Soulforce Launches Search for New Executive Director

Soulforce continues the exciting process of recruiting and hiring our new permanent Executive Director!  First a search committee was established from a broad group of former board members, esteemed religious leaders, current board members and staff – and what a powerful group of individuals they are!

Next, the services of a professional search and recruiting firm were sought out to assure that our Executive Director search was thorough and reached out to every constituency possible. We’re excited to be working with Joe McCormack and Kevin Chase of McCormack & Associates, a 15 year old national provider of specialized executive search services, and among the first national search firms to specialize in diversity recruiting!

Now we are excited to present the Recruitment Profile which is intended to provide detailed information about the Soulforce Executive Director position and the candidates that we are seeking. Please feel free to pass this information along to anyone who you believe would be interested in applying for the E.D. position. Information is included about how to contact McCormack & Associates in regard to this position.

The Board and Staff, and all of Soulforce, invite your ongoing support as we walk down this exciting new path in our work to end the religion-based and political oppression of LGBTQ people and to create a world where all are welcome and all are powerful and all are able to fully blossom as the special gifts that each of us are!

To view the Executive Director Recruitment Profile, click here.

Soulforce Recognizes Service of Jeff Lutes

Soulforce Board Chair Chuck Phelan and Interim Executive Director Bill Carpenter presented retired Executive Director Jeff Lutes with a recognition award on January 10 at Metropolitan Community Church-Austin, where Jeff is a member. The award recognized Jeff’s leadership over the past four years and his program achievements, including:

  • Nonviolent Direct Actions at Focus on the Family, 2005 and 2006.
  • The Ex-Gay Survivors Conference, 2007.
  • Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights, 2007 and 2008.
  • The American Family Outing, 2008.
  • The Anti-Heterosexism Conference, 2009
  • Writing “What the Science Says-And Doesn’t Say-About Homosexuality”
  • Helping birth Soulforce Q and their first three Equality Rides

Chuck also pointed out that "behind every great man in our community is a great man" and recognized Jeff’s husband, Gary Stein, and their three children, who were also in attendance. The presentation took place during the training for the 2010 Equality Riders and Soulforce staffers Andi Gentile, Caitlin MacIntyre, and a number of Equality Riders were present as Jeff was honored.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Soulforce Executive Director Search

Soulforce, Inc. is an 11-year old national civil rights organization. Our mission is to end religionbased discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning people. Our method is persistent, non-violent resistance, with a commitment to the strategies and principles employed by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. (for more details please visit our web site at:

Our core values are strong and we are welcoming to people of all colors, faiths, orientations and identities. The organization has just completed a process of identifying its Strategic Plan Objectives. Programs implementing the objectives are underway. The most prominent of which is the Equality Ride, led by a strong group of young adult staff members. The ride will take off for the fourth time in March 2010.

The organization was founded by the Rev. Dr. Mel White in 1998. The organization grew under his leadership until 2006, when Mel retired from fulltime leadership and moved into a role as “founder”. A new, part-time Executive Director position was approved. Jeff Lutes was hired for that role and served Soulforce well for nearly four years. In June 2009 the Board of Directors authorized the Executive Director position to expand to full time. Jeff has stepped back to have more time to pursue his private counseling practice and to spend more time with his family. In the interim, Bill Carpenter, the Soulforce Director of National Actions, has agreed to lead the organization. Bill remains heavily involved in the Equality Ride as well.

The Interim Executive Director will serve until May 2010. The full-time Executive Director position will be officially posted and applications accepted by the Board of Directors on the schedule shown below. Please watch for more details and share this announcement with people who may have a sincere interest in serving as Soulforce’s Executive Director.


  • Formal request for submission of Executive Director Applications will be posted January 2010
  • Applications will be accepted through mid-February 2010
  • Reviews, interviews, vetting and selection throughout March 2010
  • New Executive Director to begin April 15, 2010

McCormack & Associates, well-known diversity search consultants, have been selected to manage the recruitment process for the new Soulforce Executive Director. McCormack is the nation’s first gay-owned retained search practice, and is a Certified LGBT Business Enterprise by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. The firm is based in Los Angeles, California. Since 1993, McCormack has filled over 200 CEO, COO and board level searches for LGBT, HIV/AIDS, health care, education and social justice organizations nationally. The firm was named one of the Top 50 executive recruiting firms by independent industry publication Executive Recruiter News.

