Letter from Pastor Jay Bakker to Rev. Joel Osteen

The American Family Outing

Letter from Pastor Jay Bakker to Rev. Joel Osteen

January 17th, 2008

Rev. Joel Osteen
Lakewood Church
3700 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX 77027

Subject: The American Family Outing

Dear Rev. Osteen and the congregation of Lakewood Church,

My name is Jay Bakker. I am pastor of Revolution Church in Brooklyn, New York. You may know me as the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

As you might have heard, I lost my mother this year after a long battle with cancer. This has led me to reflect on the importance of family, as well as the lessons my mother taught me regarding the unconditional love of God. It is in her memory that I write you this letter today.

As a child growing up, I saw a side of the church that to me did not always reflect God’s grace. This experience has led me to be concerned for our brothers and sisters in Christ who sometimes may feel rejected and left out of the church.

It is for these reasons that I have decided to be a part of a plan to bring dozens of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families from around the country, as well as heterosexual families that support them, to visit your congregation on Mother’s Day Weekend (Saturday May 10 and Sunday May 11th, 2008) to create meaningful dialogue about homosexuality and Christianity.

This visit is part of the American Family Outing, a collaborative project between Soulforce, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the National Black Justice Coalition, and COLAGE. It is my understanding that the Executive Director of Soulforce, Jeff Lutes, sent you an initial letter, dated December 3, 2007. I wanted to follow-up to let you know of my involvement in this important effort to bring true hope and prosperity to all God’s children.

So many look to you for leadership, and therefore you and your congregation have an exceptional opportunity to advance respectful and Christ-centered conversation on a topic that too often divides our families and our nation. As Jeff expressed in his letter, we hope that you will collaborate with us in structuring our time together at your church. I invite you to match the families I bring, with a roughly equal number of families from your congregation, and ask that we arrange to share a meal together on Saturday, May 10th or Sunday, May 11th, followed by structured and educational conversation. We are also planning to attend your worship service on Sunday, May 11th.

Together, we can make this an experience that will bless the lives of so many. Please contact me at (private number) or Jeff Lutes at (private number) so that we can work together on planning the details.

In John 13:35, Jesus said that your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. I invite you to reflect Christ’s unconditional love and participate with us in this event.

In Grace and Hope,

Jay Bakker
Revolution NYC

cc: Victoria Osteen, Paul Osteen, M.D., Dodie Osteen, Kevin Comes, Lisa Comes, Duncan Dodds, Marcos Witt.

Back to the American Family Outing

What the Science Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality

by Jeff Lutes, MS, LPC, Executive Director of Soulforce


"A concise, accurate, and readable summary of scientific knowledge about homosexuality and gay people. This lucid resource calmly and effectively demolishes the hateful myths and slurs spread by anti-gay forces in U.S. society."

–Simon LeVay, PhD, neuroscientist, teacher, author, and pioneer in the study of brain structure and sexual orientation

"This is a current, comprehensive, and rigorous review of literature taken from our most well-respected social science and medical journals. Backed by all the major health, education, and mental health professional associations, Lutes makes an airtight case for ending the cruel and pejorative stereotype against gay and lesbian persons that continue to persist in our homes, institutions, and churches."

–Marsha McDonough, PhD, Psychologist and Family Therapist, Clinical Member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy

"Not content to allow religious dogma to discredit scientific inquiry, or for scientific observation to dismiss spiritual insight, Lutes systematically loosens the death grip of obsolete and discredited pseudo-science on homosexuality. This amazing booklet brings a breath of fresh air, exposing toxic religious misinterpretations, shedding new light on the complexities of human sexuality, and offering new hope to gay and lesbian men and women, their families, and friends. A must-read for anyone seeking to know the truth!"

–Paul W. Dodd, DMin, LPC, American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) Fellow

"What the Science Says is a wonderfully concise, entirely accurate, and balanced presentation of the research on gay and lesbian issues. I especially recommend it for people who are in the process of coming out or still struggling with their basic love orientations, as well as for heterosexual readers."

