The Rev. Elder Jim Mitulski, known for his passionate connection of spirituality and social justice, has served LGBT congregations in New York City, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Dallas, Texas as well as serving as a denominational executive with Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC).
Raised as a Roman Catholic in Royal Oak, Michigan, Mitulski attended Mass regularly with his fervently religious grandmother from a very young age. Through these experiences he developed a strong love for the Eucharist, the rosary and Marian devotion, liturgy and church life.
After attending Catholic and public schools Mitulski graduated from Royal Oak High School in 1976 and enrolled in Columbia University in New York City, graduating in 1986 with a degree in Religion. He was an early member of Dignity where he was the youngest person on the Board of Driectors and first worked with Fr. John McNeill. He went on to begin his pastoral career at MCC New York, serving as the church’s associate pastor until 1986 when he was called to MCC San Francisco. His fifteen-year tenure there covered the height of the AIDS years with the church providing pastoral care, bereavement support, and thousands of funerals, along with several weekly services and countless programs. He became well known for his social justice activism, including handing out medical marijuana (then illegal) after church services one Sunday, defending the rights of the homeless in the Castro neighborhood, and engaging the political process to protect the rights of LGBT people. While pastoring, he graduated from Pacific School of Religion (PSR) with his Masters of Divinity in 1991.
Mitulski was diagnosed with AIDS in 1995. By speaking publically about his illness, and writing about it—particularly in religious settings—he has helped to raise awareness and compassion for those with HIV. He co-chaired San Francisco’s Ryan White Health Services Planning Council from 1998-2001.
After leaving MCC San Francisco, Jim was hired as the program coordinator at the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center at San Francisco's Main Library. He served there until he was tapped to work in the denominational offices of Metropolitan Community Churches—first in Leadership Development and then as an Elder, overseeing ministries in several states and countries. During this period he also served as pastor of MCC of the Redwood Empire in rural Guerneville, California, and later, of City of Angels MCC, an interfaith church in Glendale. While work as national church staff, Mitulski established numerous scholarships at seminaries across the country for MCC students. He taught theological students in Australia and South Africa and participated in a mission trip to the Mother of Peace HV/AIDS orphanage in Motuko, Zimbabwe.
Mitulski returned to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008 as the pastor of New Spirit Community Church, which had multiple affiliations including the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), MCC, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and Pacific School of Religion (PSR). At the same time, he served as campus chaplain and co-director of worship at PSR. His involvement in the school has been extensive, including a stint on the Board of Trustees from 2000-2009. He also taught multiple courses, including HIV and Theology, Liturgy for Liberation, Queer church music and liturgy, and Church Growth for Liberals. He also served as adjunct faculty at Lancaster Theological Seminary and Episcopal Divinity School.
Mitulski has been published in Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible with “Ezekiel understands AIDS : AIDS understands Ezekiel, or Reading the Bible with HIV,” in John McNeil’s Sex as God Intended, in Christian Century, The Witness, and The Lambda Literary Review. He has been a frequent guest columnist for the Bay Area Reporter.
With recognized credentials in the United Church of Christ, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and MCC, Mitulski now serves as the interim pastor at Cathedral of Hope UCC in Dallas, Texas, which is the world’s largest GLBT church.
(This biographical statement written by Justin Tanis with information provided by Jim Mitulski.)