Grant Lynn Ford

Lou Kavar is with Grant Lynn Ford.
March 16 ·      

My dear friend, Grant Lynn Ford passed from this life today. We met in the mid-80s in Miami Beach at a conference. Dressed in a white cassock, I walked up to him and said, "Are you going for a papal look?" We laughed....and laughed together over the years. We began to get to know each other in Mexico City. We sat off to the side during a series of church meetings we couldn't follow and shared all kinds of stories from our lives. That sealed our friendship. Grant was the person who got me to move to South Florida. Later, he visited me twice in Tucson, in Pittsburgh, and in Atlanta. I last saw him in January as I visited him at this home in Fort Lauderdale where his daughter Terri cared for him. Grant was a riveting preacher, an accomplished musician, completed an original translation of the New Testament, created a revision of the Common Lectionary to include readings for great spiritual writers from many faith traditions, and was a beloved pastor. He traveled to many countries and brought joy to many people simply by his presence. He was perhaps the most creative person I've known. For more than 30 years, he was my friend. I have been blessed by having him part of my life and will miss him deeply. Grant made the world a much better place.

The Right Reverend Grant Lynn Ford from this experience of life to the next, on Saturday, March 16, 2019.

He was born to Richard J. and Katherine T. (Scheideman) Ford in Faloma, Oregon on April 2, 1939, and he would have been 80 years old next month.

We will miss our friend, and as he would want, we also rejoice in the knowledge that his journey is not over but continues on another plane. He will undoubtedly keep us in his prayers in realms beyond, and we will remember him in ours.

Grant occupied multiple sacred spaces: Pentecostal, Sacramental, and New Thought. He blended them with joy and offered his hybrid spirituality freely to all who might benefit. Even in his rehab facility, he was offering prayer and pastoral guidance to the staff even as he tickled them with one liners and mirthful zingers.
He continued to be proud of Sunshine Cathedral. He was the pastor of the Cathedral for 22 years and after moving to Northern Florida and then Texas, he returned home to Ft Lauderdale and began his  ministry as the Senior Minister Emeritus. As such, he reminded me of successes of the past, celebrated with me the successes of the present, and encouraged me for the road leading ahead.


Photo by: Grant Ford

INDIVIDUAL | Inducted 2011

Grant Lynn Ford, 72, a former Assemblies of God minister who became an LGBT press pioneer and a dynamic Metropolitan Community Churches pastor in the Chicago area and in Florida, where he now lives. He was founding publisher of GayLife in 1975 and ran for election as 44th Ward alderman in 1978.

Grant Lynn Ford was the founding publisher of the weekly (at first, fortnightly) GayLife, the city’s first regularly scheduled community-based newspaper, which began in 1975. The paper eventually was distributed in several Midwestern cities. For several years GayLife also operated a telephone news line for late-breaking news and developing events.

Through GayLife, Ford was a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Metropolitan Chicago and of the Metropolitan Business Association. He was also a member of such organizations as Integrity/Chicago (an Episcopal LGBT group), Mattachine Midwest, and Together, an organization representing all alternative lifestyles.

In the late 1970s, Ford, along with community leader Chuck Renslow, sponsored Orange Balls I and II, which were Chicago benefits to raise funds to combat the Anita Bryant–backed anti-gay referendum in Dade County, Florida. Many community groups joined in a large demonstration during the singer’s appearance at Chicago’s Medinah Temple.

In 1978, Ford took a leave of absence from GayLife to run for 44th Ward alderman as an independent Democrat. He was one of the candidates endorsed by the Independent Voters of Illinois. When asked, “As a gay candidate, what will be your main concerns for Chicago?” he responded, “Garbage pickup, snow removal, and street repair. I’m running for City Council, just like everyone else.” Gay rights were indeed an issue, but Ford made it clear he was not a one-issue candidate. Unfortunately, because of financial problems that arose during his absence from GayLife, Ford was forced to withdraw from the race weeks before the election in order to deal with them, after which Renslow bailed out the newspaper and assumed ownership.

