Rev. Jeff R. Johnson


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The Rev. Jeff R. Johnson was installed as Pastor of University Lutheran Chapel and the Lutheran Campus Pastor at the University of California, Berkeley, on November 7, 1999. Prior to this call to the Chapel, Jeff served as pastor of First United Lutheran Church in San Francisco's Richmond District since his ordination on January 20, 1990. 

Jeff is a 1984 graduate of California Lutheran University. He received in 1988 a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. Upon graduation, he worked as Director of AIDS Education for Lutheran Social Services of Northern California, where he coordinated the first national ELCA Bishops Convocation on HIV and authored a curriculum series used by northern California Lutheran congregations responding to the HIV epidemic.

In 1990, he founded Lutheran Lesbian and Gay Ministry along with his colleagues, Pastors Ruth Frost and Phyllis Zillhart, to provide an outreach to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community of the San Francisco Bay Area. These three persons were the first openly lesbian and gay people to be ordained in the Lutheran Church.

Pastor Johnson was ordained extra ordinem in January 1990 at a service at historic St. Paulus Lutheran Church in San Francisco that was attended by over 1000 persons, with participation by over 70 clergy members. He was considered ineligible for placement in an ELCA congregation because of a denominational policy that requires a pledge of celibacy from gay and lesbian pastors. First United Lutheran Church (San Francisco) challenged this policy and was expelled from the ELCA in 1995 for calling him to be their pastor. University Lutheran Chapel has been censured for having called Pr. Johnson in November 1999.

Pr. Johnson has served two terms as Dean of the ELCA’s San Francisco Conference of Lutheran Churches; is a member of the Steering Committee for Religious Witness with Homeless People; is a founder of the Extraordinary Candidacy Project; is the immediate past chair of the Homelessness Task Force for the Telegraph Area Association; is co-chair of the University Religious Council at CAL Berkeley; and is a Teaching Parish Supervisor for Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. He lives in Oakland’s Piedmont District in a 1928 stucco bungalow with his dog, Murphy. He enjoys a good mystery novel, gardening in his back yard, fishing, home-repair, relaxing in coffee-shops, walking by the Bay, and spending time with friends and family.

(This biographical statement provided by Jeff Johnson.)

Biography: December, 2004