Soulforce, the nonviolent activist group that advocates for gay and lesbian equality in religious communities, is sending out 21 GLBT families to tell their stories to religious leaders at six leading mega-churches:
Rev. Joel Osteen and the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas
Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas
Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland
Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia
Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois
Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California
Each family has pledged to raise $2,000 to visit these churches between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Most still have only a few hundred dollars, so your contribution will make a difference. Soulforce families include a mother and her FTM transgender son, a straight couple who have joined the movement to support their GLBT friends, and several gay and lesbian couples with adopted children. Their profiles contain inspiring stories of how they reconcile faith and sexuality. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz, for example, were evangelical ministers who met during unsuccessful “ex-gay” therapy. They write:
We believe that evangelical gay Christians have a real message to the church at large: whatever Paul is talking about in Romans 1, it isn’t us. John Wesley of the 18th century taught that the Christian’s authority is based on the (1) scriptures, (2) tradition, (3) reason and (4) experience, and that whenever accepted reason and general experience show one’s interpretation of a passage of scripture to be very unlikely, that one’s interpretation is to be called into question rather than the collective experience of the human race. Unfortunately, evangelicalism of the 20th century has put such a premium on scripture it has perhaps failed to see the significance of reason and experience.
We purpose to lovingly and patiently ask the church to recover Wesley’s principles of reason and experience, and in doing so, to give us audience enough to hear our sacred journey and process by which we dared to question centuries-old accepted norms through reasoning and experience.
While you have your checkbooks out, consider these facts from a recent Human Rights Campaign mailing:
Florida is considering a ballot measure to enact a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
Arkansas is considering a ballot measure to ban adoption and foster parenting for unmarried, cohabiting couples, both gay and straight.
Tennessee’s legislature is debating a bill similar to the Arkansas initiative, as well as a bill that would prohibit discussion of homosexuality in public schools until ninth grade.
Find out more about current and pending laws in your state here.
I met you in Charlotte when you read your award-winning story at the Charlotte Writers’ Club. I thought you might be interested in reading/seeing the info on my church’s website. Myers Park Baptist Church is an ecumenical church in the Baptist tradition, 1800 members strong, and we are “open to all and closed to none.” We were recently kicked out of the state convention because we welcome homosexuals. I think you’d be interested to see the info here: http://www.mpbconline.org/news_baptist_emails_11-15.php
Now I’m going to read your poems! I’m just starting the MFA in writing program at Queens University and poetry is my area of concentration!
Great to hear from you again, Beth, and hooray for your courageous church!