Susan Wolfe-Devol, who was the first female Lutheran pastor in Orange County and a strong advocate for welcoming LGBT community members to the flock, passed away after a brief illness. She was 61.
Born in Ventura, she earned a degree in sociology at UC Berkeley and a master of divinity degree at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Iowa. Wolfe-Devol served as an intern at an all-black congregation in Detroit, which is where she developed a strong passion for social justice.
When she became associate pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Santa Ana in 1985, it marked the first time a female served as a Lutheran minister in Orange County. She left in 1990 to become an associate pastor at Angelica Lutheran Church in Los Angeles’ Pico-Union District. From 2000-03, she was the pastor at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in North Hollywood.
Wolfe-Devol is credited with helping pave the way for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to vote in 2009 to allow lesbian and gay clergy to come out and marry openly.
She died Dec. 16 in Ventura and leaves behind her husband, Steven Devol, who is a copy editor at the Los Angeles Times; a son, Pierce; her mother, Elizabeth; a brother, Ben; a sister, Connie; and three nieces and nephews.