The Rev. Paul A Tidemann, Pastor, Staunch Ally, Outspoken Advocate, Dies in Christ

Rev. Paul TidemannThe Rev. Paul A. Tidemann, a ceaseless advocate for full inclusion of LGBT people in the life of the church and of society, died on Saturday, July 26, 2014, at 77 years old.

The Rev Anita Hill, ReconcilngWorks Regional 3 Coordinator, ordained extraordinarily at a ceremony presided by Paul in 2001, says of her long time mentor, colleague and friend, “Paul was one of the best preachers I have ever heard. A thoughtful theologian, writer, liturgist and pastoral presence, it was an honor and privilege to have served with him. Paul’s saying, ‘There is nothing that one is or one does that can set one outside the active love and grace of God’ is forever etched in my mind.”

Paul served in parishes in Michigan, Illinois, Guyana, and Minnesota, the last being St. Paul-Reformation in St. Paul, from 1981 to 2006.  It was at St. Paul-Reformation that the ordination of Anita Hill took place, an act of ecclesiastical disobedience honoring obedience to the word of Christ.  Paul was censured by the ELCA for his role in calling and ordaining an openly-lesbian woman in a committed same-gender relationship.  Paul was also among the first to preside a service of blessing for a same gender couple, doing so in 1983. Rev. Paul Tidemann and Rev. Anita Hill
The Rev. Paul Tidemann and Rev. Anita Hill 

Paul received the Jim Siefkes Justice Maker Award at the 2000 ReconcilingWorks Assembly, an award given to recognize straight allies for tireless, superior efforts on behalf of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, particularly advocating in Lutheran communities of faith.  Paul’s writing, preaching, synodical and churchwide advocacy and legislative guidance advanced justice and understanding for LGBT Lutherans.  He is also a recipient of the Saints and Reformers Award from the Twin Cities Chapter of ReconcilingWorks.

Upon his retirement from parish ministry in 2006, Paul said: “Nothing has been more joy filled, more pain filled, and more spirit-filled than ministry with and on behalf of LGBT people.” In his final sermon at St. Paul-Reformation in 2006, Paul prophetically said, “Mark my words, the ELCA policy will change before I die!” The ELCA’s policy was changed in 2009 to allow clergy in same-gender relationships to serve on the official rosters of the church.

Paul, a 1960 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota and a 1964 graduate from Augustana Seminary, Rock Island, Illinois, is survived by his wife, The Rev. Janet Tidemann; sons, Pete and Chris Tidemann; as well as many other relatives and close friends. 

Paul’s memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 9 at 11:00 a.m. at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 700 Snelling Avenue South, Saint Paul, Minnesota.  Visitation will precede the service.