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!”