Press Release: October 27, 2003

Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Charlton in 2002 by Peggy Gaylord.Affirmation Mourns the Loss of Jeanne Barnett, but Her Work Lives On

Contact: the Rev. Peggy R. Gaylord, Affirmation Co-Spokesperson 607-723-4091; 607-725-7002 or; the Rev. Kenneth Rowe, Affirmation Co-Spokesperson 415-595-0180 or, Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns

Longtime Affirmation member Jeanne Barnett (left) passed away peacefully on October 1, 2003. A heart attack and complications from diabetes took her from us. Her memorial service was held at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Sacramento, California on Saturday October 11 while our National Affirmation Council was meeting at Drew University, Madison, NJ. Randy Miller, a former co-spokesperson was the Council's representative for Affirmation.

Co-spokesperson Peggy R. Gaylord reflected on knowing Jeanne and Ellie. "While they are probably best known for their very public holy union service almost five years ago performed by 150 lay and clergy members and Jeanne being known as the Lesbian on the UMC General Conference Study Committee on Homosexuality, the sole gay-identified voice until Bill Kent was later added, Jeanne and Ellie were very private people even though they were very active in Affirmation for years before that. These public 'demonstrations' seemed out of character for them.

"However, they were always involved in a significant way even though often more behind the scenes. About the time that I first became heavily involved with Affimation in the late 80's, Jeanne and Ellie were becoming the National Coordinators of the Regional Organizers, of which I was the Northeast Regional Organizer. This was during the height of our chapter development work, with over 50 chapters nationally, prior to the rise of Reconciling Congregations. Ellie later served as Treasurer and Jeanne was Co-spokesperson for a period of time after her stint on the Study Committee. They were involved in many leadership roles for us, always willing to fill in wherever they were needed; they've been wonderful contributors of their time, energy, and financial resources. I know they were also very involved in their local Affirmation, and active members in their local church and on the church conference (regional) level in addition to these other roles.

"But, as Anita Creamer of The Sacramento Bee wrote: 'Ultimately, life doesn't come down to political statements, no matter how groundbreaking; it comes down to love. Barnett and Charlton were partners for 20 years...'" ["Honoring one who stood up," October 13, 2003].

The next Affirmation newsletter will be dedicated to Jeanne Barnett. If anyone would like to forward comments to about her or the significance of her contributions by November 3, 2003, as many as possible will be incorporated into our memorial articles.

Affirmation has also set up a memorial fund in Jeanne Barnett's name, to be used for current and emerging issues. Any contributions may be sent to The Jeanne Barnett Memorial Fund, c/o Affirmation, P.O. Box 1021, Evanston, IL 60204.

The National Affirmation Council has scheduled its next meeting in the Sacramento area in January in order to join in the 5-year Anniversary Celebration of Jeanne Barnett's and Ellie Charlton's Holy Union. The purpose of this celebration is to reflect upon the progress over the years and look to the future, as well as recognize the impact one such witness event can have upon the church. The day-long event will be Jan. 17, 2004, starting at 10:00 am.

According to the Rev. Don Fado, "Jeanne and Ellie saw the anniversary celebration to be, not about them, but about what has happened in the last five years in the movement toward full inclusion for glbt persons in the church--and where we go from here. Among Jeanne's last words to Ellie was the request to go ahead with the anniversary celebration-- and that we will do." For more details, please contact Rev. Fado at or 4322 Alderwood Way, Sacramento, CA.


Photo: Jeanne Barnett (left) and Ellie Charlton visited with Affirmation Council members when they met in Oakland, California in January 2002. Credit: Peggy Gaylord

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