: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto (1993) and Queering Christ: Beyond Jesus ACTED UP (2002) (a Lambda Literary Finalist for Spirituality). He is co-author of Dead, But Not Lost: Grief Narratives in Religious Traditions (2005). Goss is co-editor of A Rainbow of Diversities (1996), Our Families, Our Values: Snapshots of Queer Kinship (1997), Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible 2 (2002), and The Crisis of the Gay Catholic Priesthood and Clergy Sexual Misconduct: Breaking the Silence of Sodom (2005). He is co-editor of the Second Testament of The Queer Bible Commentary (2006). He was the major editor for Queering Christianity : Finding a Place at Table for LGBTQI Christians (2013). He was co-editor with Joseph Goh for Unlocking Orthodoxies: Queer Alternatives (2020) and co-editor with Mona West of The Queer Bible Commentary, 2ndedition, (2022). In addition, Shore-Goss wrote God is Green: An Eco-Spirituality of Incarnate Compassion 2016) and The Insurgency of the Spirit: Jesu’s Liberation Animist Spirituality, Empire, and Creating Christian Protectors.
Goss served as co-chair of the Gay Men’s Issues in Religion Group of the American Academy of Religion for three years and served on the Advisory Board of the Center for Lesbian Gay Ministry and Religion at the Pacific School of Religion for five years . Goss taught in the Religious Studies Department of Webster University (1994-2004), and served as Chair of the Department. He started a successful study abroad program in Engaged Buddhism for Webster/Thailand and won the 2000 Templeton Course Prize in Religion & Science.
Goss’s office at Webster was targeted for a hate crime (2001); his hardback copy of Jesus ACTED UP was carved out and stuffed with rotting meat by a Public Safety Officer. Public Safety and a few administrators were aware of the identity of the perpetrator and covered up the crime. In 2003, Goss was endorsed for tenure by the Department of Religious Studies, but a group of closeted faculty and a new dean moved to repeal the recommendation for tenure. Goss believes that there were covert scripts, including a public outcry by conservative faculty surrounding the publication of Queering Christ. Some seventy scholars from all over the world wrote on Goss’s behalf; students protested the decision. The administration supported the decision to deny tenure to Goss.
Robert Goss became Senior Pastor/Theologian of the MCC Church in the Valley in North Hollywood in June 2004 (https://mccuccv.com/). MCC in the Valley dually affiliated with the United Church of Christ in 2013. Shore-Goss transferred to become a UCC clergy that same year. The Church added ninety solar panels in 2010 and received a Green Oscar from California Interfaith Power & Light in 2011. The Church became the first UCC congregation to become a Creation Justice Church (2015). Shore-Goss joined the UCC's Environmental Justice Council and serves an Environmental Justice Trainer (2016). On his website, https//www.mischievousspiritandtheology.com/ Shore-Goss describes his passions as queer and green.
Goss legally married Rev. Dr. Joseph Shore in California prior to Proposition 8, and they changed their married names to Shore-Goss. The couple was active in the Marriage Equality Movement to repeal Proposition 8. Besides pastoring an inclusive community of faith, Dr. Robert Shore-Goss taught part-time at Claremont School of Theology and California State University at Northridge (2004-2017).
Rev. Bob retired as Senior Pastor (May 2017) to follow his husband who became Interim Minister at the Petaluma Congregational Church (2017-2019) and then Senior Pastor of the Federated Church (2018-2020). Rev. Bob led the Federated Church to become the first Creation Justice Church in New Hampshire. From his research on his book, The Insurgency of the Spirit, Shore-Goss authored the Resolution of Witness on the Rights of Nature: “Who Will Speak for the Trees?” https://www.ucc.org/who-will-speak-for-the-trees-a-resolution-on-the-rights-of-nature/ The UCC General Synod passed the Resolution became the first mainline Protestant body to declare publicly that nature has the same rights as person. Due to decline of his health because of auto-immune blood disease, Bob and Joe relocated to Florida. The Orlando Health Cancer Institute was able to stabilize his blood work for the first time in four years. Rev. Bob serves as co-chair of the Florida UCC Conference Environmental Justice Team. He is working on a monograph on a Christin Indigeneity: An Earth-centered Spirituality. He invites queer Christians and scholars to devote their efforts for environmental justice. If you fall in love with God’s Earth, you will fight for the Earth.
(This biographical statement provided by Robert Shore-Goss.)
Biography Date: February, 2004; rev November 2022
MCC | Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley, CA) | Author/editor | Clergy Activist | Theology | United Church of Christ/Congregational Church | Marriage Equality
“Rev. Dr. Robert E. Shore-Goss | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed June 05, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/robert-e-shore-goss.