All correspondence about this position should be addressed to


Soulforce is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law.

Jeff Lutes resigns as Soulforce Executive Director

Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of Our Executive Director

Brief Video of Jeff Lutes

A Message from Soulforce Co-Founder Mel White:
Soulforce regrets to announce the resignation of our Executive Director, Jeff Lutes, after nearly four years of dedicated service. Jeff has chosen at this time to return to his family counseling practice in Austin, Texas, and to spend more quality time with his husband, Gary Stein, and their three young children, Niko, Trei, and Jole’. You may stay in touch with Jeff at

The Soulforce board of directors has appointed Bill Carpenter, who has served as Director of National Actions for many years, as Interim Executive Director. Bill will work with Soulforce staff to continue operations of the organization, including the upcoming Equality Ride in early 2010. Bill has a long history of service to Soulforce, since our very first action in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1999, and I’m grateful to him for taking this role at an important time in Soulforce history. I believe he is uniquely qualified to serve as Interim Executive Director while we undertake a nationwide search for the next Executive Director of Soulforce.

In January 2006, Jeff succeeded me as Executive Director of Soulforce. We are grateful for all he has accomplished in his time as Soulforce Executive Director. Here are a few examples:

  • Organized nonviolent direct actions in 2005 and 2006 outside the world headquarters of Focus on the Family. Those protests clearly demonstrated the tragic consequences of James Dobson and his antigay rhetoric and are featured in the films For The Bible Tells Me So and SoleJourney, both distributed by First Run Features.
  • Originated the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in 2007 which exposed the misinformation campaign of Exodus International and spoke clearly to the damage being done by its ex-gay ministries across the country. The conference brought 200 survivors of ex-gay ministries together from all around the world for healing and empowerment. This much needed event received coverage on NPR and media outlets across the country, including CNN’s Paula Zahn.
  • Created The American Family Outing in 2008 which took dozens of LGBT couples and their children to dialogue with mega-church leaders Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Bishop Eddie Long.
  • Originated Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights which created rallies and vigils in 2007 and 2008 by heterosexual allies in 38 cities in 28 different states across the country.
  • Wrote the popular Soulforce booklets What the Science Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality, and A False Focus on My Family.
  • Produced Dear Dr. Dobson: An Open Letter Video , the DVD that challenges the antigay rhetoric of James Dobson and warns of its tragic consequences in the lives of LGBT people, their friends and families.
  • Managed Soulforce during the birth of our young adults program, Soulforce Q, and the first three Equality Rides.
  • Strengthened the reputation of Soulforce through countless print, radio and television interviews and by speaking at dozens of churches, universities and rallies around the country.

Jeff Lutes has led Soulforce through challenging times and we are grateful. Jeff will continue to write and speak powerfully about the role of relentless nonviolent resistance in our struggle against religion-based oppression. Again, we thank Jeff for his role in strengthening Soulforce and for modeling in his own life what it means to be a man of faith committed to doing justice on behalf of all those who suffer religion-based oppression.

– Mel White, Soulforce Co-Founder



Soulforce: A Brief History, 1999-2006

Cover of the Soulforce History Book

This 76-page book covers the beginning of Mel White and Gary Nixon’s dream of Soulforce through the fall of 2006. Included are many voices and hundreds of photos of Soulforce events.

Free Download
You can download a PDF file of Soulforce: A Brief History, 1999 – 2006.

Order Hard Copies Online
You can order hard copies of Soulforce: A Brief History, 1999 – 2006 at the cost of $10.00 per copy from the Soulforce Store.

Order Hard Copies by Mail
Indicate the number of copies needed and send a donation of $10.00 per book to:

PO Box 3195
Lynchburg, VA 24503

Bulk Orders
For inquires about discounted bulk orders (more than 20 copies) please send an email to

Soulforce Turns 10!

