e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Residence: Yachats, OR
Life since high school:
(September, 2001) I (prepared) a bio for an organization called Soulforce. Following the non-violent principles of Martin Luther King and Ghandi, Soulforce organizes demonstrations at the churchwide assemblies/gatherings of major denominations to advocate for the full inclusion in the church of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. I am a member of a Lutheran congregation in San Francisco (St. Francis) that was expelled by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) for having ordained an openly lesbian clergy couple. Soulforce is working with an alliance of groups to put together a presence at the ELCA's churchwide assembly in Indianapolis next week. Anyway, it dawned on me that my Soulforce bio would be just the thing to provide you with a "snapshot." Following my bio is that of my partner, Mari. On reading these two bios, you'll have some idea of who I am today and what's important to me.
Here, now, the bios . . .
Jeannine Janson, 53, has been a legal secretary for 35 years and is about to retire. She is a member and past president of St. Francis Lutheran Church, one of the two congregations expelled by the ELCA in 1995. Locally, Jeannine serves as President of the Board of Friends of St. Francis Childcare Center. Nationally, she serves on the board of Lutherans Concerned/North America.
For Jeannine, being "out" = authenticity and wholeness.
Jeannine and her life partner, Mari Irvin, reside in San Francisco. They met at St. Francis in 1992 and were married there in 1998.
Mari Griffiths Irvin is a 67 year Lutheran lesbian activist who is a member and past president of St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco. She left the church for twenty years, returning much to her surprise as the result of the powerful impact on her of the "irregular" 1990 ordinations of Jeff Johnson, Phyllis Zillhart, and Ruth Frost. She currently is a member of the Board of Directors of LLGM and serves on the Extraordinary Candidacy Project. Mari is a former professor at the University of the Pacific in Stockton (CA) and now lives with her life-partner, Jeannine, in San Francisco. Although returning to the Lutheran Church just in time to be expelled as a member of the ELCA, Mari continues to work for change in the institutional church.
End of bios.
Filler: Two weeks after graduating from Terra Nova, I went to secretarial school for a year. In July 1966 I went to work for a small law firm as a legal secretary. After 35 years of working pretty much non-stop, I'm ready to take a break.
I've attended all the reunions since 20. It's my sense that 40 will be much richer because of (the) newsletter.
(September, 2001) Hello all. I REALLY enjoy reading your messages in the Terra Nova e-mail newsletter. It's wonderful to find out where you are, where you've been and what you're doing, all the while recalling what I remember of you . .whether we were friends or just knew each other in passing. Thanks so much, Jean B., for starting this.
...it was fun reading the first newsletter that included Pat (Boyle) Dondono and then to read later messages that referenced parents and friends being regulars at her salon!
And, Michael Brown, I was delighted to see a message from you. As you know, Jan (who was married to Michael Vawter) and I are practically family (her mom having been my mom's best friend since jr. high). Over the years, and even recently, I've said, "I wonder whatever happened to Michael Brown."
And on those rare occasions when I'm in conversation about my first job, I talk about Mary Tse (?) babysitting for the man would be my first boss! I think the last time I saw you was at the Stanford Chapel when you married Liz.
In this last newsletter it was nice to see your name, Alice. Funny . .. we weren't really friends, but you're one of those people I've occasionally thought about.
(February, 2004) Mari and I are just finishing up a trip to London (I'm sending e-mail from what was the below stairs servants' entrance area in a Victorian building - blimey!!). Yes, we are definitely going to City Hall when we get back. (We've already been married at St. Francis as well as gotten domestically partnered by SF and the State). I have to say, though, that our marriage at St. Francis, in the presence of our families and faith community, is THE marriage in our minds.
(April, 2006) We have a home in Yachats (central Oregon coast), which Mari bought about 10 years ago for her retirement. We've been talking about opening a used bookstore there off and on for years. We've also been talking about living in Yachats full time - just switching the way we've been doing it so we are full time in Oregon with visits to S.F.
We made the decision on January 4 and opened on March 4 . . . a storefront we've watched over the years became available, all of 9 x 20 at $275 per month! We stocked it with the books (mostly) of Mari's life, which includes fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's, women's studies, theology, spirituality, psychology, bios and memoirs and political. Friends have also been giving us books since we decided to open the store, which is called "Mari's Books and . . . ."
It is "Mari's" Books and . . because the bookstore was mostly Mari's dream. The "and" is about whatever else we want to feature. For now, the "and" is the photography of Mari's younger son, Paul. Eventually, I will bring small deco items I collected years ago as well as sheet music and movie memorabilia.
Mari "retired" from the Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries board (after 15.5 years of service) this past January and so is already in Yachats full time. I am still Co-Chair of Lutherans Concerned/North America and will continue to serve that organization for another two years. I hope to have my downtown office packed and moved and my condo ready to be a corporate rental by the end of May, so I, too, can be full time in Yachats.
It was wonderful to make a decision about our lives that wasn't focused or based on our LGBT advocacy work in the Lutheran Church! Mari, who is 72 and mostly healthy right now, says that if she dies tomorrow, she is very, very happy! I'm delighted.
Yachats is a small town--635 year round residents--with a lot of regular visitors and vacationers. It is a very "blue" city politically and I think most of the lesbians in town have made their way in to the bookstore to welcome us. The ocean is a 5 - 7 minute walk from our home . . . we see and hear it all the time. It is incredibly peaceful, no streetlights, so it is very dark at night, which I love.
There is plenty of space in a loft area of the house for my office.
Mari and I will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary and 9th year of being together as a couple this Tuesday, April 25. She's flying down so we can have dinner with friends. We feel very blessed! If I asked for anything more I would be greedy!
Regarding the great raffle prize, I've made a reservation for the week after Thanksgiving in Tahoe. Mari and I will be ready for a vacation, it will be a slow time of year for the bookstore, and we love to play poker and blackjack, so Tahoe is perfect.
NOTE: Jeannine won the trip raffle prize at the '05 reunion and so she and Mari enjoyed their stay in Tahoe. Congratulations Jeannine and Mari! And congratulations on your new life adventures. Hope the store is a success.
(August, 2010) See 2010 reunion questionnaire response.
(November, 2015) See 2015 reunion questionnaire