Jane Adams Spahr Collection (CLGS)

Finding aid created by Graduate Theological Union staff using RecordEXPRESS
Graduate Theological Union
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Berkeley, California 94709
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Descriptive Summary

Title: Jane Adams Spahr Collection (CLGS)
Dates: 1964-2013
Collection Number: GTU 2008-2-02
Creator/Collector: Spahr, Jane Adams (1942- ) Metropolitan Community Church Downtown United Presbyterian Church Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) That All May Freely Serve
Extent: 31 Boxes (32 linear feet)
Repository: Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, California 94709
Abstract: Jane Adams Spahr (1942- ) is a Presbyterian minister who has fought for justice for the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender community. She suffered several rebukes from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)for being an open lesbian minister and for officiating same sex marriages. She served as a countrywide evangelist for the rights of oppressed people and helped found the organization That All May Freely Serve.
Language of Material: English


Open for researchers with the exception of one box of correspondence and one box of micro-cassettes restricted for 25 years (2040).

Publication Rights

Intellectual property rights that belong to Jane Adams Spahr are retained by her.

Preferred Citation

Jane Adams Spahr Collection (CLGS) . Graduate Theological Union

Acquisition Information

“The Jane Adams Spahr Collection” belongs to the larger archival collection of The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) at Pacific School of Religion, a member school of The Graduate Theological Union. Materials received 2/20/2008, 4/20/2010, 6/25/13 and 9/19/13. The GTU Archives is the designated repository.

Biography/Administrative History

Rev. Jane Adams Spahr “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.”(1) She received numerous awards and honors, religious and civic, for her service and activities. She and her twin sister were born August 12, 1942, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From an early age Spahr wanted to become a minister. She received a BA in Religious Studies from Pennsylvania State University, 1964; MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary, 1970; and ThD from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1987. She was ordained a Presbyterian Minister in December 1974 to the Hazelwood Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, serving with her mentor, Wanda Graham Harris. From 1975-1979, she served as Assistant Pastor of First Presbyterian in San Rafael, California. From 1979-1980, she was Executive Director of Oakland Council of Presbyterian Churches in Oakland, where the Council asked her to resign due to being a lesbian. Spahr became Minister of Pastoral Care in the Castro area for Metropolitan Community Church in San Francisco from 1980-1982. In 1982 she helped found the Ministry of Light, which became the Spectrum Center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, based in Marin County. She served as its executive director until February 28, 1993. In November 1991 she was called to become one of the pastors at the Downtown United Presbyterian Church (DUPC) in Rochester, New York. This call was challenged by other Presbyterian churches in the area, resulting in the call being rescinded. After several appeals, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly refused to change the decision. In response, the DUPC invited Spahr to become an evangelist for the nation. The result was her traveling throughout the country advocating “for an inclusive and welcoming Church and for the ordination of qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) candidates for ministry in the Presbyterian Church (USA).”(2) She served as Minister Director of That All May Freely Serve (TAMFS) for 14 years, retiring in 2007. Following her retirement, she officiated over a number of same sex marriages in 2008. A church complained and she was sanctioned by the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of the Redwoods Church in 2010. Appeals to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian were not successful in 2012. In March 2015, sparking a division within the denomination, marriage between “two people” (same sex) was approved by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Sources (1) http://www.lgbtran.org/Profile.aspx?ID=1 (viewed 10/9/2015) (2) http://tamfs.org/about/ (viewed 10/9/2015)

Scope and Content of Collection

Materials related to Jane Adams Spahr’s work in ministry and GLBT advocacy. These include printed matter, sermons, correspondence, organizational activities, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) related materials, audio cassettes, DVDs, award plaques, clippings, scrapbooks, ephemera, t-shirts and other clothing.

Indexing Terms

Gays -- Religious life
Presbyterians -- Religious life
Homosexuality -- Religious aspects -- Presbyterian Church
Gays -- United States -- Biography
Bisexuals -- Religious life
Transsexuals -- Religious life
Christian lesbians
Lesbians -- Religious life
Spiritual life -- Presbyterian authors
Ordination of gays -- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Ordination of lesbians -- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Spahr, Jane Adams (1942- )
Metropolitan Community Church
Downtown United Presbyterian Church
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
That All May Freely Serve
Marin County, Calif
Rochester, New York
San Francisco, Calif
Archival collection

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