–Robert-Jay Green, PhD, Executive Director, Rockway Institute, Co-Author, Lesbians and Gays in Couples and Families

Free Download
You can download a PDF file of What the Science Says, and Doesn’t Say, about Homosexuality.

HTML Version
What the Science Says, and Doesn’t Say, about Homosexuality is available as a HTML version.

Order Hard Copies Online
You can order hard copies of What the Science Says, and Doesn’t Say, about Homosexuality at the cost of $3.00 per copy from the Soulforce Store.

Order Hard Copies by Mail
Indicate the number of copies needed and send a donation of $3.00 per booklet to:

PO Box 3195
Lynchburg, VA 24503

Bulk Orders
For inquires about discounted bulk orders (more than 50 copies) please send an email to gary@soulforce.org.

A Call to Action From Phil Lawson

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion and Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

A Call to Action From Phil Lawson

Fifty-eight years ago, in 1950, I attended my first non-violent direct action with Bayard Rustin and George Houser who organized the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) so that youth and young adults would come to Washington D.C. to confront the discrimination and segregation laws in the nation’s capital.

In April 2008, as a proud Board Member of Soulforce, I will participate in non-violent direct actions at the United Methodist Church General Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas.

In my many years of ministry in the United Methodist Church, from welfare rights organizing, to the Black Panthers in Kansas City, to living wage marches, from jail in Kansas City protesting police injustices, to jail in Oakland for anti-apartheid, to jail in Cleveland at the 2000 United Methodist General Conference, to the 2008 United Methodist General Conference, it has been my great honor to be in solidarity with the pain and suffering of LGBT-Queer communities. The oppression of LGBT-Queer communities by the United Methodist Church through its false Declaration that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings, that such persons are not eligible for membership, or to the rights granted heterosexual persons such as the right to marry and the right to become ministers – indeed, the church denies LGBT-Queer communities the Right to Be!

Christian teachings have been historically wrong about many human conditions, from slavery, to poverty, to drinking strong drinks, to divorced persons being ministers, to women’s rights to be full human beings, from domestic violence, to war. According to Christian teachings, Blacks were not even human beings!

The United Methodist Church is in sin as long as it continues to oppress the LGBT -Queer communities. As long as the church is in sin, I will be in solidarity with my sisters and brothers of Soulforce in non-violent direct action declaring Justice – Not Just Us!

-Rev. Phil Lawson

Photo courtesy of East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO)

Back to the Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion & Direct Action

LGBT Families Ask Six Mega-Churches "Can We Talk?"

Jay Bakker to Join "American Family Outing" to Create Dialogue Among Evangelicals

For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771

(Austin, TX) — This winter, as the Rev. Joel Osteen graces the pages of People Magazine, the familiar image of the old-school, anti-gay televangelist is rapidly being replaced by a new iconography: a younger generation of mega-church leaders with upbeat and inviting messages. Unfortunately, while this generation’s tone may seem less harsh, many of their mega-churches still enforce policies of exclusion and teach theologies that label Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people as sick, sinful, and in need of change.

An "American Family Outing" is taking shape in the spring of 2008 so LGBT families can talk with mega-church leaders and congregation members to share the message that justice for LGBT people is compatible with Christian teaching.  Pot lucks, picnics and soulful talk are the order of the day as Soulforce, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), and COLAGE invite churches to talk-the-talk so everyone is free to walk-the-walk.  

On behalf of the four partner organizations, Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes has written letters to:

  • 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

"These pastors are part of a new generation of evangelical leaders in America," says Lutes.  "We are calling on them and their congregations to demonstrate a new kind of leadership, one that models compassion and justice for all families, including families with two moms and two dads."

The letters inform each pastor that a delegation of families with two moms and two dads, as well as supportive heterosexual-parent and single-parent families, plans to visit each church. The letters invite their congregations to collaborate in creating opportunities for meaningful conversations. Over the next several weeks, staff from Soulforce, UFMCC, NBJC, and COLAGE will negotiate peaceful forums with members from each of the congregations.

Then, over the weekends between Mother’s Day (May 11, 2008) and Father’s Day (June 15, 2008), dozens of families with children will travel by air and by bus to engage in dialogue about faith, family, and the harm done by religion-based discrimination to LGBT families.

