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Christian Theology and the LGBT Person

In honor of esteemed alumnus the Reverend Dr. William R. Johnson, class of '68, Elmhurst College has named its annual LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) lecture the William R. Johnson Guestship.

Rev. Johnson is vice president for member relations at the Council for Health and Human Service Ministries of the United Church of Christ. In 1972, he became the first openly gay person in modern history to gain ordination to the mainstream Christian ministry. A resident of Cleveland, he returns to Elmhurst College frequently to work with faculty, staff, and students on issues related to health, education, and human rights. He is also the founder of GALA, the Gay and Lesbian Alumni organization for Elmhurst College, which is affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

“For four decades, [Johnson] has worked tirelessly and effectively on behalf of the rights and dignity of all people and, in particular, of LGBT people of faith and their loved ones,” said President S. Alan Ray in announcing the guestship. “He has provided counsel and support to hundreds of LGBT seminarians and clergy in the UCC and beyond.”

This guestship, which explores the lives in and issues of the LGBT community, will take place in October as a two-day inaugural event, featuring a panel discussion and keynote lecture. Both events, held in the Frick Center's Founders Lounge are free and open to the public.

Titled “Christian Theology and the LGBT Person,” the William R. Johnson Guestship panel discussion will include: Rev. Johnson; the Reverend Dr. Alice Hunt, president of Chicago Theological Seminary; Dr. Riess Potterveld, president of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California; and Dr. S. Alan Ray, president of Elmhurst College.

Elmhurst College is a leading liberal arts college located eight miles west of Chicago. The College’s mission is to prepare its students for meaningful and ethical work in a multicultural, global society. Elmhurst College fosters learning and enriches culture through innovation, scholarship and creative expression. Approximately 3,400 full- and part-time students are enrolled in its 22 undergraduate academic departments and nine graduate degree programs.

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