Memorial Service for Paul Egertson at California Lutheran University

Paul Egertson smiling holding a rainbow umbrella and wearing a rainbow print stole around his neckA memorial service will be held for Paul W. Egertson in the Samuelson Chapel of California Lutheran University (CLU), 1-4 pm, Saturday, January 15, 2011.  The announcement from the Egertson family and the CLU community invites people to gather "for a time of laughter and tears, remembering the life a man of grace and faith. The service will be led by Pastors Scott and Melissa Maxwell Doherty, with Pastor Howie Wennes as preacher."

Advocate for Full Inclusion and Staunch Ally, Former Bishop & Former Soulforce Board Member Paul Egertson Died Today

From Lutherans Concerned North America:

Paul Egertson smiling holding a rainbow umbrella and wearing a rainbow print stole around his neckFormer Soulforce board member Paul Egertson died suddenly this afternoon, January 5, 2011, in his home in Thousand Oaks, California. Egertson, staunch ally and advocate for full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church, had championed the ordination of LGBT candidates for ministry and an end to the policies and practices of the church that relegated LGBT people to a second-class.

While bishop of the ELCA Southwest California Synod, he participated in the 2001 ordination of Pastor Anita C. Hill of St. Paul-Reformation Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota. For this act, he subsequently resigned his position as bishop, and tirelessly advocated for the policy change that finally occurred as a result of the decisions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly.

Egertson was awarded the Jim Siefkes Justice-Maker Award by Lutherans Concerned for his efforts on behalf of LGBT Lutherans.

Emily Eastwood, Executive Director, Lutherans Concerned, said, “Paul Egertson stood up for us and in opposition to the discrimination of the church against us when that was neither popular nor safe. His witness to Christ’s redemptive grace and his commitment to helping the church see the error of its position are a shining beacon of prophetic righteousness in the face of determined opposition – and he did it with grace and eloquence, as befits a follower of Christ. He was a friend and mentor — always available, with words of calming wisdom. He made a profound difference. He will be missed.”

“All of us at Soulforce grieve with Paul’s beloved family at his passing and we celebrate with them the memory of his world-changing prophetic witness to the worth and dignity of all people and to the Spirit that animates us. Paul was with us for our board meeting in the summer in Texas. We will cherish his counsel and his great smile, his abiding faith and conviction in a God who is big enough to include everyone,” said Rev Dr. Cindi Love

Paul Egertson, born in 1935, is survived by his wife, Shirley, also a Siefkes award recipient, and their 6 sons. Funeral arrangements will be communicated as soon as they are known.

Soulforce Mourns the Murder of Kenneth Cummings Jr. and Demands Accountability for Purveyors of Religion-based Hate

For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771

(Austin, TX) — Today Soulforce mourns the senseless death of Kenneth Cummings Jr., a Houston-area man who was murdered on June 4, 2007.

According to this Sunday’s Houston Chronicle, Terry Mark Mangum of Cypress, Texas, has been charged with murdering Cummings in his home after the two met at a Houston gay bar. Magnum reportedly claims that God commanded him to "carry out a code of retribution" because "sexual perversion" is the "worst sin."

Soulforce founder Mel White, author of Religion Gone Bad: the Hidden Dangers of the Christian Right, reacted by asking citizens, religious leaders, and journalists to demand accountability from the purveyors of religion-based hate:

"This death is just one more smoking gun found at the scene of another crime caused directly by fundamentalist Christian leaders whose obsessive anti-homosexual campaign leads to tragic consequences they will not admit," says White.

"Soulforce has been saying for years that their rhetoric leads to suffering and death, and now-once again-we have the sickening evidence to prove it."

According to a story in the Brazosport Facts, Mangum cited "my belief of God judging him" as justification for stabbing and murdering Cummings.

"This Bible-based fear and loathing of homosexuals was shaped in Magnum’s mind — just as it is being shaped in the minds of tens of millions of Americans — by the anti-homosexual teachings of the radio and television fundavangelists, the Southern Baptists, Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints, fundamentalist leaders in every Protestant denomination and priests, bishops, and cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church," says White.

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to

Soulforce Mourns Death of Activist Cleric William Sloan Coffin

Freedom Rides Inspired GLBT Equality Ride

For Immediate Release
Contact: Robyn Murphy, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 612-965-0838 Email:

(Lynchburg, VA) Soulforce joins its voice with those mourning the death of activist cleric, Rev. William Sloane Coffin. An important voice has been silenced, though his lifetime of devotion to social justice, peace activism and the civil liberties of the oppressed will continue to inspire generations of activists.

Soulforce proudly presented a Justice Award to William Sloan Coffin during an action, rally and vigil held in Washington, DC at the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2000. Hundreds gathered to hear Coffin address the rally after accepting his award.

Coffin, who became one of those jailed in 1961 as a "Freedom Rider," a group of black and white activists who rode interstate buses in the South to challenge segregation laws, was part of the inspiration for the Soulforce Equality Ride. The Soulforce Equality Ride continues to ride the interstates through the end of this month, challenging colleges and universities whose policies marginalize and kill gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students.

Soulforce dedicates the remaining days and dialogue of the Equality Ride to the memory of this great activist. For more information go to

Soulforce’s purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to