At the end of this month Grace Communion International is holding a conference in Disney World at the Hilton. Of the different ministry sessions there will be three devoted to those who have same sex attractions i.e gay/lesbian.
Sharing in Christ’s Ministry to those Dealing with Same-Sex Attraction
Sharing in Christ’s Ministry to those Dealing with Same-Sex Attraction – to register click here
This workshop will be offered on Thursday afternoon.
In this three-part workshop we will consider the complex questions involved in serving with Christ those who experience same-sex attraction. The first session will address discerning the moral and spiritual dimensions of this issue. Biblical and theological foundations will be a central consideration, but the claims of social science will be given some consideration. In the second session we will begin considering the practical implications of ministering to such persons and how best to approach it. The third session will be devoted entirely to discussion, sharing experiences and attempting to discern together how best to conduct such a ministry.
Attendance at all three sessions is strongly encouraged. Pre-registration will be required as well as some preparation which will involve the reading of a couple of papers. These will be sent to all those who pre-register for the class, via email. Gary Deddo and Ted Johnston will lead this seminar.
The Church of God has always had gay members in it. They were in WCG, they are in UCG, LCG, PCG, RCG and many of the other splinter groups. Many are there for the love they feel for God, others are there thinking that God has placed them there so they can be cured and made straight. Even LCG has gay members, though God only knows why considering the garbage that Rod Meredith continually spews out at them.
Herbert Armstrong employed several in his years ruling the church. The interior decorator of the church was and helped HWA decorated three campuses and countless offices and homes. Meredith and others tried over and over to get HWA to fire the man and he would not. He and his partner showed up for HWA's funeral.
If you look on the Painful Truth website at the Suicides page, you will see a lot of young men and women. While not all were gay, several of them were. They struggled and struggled to be something they could not. After listening to sermon after sermon, having hands laid on them to cast demons out, praying and fasting for literally decades, God did not change them.
The Church of God and many Christians churches have destroyed lives all in the name of the God they claim to follow. One of the biggest tools of this damage has been the ex-gay ministries that have popped up over the years. There are Ex-Gay Ministries in the Mormon Church, the SDA's, Evanglical groups, and several others. All claiming that they have huge success rates in changed gay and lesbians Christian's into 100% straight heterosexuals. The biggest of these groups is Exodus International. Many COG members have went through this organization.
Today, Exodus International announced it was shutting itself down because of the damage it had done to peoples mental and spiritual lives over the last close to four decades.
Its leader, Alan Chambers, announced this on Wednesday:
Recently, I have begun thinking again about how to apologize to the people that have been hurt by Exodus International through an experience or by a message. I have heard many firsthand stories from people called ex-gay survivors. Stories of people who went to Exodus affiliated ministries or ministers for help only to experience more trauma. I have heard stories of shame, sexual misconduct, and false hope. In every case that has been brought to my attention, there has been swift action resulting in the removal of these leaders and/or their organizations. But rarely was there an apology or a public acknowledgement by me.
And then there is the trauma that I have caused. There were several years that I conveniently omitted my ongoing same-sex attractions. I was afraid to share them as readily and easily as I do today. They brought me tremendous shame and I hid them in the hopes they would go away. Looking back, it seems so odd that I thought I could do something to make them stop. Today, however, I accept these feelings as parts of my life that will likely always be there. The days of feeling shame over being human in that way are long over, and I feel free simply accepting myself as my wife and family does. As my friends do. As God does.
Friends and critics alike have said it’s not enough to simply change our message or website. I agree. I cannot simply move on and pretend that I have always been the friend that I long to be today. I understand why I am distrusted and why Exodus is hated.
Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents. I am sorry that there were times I didn’t stand up to people publicly “on my side” who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him that I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry that I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.
More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.
I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them. I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself.
John Paulk Apologizes for Ex-Gay Gospel, Wife Ann Says She’ll Pray for Him
Tony Campolo, a prominent evangelical preacher and author had this to say:
The ex-gay myth has crashed. Fallen. Shattered. Exodus International president Alan Chambers announced last night that Exodus is shutting down. Tonight in a televised interview with Lisa Ling (OWN 10pmET), he will publicly apologize to all who have been harmed by the organization. (See apology here)
The ex-gay house of cards has been falling for some time. Over a decade ago, Focus on the Family’s Dr. Dobson was advocating the use of so-called ex-gay ministries. Prior to 2000 Focus on the Family broadcasts featured their own John Paulk, “the story of how one man overcame homosexuality.” In 2000, however, when Paulk was spotted in a gay bar, he quickly disappeared from the organization family.
A most interesting Focus on the Family story you may have missed was in 1997, when Focus on the Family co-founder Gil Alexander-Moegerle, having left the organization, wrote a letter of apology for the organization’s stands on homosexuality and women’s issues. (This story of course was not broadcast, and Dr. Dobson certainly did not endorse it.) He could no longer keep silent. In his words: “I apologize to lesbian and gay Americans who are demeaned and dehumanized on a regular basis by the false, irresponsible, and inflammatory rhetoric of James Dobson’s anti-gay radio and print materials.”
Now to GCI's conference workshop. The two men running it are Gary Deddo and Ted Johnston. Deddo is a Presbyterian minister, an adjunct professor at Fuller Seminary, and also in the employ of GCI's online "seminary." Johnston is a WCG/GCI minister who embraced the changes and runs a blog called The Surpising God, the blog that Gavin Rumney loves to hate.
A former WCG elder, Micah Royal, who resigned several years ago over the mistreatment he saw the COG was doing towards gay members has been very vocal in his criticism. He and his wife have been very critical of the WCG/GCI stance over the years, as well as the anti gay stance of various COG's.
He still seeks and honest dialogue with the Church over this issue:
I spoke with one of the organizers and they said they will NOT present an alternative point of view to this paper this year, but may later. When I stated that I viewed the paper is very misinformed on the nature of sexual orientation, the organizer seemed shocked and said they would be willing to hear my critique. I have put together a critique to send them, and here it is.My hope and prayer right now is not that Grace Communion International come to my stance on this issue -- which is full inclusion of same-gender couples and recognizing the equal place GLBT people have before God already -- but that they move to the place most mainstream denominations are at: where intellectually honest discussion goes on that include presentation of more than one side on an issue. This is a standard approach for denominations both that exclude and include same-gender couples in their life of faith, including Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, various Episcopal/Anglican denominations, Quakers, Anabaptists, and many others.Deddo bases many of his arguments against gay Christians based upon trinitarian approaches to marriage. You can read more of Royal's critique here: One Step Forward, Three Steps Back: Problems with Grace Communion International's Current Approach to Explore GLBT Issues
It remains to be seen what GCI's stance will ultimately be, but it most likely will be that God still rejects them as Children of God. While they won't hurl most of the insults and derogatory comments that so many "christian" ministries do, they will still present a stumbling block to it's gay and lesbian members.