SoCal Lutherans, the Southern California chapter of Reconciling Works has awarded the 2022 Clarence Anderson Peace and Justice Award to the Rev. Jack R Lewis for his dedication and service to the LGBTQ+ Community during the AIDS epidemic, and his commitment to sharing God’s love and grace throughout his life.
Rev. Jack R. Lewis was ordained in 1961. And after serving several congregations in the state of Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area in California, he and his wife Rose Marie and three daughters, Karoline, Emily, and Gwen moved to Southern California. Rev. Lewis was called to serve at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Los Angeles from 1987 until 1994. During the last two years, he also served as the pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran in Northridge.
It was during his time at Our Saviour’s and Prince of Peace that Rev. Lewis joined, and later became secretary, of the new Spiritual Advisory Committee (1992-97) of AIDS Project Los Angeles – an ecumenical committee providing pastoral services to those suffering and dying from AIDS.
As the one and only Lutheran on the committee, Rev. Lewis felt especially called to this work when the Lutheran church as a whole was not responding to the AIDS crisis. The committee offered walk-in spiritual counseling at a time when there were few options for people suffering with AIDS. Members of the Spiritual Advisory Committee provided pastoral care, made hospital visits, helped with mortuary arrangements, and officiated at funerals when very few church bodies were doing anything to help AIDS victims.
When reflecting on his work with APLA and the Spiritual Advisory Committee, Rev. Lewis remembers well the many patients who walked into his office seeking help, comfort, pastoral care, and a place where people knew they could go when there was nowhere else to go.
He remembers attending the funeral of a young man he had visited him a number of times in the hospital; where the pastor leading the service began his homily by telling the congregation that the young man was in hell.
He was reminded of the young man who died, his father so shaken by his death, that Rev. Lewis made all of the mortuary and funeral arrangements and did the service at Our Saviour’s for the small crowd of a few family members and friends.
He remembers a famous Beverly Hills interior designer who died of AIDS. When the Orthodox priest refused to go the funeral, Rev. Lewis said yes. The service was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale, standing room only. Rev. Lewis remembers choosing John 14 for the sermon, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms,” because the man had been an interior designer.
In 1994 a massive heart attack forced Rev. Lewis to retire from full-time ministry after 33 years in ministry, but he continued serving with the Spiritual Advisory Committee for three more years. He now resides in Minneapolis, MN near his children and grandchildren.
When the world and the church were in denial about the AIDS crisis, Rev. Lewis served people who were suffering and rejected through the Spiritual Advisory Committee office. He shared God’s grace and love for them in the days they had left. Therefore, we are honored to present the 2022 Clarence Anderson Peace and Justice Award to Rev. Jack R Lewis for his dedication and service to the LGBTQ+ Community during the AIDS epidemic, and his commitment to sharing God’s love and grace throughout his life.
The Board of SoCal Lutherans
Deacon Agnes McClain
Rev. Jim Boline, treasurer
Rev, Kenny Bowen, secretary
Rev. Dawn Wilder, vice-president
Rev. Caleb Crainer, president
About the Anderson Award
Clarence E. Anderson entered the Church Triumphant on June 24, 2001. Clarence was a long-time member of St. Matthew’s, Glendale while also being a strong supporter of St. Matthew’s, North Hollywood. A gay man, Clarence had felt the sting of exclusion, prejudice and condemnation throughout his life. Thanks to the ministries of Bp. J. Roger Anderson and Pr. Dwight Johnson, Clarence was brought back into the church via the work of Lutherans Concerned – Los Angeles. Clarence lived a simple life of quiet generosity while amassing a substantial fortune throughout his life. At the time of his passing, Clarence left nearly the entirety of his estate to a variety of Lutheran congregations and agencies as well as organizations committed to the struggle for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian persons within the church and the society at large. In honor of Clarence’ commitment to the work of peace and justice, the Synod Council of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in conjunction with Lutherans Concerned – Los Angeles, created the Clarence E. Anderson Peace and Justice Award.