Spotlighting Rev. Deborah L. Johnson
(Rev. D)




Luminary of Forgiveness, Empowerment, and Justice

Spotlighting Rev. Deborah L. Johnson as the upcoming presenter for Folx with Faith’s virtual meeting, we delve into her transformative journey and profound teachings on forgiveness, a theme central to her approach to gender, spirituality, and social justice.

In the contemporary discourse on gender, spirituality, and social justice, few voices resonate with the clarity, compassion, and prophetic power of Rev. Deborah L. Johnson, affectionately known as Rev. D. An out African-American lesbian with an unparalleled career spanning the corporate world, academia, and the front lines of social justice advocacy, Rev. D embodies a living testament to the power of living authentically, embracing one’s full identity, and championing the rights of all individuals to do the same.

Rev. D. on Forgiveness

In the realm of spiritual growth and healing, few concepts are as pivotal and transformative as forgiveness. Rev. D’s teachings offer profound insights into the nature of forgiveness, its necessity, and its potential to liberate us from the past’s shackles. According to Rev. D, forgiveness is not about excusing or absolving the actions that have caused us pain. Instead, it is about reclaiming our power and freeing ourselves from the “ongoing effects” set in motion by these actions.

Rev. D. on Forgiveness

In the realm of spiritual growth and healing, few concepts are as pivotal and transformative as forgiveness. Rev. D’s teachings offer profound insights into the nature of forgiveness, its necessity, and its potential to liberate us from the past’s shackles. According to Rev. D, forgiveness is not about excusing or absolving the actions that have caused us pain. Instead, it is about reclaiming our power and freeing ourselves from the “ongoing effects” set in motion by these actions.

The Essence of Forgiveness

Forgiveness, as Rev. D articulates, is the ultimate act of self-liberation. It is a conscious decision to no longer be crippled by the weight of past grievances, thereby allowing us to step into our full power. This act of forgiveness is not contingent on the severity of the transgression but on our desire to grow beyond our current state of consciousness. To forgive is to choose growth over stagnation, empowerment over victimhood.

As Rev. D. puts it, “Forgiveness is the link that reconnects the fragmented pieces of our lives. It’s the thread that weaves us back into wholeness. Without forgiveness, life just simply unravels. The tear that starts one place just spreads everyplace. Forgiveness emancipates us from the prisons of our own perceptions.”

The Choice to Forgive

Rev. D acknowledges that forgiveness is often easier said than done. It is a choice that might not come naturally, especially when the hurt runs deep. However, she emphasizes the importance of willingness—a readiness to at least be open to the possibility of forgiveness. This willingness can be incremental, starting from “Are you willing to be willing?” and moving through layers of openness until forgiveness becomes a genuine possibility. This approach is particularly poignant when we are the ones seeking forgiveness, highlighting the universal need for grace and understanding.

The Frequency of Forgiveness

“How often am I supposed to forgive?” This question underscores a common quandary about the nature of forgiveness. Rev. D’s response is as straightforward as it is profound: As often as we wish to be free. Forgiveness is not a one-time act but a continual process of releasing ourselves from the identities tied to our past pains and grievances. It’s a testament to our resilience and an affirmation of our inherent worth beyond our problems.

Forgiving the Unforgivable

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of forgiveness is dealing with seemingly unforgivable acts. Rev. D addresses this by shifting the focus from the act itself to the divine capacity for forgiveness. It is not our burden to forgive the trespass but to seek forgiveness for our collective shortcomings and the ways in which we’ve missed the mark. This perspective transforms forgiveness from an insurmountable challenge to a reachable goal, emphasizing self-forgiveness and mutual understanding as the paths to healing and truth.

Integrating Forgiveness into Our Lives

Rev. D’s insights into forgiveness challenge us to view it not merely as an act but as a state of being—a continuous embodiment of unconditional love and perpetual forgiveness. By starting our day with love, gratitude, and the willingness to forgive, we prime ourselves to see beyond the surface, to recognize the goodness in our lives, and to remain unshaken by disturbances. This state of consciousness does not negate the reality of our problems but empowers us to face them with resilience and grace.

More about Rev. D.



