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Rev. James Gertmenian, D.Div., Chair

The Rev. Dr. James Gertmenian was raised in Southern California and received degrees from Oberlin College (Ohio) and Union Theological Seminary (New York City). Ordained by the United Church of Christ, he served a rural parish in upstate New York (where he was a co-pastor with his wife), founded a new church development in Danbury, Connecticut, and led an historic parish in Weston, Connecticut before becoming Senior Minister of Plymouth Congregational Church in downtown Minneapolis, MN. In that role from 1996 until 2015, Gertmenian was heavily involved in combatting homelessness, and he was a co-founder of Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative which, by 2022 had built over $150 million in housing for low-income, disabled, and formerly homeless individuals and families. He co-chaired, with Minneapolis’ mayor, an 80-person commission to devise a 10-year plan for ending homelessness in Hennepin County, MN. Gertmenian also led his congregation to take an active role in efforts that contributed to the acceptance by Minnesota’s voters of marriage equality for LGBTQ people. He devoted himself to support of young, progressive clergy around the country, establishing an annual Emerging Leaders Institute held in Minnesota. He received the Lawrence Gibson Social Justice Award from Minnesota’s Joint Religious Legislative Coalition and the Interfaith Leadership Award from Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

Rev. Gertmenian has received honorary doctorates from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and Piedmont College in Georgia. He is a hymn writer whose works appear in various denominational and independent hymnals and composed a choral anthem published by Mark Foster Press.

In addition to his work with the FPL Board, Rev. Gertmenian serves on the Board of The BTS Center (successor organization to Bangor Theological Seminary), the Board of the Cranberry Isles Realty Trust (providing affordable housing on the Maine islands), and is President of the Gertmenian Family Foundation (serving Armenians in the Middle East). He has worked on several projects providing support for young, progressive faith leaders of several traditions.

He is married to Susan Deborah King, a poet, teacher, and retreat leader. The two are parents to twin daughters, Emily, an elementary school teacher, wife, and mother in San Francisco, and Enid, a psychotherapist in New York City. The family are summer residents of Great Cranberry Island, Maine.

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