Jim Lokken was born into a Norwegian Lutheran family from Minnesota, in the old Evangelical Lutheran Church. His parents moved to Pasadena, California, where they raised Jim and his brother Stan.
Jim graduated from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Washington, in 1995 and Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1959. He was ordained that year just preceding the merger that formed the American Lutheran Church. He served his first call as the three-point pastor of Our Savior's, Immanuel and Lincoln Lutheran churches in Barrett, Minnesota. Subsequently, he served as assistant pastor of First Lutheran Church in Brookings, South Dakota.
Lokken moved to New York City in 1966 to become the assistant editor of Lutheran Forum magazine. He continued his editing and writing ministry as part of the editorial staff of The Liturgical Conference in Washington, D.C., from 1968 through 1972. Thereafter he worked in the information department of the American Bible Society in New York (1973-1975); as editor of The Lutheran New Yorker (1975-76), and as production director for The Liturgical Conference in Washington, D.C. (1976-1978).
In 1974, he was among a group of gay and lesbian Lutherans invited by the Rev. Jim Siefkes to meet together in Minneapolis. At that meeting Lutherans Concerned/North America (LC/NA) was formed with Lokken as one of the founding members.
Emily Eastwood recalls: "If it were not for Jim Lokken and Howard Erickson, their efforts to keep LC/NA going during the early years, and their dedication to communication with members, we might not have an LC/NA today. Howard and Jim were largely responsible for the Gay Lutheran, the predecessor to the Concord. In later years Jim was a consistent and frequent participant in the online LC/NA discussion group. His last direct email to me urged frequent and substantive communication with our members, true to a theme to the last."
Lokken wrote and edited Now the Silence Breaks, a study book and materials published by the National Lutheran Campus Ministry in 1980. The book was the first appearance of a gay positive message in a publication sponsored by national Lutheran church bodies.
In the late 1970s, Jim moved to northern California where he became a member of St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco. In 1983, he was called to be a non-stipendiary assistant pastor at St. Francis under the pastorate of James DeLange. He served in this position at St. Francis until his retirement in 1996.
Jim was a lover of music with a fine singing voice and was deeply involved in music and worship ministries at St. Francis. He was an organ buff (named his dog E. Power Biggs) and chaired the committee that refurbished the organ at St. Francis.
Jim died on September 23, 2006, at the age of 73. His pastor and colleague James DeLange recalls: "He always dealt with people in a pastoral way. A faithful church person, he loved to tell stories, sometimes over and over again. It is hard to accept the fact that he is gone. He was one of those people whom you assumed would always be there"
(This biographical statement was edited by Mark Bowman from obituaries in the newsletters of Lutherans Concerned/North America and St. Francis Lutheran Church in San Francisco.)
Biography Date: April, 2008
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) | Siefkes, James | Reconciling Works (formerly Lutherans Concerned) | Activist (religious institutions) | Author/editor | Clergy Activist
“Pastor Jim Lokken | Profile”, LGBTQ Religious Archives Network, accessed September 22, 2023, https://lgbtqreligiousarchives.org/profiles/jim-lokken.
“Originally from central Pennsylvania, I encountered Jim while an undergraduate at Princeton between 1972 and 1976. We corresponded and spoke on the phone during a period of my own discernment between being gay and being Lutheran. I did spend a weekend as his guest at his New York City apartment just at the time that I was exploring the opportunities of the big city. As I recall, he had a number of less fortunate young man who were dropping in and out. A wonderful, warm caring man with whom I lost touch when I went on to further education in North Carolina and Missouri before returning to the Philadelphia area in 1983 by which point Jim had moved to San Francisco. Definitely one of the key figures in my transition from adolescence to adulthood. A blessing to have discovered the profile today for that memory. Must dig up my old journals to try to recall more.”
– as remembered by Kevin M. Hepler on June 1, 2018
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