For Immediate Release

Contact: Paige Schilt, 
Media Director
Cell: 512-659-1771

(Austin, TX) This spring, Soulforce celebrates 10 years of relentless nonviolent activism for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) freedom. In keeping with Soulforce’s "take it to the streets" ethos, a mix of formal events and grassroots action will mark the milestone anniversary:

  • On Saturday, April 5, Equality Virginia will present the Fifth Annual Commonwealth Award to Soulforce Co-founders Rev. Dr. Mel White and Gary Nixon.
  • On Friday, April 25th at 7:30pm, Soulforce hosts a 10th Anniversary Gala and Reunion at the Marriott Dallas/Fort Worth Airport South.
  • On Saturday, April 26th, at 7:00 am, Soulforce invites all who care about justice for LGBT people to gather in downtown Fort Worth’s General Worth Square for a training in nonviolence and a vigil outside the United Methodist General Conference.

Looking Back

Ten years ago, Rev. Dr. Mel White and his partner Gary Nixon began laying the groundwork for a new social movement. Under the auspices of "Soulforce," a name adapted from the teachings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas K. 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.

Selected Soulforce Timeline

1998: White and Nixon convene the first Soulforce Board of Directors.

1999: In Lynchburg, Virginia, 200 Soulforce members attend an unprecedented meeting with 200 members of Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Thomas Road Baptist Church; later that year, 74 are arrested for blocking the entrance to the United Methodist church where Rev. Jimmy Creech is being tried for marrying same-sex couples.

2000: In Cleveland, Arun Gandhi and Yolanda King lead civil disobedience inside the United Methodist General Conference to protest the denomination’s anti-gay policies. Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas, is among the 191 arrested.

2001: In Rome, Soulforce and Dignity/USA bring photographs representing the gifts of faithful LGBT Catholics to the Vatican for The Epiphany.

2002: In St. Louis, Soulforce activists disrupt business at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention to call attention to the suffering caused by the denomination’s anti-gay teachings.

2005: In Colorado Springs, more than 1,000 people join Soulforce outside Focus on the Family headquarters to hold James Dobson accountable for his ant-gay rhetoric. The Reitan family is arrested for trespassing, as documented in For the Bible Tells Me So.

2006: Nationwide, the first Soulforce Equality Ride bus brings hope and truth to 18 colleges that silence or exclude LGBT students. Soulforce Q, the young adult division of Soulforce, is born.

2007: In Irvine, California, 200 ex-gay survivors come together for the first Ex-gay Survivor Conference, a powerful rebuttal to the annual meeting of Exodus International. Three former Exodus leaders issue a formal apology for the harm caused by ex-gay programs.

Looking Ahead with Hope

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. But in spite of these positive changes, an old guard of radical right-wing organizations continues to use sexual orientation and gender identities as wedges to divide mainline denominations and our nation. In April 2008, the Soulforce Vigil for Justice at the United Methodist General Conference will stand up to these divisive voices, encouraging the United Methodist Church to live up to its slogan "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors," by including LGBT people in marriage rites, ministry, and membership.

Then, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2008, delegations of LGBT families will initiate dialogue with a new generation of Christian leaders. The American Family Outing will ask nationally known pastors, including Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes, to exercise positive leadership in ending physical and spiritual violence against LGBT people.

In fall 2008, the Third Annual Equality Ride will visit the American South. The itinerary will include seminaries and several faith-based Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Through education, outreach, and direct action, these courageous young activists will illuminate the destructive effects of religion-based bigotry and sow the seeds of a more inclusive campus culture. A true youth movement, the Equality Ride is empowering a new generation to challenge tradition and secure a brighter future for everyone.

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



Year End Gift Ideas

Year-end giving helps Soulforce continue to fight Spiritual Violence and helps you save on taxes.

The tax laws intentionally encourage charitable giving. Because of the income tax charitable deduction, individuals who make their gifts by December 31 and itemize can significantly reduce their income taxes for the year.

Example: If you make a charitable gift of $10,000 in 2009, you can save $3,300 in taxes if you are in the 33% tax bracket. And the higher your tax bracket, the more money you save with a charitable gift. (A gift of $10,000 fully covers the cost of one National Direct Action.)

Giving is, of course, much more than tax brackets and charitable deductions. Philanthropy provides the meaningful difference in what we can do. As people of (any) faith, we need to give and work for a better tomorrow for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people everywhere.

Please discuss your year-end tax planning with your accountant or other professional advisor.

Gifts of Cash

There is no easier way to obtain a charitable deduction and support Soulforce at the same time than by simply writing a check. Make sure your envelope is postmarked by December 31; if it is, your gift will qualify as the current year gift even if it is not received by Soulforce until the first week of the new year. Mail your check to Soulforce, P.O. Box 2499 Abilene, Texas  79604.