"It is difficult for mega-churches to claim to be progressive in the area of Civil Rights and at the same time deny the equal dignity and value of LGBT persons," said Rev. Dr. Ken Samuel, pastor of the 5,000 plus, LGBT-friendly, Victory Church in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Samuel will join Rev. Jay Bakker, son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, as a clergy leader on the American Family Outing.

"Homophobia and heterosexism directly contradict the principles of equality and justice for all God’s children, and I think that the younger generation of evangelicals are beginning more and more to see this contradiction," Samuel continued.

According to a recent Barna study of evangelical youth, 80% said Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians.

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) is an international fellowship of Christian churches with a special ministry to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The National Black Justice Coalition(NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black same-gender-loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. The Coalition works with our communities and our allies for social justice, equality, and an end to racism and homophobia.

COLAGE engages, connects, and empowers people to make the world a better place for children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender parents and families.

Soulforce to Mark 10th Anniversary in 2008 with Direct Action at United Methodist General Conference

Planning Team Affirms "Global Vision of Justice"

For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Director of Public Relations and Media
Cell: 512-659-1771

Today the Soulforce United Methodist Planning Team released a statement announcing a planned direct action at the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 26-27. Signers of the statement include co-chairs Steven Webster and Dotti Berry, as well as Reverends Gil Caldwell and Phil Lawson. The complete text of the statement is included below.

"In 2008, the world will commemorate several watershed events in the history of human rights, including the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the 40th anniversary of The Poor People’s Campaign that King initiated before his death. Observing these anniversaries provides an opportunity to reflect on how far we have come — and how far we have to go — in achieving equal dignity and rights for all human beings.

"The confluence of these anniversaries can also serve as a reminder of the connections between struggles and spur us to reaffirm a broad commitment to justice for all, regardless of economic status, race, nationality, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

"Ten years ago, in 1998, Mel White and Gary Nixon began laying the groundwork for a new social movement. Under the auspices of "Soulforce," a name adapted from the teachings of King and Gandhi, White and Nixon began to organize lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans to study the principles of nonviolent direct action. This course of study led to the first Soulforce direct action, a historic 1999 dialogue between 200 members of Soulforce and the congregation of Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia.

"When the first Soulforce delegates began preparing for the journey to Lynchburg, they believed that true justice could only be achieved by addressing the misinformation about LGBT people that circulated under the guise of Christian doctrine. Just as King argued that legal desegregation alone could not end racial segregation, so the first Soulforce activists understood the need to confront the underlying beliefs that justify civil discrimination.

"As Soulforce prepares to celebrate its tenth anniversary, the landscape of religion-based bigotry is shifting. Recent research by the Barna group suggests that young Christians are increasingly uncomfortable with church-sanctioned hostility toward LGBT people. However, religion-based bias still exerts enormous cultural and institutional power in the United States and around the globe. Although much progress has been made, backlashes against the recognition of LGBT people as clergy and church members are dividing some major Christian denominations.

"For almost forty years, the United Methodist Church has struggled with fundamental issues of fairness and inclusion, including same-sex unions, LGBT clergy, and the status of LGBT lay members. In 2006, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church — led by Surgeon General nominee James Holsinger — issued Decision 1032, which granted sole authority to local pastors to deny church membership to gay men and lesbians and made a mockery of the official slogan of the United Methodist Church: "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors."

"Now, as 1,000 delegates prepare to meet for the 2008 United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth, some conservative groups within the church are attempting to portray justice for LGBT people as a distraction from important issues such as fighting global epidemics or ministering to children and the poor. Others are portraying fairness and inclusion for LGBT people as inevitably at odds with fairness and inclusion for African churches.

"At Soulforce, we affirm a notion of justice in which all are connected. In the words of Dr. King, we believe that "we are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality." In order to affirm that vision of global justice, Soulforce will join with progressive Methodist voices in a direct action at the United Methodist General Conference in Fort Worth on April 26-27, 2008.