Early Life: Navigating the Crossroads of Identity and Belief

Rev. D was raised in Los Angeles in the 1960s. Her journey is marked by a series of reconciliations between seemingly disparate worlds. Raised in the vibrant, though rigidly structured, environment of the Black Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, she found herself at the intersection of faith, race, and emerging sexual identity. From an early age, Rev. D grappled with the traditional gender norms and expectations of her religious community, which stood in stark contrast to her personal truth and the broader, tumultuous societal changes unfolding around her.

Her upbringing, imbued with the richness of African-American culture and the strictures of her faith, laid the groundwork for a life characterized by deep spiritual inquiry, resilience, and a commitment to justice. Despite the challenges of reconciling her identity within a context that often rejected it, Rev. D’s early experiences sowed the seeds for her future work as a bridge-builder, advocate, and spiritual leader.

Rev. D.’s Academic and Corporate Achievements

Rev. D’s intellectual prowess led her to prestigious academic institutions, USC and UCLA, where she honed her skills in economics, finance, and ultimately, in understanding the complex dynamics of power and privilege. Her corporate success, characterized by roles at leading firms and work with high-profile clients, showcased her ability to navigate and excel in spaces that historically excluded voices like hers.

Yet, it was the call to ministry and social justice that marked a pivotal redirection in Rev. D’s path. Choosing to leverage her academic and corporate accomplishments for broader societal impact, she embarked on a journey that would see her challenging injustices, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, and ultimately, founding Inner Light Ministries. This omnifaith spiritual community became a manifestation of her commitment to inclusivity, serving as a beacon for those seeking a space where all aspects of their identity are welcomed and affirmed.

Activism: Legal Victories and Social Contributions

Rev. D’s activism has left an indelible mark on the landscape of civil rights in America. Her involvement in landmark legal cases not only advanced the cause of LGBTQ+ rights but also set precedents that have benefited countless individuals facing discrimination. From fighting for the inclusion of sexual orientation in California’s Civil Rights Bill to defending marriage rights, Rev. D’s legal battles underscore her belief in the interconnection of spirituality and social justice.

Her work, however, extends beyond the courtroom. Rev. D has been a prophetic voice and influential figure in various capacities—whether as a speaker at national conferences, a participant in civil rights documentaries, or through her advisory roles in organizations dedicated to environmental conservation and global new thought. Through these efforts, Rev. D continues to inspire and challenge individuals and communities to embrace a more inclusive, compassionate understanding of spirituality and identity.

A Prophetic Voice: Literary Contributions and Spiritual Leadership

Rev. D’s literary works, including “The Sacred Yes” and “Your Deepest Intent,” offer profound insights into the nature of faith, consent to the divine, and the power of affirming one’s truth. Her writings reflect her journey and serve as guides for others navigating the complexities of spiritual identity, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community.

As a speaker, Rev. D harnesses her prophetic voice to connect deeply with her audience, offering pathways to understanding and reconciliation between divergent views. Her upcoming talk with our Folx with Faith community is particularly anticipated, as she plans to explore gender and spirituality in new and enlightening ways. This conversation promises to be a groundbreaking opportunity for attendees to deepen their understanding of the gender spectrum through a lens of divine love and acceptance.

Looking Ahead: Folx with Faith’s Virtual Event with Rev. D.

As Folx with Faith prepares to host Rev. D at our upcoming virtual event, we are reminded of the power of stories like hers. Rev. D’s life—marked by the courage to embrace all facets of her identity, the conviction to fight for justice, and the compassion to lead others toward a more inclusive spirituality—offers invaluable lessons for us all.

We invite you to join us for this transformative conversation, where Rev. D will share her insights on gender, identity, and the spiritual journey. This event is not just an opportunity to hear from one of the most compelling voices in contemporary spirituality but also a chance to engage with a community committed to exploring the depths of faith, love, and inclusivity.

Register For This Event

Folx with Faith Events

More about Rev. D.

Rev D’s Website

Participating in the Legacy of Love, Justice, and Inclusivity

Rev. Deborah L. Johnson’s life and work challenge us to consider the intersections of our own identities, beliefs, and actions in the world. Her journey from the pews of a Pentecostal church to the forefront of social justice advocacy, and her role as a spiritual leader and prophetic voice, remind us that we are all co-creators of our reality. As we anticipate Rev. D’s joining us for our next Folx with Faith virtual meeting, let’s take time to reflect on our own identity as expressions of Divine Love. Considering the ways we are gifts to the world—when we embrace our truths, advocate for justice, and live out our faith in inclusive, transformative ways.

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