The Gill Foundation’s $10,000 Matching Grant

Gill Foundation
The Gill Foundation’s $10,000 Matching Grant

Soulforce is reaching critical mass! Media coverage of the June vigils and arrests at the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis (on radio, television, in USA Today and local papers across the nation) was amazing.

On-line registration has begun for our Soulforce return to Lynchburg, October 25-27, 2002, to confront Jerry Falwell’s toxic rhetoric. Join us!!

In less than three short years, Soulforce web page has been "hit" 6,000,000 times with tens of thousands of inquiries from sisters and brothers around the world.

Thousands of new Soulforce volunteers are being trained on line and at local and state-wide workshops in nonviolent resistance to injustice.

Already sixteen Soulforce Local Groups have been licensed with many others in the process and many more calling for information and writing for Soulforce Local Group Start-Up Kits.

And the latest Soulforce Video "The Debate is Over. The Verdict is In. Not a Sickness! Not a Sin!" is ready (AT LAST!) for summer/fall release.

And though most of the time and money required to accomplish these goals comes from generous donors and the volunteers themselves, Soulforce must raise a total of $300,000 in 2002. What a bargain! That’s less than the cost to produce a 30 second television commercial, less than Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson each has to raise every eighteen hours, all year long.

You can imagine how excited we were when the Gill Foundation announced that to help Soulforce raise this year’s budget they were offering a $10,000 "matching grant." The Gill Foundation rules are simple: "All donations from individuals not previously contributing to Soulforce will be matched up to $10,000. And all donations from current Soulforce supporters will be matched for their increased giving (over their largest past annual or single gift) only."

When we mentioned this to the hundreds of volunteers being trained in St. Louis, a lesbian couple (who want to remain anonymous) said, "We’ll double Gill’s matching grant with another $10,000 pledge. That means every dollar you donate will be doubled up to $20,000.

And if ever we needed those funds, the time is now. Would you consider donating today on line. Our donate-by-credit card system is easy, safe, and secure. Or send a check to Soulforce, Inc. at PO Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA. 92652. Remember, your donation is tax-deductible and our Board and Staff promise to be careful stewards of your investment.

Bless you ALL!

Mel White, Executive Director
Karen Weldin, Director of Operations
**Chuck Phelan, Board Chair

*The mission of the Colorado-based Gill Foundation is to secure equal opportunity for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Established in 1994 by software entrepreneur Tim Gill, the Gill Foundation is the nation’s largest funder of LGBT organizations. With an endowment of $260 million, the Gill Foundation has invested nearly $40 million in nonprofit organizations throughout the country. For more information, call (303) 292-4455 or visit

** Jimmy Creech is on sabbatical to finish a book. Then he returns as our Board Chairman.

Lynchburg News and Advance Article: "Pastor: Falwell’s Church is ‘Toxic’"

Soulforce Returns to Lynchburg Oct 25 – 27

Below is a story printed on the front page of the Lynchburg News & Advance, July 22, 2002 about Soulforce’s upcoming visit to Lynchburg, VA, the home of Liberty University and Rev. Jerry Falwell.

Read the story below!
Then registeronline to be a part of the Return to Lynchburg.

Exciting things are in store! Don’t miss it!

Pastor: Falwell’s church is ‘toxic’
By Shannon Brennan / The News & Advance
July 22, 2002

Three years ago the Rev. Mel White came to Lynchburg to politely try to persuade the Rev. Jerry Falwell to tone down his anti-gay rhetoric. Falwell politely agreed to help combat violence against gays.

Now White is coming back, but this time the pair have their boxing gloves on.

White has declared Thomas Road Baptist Church a "Toxic Religion Zone," and Falwell has vowed not to give White a platform at his church.

"Jerry’s embarrassed by what he’s done since we were there," White said in a telephone interview Monday. "Instead of curtailing the rhetoric, it’s gone to new lows."

Falwell accused gays and lesbians of being partly responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a statement that Falwell later apologized for after it brought protests from across the nation. But, White said, Falwell subsequently used the same remark in a fund-raising appeal.

White and several hundred followers of his Soulforce group will come to Lynchburg Oct. 25-27. They alerted the city earlier this month in a letter, which someone forwarded to Falwell.

"It is obvious in reading the letter that their purpose is not to discuss violence … but rather their objection to my preaching that homosexuality is a sin," Falwell said.

Falwell said what White really wants is for him to say that gay is OK, something he will never do because the Bible calls homosexuality a sin.

"We will not change our message," Falwell said.

White’s group will march from different parts of the city to Thomas Road Baptist Church.

White said the march will demonstrate how messages of hate from the pulpit poison all aspects of life – from city hall, where gays cannot get marriage licenses, to groups like the Boy Scouts that don’t allow openly gay scoutmasters, to high schools where homosexual students are "discarded by their parents and teachers."

"A Toxic Religion Zone pollutes everybody’s lives," White said.

Soulforce tentatively plans to display a "Museum of Intolerance," which will show examples of Falwell’s comments juxtaposed with fact and expert opinion and a video titled, "The Rhetoric of Intolerance: An Open Letter Video to Jerry Falwell."

Falwell says White is just seeking publicity at Thomas Road that he has been unable to generate at other protests.

"In the three years that have passed, Mel has been to the Southern Baptist Convention three times … " Falwell said. "They have received very little publicity from these events."

Falwell said he invited Soulforce to his church three years ago, but that won’t happen this time.

"I’m not going to give them that platform again," he said, but added the sidewalks are public and the group is welcome as long as they don’t interfere with his church.

White said he knows it will be difficult to change Falwell’s mind about homosexuality, but he hasn’t given up.

For the present, he said he just wants to set the record straight about Falwell’s comments on homosexuality.

"The man just seems consumed with telling untruths about sexual orientation," White said.

White said he has received letters from students at Liberty University and members of Thomas Road Baptist Church who are "secret closeted gay people who live in fear."

White was once one of them. He was a ghost writer for Falwell’s autobiography "If I Should Die Before I Wake!" in 1984 and until 1991 White "was regarded by the leaders of the religious right as one of their most talented and productive supporters," according to the book jacket on White’s 1995 book, "Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America."

White, who also wrote for Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Jim and Tammy Bakker and Ollie North, came out publicly about his sexual orientation in 1993. For 25 years, he had tried to deny his identity through counseling and even exorcism and shock treatment. He attempted suicide before realizing he couldn’t change who he is.

White, who now lives in California, said his Soulforce group has grown to about 10,000. Chapters have been established in recent months in 17 cities, including Lynchburg.

After taking on Falwell at Thomas Road Baptist Church, the next Toxic Religion Zone on Soulforce’s list is the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C.

White admits his group’s efforts are "like a mosquito biting an elephant," but said gays and lesbians can no longer stand by while religious leaders like Falwell belittle them.

"As gay people of faith, we can’t let him go on uncontested," White said.

This story is available online at
2002 Media General

And remember, everything we do costs money and we do a lot with the money our supporters donate to us. Right now, there is a matching grant program with Gill Foundation that will DOUBLE the amount you give to us. Thank you so much for your support!

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