"In the same spirit, Soulforce will celebrate ten years of nonviolent direct action. We invite past and future Soulforce activists to come together in Fort Worth on April 25, 2008, to remember our accomplishments, to celebrate the love at the heart of our movement, and to re-commit to the struggle for dignity and justice for all members of the human family."

Steven Webster, Co-chair
Dotti Berry, Co-chair
Rev. Gil Caldwell
Bill Carpenter
J. Michael Herrington
Rev. Phil Lawson
Jeff Lutes
Paige Schilt
Kara Speltz

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to www.soulforce.org.

Soulforce in the News

Soulforce is often covered by the media as we work towards freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

Soulforce Symposium Speakers, Presenters, and Contributors


Jay BakkerJay Bakker is a pastor who grew up witnessing both the good and bad of the church. His parents are Jim and Tammy Faye, ministers-turned-TV-hosts, who helped start both the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club in the 1970’s, and later founded the PTL (Praise The Lord) Club. At the height of their popularity, they pastored the largest church in the country – until their lives were changed by one of the biggest scandals in American history. For the first time, Jay was exposed to the dark underbelly of religion; an experience that would stay with him to this day. In 1994, Jay, along with Kelli Miller and Mike Walls, started Revolution Church in Phoenix, AZ, to minister to those being ignored and rejected by the Christian church. He started a Revolution Church in Los Angeles, CA, and Atlanta, GA, before moving to New York and starting a church there in 2005. Jay has been an ally and friend to the LGBTQI community.


Daniel HelminiakDaniel Helminiak teaches psychology and spirituality as Professor at the University of West Georgia. He is also a psychotherapist, Catholic priest and theologian, author, and lecturer. He holds a PhD in psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and a PhD in theology from Andover Newton Theological School and Boston College, where he was teaching assistant to Prof. Bernard Lonergan, whom Newsweek magazine called the Thomas Aquinas of the 20th Century. He is certified as a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and is licensed as a Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia. His book, What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality (Alamo Square Press, 1994, 2000), is an international best-seller.



Vincent CervantesVincent Cervantes is a queer Chicano, speaker, writer, and activist. His work explores discussions around the intersections of religion, theology, gender, sexuality, and race. Since 2006, Vincent has traveled throughout North America to share his own personal story as an "ex-gay" survivor. His story has been shared through Details Magazine, The Tyra Banks Show, and other various media outlets. He is currently a graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, focusing his research on the areas of religion, gender, and culture. He has authored and contributed to several publications and has presented conference papers that highlight religious discourse surrounding the "ex-gay" movement. He recently completed an autobiographical memoir that is expected to be released next year. For more information, visit Vincent’s website, www.vincentcervantes.com.


Peterson ToscanoAs a gay man, Peterson Toscano‘s journey out of the closet has been long and complicated. After years of submitting to reparative therapy through counseling and even three exorcisms, in January of 1999 he finally came OUT and fully accepted himself as a gay man. Peterson began writing and performing one-person comedies shortly after this including  Doin’ Time in the Homo No Mo Halfway House–How I Survived the Ex-Gay Movement. In 2007 he and Christine Bakke launched Beyond Ex-Gay (www.BeyondExgay.com). Through a partnership with the US non-violent social justice organization, Soulforce and the University of California at Irvine, bXg organized and ran the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference June 29-July 1, 2007.Peterson has broadened his focus to include gender and transgender issues (Transfigrations–Transgressing Gender in the Bible) as well as racism, privilege, the environment and sexism (I Can See Sarah Palin from my Window! Lessons Before the Second Coming.) A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers,) Peterson lives in Sunbury, PA with his partner, writer, Glen Retief. For more information see www.petersontoscano.com

Christine BakkeChristine Bakke is an ex-gay survivor who spent over four years trying to change her sexual orientation. In 1998 she started on her ex-gay journey and participated in an Exodus program, Living Waters, the "casting out of demons", and private reparative therapy. In 2003, she realized that while she had changed in many areas, her sexual orientation remained the same. She found that telling her story through words and art to be cathartic and healing. She has told her story in the pages of Glamour magazine, Good Morning America, and other media venues. Along with Peterson Toscano, she founded Beyond Ex-Gay, and is excited about journeying with other ex-gay survivors to find healing and true wholeness. For more information, visit Christine’s website, Rising Up Whole

