On June 5, 2010, Rev. Dr. James "Jim" Siefkes, a founder of PHS, was awarded the Humanitarian Award by American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) at their 42nd Conference "Bridging Educational, Medical, and Clinical Issues in Sexology" in Pittsburgh, PA. The Humanitarian Award is given to individuals for their contribution to the field of human sexuality through a private endeavor, charitable event(s), public awareness campaign, sex-positive educational offering, or political platform and who have received national and/or international recognition for the contribution.
Siefkes is a genuine humanitarian and a true pioneer in human sexuality. For 33 years he worked in the Department of Congregational Social Concerns in the national office of the American Lutheran Church (later the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). In his work with local parishes he discovered there was little awareness of mission as anything more than traditional understandings and practice. He designed a program to broaden the understanding of mission called MATRIX. In brief, the Matrix process amounted to gathering groups of clergy, spouses, and laity and "holding class" on the streets and in the throes of the issues of the day. Issues addressed and experienced included racism, drugs, campus riots, ecology, the Vietnam war, conscription, conscientious objection, runaway kids, emerging lifestyles, women's issues, men's issues, hunger, singles, and human sexuality. Matrix proved a way to introduce social justice and ministry on the side of people suffering from oppression as critical to understanding the mission of the church.
Siefkes pioneered convergence between national religious bodies, sexuality, and science with special care given to the areas of sexual health, sexual orientation, as well as physical, psychological, and intellectual disability. He was one of the founders of PHS as well as several other programs and institutions that provide effective services locally and nationally, and that provided the information internationally. In the early years Siefkes served as adjunct Medical School Faculty and as an advisor to PHS.
In his award acceptance video, Siefkes said,
I have come to understand human sexuality at the very ground of our being and consciousness. This in turn provides nourishment for the spiritual dimensions of life and human relationships, and may even put us in touch with the mystery of the transcendent. Healthy and meaningful relationships are important for existence that is fully human. As the globe becomes ever more crowded and threatened... the importance of creating relationships that are symbiotic- not antibiotic; loving- not hostile; fear allaying -not fear producing; personally edifying and uplifting; becomes ever more urgent. All this in order to make this world a place in which it is easier to love and be loved.
Siefkes's work has been featured in numerous articles in the national press including the National Observer, The Advocate, and New York Times. He worked with ABC for two documentary TV shows on Christianity and Sexuality and Christianity and Homosexuality. Beginning in 1974 he served for seven years on the board of Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and on the Venereal Disease Committee of the Boy Scouts of America. He has authored articles and books on sexuality including Findings of the Action Research Project in Human Sexuality for Clergy and Helping Persons, which was distributed in the US and 12 other countries. His work has also been on behalf of Native Americans, including the American Indian Movement and Wounded Knee Trials; black Americans; traumatized veterans and Consultation on the Whole Person.
Siefkes shares the honor with notable winners such as: Elma Cole, former Surgeon General David Satcher, MD, Nadine Strossen and the American Civil Liberties Union, Phil Harvey for his philanthropic investment in supporting the sexual health of millions of people in the developing world, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Governor Arne Carlson and Senator Linda Runbeck of Minnesota for legislation supporting sexuality education.
Siefkes will also be honored at the PHS 40th anniversary celebration scheduled for October 1 -2, 2010 in Minneapolis. Please save the date and join us for the event.
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