Bishop Long Meets with LGBT Families: A Story of Family Reconciliation

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 2, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771
paige@soulforce.org

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(Atlanta, GA) — Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, attended a Sunday meeting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families. The meeting, which also included New Birth elders and staff, was part of a nationwide fellowship project called The American Family Outing, which aims to create dialogue between LGBT families and families at six American mega-churches between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2008.

At least one family was literally reconciled through the meeting. Rev. Troy Sanders, an openly gay minister from Atlanta, was surprised to find his estranged godmother, a member of New Birth, in the meeting. The two shared a public and emotional reunion.

"Before, she didn’t know how to talk about me being an openly gay man," said Sanders, "and I interpreted that as rejection."

"Yesterday she was clear that, while she doesn’t agree with everything theologically, her love for me is not negated as a result of that. For both of us, there is a desire to remain connected," said Sanders.

For Sanders, who has participated in three of the American Family Outing visits, this one had a special character: "The element of family and connectedness seemed to come across very clearly. Whether or not we see eye-to-eye, that connection is not destroyed."

According to several participants in the meeting, Bishop Long made a special effort to be present, in spite of having just returned from Dubai.

In previous weeks, AFO families have visited Lakewood Church in Houston, The Potter’s House in Dallas, and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD. In these visits, American Family Outing participants and church congregants have engaged in thoughtful and inspiring dialogue and fellowship.

Next week, LGBT families will visit Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. The American Family Outing concludes at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, on Father’s Day.

The American Family Outing is a collaboration between Soulforce, COLAGE, National Black Justice Coalition, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

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.

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 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.

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