"Gay Days" at the Mega-churches: LGBT Families & Allies Reflect on the American Family Outing

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 24, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

******************************************

On Father’s Day 2008, a group of LGBT and straight-ally families attended services at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. The next day, a smaller group of about 8 families met with pastors and other staff of the influential mega-church for lunch and an earnest conversation about faith, family, and the status of LGBT people in the church.

The visit was the conclusion of a six-week family road trip to initiate dialogue with mega-church congregations across the nation. In December 2007, organizers of the project — which is called The American Family Outing — invited the leaders of six mega-churches to match families from their congregations with LGBT and straight-ally families for a meal and conversation. Then, on Mother’s Day 2008, the outing began with a visit to Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

"Through the American Family Outing, we were able to share our families and our lives as out and proud LGBT people of faith with some of the most influential religious leaders in America," says Paige Schilt, Soulforce Media Director and one of the lesbian moms who participated in the project. "Along the way, we learned a great deal about the state of mainstream evangelical culture."

"On the one hand, there’s still a tremendous amount at stake for high-profile churches to meet publicly with LGBT families. They took a lot of heat just for talking to us, and we appreciate that.

"We also learned that an openly gay or lesbian person cannot become a member or serve in most of the churches we visited. When LGBT people hear that ‘all are welcome’ at a mega-church, we encourage them to investigate the quality of that welcome.

"On the other hand, we also learned that support for reparative therapy and other kinds of ex-gay programs seems to be diminishing. We heard more talk about celibacy and less talk about change.

"We also heard, from many of the churches, a sincere interest in continuing the conversation with LGBT justice seekers," Schilt concluded. "We look forward to future dialogues, public and private."

Nationwide, more than 50 LGBT and LGBT-affirming families took part in this remarkable journey to build bridges with mainstream and conservative evangelical communities, which visited churches in Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Illinois, and California.

One of the people who participated in the meeting with Saddleback Church was Bob Bednar, a straight, married father of two.

"Being there showed me in a powerful way exactly how brave my LGBT team members were to go into that kind of atmosphere and insist that church leaders recognize their pain and start to see it as their own pain, too," said Bednar.

"As a straight ally, it was inspiring to work alongside them. But the experience also showed me how far we have to go," Bednar concluded.

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.

###

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LGBT Families Share Their Witness with Hope Christian, Bishop Jackson

Dinner Builds a Bridge to Future Dialogue

******************************************
SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 27, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

******************************************

(Washington, D.C.) On Saturday, May 24, a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), and straight-ally families shared dinner and conversation with families from Bishop Harry Jackson’s Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland.

According to The Washington Times, Bishop Jackson, who is known for his opposition to marriage equality and hate crimes protections for sexual orientation and gender identity, called the meeting with same-gender-loving families "historic."

Dr. Sylvia Rhue, Director of Religious Affairs for the National Black Justice Coalition and a lead organizer of the meeting said, "We knew that there were distinct theological chasms between Hope Christian and our group of lesbian, gay and bisexual folk, and those differences were not expected to be breached in one meeting. However, the purpose was for Hope Christian church families to get to know our families and see that the commonalities we share are greater that the differences."

The dinner was part of a nationwide fellowship outreach called The American Family Outing, which issued an invitation to Bishop Jackson and members of his Maryland church to share a meal and "heart-to-heart" conversation with LGBT families and clergy.

The initial invitation to fellowship was issued in letters dated December 1, 2007, and March 20, 2008. The letters were released last week in response to a press release from Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition, which mistakenly suggested that members of The American Family Outing planned to protest outside Hope Christian Church. (See links to letters below.)

The event was comprised of about 30 people from Hope Christian Church and about 30 people from The American Family Outing (AFO). The conversation began with opening statements from each group. Then moderators from each group accepted questions from those assembled. Rev. Phil Lawson, Soulforce board member and veteran African American civil rights activist, acted as the moderator for the AFO.

Some of the topics discussed were hate crimes protections, free speech, marriage equality, civil rights, and attitudes toward gay and lesbian sons and daughters who come out in evangelical families and churches such as Hope Christian. Many of the AFO families were able to share their experiences of discrimination and spiritual violence in the one-on-one conversation and the larger forum.

"Where do we go from here?" asked Sylvia Rhue. "There is a mutual agreement to continue the conversation."

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

The 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 these successful visits, AFO participants and church congregants have engaged in thoughtful and inspiring dialogue and fellowship. In weeks to come, LGBT families will visit Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois and Saddleback Church in California.

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. 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.
###

 

 

 

 

Soulforce Releases Letter from Bakker to Osteen

******************************************
SOULFORCE MEDIA ADVISORY: April 24, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

"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." -Jay Bakker

(Houston, TX) Today Soulforce released an open letter from Pastor Jay Bakker of Revolution NYC church to Rev. Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Originally mailed in January 2008, the letter invites Osteen and families from the Lakewood congregation to share a meal with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight-ally families over Mother’s Day weekend.

Bakker is one of the clergy leaders of a nationwide fellowship effort called The American Family Outing. Co-organized by Soulforce, COLAGE, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, the project aims to create dialogue between LGBT families and families at six American mega-churches.
Several mega-church congregations, including Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, which is ranked the most influential congregation in America by Church Report magazine, have responded to similar invitations with interest and graciousness.

"We remain hopeful that the congregation and staff at Lakewood will extend true Christian hospitality and share a meal and conversation with our families," says Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director. "Our faith requires us to reach across the aisle, have difficult conversations with those with whom we might disagree, and take a stand for fairness."

Jay Bakker is the son of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, and the co-founder of Revolution Church. His non-traditional approach to ministry achieved national attention in the Sundance Channel documentary One Punk Under God, which documented his journey to become an LGBT-affirming Christian. Jay is dedicating the Mother’s Day visit to Lakewood to the memory of his mother. (Full letter below.)

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.

###

From the desk of
Jay Bakker

190 Bedford Avenue, Suite 211
Brooklyn, New York 11211

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 or Jeff Lutes 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, Pastor
Revolution NYC
jay@revolutionnyc.com

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

The American Family Outing

The American Family Outing

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

Reports from the American Family Outing

Meet the families taking part in the American Family Outing

Find out how your family can participate!

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.

Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church

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.

Read more on the visit to Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church.

Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter's House

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.

Read more on the visit to Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House.

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church

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.

Read more on the visit to Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church.

Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

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.

Read more on the visit to Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church

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.

Read more on the visit to Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church.

Rick Warren and Saddleback Church

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.

Read more on the visit to Rick Warren and Saddleback Church.

More Information:

Frequently Asked Questions about the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing: Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church

Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church

The American Family Outing

Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois

Friday, June 6 – Sunday, June 8, 2008

Clergy Leader for Our Families:

Jay Bakker Jay Bakker
Pastor of Revolution NYC

Lead Families:

Learn more about the following families leading the visit to Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church. Find out how your family can join them!

Wallner Family Wallner Family
Mary Lou and Bob
Berry-Sapp Family Berry-Sapp Family
Dotti and Roby
Lutes-Stein Family Lutes-Stein Family
Jeff, Gary, and children Niko (11), Trei (5), and Jole’ (4)
Eggleston-Brindle Family Eggleston-Brindle Family
Mark and Darrin
Ritterbeck-DeCanio Family Ritterbeck-DeCanio Family
Johna and Elaine
Gray-Reed Family Gray-Reed Family
Di and Robin
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter
Director of National Actions
Soulforce

 

Back to the American Family Outing

Join us on the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing

Join us on the American Family Outing

Consider joining us on the American Family Outing as we work to create meaningful conversations about faith, family, and LGBT people with six of America’s largest churches. Fill out an application form today!

  1. Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church
    Houston, Texas
    May 9 – May 11, 2008
  2. Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter’s House
    Dallas, Texas
    May 16 – May 18, 2008
  3. Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church
    Beltsville, Maryland
    May 23 – May 25, 2008
  4. Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church
    Lithonia, Georgia
    May 30 – June 1, 2008
  5. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church
    South Barrington, Illinois
    June 6 – June 8, 2008
  6. Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church
    Lake Forest, California
    June 13 – June 15, 2008

Back to the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing: Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

The American Family Outing

Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia

Friday, May 30 – Sunday, June 1, 2008

Clergy Leader for Our Families:

Troy Sanders Rev. Troy Sanders
The Fellowship

Lead Families:

Learn more about the following families leading the visit to Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Church. Find out how your family can join them!

