The Rev. Stacy Cusulos grew up in a Greek-American family and within the Greek Orthodox Church. Her first language was Greek. In her late 20’s, guided by the mystikos (mystery) of her Greek Orthodoxy, Stacy decided to become a minister, a role forbidden women in her church. She moved to Berkeley and began study at the Pacific School of Religion in 1974 and received her M. Div. degree in 1977. During this time, she joined the United Church of Christ (UCC). Her exposure to feminist and liberation theologies while in seminary deepened her life-long commitment to social justice.
In 1978, Stacy was ordained into the ministry with Loey Powell and Jody Parsons. Their collective ordination challenged the UCC to ordain three women who wrote a joint ordination paper believing that ministry by, through and within community was foundational to their being and theology. Their ordination raised questions theological, political, institutional, personal and spiritual. While the fact that all three identified as lesbians wasknown, it was not part of the conversation during their ordination process. However, a year after the ordination, a New York Times reporter interviewed them and published an article about the three lesbians who had been ordained in California. The word was out.
Stacy was called to be Associate Conference Minister for Youth and Young Adults within the 110 churches of the United Church of Christ Northern California Conference. Shortly thereafter, her lesbianism became an issue that resulted in a hearing where the defense by the conference minister MIneo Katagiri proved the turning point which allowed her to keep her job. Mineo professed to know little about homosexuality, but a lot about discrimination. As a young minister right after World War II, he was not called to several churches because no one wanted to work with “a Jap.”
After several years inside the church, again guided by mystikos, Stacy decided to explore ministry in Silicon Valley high tech industry. As a human resources professional, she focused on diversity and inclusion, and was on the small team that created the first Diversity & Inclusion management training in the country, then featured in Fortune magazine. During this time, she wrote the musical score for a play performed in San Francisco, and produced her album This Love which resulted in performances at women’s music festivals.
After the better part of a decade inside Hewlett-Packard, Stacy formed her own company, Musasa Consulting and Training, where she continued her work in diversity and inclusion within both the public and private sectors. During this time, she wrote a A Case Study of Janis, published by Intercultural Press. It was performed as a play by a theater company hired by a Midwestern hospital, one of her book’s customers. Invited by Loey Powell, Stacy worked with the UCC Justice and Witness Ministry team to co- create the Justice Leaders Engaging and Developing program. She continues her consulting work part-time as she devotes more time to her family
Over the years, Stacy’s family life deepened her commitment to eradicating racism. She and Barb adopted at birth their daughter and son, both African-American, and now 32 and 30. Stacy’s and Barb’s book American Family: things racial shares their story of raising their children in a liberal white community and has been called a case study in micro-racism. They continued where the book left off, helping to raise their grandsons, now 15 and 10, as they grow up in the San Francisco East Bay. Stacy and Barb celebrated 43 years together this year.
Stacy co-founded a circle of women 15 years ago, meeting monthly to explore the edges and beyond, of what they know about racism and anti-racism. That group now also meets annually with five other groups and has formed We-R: “Women Eradicating Racism”, a network and annual conference sharing experience, strength, despair and hope about eradicating racism at the personal, community, and systemic levels.
(This biographical statement provided by Stacy Cusulos.)
Biography Date: November 2019
United Church of Christ/Congregational Church | Ordination/clergy | Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley, CA) | San Francisco | California | Racism | Women and Religion | Cusulos, Stacy | Parsons, Jody | Powell, Loey