Soulforce, the National Black Justice Coalition, COLAGE and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches are proud to present …
The American Family Outing
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People & Their Families Create Dialogue with Six of America’s Most Influential Evangelical Leaders & Their Mega-Churches
Between Mother’s Day Weekend and Father’s Day Weekend, 2008, diverse families from around the country will create meaningful conversations about faith, family, and LGBT people. We seek first to understand, and then to be understood, as we engage the families at six of America’s leading mega-churches. We visit these churches because we recognize the enormous influence each has within Christianity and the larger culture, through ministries, radio and television programs, and books that reach millions. We believe these churches have the potential to be a positive force in ending the physical and spiritual violence perpetuated by some religious voices against LGBT people and their families. Some of these churches have exercised inspirational leadership on social issues such as poverty and AIDS, and we believe they can exercise comparable, courageous leadership in ending spiritual and physical violence against LGBT people.
Same-gender couples with or without children, supportive straight couples and families, single-parent families, and single individuals who want to participate with a member of their extended family, are invited to apply for one or more church visits. To apply and learn more about the clergy and families leading each visit, please visit the AFO page for each church below.
Friday, May 9 – Sunday, May 11, 2008 (Mother’s Day Weekend) Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas
Joel Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Lakewood is North America’s largest and fastest growing church averaging more than 42,000 attendees at weekly services, and a television program reaching over 100 million households in over 100 nations. He was featured as one of Barbara Walters’ "10 Most Fascinating People of 2006" and was named "Most Influential Christian in America" in 2006 by the readers of The Church Report Magazine. His television ministry is the most watched inspirational program in the United States.
Friday, May 16 – Sunday, May 18, 2008 Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas
Bishop T.D. Jakes, founder and senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas, a multiracial, nondenominational church with over 30,000 members, nearly 400 staff members, and more than 50 outreach ministries to millions around the globe. A best-selling author, Jakes has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine and was named "America’s Best Preacher" by the magazine.
Friday, May 23 – Sunday, May 25, 2008 (Memorial Day Weekend) Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland (near Washington, D.C.)
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., the African-American pastor of Hope Christian Church with 3,500 members in Beltsville, MD, just outside Washington, D.C. Jackson was named one of the top 50 most influential Christians in 2005 by the Christian Post. His radio commentary can be heard daily on 400+ stations nationally. Jackson is a fervent opponent of gay rights and founded the High Impact Leadership Coalition to promote his "Black Contract With America on Moral Values," a six-point platform which includes the prohibition of same-sex marriage.
Friday, May 30 – Sunday, June 1, 2008 Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia (near Atlanta)
Bishop Eddie L. Long, the African-American pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church with over 25,000 members and 40 ministries, frequently teaches that "homosexuality is a manifestation of the fallen man" and that God can "deliver" homosexuals. Bishop Long was honored by the Center for Disease Control and the National HIV/AIDS Partnership (NHAP) for his outstanding work in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS. He was chosen by the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 2006 to host and officiate the funeral of Mrs. Coretta Scott King, which was attended by four Presidents.
Friday, June 6 – Sunday, June 8, 2008 Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois (near Chicago)
Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois with 30,000 members. The church has been listed as the most influential church in America the last several years in a national poll of pastors. Hybels started the Global Leadership Summit in 1995 as an annual training event broadcast live from the Willow Creek campus in suburban Chicago to 100+ video sites across America, plus later via delay for another 70 international sites. 80,000 attendees were part of the 2006 Leadership Summit.
Friday, June 13 – Sunday, June 15, 2008 (Father’s Day Weekend) Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California
Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose-Driven Life and founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America’s largest and best-known churches with a membership of over 16,000. Warren was named one of "America’s Top 25 Leaders" by U.S. News and World Report in 2005. He was elected by TIME Magazine as one of "15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most" in 2004 and one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World" in 2005.