Rev. James Gertmenian
The Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian, a UCC minister, retired in 2015 after twenty years at Plymouth Congregational Church, a prominent Minneapolis religious community. In 1999, with his leadership, Plymouth created a non-profit now known as Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. As of 2019, Beacon has created over $120 million in housing in the Twin Cities, much of it serving formerly homeless individuals. Currently 98 collaborating congregations participate in Beacon’s work of housing development, shelter provision, and advocacy. Gertmenian also co-chaired Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak’s 2006 Commission to End Homelessness and was a founding partner of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. In 2010 Minnesota’s Joint Religious Legislative Coalition gave him its Lawrence Gibson Interfaith Social Justice Award. A promoter of interfaith dialogue, Gertmenian received the 2009 Temple Israel Interfaith Award for Commitment to Interfaith Understanding. While at Plymouth, he led his congregation to a strong institutional stand in favor of marriage equality. At retirement in 2015, Gertmenian moved with his wife, Susan King, to Cumberland, Maine. Over the past two years he has helped to develop and lead a joint project of Auburn Theological Seminary, The BTS Center, and Trinity UCC Church (Chicago) that brings together young, progressive faith leaders in small 3-day gatherings around the country. A $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment will support these gatherings from 2019-2024. In December 2017, along with 8 other Maine faith leaders, Gertmenian was arrested during a civil disobedience action at the office of Senator Susan Collins at a time when the Republican tax bill was being considered. He was arrested again at the Governor’s mansion in an action aimed to show support for Medicaid expansion. He has been a participant in the work of Moral Movement Maine, an organization that has supported various progressive causes. Gertmenian is also a hymn-writer whose works appear in various denominational hymnals.