PSR Bids Farewell to Reverend Jim Mitulski

July 31, 2013
Author: 
Daniel Borysewicz

PSR bids farewell to Reverend Jim Mitulski (MDiv ’91), who has been called to be the Interim Senior Pastor for Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas (www.cathedralofhope.com). Rev. Mitulski has been an influential asset to PSR as adjunct faculty, campus pastor and co-director of worship.  Additionally, Rev. Mitulski is also a former PSR Trustee. He will start his new position on August 1, 2013. Known as the “World’s Largest Gay Church,” Cathedral of Hope was founded as a Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) church in 1970. Over the course of its life, this church grew to having several thousand members. In 2005, the congregation sought to become affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC) and in 2006, was overwhelmingly accepted as a UCC member, becoming the fourth-largest church in the denomination.

Rev. Mitulski is extremely excited about this new opportunity. On Sunday, July 28, He preached at First Congregational Church of Berkeley (www.fccb.org), where NSCC was co-worshiping for the month of July. “These last five years have changed me and I’m going to bring what I’ve learned in Berkeley to Dallas” he said during what was his last sermon in the Bay area for a while. Ever being the activist for social change, Rev. Mitulski preached about the book The New Jim Crow (amazon.com) and the importance of seeking to meet others in that middle ground. Being very fond of the old protest songs, Rev. Mitulski lead the entire congregation in one from some darker times in recent history: “Act up! Fight Back! Fight AIDS!” (Watch sermon here) In UCC tradition, an official thanksgiving send off and lying on of hands completed a wonderful service (see photo below).

Rev. Mitulski came to ‘Holy Hill’ to be the pastor of New Spirit Community Church (NSCC) in 2008, which meets in the PSR Chapel every Sunday at 11am and Wednesdays at 7pm. This unique church, with affiliations with UCC (www.ucc.org), Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (www.disciples.org), MCC (www.mccchurch.org), and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (www.radicallyinclusive.com) was founded in 2000 as a spin-off church of MCC- San Francisco. It was through his pastoral position at NSCC and his affiliations with PSR that enabled Rev. Mitulski to help to influence and nurture many of the seminary students that connected with him in the classroom and also through worship services in chapel and NSCC.

Riess Potterveld, Acting President of the Graduate Theological Union and former PSR President, spoke high praises of Rev. Mitulski, saying, “he is a preacher who artfully combines scripture, personal experience, and the challenging news of the day into a rich stream of reflection and provocation.  Jim lives the gospel he preaches and, what I love, breaks new ground – avoiding the cliché to spark a new angle on an ancient truth.  We are grateful for his many contributions to PSR – trustees, students, faculty – enriching the life of this community.” 

Prior to leaving for Dallas, Rev. Mitulski taught the summer session class Liberation Liturgies  and delivered his lecture “This Is My Body... These Are Our Bodies: Eucharist as a Revolutionary Act” for PSR’s annual Tuesday Night Talks and kicked off initial talk for the PSR South Bay Summer Lecture Series. When asked about Rev. Mitulski, Laurie Isenberg, Director of Community and Continuing Education, stated, “Jim Mitulski is so many things.  He is a scholar, a librarian, an author, a spiritual leader, a teacher, a counselor and a friend.  I have probably learned as much from Jim Mitulski about what Jesus was really about than I have from everyone else in my life combined.  He has had a tremendous impact on so many of us at PSR – students, staff, faculty, board members, funders.  I will miss him terribly.

Rev. Mitulski constantly spoke of how much he loved working with students at PSR. He was always available to meet with a student and his weekly calendar would invariably show this to be true. Gwynn Fuqua, third-year PSR MDiv student, comments, “Jim has been my mentor ever since the first day my partner and I went to New Spirit Community Church in 2011. I didn’t know it yet, but I found out that he’s always in mentoring mode. He’s always watching and listening. Nothing gets past him, so if you think he’s not paying attention, think again. He may not mention what he’s heard or seen right away, but he’ll bring it up at an opportune time, when you need to hear it. He loves his students and is willing to go the extra mile for them. I love him and I wish for him every success, every happiness, and every good and perfect gift from above.

In addition to his love for working with students, Rev. Mitulski also loved working with the PSR worship staff for two years. This not only allowed him to work with students to plan the weekly chapel services but also provided ongoing opportunities with work with Ann Jefferson, his former Co-Director of Worship and Community and Continuing Education Program Coordinator, Aeri Lee, PSR Music Director and Oscar Burdick, PSR Organist. As the new academic year is soon to begin, the Tuesday morning chapel services will not seem the same without Rev. Mitulski’s physical presence. It is heartening to know that the presence of his influences upon the PSR community will remain.