SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 22, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Paige Schilt, Media Director
(Thursday, May 22, 2008) Today Soulforce released letters to Bishop Harry Jackson and staff at Hope Christian Church. The letters, which were written on December 1, 2007, and March 20, 2008, invite Bishop Jackson and members of his Maryland church to share a meal and "heart-to-heart" conversations with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families as part of a nationwide fellowship effort called The American Family Outing.
The letters were released in response to a press release from Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition, which mistakenly suggests that members of Soulforce plan to protest outside Hope Christian Church on Sunday.
"We have had a series of conversations with Bishop Jackson and his staff that would not warrant the tone of their press release," said Dr. Sylvia Rhue, Director of Religious Affairs for the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC).
"As the letters show, The American Family Outing is about conversation between families and civil discourse on common ground," Rhue continued. "The letters document that we have reached out to Hope Christian Church in good faith, and we will continue to do so with integrity."
The American Family Outing is a collaborative project of Soulforce, COLAGE, NBJC, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.
In the letter dated March 20, 2008, Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes wrote: "we want to assure you that we intend to engage you in the same way we believe you will seek to engage us – with Christ-like love and respect. We believe Hope Christian Church and our families can model the kind of hospitality and concern for others that is mandated by Scripture and our shared faith values." (Links to full text below.)
Today Lutes indicated that the families of The American Family Outing will attend the planned dinner with Hope Christian Church on Saturday, May 24.
The American Family Outing (AFO) aims to open dialogue between LGBT families and families at six American mega-churches. In previous weeks, AFO families have visited Lakewood Church in Houston and The Potter’s House in Dallas. In weeks to come, LGBT families will visit Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois and Saddleback Church in California.
For more information, go to www.soulforce.org.
To read the full text of the letter dated December 1, 2007, go to: www.soulforce.org/article/1368
To read the full text of the letter dated March 20, 2008, go to: www.soulforce.org/article/1369
Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization dedicated to freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.
The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) is an international fellowship of Christian churches with a 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 is a national movement of children, youth and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer parents. We build community and work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy.