Letter to Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.

The American Family Outing

Letter to Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr.

December 1, 2007

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. & Pastor V. Michele Jackson
Hope Christian Church
PO Box 505
College Park, MD 20741-0505

Dear Bishop Jackson, Pastor V. Michele Jackson, and Hope Christian Church,

As a new year approaches, thousands of parents across America share an urgent desire for dialogue on the topic of homosexuality and Christianity. Because so many look to you for leadership, you and your congregation are uniquely situated to contribute to a productive conversation on a topic that too often divides our families and our nation. I am writing today to offer a forum and an opportunity: On Saturday May 24th and Sunday, May 25th, 2008, my partner and I, along with our three children, will bring several dozen families from Texas and around the country to visit Hope Christian Church. Our group of families will include many gay and lesbian parents and their children, as well as clergy and heterosexual families who have chosen to join us for this important visit. While the families who take part in the Soulforce American Family Outing will represent a diverse array of identities and faith backgrounds, we are all deeply committed to respect for the authority of Biblical teachings, compassion for the human condition, and peaceful interaction aimed at reaching new understanding.

The purpose of the American Family Outing is to lift up the conversation about faith, family and homosexuality to a national level and bring a new tenor of respect to the issue. We do not intend our visit to be confrontational or hardhearted. Rather, we believe that our families, and yours, are especially well-equipped to engage difficult topics through loving, prayerful, informed, and Christ-centered dialogue.

In order to make such a conversation possible, it is our hope that you will collaborate with us in structuring our time at your church. We invite Hope Christian Church to match our families with an equal number of families from your congregation. We ask that these families share a meal together on Saturday, May 24th or Sunday, May 25th, followed by a structured format for meaningful conversation. Together, we can make this an educational, spiritual, and interpersonal experience for everyone involved. In addition to this structured conversation and meal together, we are also planning to attend your worship service on Sunday, May 25th. We trust the weekend will be a blessing to us all.

I know we may disagree on this very controversial topic and that it may not be easy to offer hospitality to the parents and children who are participating in the American Family Outing. We at Soulforce are called to be a part of a healing conversation, and that is what we believe can happen at Hope Christian Church under your guidance. Please contact me via email or phone at any time, even beyond regular business hours, so that we can collaborate to create honest exchange and respectful fellowship. In doing so, we can stand united in love and strive toward true hope and prosperity for all God’s children.

Between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, 2008, we will also seek peaceful dialogue with Rev. Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas; Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas; Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia; Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois; and Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Soulforce is joined in this effort by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the National Black Justice Coalition, and COLAGE. Leaders from these organizations have co-signed below to authenticate their enthusiasm for our upcoming meal, conversation, and worship at your church. We extend blessings to your congregation as we head into the Christmas season, and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC
Executive Director
Soulforce, Inc.
www.soulforce.org

The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair
Moderator’s Global Justice Team
Metropolitan Community Churches
www.mccchurch.org

Dr. Sylvia Rhue
Director of Religious Affairs
National Black Justice Coalition
www.nbjcoalition.org

Meredith Fenton
Program Director
COLAGE
www.colage.org

cc: Brenda Williams, Pastor Rudy DePass, Pastor Dave Parlette, Dwight and Sonja Williams, Constance Lowe, Tony Walker, John Metcalfe, John Odukoya, Patricia & Guy Philamon

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