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.
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 This call was challenged by other Presbyterian churches in the area, resulting in the call being rescinded.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.).
(1) http://www.lgbtran.org/Profile.aspx?ID=1 (viewed 10/9/2015)
(2) http://tamfs.org/about/ (viewed 10/9/2015)