Rev. John L. Selders, Jr.
Rev. John L. Selders, Jr., is an ordained minister serving the United Church of
Christ (UCC) as the organizing pastor of Amistad UCC in Hartford, Connecticut.
John was born and raised in an extended family of pastors and church leaders in
St. Louis. Gifted in music, John became a widely recognized songwriter, musician
and performer. John's academic and theological training was at Life Christian
Bible College, Webster University and Eden Theological Seminary.
1984, John confronted HIV/AIDS for the first time when a deacon in his father's
congregation in St. Louis came out as gay and living with AIDS. John engaged in
extensive education and discussion about this new disease with the leadership of
the congregation who agreed to continue this deacon in his church position and
struggle with appropriate ministry responses.
with the Rev. Yvette Flunder who was beginning a new congregation in San
Francisco engaged in emerging ministries around sexual/gender orientation and
HIV/AIDS. Selders became a founding elder of the City of Refuge and was the
congregation's first minister of music in the early 1990s.
Selders returned to St. Louis as the program director of the North Side AIDS
Outreach Project, part of a city-wide effort by the African-American community
to respond to HIV/AIDS. Around this time he also became involved in helping to
coordinate the first two St. Louis observances of Black Church Week of Prayer
for the Healing of AIDS campaign sponsored by the Balm in Gilead.
During this time John met Ibrahim Farajaje, publicly-identified
bisexual scholar and activist at Howard University in Washington, D.C. John
found Ibrahim to be a kindred spirit who challenged him to see the political
dimensions of his personal story and increase his activism in the Queer
John owes a great debt to The Rev. Dr. Yvonne Delk (his
spiritual mother) and The Rev. Art Waidmann (his spiritual father) among others
who have mentored him in the ministry over the years and have influenced his
spiritual life and vocation tremendously. John began pastoring a UCC
congregation in St. Louis in the same neighborhood where his grandfather had
pastored decades earlier. He moved to Chicago in 1997 to become a staff person
at the Community Renewal Society (CRS) and also part-time staff at University
Church, a UCC and Disciples of Christ congregation. He later left CRS to direct
the Urban Leadership Project, doing outreach into communities of color, for the
John was invited to be a presenter at the National
Gathering of the United Church Coalition for LGBT Concerns in 1998. He followed
up this initial contact by becoming deeply involved in this organization,
serving as two-term Vice Moderator of the Coalition Council, one of the founding
members of the Coalition's People of Color Institute and other leadership
positions. He has been a speaker or presenter on issues of race and sexual
orientation at many religious events and conferences. John tells his personal
story in the video, "Bi-sex'u-al" that was produced by the United Church of
Christ in 2003. He also serves as vice-president of the Institute of Welcoming
Resources, an interdenominational organization providing resources for
LGBT-affirming communities of faith.
In the fall of 2004, Selders
was consecrated to the office of Bishop in the Church of God and designated
Presider of a new religious body, the Inter-Denominational Conference of
Liberation Congregations and Ministries. He currently lives in Hartford with his
spouse Pamela and their two children.
(This biographical statement
provided by John Selders.)
Biography: February, 2005