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Who are the Planned Parenthood Clergy?

Who are these clergy who praise the work of the largest abortion provider in the United States? 

Since posting my original blog entry about the Planned Parenthood Clergy Advocacy Board, readers have reported that they are unable to access the linked list of board members due to Planned Parenthood pulling down most of its web site for “maintenance”.

Fortunately, a cached version of the page is available. The network of 14 clergy members from a variety of denominations who support Planned Parenthood is reproduced below.

Who are these clergy who praise the work of the largest abortion provider in the United States? Hardly a rogue’s gallery of Religious Left boogeymen, the list is more likely to evoke a collective “huh?” from readers otherwise familiar with activist clergy. Stocked with assorted retired and small-church pastors, the list presents an image of oldline Protestantism: older, disproportionately concentrated in the Northeast, and almost entirely white.

Eight are Christian pastors, three are Reformed Jewish rabbis, one is Muslim, one is a Unitarian Universalist and one is an adherent of Universal Sufism. Of the pastors, three are Episcopalians, two are Congregationalist (UCC), two are Baptist and one is affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I’ve reported a few interesting tidbits about each clergy person below.

Christian Pastors:

The Rev. Susan Russell All Saints Episcopal Church Pasadena, CA Episcopal

Russell, who serves as Vice-Chair of the board, is an associate priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, the only sizeable Christian community on this list. One of the largest Episcopal parishes on the West Coast, All Saints has been politically active on left-leaning issues for many years. Russell herself is past president of Integrity USA, the Episcopal Church’s unofficial LGBT caucus, as well as two-time elected deputy from the Diocese of California to the denomination’s General Convention.

The Rev. David A. Ames Providence, RI Episcopal (pictured)

Ames is Priest-in-Charge of All Saints Memorial Church in Providence, Rhode Island. All Saints has steadily dropped from 190 members and 70 attendees to 85 members and 60 attendees from 2003-2013, the most recent reporting year. The church’s plate-and-pledge giving is only about $100,000 a year, and the parish appears to be limping along on foundation grants and an insurance payout.

Rev. Tom Davis Saratoga Springs, NY United Church of Christ

Davis, past chair of the Clergy Advocacy Board, is a retired Skidmore College Associate Professor of Religion and College Chaplain. Davis served on the national board of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1992-1998 and is also a member of the state board of the New York State Family Planning Advocates, and the Religion, Culture, and Public Policy Board of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. While Davis does not currently pastor a congregation, he is known for an abortion-themed book, Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and Its Clergy Alliances.

The Rev. Dr. Gawain F. de Leeuw White Plains, NY Episcopal

De Leeuw is rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in White Plains, New York. St. Bartholomew’s has dropped from 320 members and 80 attendees to 60 members and 50 attendees from 2003-2013, the most recent reporting year. The church’s plate-and-pledge giving is only about $100,000 a year.

The Rev. Kevin Jones Greenacres, FL Baptist

Jones serves at the independent Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Florida where he is Minister for Youth and Young Adults. A former staffer at Planned Parenthood of Greater Miami, Jones also serves on the Interfaith Clergy Alliance Board.

The Rev. Vincent Lachina Seattle, WA American Baptist

Planned Parenthood Washington State Chaplain Vincent Lachina earned notoriety in 2011 when he proclaimed at a Mississippi legislative hearing on a state personhood amendment that “I am an ordained Southern Baptist minister.” Lachina is actually affiliated with the United Church of Christ and American Baptist Churches USA. His chaplaincy is full-time and he does not pastor a congregation.

The Rev. Jeremy Lopez Salem United Church Tonowanda, NY United Church of Christ

Lopez has served as pastor of Salem United Church since 2012 and was an associate minister with the congregation for one year prior. The congregation has attendance of around 150 persons.

Rev Janet Maykus Indianapolis, IN Christian Church DOC

Maykus was principal of the College of Pastoral Leaders at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary from 2003 – 2010, she also served as director of church relations at Disciples-affiliated Texas Christian University. She later served for two years as Vice President for Operations and Organizational Development for the denomination’s Church Extension Financial and Missional Resources. Maykus served on the Board of Directors of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. Maykus is not listed with a congregation, and is now operations director at a solid waste hauling company in Austin.

Non-Christian Clergy:

Chair Rabbi Jon Adland Canton, OH Reform Jewish

Jon Adland has served as chair of Planned Parenthood’s Clergy Advocacy Committee since 2007 and Rabbi of Temple Israel in Canton, Ohio since 2011. He previously served congregations in Indianapolis, IN and Lexington, KY, where he was President of the Board of Lexington Planned Parenthood from 1989-1995 and on the board of Planned Parenthood of Indiana from 2005-2010.

Rabbi Dennis Ross Concerned Clergy for Choice Albany, NY Reform Jewish

Ross has served as director of Concerned Clergy for Choice at the Education Fund of Family Planning Advocates of New York State since 2004. Ross consults to Planned Parenthood on clergy organizing, religion in the media and religious lobbying. He is author of Abortion and Judaism: Rabbinic Opinion and Jewish Law and has been Rabbi of Congregation Beth Emeth since 2009.

Rabbi Peter Stein Temple B’rith Kodesh Rochester, NY Reform Jewish

Stein began his tenure in Rochester in 2014 after serving congregations in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. Stein’s biography statement says his rabbinate is “defined by a love of learning and teaching and engagement in social justice.”

Rev. Dr. Daniel Kanter First Unitarian Church of Dallas Dallas, TX Unitarian

Kanter was called by the congregation to serve as Minister of First Unitarian Church in 2003, later becoming Senior Minister in January 2009. He blogs about faith for the Dallas Morning News. First Unitarian is one of the larger congregations represented on this list, with 1027 members. Attendance data is not listed. In 2014 the congregation hosted the Faith Voices for Reproductive Justice Award, presented by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Dr. Scott Sattler Eureka, CA Universal Sufism

Sattler is a retired abortion doctor from Eureka, California who has performed abortions since the mid-1970s. Raised Presbyterian, he later embraced Sufism, but has no congregation listed.

Ani Zonneveld Muslims for Progressive Values Los Angeles, CA Muslim

Zonneveld is a regular in religious left circles, typically the only Muslim to sign on to pro-LGBT or pro-abortion statements. Featured at the annual Evangelical Left Wild Goose Festival, Zonneveld embraces an interpretation of Islam that would be unfamiliar to most Muslims. Zonneveld served as a board member of the short-lived Progressive Muslim Union of North America and has presided over same-sex weddings for Muslim and Interfaith couples.

This article first appeared at Juicy Ecumenism and is reprinted by permission of the author.

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