THE REV. GREGORY R. DELL

FRIEND OF THE COMMUNITY | Inducted 2008

The Rev. Gregory R. Dell, 62, for his support of recognizing the unions of same-sex couples in the face of a church trial and suspension from his pastoral duties, and for his ongoing support of social justice for sexual and other minorities.

The Rev. Gregory R. Dell, now retired, is the former pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago. Dell has a 44-year history of involvement in issues of social justice and has been a pioneering and courageous supporter of same-sex unions in the face of opposition from his own church and elsewhere. He is a staunch friend of LGBT communities in Chicago, across the United States, and around the world.

A native Chicagoan, Greg Dell was born in 1945 and raised mostly on Chicago’s South Side. While still in high school in Midlothian, Illinois, Dell participated in the marches and efforts to challenge racism in Chicago neighborhoods led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a student at Illinois Wesleyan University, from which he graduated with honors in 1967, he provided leadership in challenging racially restrictive policies at the school and in the community. In 1970, he graduated magna cum laude from Duke Divinity School, where he participated in efforts to unionize workers at Duke University.

Dell was ordained in 1968 and began serving churches in Northern Illinois two years later. His appointments included congregations in Naperville, Minooka, Evanston, Oak Park, and Chicago. His far-ranging travels have included trips to China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, and Iran (during the U.S. hostage crisis).

In March 1999, Dell was subjected to a nationally publicized church trial that resulted from charges filed against him within the United Methodist Church for conducting a Service of Holy Union for two gay men from his Broadway United Methodist Church congregation. The result of the trial was a yearlong suspension from his pastoral duties. Afterward, Dell returned to the Broadway church and continued his activities as an ally in the struggle for racial-, gender-, and sexualorientation- based justice. He has received numerous awards, including a Chicago Commission on Human Relations award in 2000 and honorary doctorates from Illinois Wesleyan University (1999) and Chicago Theological Seminary (2007).

Dell was forced by illness to take early retirement from pastoral ministry in mid- 2007. He and his wife, Jade, who have been married for 40 years, today reside in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Throughout his career, he has served as an exemplary ally to LGBT communities in Chicago and beyond and as a model activist for social justice. For his life and work, he has been chosen for induction into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.

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