Rev. Canon Ted Karpf, Th.M.


The Reverend Canon Ted Karpf recently retired from Boston University School of Theology as Director of Development and Alumni Relations and Adjunct Instructor in Religion, Public Health and International Development. He is also a member of the Center for Global Christianity and Mission at BUSTH. Prior to this appointment he was at the World Health Organization (WHO) where he served as Partnerships Officer for seven years (2004-2011). He was a Senior Fellow in the Health Inequalities Program at the Duke University Terry Sanford Institute for Public Policy.

Karpf is principal editor of Restoring Hope: Decent Care in the Midst of AIDS, published in 2008 by WHO and released in 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan Press. Canon Karpf has been Canon for Global Health and former Residentiary Canon of Washington National Cathedral (Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul) in Washington, D.C. (1999-2011), and former Canon for clergy deployment and congregational development (1999-2001) in the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, after being “silenced” and “excommunicated” in the Diocese of Dallas (Texas) in 1988 for being an “out” gay man.

Ted is a human rights activist, an Episcopal priest and a public health expert engaging in public, community and faith-based health responses to HIV/AIDS since the early 1980s. He has received numerous awards for this work, especially from the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS); Office of Minority Health; the U.S.-based National HIV/AIDS Partnership; the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA); the Anglican Consultative Council and the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. He was recently named Distinguished Alumnus of Boston University School of Theology (2007) and the same at Texas Wesleyan University (2003) for his leadership in alleviating suffering globally from the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He has been recognized by the Secretary General of the United Nations and by more than a dozen UN agencies for his leadership in creating dynamic partnerships and collaborations between the UN and faith communities worldwide. He was also a nominee for General Secretary of the World Council of Churches in 2010.

From 1982 to 1988, Karpf led in the creation of the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition (NEAC), the AIDS Interfaith Network, Dallas, and Bryan’s House AIDS Hospice for Children, Dallas, one of the nation's first children's AIDS facilities and the creation of the AIDS ARMS Network, a community-wide case management service. Karpf served in the U.S. government beginning 1989 as the nation's first Regional AIDS Liaison Specialist with the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) in the Dallas Regional Office as part of the staff of the U.S. Surgeon General. From 1991-93 he worked with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as manager of special projects of the National AIDS Clearinghouse, and later as director of the AIDS Clinical Trials Information Service (ACTIS), creator of the AIDS Treatment Information Service (ATIS) and managed the creation of the CDC’s Business and Labor Respond to AIDS resource service.

Ted was appointed by the late Governor Anne Richards to be Chair of the Board of the Texas Funeral Service Commission, a State regulatory agency, in 1991. From 1993-1998 Ted served as Executive Director of the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition. Under his leadership he developed effective collaborations between NEAC and the CDC and the NAMES Project, AIDS Memorial Quilt, creating a tool for parish- and community-based AIDS education and prevention programs. Additionally, he supervised the development of the Teen AIDS Prevention (TAP) curriculum of the Episcopal Church with Advocates for Youth. TAP has been utilized for both AIDS education and prevention and teen sexuality training in Episcopal parishes worldwide.

In 2001 Canon Karpf was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop an international development pilot project under the CORE Initiative with 10-million member Anglican Church of the Province of Southern Africa (CPSA – which includes the nations of South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique and Angola). This project continued until 2010 as Isiseko Sokomeleza -- "Building the Foundation" -- supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme for more than USD10 million per year. As a missioner the Episcopal Church in the USA, he was appoint to serve as Provincial Canon Missioner for HIV/AIDS and a deputy to the Archbishop of Cape Town (2001-2004) by The Most Reverend Njongonkulu Ndungane.

In 2003 he was also named HIV/AIDS Coordinator of the world-wide Anglican Communion and developed faith-based responses and community planning programs globally. Since the beginning of his work in the field of HIV/AIDS he has raised millions of dollars for AIDS services both in the United States and around the world. Canon Karpf has remained WHO representative and member of the World Bank's World Faiths and Development Dialogue since 2002. He developed and managed a global HIV/AIDS leadership initiative under the auspices of St. George's House, Windsor Castle, U.K. Since 2005, he received generous support from the Ford Foundation to develop the concept of "Decent Care" through a global collaboration between WHO and the world's great religions and people living with HIV/AIDS from around the world.

A former campus minister and teacher of religion at the University of North Texas, he was also director of the Texas Commission on Campus Ministries from 1978-1982. Karpf has lectured at Boston University, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, and several colleges at Oxford University during his career. He is author of numerous articles on HIV/AIDS and faith responses and has preached in cathedrals and churches around the world. Father Karpf served on the staff of both the Episcopal (ECUSA) and the Anglican (Church of England) churches in Geneva, serving the international and English-speaking communities and has preached throughout the Anglican Convocation in Europe and the American Convocation in Europe.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in Religion-Humanities from Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, Texas (1970) and a Master of Theology degree from Boston University School of Theology, Boston, Massachusetts (1974), along with postgraduate studies at Harvard Divinity School, Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas. He is also a Gestalt Therapist, with certification from the Gestalt Institute of Washington, DC (1999) and was a member of the faculty of the College of Preachers in Washington, D.C. from 1991-2000.

A gay rights activist for most of his life he is also the father of two children, who were born of a marriage which lasted for 13 years, between 1975-1988. Born in Peekskill (New York) and raised in Fort Worth (Texas) he “came out” at age 40 in 1988, reporting that the role models were “few and far” between, but sexual liaisons were not. He was partnered for 12 years with HIV+ AIDS activist Warren W.  Buckingham III. Ted lives alone in Northern New Mexico where he has been engaged in contemplative practice and writing since his retirement in 2013.

(This biographical statement provided by Ted Karpf.)

Biography Date: May, 2014

Additional Resources



Episcopal Church | AIDS | Clergy Activist | Ordination/clergy | Karpf, Ted


“Rev. Canon Ted Karpf, Th.M. | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed June 19, 2024, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/ted-karpf-th-m.


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