If you itemize, your outright gifts of cash are fully deductible for federal income tax purposes up to 50% of your adjusted gross income. If your total gifts should exceed this limitation, the excess may be carried forward for tax purposes for up to five additional years.

Gifts of Stock

Year-end is an excellent time to consider a gift of stock. Giving longterm appreciated stock offers you two-fold tax savings. First, you avoid paying any capital gains tax on the increase in value of your stock. In addition, you receive a tax deduction for the full fair market value of the stock on the date of the gift. For income tax purposes the value of such gifts may be deducted up to 30% of adjusted gross income, with an additional five-year carry forward.

Example: If you purchased stock many years ago for $1000, and it is now worth $10,000, an outright gift of that stock to us would result in a charitable deduction of $10,000. In addition, you permanently avoid paying capital gains tax on the $9,000 of appreciation.

Gifts of Real Estate

If you have owned your home, a vacation home, acreage, or a farm for many years, a charitable gift of that real estate can be especially tax-advantageous. The property may have so appreciated in value over the years that its sale would result in a sizeable capital gains tax. If given to Soulforce instead, you avoid the tax and realize a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the real estate.

You may also wish to consider a gift of your personal residence or farm, reserving the right to continue to live in the house for life (and, the lifetime of your surviving partner). Through such an arrangement, you will be entitled to a current income tax deduction for a portion of the fair market value of the property. See your tax advisor for details.

Gifts of Life Insurance

If you own a life insurance policy that is no longer needed, consider it as the perfect vehicle for a year-end charitable gift!

To receive a charitable deduction, name us as both the owner and the beneficiary of the policy. If the policy has a cash value, you can take a charitable deduction approximately equal to the cash value at the time of the gift. In addition, if annual premiums are still to be made and you continue to pay them, those premiums will become tax deductible each year. It’s easy to contribute a life insurance policy to us. Just check with your life insurance agent for details on which forms to complete.

Life Income Gifts

If you are considering a major gift, your gift of cash or stock in the form of a "life income gift" can significantly increase your income.

A life income gift allows you to transfer assets now, and yet continue to receive income from the cash, stock, or other property contributed. A life income gift can allow you to: increase your income for life; receive a generous charitable contribution deduction this year; and if you contribute stock, avoid any capital gains tax on the appreciation.

A life income gift is often made through a trust arrangement called a "unitrust" or an "annuity trust." with a unitrust, you and/or your spouse or other beneficiary receive annually a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the assets in the trust. The income received will vary from year to year, based on how the trust’s investments preform. With an annuity trust, you and/or your spouse or other beneficiary receive a fixed amount from the trust each year. This amount is agreed upon when you create the trust; it stays constant, no matter what happens with the stock market or interest rates.

If you have already considered a provision for us in your will, please note that a life income gift can often be preferable. Such a gift allows you to accomplish your goals during your lifetime and in a tax-advantaged way.


While you’re considering your income tax savings, this may also be a good time to consider long-term tax savings, The federal estate tax can still take approximately 50% of one’s estate at the time of death. It pays to do some advance planning with your attorney and other professional advisors. Soulforce hopes you will consider a charitable bequest in your will to benefit the GLBT community while you save estate tax dollars at the same time

For more information

Be sure to check with your accountant, tax attorney, or other tax advisor for additional information on how these general rules apply to your situation. See which year end gift opportunities will be most advantageous for your particular situation.

Thank you for your support at year-end, and throughout the year!

Dan Karslake

Dan KarslakeDaniel Karslake is an American Broadway, television and film producer/director. He is the founding president of DK Works, a New York-based production company dedicated to creating high quality, thought provoking theater, television and movies that change the world. Karslake wrote, directed and produced his first feature-length documentary film called FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO ( ) which had its world premiere in competition at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Described by National Public Radio as “an incredibly powerful film that everybody should see,” the movie examines the controversial intersection of religion and homosexuality in America through the lens of five Christian families. It has won multiple Best Documentary Audience Awards at film festivals across the country. FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO was also voted the Best Spiritual Documentary of 2007 by, it won the GLAAD Media Award for Best Documentary of 2007, and was on the short list for a 2008 Academy Award.