Remembering Joe McMahon

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Mari Irvin and Joe McMahon
Mari Irvin presents Joe McMahon with board leadership award.

by Amalia Vagts
ELM Executive Director

“How are the pastors? What do they need?”

Nearly every conversation I’ve had with Joe McMahon over the last decade included questions like these. Joe always wanted to know about the pastors and was tireless in his care for them.

Joe, long-time board member of Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries (one of our predecessor organizations) and dear friend to Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries passed away in his sleep on Thursday, April 20.

The Rev. Jim DeLange recruited Joe for the Lutheran Lesbian & Gay Ministries board in 1995, when the organization moved from regional to national. Joe was a passionate member of the board for the following ten years, offering generous financial support, time, wisdom and commitment to the Gospel. Joe’s significant voice and generosity was critical to the movement at key points, a faithful leader who provided the necessary resources to bring the organization through difficult times. Joe invested in the mission because he believed it made a difference. Joe was one of the leadership givers to the One Voice campaign, which led directly to our growth into Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries.

Joe is often remembered as the leading voice in encouraging pastors to join the Extraordinary Candidacy Project Roster when it was created. He understood the power of the visible witness of a group of LGBTQ+ ministry leaders. The results of his dedicated work early on can be seen now in the 250+ ministers and seminarians in Proclaim.

Mari Irvin served as a board member with Joe for many years. She shared that after Joe stayed with her and spouse Jeannine Janson after one board meeting, Joe left a potted red rhododendron which they planted in in the front yard. She wrote that the plant has bloomed magnificently every spring and is an ever present memory of Joe and his generosity. Each year, Mari has sent Joe a picture when it has been in full bloom. Mari wrote that blooming is late this year because of all the rain they have had.

“The blooming,” she writes, “will have special meaning this year.”

Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries extends our sympathy to Joe’s family and friends. We give thanks to Joe for his deep care for LGBTQ+ ministers and for his fearless advocacy to create changes in the church to welcome their ministry.

Memorial Service
Thursday, May 11 at 2:00 pm
Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
Performing Arts / Omni District
464 NE 16th Street; Miami FL 33132


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