Kevin Trimell JonesKevin Trimell Jones is a public health advocate who combines his passions for history, urban communities and social justice to promote dialogue and change. For the past ten years, he has organized around community and public health issues, and has worked with various individuals, communities and organizations locally and abroad. Professionally, he serves as a behavioral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division where he designs recruitment and retention strategies for clinical HIV vaccine trials. Additionally, Kevin is a national trainer with the Gay Men’s Health Leadership Academy, a co-founder of the Black Gay Men’s Leadership Council and the founder of the Black LGBT Archivists Society of Philadelphia, an organization that strives to provide opportunities for creating, documenting, preserving and exhibiting Philadelphia’s Black LGBT history. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and Masters-level graduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts — Amherst and the University of Pennsylvania. Kevin was born in Saginaw, MI, grew up in Detroit, MI and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Darlene BogleDarlene Bogle was an assistant Pastor in the Foursquare church, while leading an Ex-gay ministry for almost ten years. She was asked to resign both positions when God changed her heart and overwhelmed her with His unconditional love. She has appeared in the film documentary, God and Gays-Bridging the Gap; has authored or contributed to 5 books, dispelling the message that change is required or desired from God to be a healthy member of the faith community. She has partnered with Soulforce; Beyond Ex-Gay, and other Christian ministries with a message of God’s love and acceptance. She stood with Michael Bussee and Jeremy Marks three years ago to issue an apology to the Gay community for their harmful message as Exodus leaders. Darlene is active is social justice work around the country and works with her Partner Becky to further the message of God’s unconditional Love for all His children. They live in San Jose California and attend the First Congregational Church-a UCC fellowship. Darlene can be reached at Turtlehrt@aol.com

Christine RobinsonDr. Christine Robinson is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies in the Department of Justice Studies at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Kansas. She has published peer-reviewed articles, presented conference papers, written an outline article, and published a scholarly book review on issues related to the ex-gay movement. She is a 2009 recipient of the Monette-Horwitz Trust Award, honoring individuals and organizations for their significant contributions toward eradicating homophobia. She has also been honored with the 2009 Christopher L. Gatesman Service Award, the 2009 Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award by the Office of the President at James Madison University, and in 2007 the blossoming Professional Award by the society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

Gloria CasarezGloria Casarez never planned to work in government, but in 2008 she joined forces with Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter to handle lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) affairs on behalf of the city’s residents. In 1995, Casarez began work at the LGBT Center of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1997, she moved on to a position at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative (GALAEI), where she ran a program for LGBT youth. Two years later, she took over the reigns as executive director, where she increased the organization’s outreach, tripled its budget and created the first transgender-led services in Philadelphia as part of its peer-based programs. As a government director, Casarez continues to work on various projects to improve the lives of LGBT people in Philadelphia, including ensuring that municipal agencies provide services fairly and equally, advancing pro-LGBT legislation and training school faculties on how to support queer-identified students. 

J MasonJ. Mason is a highly engaging Black/Gay/Trans/Queer facilitator and performer based in Philadelphia. Having been doing work as an educator since their first job as an assistant instructor, while still a freshman in high school, Mason has been conducting trainings on various topics for over 10 years. Combining multiple learning styles, a social work model and the sheer sense of joy invoked from sharing information Mason believes that in order for an audience to internalize the information you are presenting, they must understand how it affects them and the networks they are a part of personally. Holding a B.A. in Multicultural Relations from Arcadia University, Mason is currently serving as the Education Specialist for The Bryson Institute of The Attic Youth Center. To date, Mason has trained thousands of providers and community members on various issues concerning LGBTQIA youth in spaces such as church communities, elementary schools, domestic violence shelters, medical agencies, juvenile justice organizations, foster care programs and others as part of a quickly growing list of expertise.

