Pamelajune ”Pj” Banks Anderson hails from Columbus, Ohio, where her growing-up faith experience was family and church centered. She is a graduate of East High School, Catonsville Community College (AA), Johns Hopkins University (B.S.), Howard University Divinity School (M.DIV.), and Dayton United Theological Seminary (D.Min.).
Affectionately called Pastor/Chaplain Pj as in Peace & justice, she is a woman of numerous ‘first’ including Founder and Soul Life Coach of Space for Grace Fellowship Ministries, UCC. Anderson is a lifetime member of the NAACP, lifetime member of the American Legion, a member of the 49 Fine Detroit Alumni, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., and a 2010 graduate of the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Resident Program, East Jefferson General Hospital, Metairie, LA. Pastor/Chaplain Pj has authored nine books and is currently writing the second edition of BETWEEN A ROCK AND HARD PLACES: Afro Christian, Black Congregational, Affirming Congregations, and Affirming Voices.
In 2005, Anderson founded the National Restoration to Military Families Team (NRT). Our mission: to empower communities to support military members, their families, and affected civilians through deployment cycles, including re-entry and re-union challenges; and, Grief Management. In 2007, she was appointed National Chaplain of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), National Chaplaincy Ministries by The Reverend Dr. Yvette A. Flunder, Presiding Bishop; and in 2014 she founded LIFE INNcorporated: A Virtual Inn for Spiritual rest, retreat, and refreshing.
Pamelajune “Pj” Anderson, D.Min. is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She holds duel partnership standing with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). As a decorated and honorably discharged Lieutenant Commander, US Navy Chaplain Corps and is a commissioned (RET) volunteer Chaplain (Major, Civil Air Patrol), she has provided ministry and pastoral leadership to civilians, service members, and military families throughout the United States and abroad including Sicily, Rome, Greece, Spain, Germany, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Africa, throughout Italy, and Okinawa, Japan.
Anderson has numerous civilian awards, military decorations and letters of appreciation from an Admiral and a General, acknowledgements, and accomplishments. Following two years as the first woman called and succession pastor to the late Reverend Dr. Michael C. Murphy, founding pastor of St. Stephen’s Community Church, Lansing, Chaplain (preferred title) answered the call to a new church start opportunity: Space for Grace Fellowship Ministries, United Church of Christ; a radically inclusive, extravagantly welcoming, and graciously hospitable community where “We affirm, Celebrate, and En-Joy Life from Our Heart.” Chaplain is also a Certified Peer Support Specialist. Most importantly, Pamelajune (Pj) Anderson, nickname “Wisdom” is a daughter of God.
Oliver W. Martin III came from heaven November 25, 1958.
He was a courageous HIV/AIDS activist, a preventative health care advocate, and a pioneering faith community leader. He described his family heritage as African, Spanish, Indigenous American and Dutch. He graduated from Plum Borough Senior High School, outside of Pittsburgh; and Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University where he obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Systems.
Oliver was an important community leader among early HIV/AIDS activist and the SGL/LGBT/Queer Faith communities. He had been diagnosed with HIV in 1986, with what was then called GRID (gay-related immunodeficiency disease). His younger brother, Kenny, was also diagnosed with HIV in 1986 and succumbed to complications from AIDS in 2005. Oliver once told an interviewer “I've always known my sexuality since I was five years old. I think I just come from a family where we considered ourselves sexual creatures. If you're a human being, you're sexual. How that manifests itself is going to be different for everybody”.
He was a staunch advocate for HIV prevention and sexuality education in faith communities. He was the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Conscious Contact of New York, Inc. a health education and prevention program which focused in HIV/AIDS. He was heavily involved in the strategic partnerships that his organization had created with other agencies to bring awareness, create prevention strategies, and expedite crucial services to communities of color.
Oliver served as the General Secretary for the New York City Faith in Action for HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care, and Education Coalition. At their 2011 National HIV Prevention Conference, he conducted a roundtable on building collaborative, inclusive faith, and secular community partnerships. He also served as National Administrative Leader for the National Faith in Action for HIV and AIDS, as Board President of the National United Church of Christ HIV and AIDS Network, as Lead Organizer for many years of multiple community events such as World AIDS Day, the Annual Week of Stepping Up In Faith for HIV and AIDS, Christmas in July at Riverside Church, and advocacy events for all faith communities at International Conferences.