A year later, Ford became pastor of Holy Covenant Metropolitan Community Church in Hinsdale, where he served until 1986. From 1981 to1986, he was abbot of the Poor Servants of Jesus, described as an ecumenical servite order. He served in consulting or supervising roles with MCC churches in Chicago and Evanston and was founding pastor of Church of the Resurrection MCC in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. During that time, he was also interim pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in the Wicker Park neighborhood. In 1986, Ford became pastor of Florida’s MCC Fort Lauderdale, which became Sunshine Cathedral and went on to become the MCC denomination’s largest congregation. He ultimately served as dean of the cathedral until 2010.

Ford’s compassion and community spirit were instrumental in the political, social, and spiritual development and visibility of Chicago’s LGBT communities during the 1970s and 1980s.


A short interview below:


Title: Pastor of Sunshine Cathedral, a Metropolitan Community Church and an affiliate of the Center of Progressive Christianity, an interdenominational group of liberal churches.

Other job experience: Former Assemblies of God minister; former program director of a radio station in Hammond, Ind.; former publisher for a gay newspaper in Chicago.

Other community posts: Member of regional board for National Conference for Community and Justice, and co-director of its Clergy Dialogue group.

Education: Diploma from Eugene Bible College, Eugene, Ore.

Personal: Age 64. Born in Portland, Ore. South Florida resident for 17 years.

Family: Partner with Elio Rodriguez, an interior designer in Santo Domingo. Children by a previous marriage: Terri, 40; Jeff, 42.

Q. A distinctive feature of your church?

A. In our emphasis on giving, of time as well as money. We're planning to have our people record their service hours; then we'll put it in the bulletin board along with the money amount. That's got to make people look and say, "Wow, we did that many service hours per week."

Q. You call Sunshine Cathedral a progressive alternative church. What does that mean?

A. It's an open, accepting faith community. Open to people of varying lifestyles, orientations and understandings. The quest for understanding is more important than absolute certainty.

Q. How did you get into your vocation?

A. At the age of 16, when I was praying in the gospel mission where I played piano. At 16. It was kind of an "Aha" moment, a real awakening. I went right out of high school and into Bible college.

Q. What's the one most mistaken impression about your faith?

A. When people say you cannot be a Christian and gay at the same time. The Bible does not say that. It does say that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Without limit.

Q. If you couldn't be a minister, what would you be?

A. When I was growing up, I wanted to be an architect. I've always loved building.

Q. What's religion for, in 25 words or less?

A. At its best, religion gives structure to a spiritual quest. At its worst, it puts restrictions on spiritual growth.

Q. What do you do to relax?

A. I write music, mostly hymns. And more and more, I'm leading travel groups. I've taken two groups to China.

Q. A nice night out would be?

A. A nice Thai dinner and a good movie or a play. I like happy plays and musicals.

Q. Favorite music? Favorite performer(s)?

A. My musical tastes are wide. Everything from opera to Madonna. My favorite singer is Josh Groban.

Q. Do you have a hero?

A. I have two heroes, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. But I like Eleanor Roosevelt, too (laughs).

Q. If your house were burning, what would you take out first, after your family?

A. My cat, Just Jack, a black-and-white alley cat. We rescued him from under the church, the old building.

Q. Favorite film(s)?

A. Steel Magnolias is a marvelous film. The powerful relationship of the women is just incredible. Another favorite was Life as a House. We use film clips in our third service.

Q. Your most memorable spiritual experience?

A. The next one. Yesterday's spiritual experience is like yesterday. I'm still very forward driven. I think there are some exciting spiritual experiences waiting for me. Maybe today.

Q. What person in history would you like most to meet?

A. I've got a whole list, but the first person who popped into my mind was Aimee Semple MacPherson. She was a great show woman, a brilliant preacher and dramatist. She was the first woman to travel across the continent in an automobile.

Q. Have you ever doubted your faith?

A. Lots of times. And I discover that what I'm really doubting is what I've been told my faith should be. Then I go back and re-evaluate it and find my own answer.

Q. Motto, or favorite Scripture verse?

A. Phil. 2:13: "Work out your own salvation with reverence and awe, for it is actually God working in you, giving you both the will and the power to do what pleases God."