Amanda Lee GenaroAmanda Lee Genaro is a 25 year old, Hard-of-hearing, bisexual, sober woman from Indiana. A respected Bi activist, she currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Amanda Lee had her first run in with Soulforce during the first Equality Ride in 2006 when they came to demonstrate at North Central University. After the  Ride visited Amanda Lee came out, and was expelled from North Central, just two months before graduation. Amanda Lee participated in the 2010 Equality Ride, where she led the stop at Southwest Baptist University, and also a direct action at the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, MO resulting in a first-ever meeting between Soulforce and the Assemblies of God leadership. Amanda Lee works to raise awareness around issues of Bi-phobia and Ableism (among other topics), serving on multiple committees and panels in both Indiana and Minnesota. 

Jallen RixJallen Rix, Ed.D. ACS, is Associate Professor at The Institute for Advanced Studies of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. He is a Board Certified Sexologist by the American College of Sexologist. He teaches and maintains a private practice in San Francisco and Palm Springs. Growing up as a Southern Baptist, he was taught that spirituality was heavenly but sexuality was from the devil. While obtaining a B.A. in creative arts and a minor in theology, he also went to great lengths attempting to change his sexuality from gay to straight in an ex-gay ministry — to no avail. Jallen’s first book, Ex-Gay No Way: Survival and Recovery from Religious Abusewas just published by Findhorn Press and it tells of his journey out of sexually oppressive religion and reparative therapy to find heath wholeness and happiness as a gay man.


Sponsored in part by
COIL Foundation
COIL Foundation

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion & Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion and Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

A Soulforce Open Letter to Members of the United Methodist Church

Gil Caldwell: The United Methodist Church, it’s deja vu all over again [pdf]

Photos from the 10th Anniversary Reunion & Direct Action

Reconciling Ministries Photos at flickr.com

Soulforce Tenth Anniversary Video

Video from "The Struggle Continues: Racism and Heterosexism in the Church"

Celebrating a Decade of Relentless Nonviolent Resistance

April 25 – 27, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas

Soulforce 10th Anniversary & Reunion Gala
Friday, April 25, 2008, at 7:30pm

Soulforce is pleased to announce our 10th Anniversary & Reunion Gala at 7:30pm on Friday, April 25, 2008, at the Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Airport South Hotel (hotel info) – near Fort Worth. The evening will be an opportunity for us to connect with old friends, share stories from direct actions during Soulforce’s first decade, and think ahead about the challenges we face in the next decade. This upbeat evening will include refreshments, video, music, and guest speakers, with an opportunity to celebrate our history before we join together to begin the more serious and focused work of challenging the injustice within the United Methodist Church on Saturday and Sunday. More details coming soon! Register now!

Direct Action at the 2008 UMC General Conference

Saturday & Sunday, April 26-27, 2008

Schedule of Events

Read the personal invitation from Rev. Dr. Mel White.

Read the call to action from civil rights leader Gil Caldwell.

Read the call to action from civil rights leader Phil Lawson.

Soulforce will continue our history of resisting injustice within the United Methodist Church with a direct action at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. The decision makers that Soulforce needs to reach are the 1000 clergy and lay delegates of the General Conference. Most of the delegates are from the U.S., but many come from Africa (the two largest regional conference delegations), Europe, Asia and elsewhere around the world.

The United Methodist Church, a global denomination, is the second largest Protestant denomination in the United States (after the Southern Baptist Convention). The neoconservative, Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), based in Washington, D.C., has played a key role in fomenting misinformation about LGBT persons and same-gender families within the United Methodist Church.

United Methodists who are prominent in U.S. politics include Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, John Edwards and Dick Cheney. The denomination expresses its openness to a broad range of viewpoints in the church with its official slogan of "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors". Many United Methodists recognize the insincerity of this declaration in light of the exclusion of LGBT persons.

The current Surgeon General nominee, James W. Holsinger, a leader of an IRD-backed renewal group, the "Confessing Movement," presides over the Judicial Council ("Supreme Court") of the United Methodist Church which issued "Decision 1032" in 2006. In Decision 1032 the highest church court in the United Methodist Church granted sole authority to local United Methodist Church pastors to deny church membership to LGBT persons.