Oliver was also the Organizer of Spiritual Outreach Service, (S.O.S.) to help individuals participate with HIV Prevention, and Care for the mind, spirit and body, and Quarterly HIV Support Forums in collaboration with AIDS Service Center New York City and Riverside Church. He was instrumental in the dissemination and promotion of the curriculum “Affirming Persons – Saving Lives”. On January 19, 2014, Martin became the first Charter Member and Administrator of Space for Grace Fellowship United Church of Christ, a new church start in the greater Lansing, Michigan area.
Oliver W. Martin III believed in lifting up Black, same-gender loving community as a full partner group in the larger Queer Community. He served on the Board of Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ and on the Common Global Ministries Board of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) until mid-2013. He contributed his time and energy to serve on several Boards of Directors including the United Church of Christ HIV/AIDS Network, (UCAN, Inc.) where he served as Board President; and Board Member of AIDS Service Center in New York City from 1996 to 2010. He was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Oliver’s community service awards included the Positive Changemakers Award from the AIDS Service Center New York City in 2012, an award from National People Living with HIV and AIDS in 2006, the Vanguard Community Service Award from New York AIDS Coalition in 2003, a Community Leadership Award from People Living with HIV and AIDS in 1996, a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene award in 2001, an award from the New York State AIDS Institute in 2000, and a Citation from NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for HIV/AIDS Ministry Leadership at The Riverside Church in 2007, and the Life Changers Award 2014 from the Love Alive International Foundation, Inc. He had an exceptional ability to plan events down to the minutest details, way in advance, and make them come off like well synchronized works of art. Oliver was thought of as a virtuoso convener of people, a disseminator of life-affirming, life-saving, and life-improving information and resources.
On April 19, 2014, Oliver W. Martin III passed away from long-term complications related to AIDS. He loved to quote Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Oliver W. Martin III was a man who inspired and agitated, made peace and raised hell, built coalitions and loving environments, and along the way, touched so many lives. Oliver returned to heaven
April 19, 2014.
On Thursday, February 27, 2014, by Oliver W. Martin III’s direction, I gathered on the lower level of the Michigan State University’s Resource Center for LGB(2)TSGL as Space for Grace Fellowship Center. Assembled among the twelve were persons from Queer Christians Restoring Our Spirituality and Sexuality (QCROSS) and Queer People of Color (QPOC). In preparation for this gathering, Oliver suggested that we consider the query ‘what makes space safe for you?’ The responses ranged from ‘a place where my family and church family won’t rape me – theologically, physically, and mentally’ to ‘a place where I am free to BE who and Whose I Am.’ When I shared these responses with Oliver he said in his affirming voice “See Mom!”
Seeking community input into the idea of planting Space for Grace Fellowship (SFGF) in Old Town (W. Lansing), the first person we visited early on in 2014 is a long-standing, Old Town resident Dr. Penny Gardner. The Reverend Cheryl Burke, the Area Conference Minister for the Covenant Association of the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ met me at Dr. Gardner’s home and introduced me. I shared our Vision and Mission and asked how we could begin getting known by and acquainted with the Old Town community of LGBTQIA2-SSGL members of the faith. Funny thing, Dr. Gardner gave us the laugh of the day when she responded ‘expletive if I know.’ I assured her she was in good company with Peter; to which she said “who in the expletive is Peter?” I laughed, not because of her lack of knowledge so much as to keep from weeping over the lack of humanities resolve to KNOW and experience the Love that is so powerful as to bring peace, justice, and an end to human suffering.
Dr. Gardner invited us to write an article asking the readership for input and providing as many answers as possible to the proverbial “why?” within 500 words. The following is what I wrote:
First and foremost, we are looking for a place to gather, [not a church], where we may feel safe to peruse spiritual excellence without being ostracized. We believe there are hundreds, maybe thousands, looking for a similar experience. Also, we wish to curb and ultimately eliminate the rate of suicide (spiritual and physical) and homeless young people that may be abandoned by their family and their church because of who they are and who they love. Third, it is our desire to have a place where we may experience our spirituality by understanding what it is and connecting spirituality with our daily lives.
