Interview with James A. Siefkes

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Interview with James A. Siefkes

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University of Minnesota


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James Siefkes begins with describing his background, including his education, his work as a minister and a regional director in the American Lutheran Church (ALC), and how he came to Minneapolis. He discusses the MATRIX program in the ALC, working with the gay community and on issues of homosexuality in the ALC, The Lutherans Concerned for Gay People, the Glide Memorial Methodist Church, his work in the Department of Congregational Social Concerns in the ALC national office in Minneapolis, sexuality and theology, serving on the Venereal Disease Committee of the Boy Scouts of America, different Christian denominations’ stances on homosexuality, and working with the Program in Human Sexuality (PHS). He describes bringing the National Sex Forum at the Glide Memorial Methodist Church to Minneapolis for the first pilot seminar on human sexuality, some of the controversies within the ALC about his involvement with PHS, Weeks of Enrichment, funding for PHS, Sexual Attitude Reassessment (SAR) seminars, PHS’s Committee on Religion and Ethics, the Family SAR, disability work at PHS, PHS staff work on “human energy”, the development of the small group format for SARs, the attitude of the Medical School administration about PHS, PHS’s work with different religious groups, and the use of films and media during SARs. He talks about Ted Cole, Wilson Yates, and many other staff and advisors involved with PHS in the 1970s.


James Siefkes was born in Iowa. He received his BA from Trinity University of San Antonio, his Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, his Doctor of Sexual Attitude Reassessment (DSAR) from the National Sex Forum in San Francisco, and his Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from Wartburg Theological Seminary. Early in his career, he worked as a pastor in Galveston, Texas, and Anamosa, Iowa. In 1961, he began working in the American Lutheran Church (ALC) national office as the Regional Director of Stewardship in the South Central Region. He later moved to the western regional office. In 1969, he helped start the new Department of Congregational Social Concerns at the ALC national office in Minneapolis and began serving as its director. One of the first things he did as the new director of the Department of Congregational Social Concerns, in 1970, was set up a trial seminar on human sexuality with the help of the National Sex Forum at the Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco. From this, he became involved with the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Program in Human Sexuality. He remained involved with the Program in Human Sexuality through the mid-1970s, working part-time on their staff. He served on the ALC national staff until he retired in 1991.

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Vitulli, Eli; Siefkes, James A.. (2011). Interview with James A. Siefkes. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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