Progressives and moderates in the United Methodist Church have rallied in opposition to Decision 1032. But progressives are now on the defensive — with little hope of pressing for LGBT ordination, they are now forced to petition General Conference to overturn the anti-LGBT membership "law" established by the UMC Judicial Council.

Your presence is vital to creating a visible presence and strong voice for justice. Come to Fort Worth and be a part of continuing Soulforce’s history of seeking justice within the United Methodist Church. Register now!

The Soulforce History of Seeking Justice within the United Methodist Church:

1999 – Soulforce staged a direct action at the UMC Church Trial of the Rev. Jimmy Creech who was defrocked for performing same-gender marriages.

2000 – At the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, almost 200 Soulforce volunteers were arrested in a nonviolent direct action. Prominent participants included Arun Gandhi, Yolanda King, the Rev. James Lawson, and the Rev. Phil Lawson. Two United Methodist Bishops were among those who volunteered to submit to arrest.

March 2004 – Soulforce conducted a direct action at the UMC Church Trial of the Rev. Karen Dammann, put on trial for being a "self-avowed" lesbian, but found "not guilty."

May 2004 – Soulforce was at the 2004 General Conference. Church legislation was passed supporting civil legislation banning same-gender marriage. More anti-LGBT language was added to the church’s Book of Discipline (book of church laws), especially related to church trials. Attempts to recognize dissenting opinions in the church were rejected. In response, Soulforce led a nonviolent mass disruption of the General Conference during its final days.

December 2004 – Soulforce vigiled at the UMC Church Trial of the Rev. Beth Stroud. Beth was stripped of her clergy credentials by the Trial Court, but has continued to be employed by her local congregation as a lay minister.

June 2007 – President Bush nominated Dr. James W. Holsinger as Surgeon General. Soulforce issued a press release exposing Holsinger’s history of anti-gay bigotry in his official roles as a member of the United Methodist Committee to Study Homosexuality (1988 to 1992) and as President ("Chief Justice") of the United Methodist Judicial Council ("Supreme Court").

More Information:

Press Release 4/23/2008
Black Clergy Allies to Show Support for LGBT Methodists

Press Release 4/11/2008
Soulforce Events Urge Methodists to Open Hearts, Minds, and Doors

Press Release 1/2/2008
Soulforce to Mark 10th Anniversary in 2008 with Direct Action at United Methodist General Convention

Hotel Info for the Direct Action at the 2008 UMC General Conference

The Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion and Direct Action at the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church

Hotel Info for the Direct Action at the 2008 UMC General Conference

Important: Deadline for reservations is Friday, April 18th.


4151 Centreport Boulevard
Fort Worth, Texas 76155 USA
Phone: 1-817-358-1700
Fax: 1-817-358-1800
Toll-free: 1-800-228-9290
Group Code is: SOULFORCE

For online reservations, follow this link: http://marriott.com/dfwam?groupCode=sousoua&app=resvlink

Rate is $99 plus 15% tax (1-4 p/room) – does not include breakfast

Free shuttle to/from airport

Update: For those attending the UMC action from Sunday through Friday (4/27 – 5/1), a small block of rooms is reserved at the DAYS INN on University Drive. You may contact the hotel directly to make your reservation (there is no group name…just make your own individual reservation) or you may contact Kara Speltz at kara@soulforce.org).

Days Inn Fort Worth
1551 S University Drive
I-30, Exit #12A-Univ Drive S
Fort Worth, TX 76107 US
Phone: 817-336-9823
Online reservations

Note: The 2008 United Methodist General Conference is being held April 23 – May 2, 2008 in downtown Fort Worth at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St., Ft. Worth, TX 76102. For more information, visit the conference website at: www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2336161/k.1E1C/General_Conference_2008.htm

Transportation from the Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Airport hotel to the Fort Worth Convention Center is available on the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) at a fare of $1.50 each way. For maps, schedules and more information, go to the TRE website at www.trinityrailwayexpress.org

Back to the Soulforce 10th Anniversary Reunion & Direct Action