Shortly thereafter, this article appeared in her publication. We continue connecting with Dr. Gardner, sharing our SOUL FIBER, inviting her to various activities, and seeing her at Michigan Pride. By December 2014 we were 35 strong. Notably, we had our first community function on Sunday, November 22, 2015, when we hosted a Hallelujah Halloween Skating Party. We attracted 30 children plus adults who raised the question “when do you hold Bible Study?” Our answer? By your very question we will begin holding Bible Study after the first of 2016. We titled it Grace Transforming Studies and we met on the first and third Wednesdays.
Oliver and I continued our multiple daily chats preparing questions for the March gathering and talked about our twins – Vision and Mission. By March, Oliver formalized our Mission: To create safe space where those gathered may examine and experience their spirituality, share their family stories, and be affirmed for who and Whose they are as full and included members in the family of Life; and our Vision: Creating safe space for inclusive faith (spiritual) development; disseminating life-affirming, life-saving, and life-improving information and resources; and our Motto: We celebrate and affirm Life and welcome everyone who welcomes everyone. He also developed the website and the Space for Grace Fellowship Center FB page.
Oliver died on Easter Eve, April 19, 2014, leaving with me with all that he could pour into this new initiative, the first of its kind in the Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ. Much of the rest of 2014 is a blur and permanently lost in history until our second anniversary.
We held our second anniversary at a third location, the Riverfront Apartments, February 15, 2015. Photos of that event are in the gallery segment at www. Spaceforgrace.org. Our Theme was I STILL DO.
In October of 2016, members of the Space for Grace Fellowship UCC family had a homicide-suicide tragedy. Needless to say, I brought to a halt all plans to meet until January 2017. Only God knows how we experienced a third anniversary service on February 19, 2017. Our speaker was Bishop Yvette A. Flunder, Founder of City of Refuge United Church of Christ and Prelate of The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Speaker. And, what a time, what a time, what a time.
Our theme was KNOW GOD, KNOW THYSELF; KNOW THYSELF, KNOW GOD and our scripture was abbreviated to MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT.
Only God! On Saturday, November 11, 2017, The Robin Theatre hosted our Annual Transgender Day Service on Veterans Day to honor our Transgender Siblings in the Armed Services. It was off the chain. Many chains were broken that day and, many present were set free from the spirit of oppression. And, on Sunday, December 1, 2017, Mask Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal, Lansing, hosted our FIRST SEVEN WORDS OF ADVENT SERVICES ON WORLD AIDS DAY. This is an initiative that began in December, 2013. Seven persons are selected by a committee of three and asked to bring a WORD from the Old Testament scripture, speaking from a social justice perspective. On December 1, 2018, we are adding an HIV/AIDS Testing component. Mask Memorial graciously agrees to be the host church, though we will have the service in Mask Memorial’s community hall. We invited an otherly-abled and a transgender person as speakers.
We held our fourth anniversary at the Greater Lansing Universalist Unitarian Church. Space for Grace Fellowship Ministries United Church of Christ (SGFMUCC) presented The Jazzy Cabaret. I had the opportunity to create my first CD titled SOUL FIBER WORD & JAZZ. I gifted the CD to every attendee who graced us with a $20 contribution. We also had a sit down dinner with entertainment featuring Branden Marceal.
We are planning our fifth anniversary to be held at our home church, Pilgrim Congregational Church UCC, Lansing, February 17, 2019.
Throughout 2018, we are engaged in spreading the word about The Umoja Experience, a Bible Study designed to facilitate safe, non-threatening dialogue about the diversity of human sexuality. We continue providing workshops at our Michigan Conference Annual Meetings, completing the second edition of BETWEEN A ROCK AND HARD PLACES: Afro Christian, Black Congregational, Community and Affirming Voices, and meeting with Veterans, inclusive of gender non-conforming veterans. We are collaborating with our sister church – City of Refuge United Church of Christ, Rev. Dr. Yvette A. Flunder, Founder – and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Rev. Dr. Yvette A. Flunder, Founder and Prelate. Together, we are building a TFAM National Chaplaincy Ministry with the idea of developing a College of Community Chaplains.
We are collecting as many photos as possible to include in the gallery. Thank you for visiting our site.