Freeman-Chambers Family Freeman-Chambers Family
Michelle and Georgia
Parelli-Ortiz Family Parelli-Ortiz Family
Steve and Jose
Rasmus-Ford Family Rasmus-Ford Family
Amy, Kim, and daughters Madison (5) and McKenzie (2)
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter
Director of National Actions
Soulforce
Sylvia Rhue Dr. Sylvia Rhue
Director of Religious Affairs
National Black Justice Coalition

 

Back to the American Family Outing

Frequently Asked Questions about the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing

Frequently Asked Questions about the American Family Outing

1. What is the American Family Outing?

The AFO is a campaign between Mother’s Day Weekend and Father’s Day Weekend in which LGBT families and supportive straight families will seek peaceful and heart-to- heart dialogue with six of today’s most influential evangelical leaders and their mega- churches about faith, family, and LGBT people. We seek first to understand, and then to be understood, as we engage families and staff within these congregations.

2. Who are the sponsors of the American Family Outing?

The AFO is a collaborative project between Soulforce, The National Black Justice Coalition, COLAGE, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

3. Why is it important for LGBT people and our families to dialogue with these mega-churches?

The six pastors we plan to visit during the AFO have been ranked by Christian organizations as among the 50 most influential Christian leaders in America. In addition to pastoring large churches whose memberships often exceed tens of thousands, each has an enormous influence on American culture through best-selling books, radio and television programs that reach millions of homes, and frequent speaking engagements in packed churches and large coliseums in cities across the country. While some are actively involved in American politics, all have significant influence on public opinion and therefore, the rights of LGBT people and their loved ones. In some of these churches, LGBT people are welcomed – but they are not affirmed – often meeting resistance from church leaders when they offer their spiritual gifts and seek to take a more active role within the life of the church. Soulforce and our partnering organizations care deeply about the emotional, mental, and spiritual welfare of those in the LGBT community who choose to attend these churches. We want them to know that God loves and affirms them exactly as they are and that each of us can live lives of service filled with dignity and grace, regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity. Our vision is that one day; every church sanctuary in America will truly be a sanctuary for ALL people.

4. Does Soulforce consider these churches and leaders to be our enemy?

Absolutely not. These churches are filled with good and loving people who want, as we do, to make the world a better place. The leaders of these churches are victims of misinformation, as we all have been, about sexual orientation and gender identity. Our ultimate goal is reconciliation – not victory. 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. We believe that each of these churches will grow and prosper by welcoming us; recent research shows that a majority of young Christians are alienated by some churches’ hostility to gay and lesbian people. More and more people of faith now understand that there are all kinds of families in America, and what really matters is our love and commitment to one another.

5. What are the requirements if my family wants to participate?

a) If you welcome and affirm all people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity, then you may participate with your family. Couples with or without children, single-parent families, supportive straight families, and single individuals who wish to participate with a member of their extended family (a parent, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, etc) may participate. All families must pre-register online.

b) Your family must attend a brief training in nonviolence prior to the church visit for which you register. The nonviolence training will be scheduled in the same city/area as the church we are visiting and will occur on the same weekend as our scheduled visit. The exact date, time, and location of the training will be emailed to each family once their online registration has been approved.

c) At the local training in nonviolence, each member of your family must sign the Soulforce Pledge to Nonviolence. Your signed copy of the pledge will be placed inside your name-badge holder during the meetings with the church. The Soulforce Pledge of Nonviolence was originally written by Martin Luther King, Jr., and was modified by Soulforce in 2003. "Soul force" comes from Gandhi’s term "Satyagraha" and the nonviolent principles for change taught by both Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Pledge to Nonviolence reads:

"As I prepare for this direct action, I will meditate regularly on the life and teachings of Gandhi and King and other truth-seekers. I will remember that the nonviolent movement seeks justice and reconciliation-not victory. I will walk and talk in the manner of love and nonviolence. I will contemplate daily what I can do so that all can be free. I will sacrifice my own personal wishes that all might be free. I will observe with friend and foes the ordinary rules of courtesy. I will perform regular service for others and for the world. I will refrain from violence of fist, tongue, and heart. I will strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health. I will follow the directions of Soulforce leaders during this direct action."

6. What are the plans for caring for our children?

We believe that these churches will agree to loving and respectful conversations at all times, despite our differences. All of these churches care deeply about families and children, and we believe they want to engage in dialogue in a manner that honors the human dignity of all children, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender-identity of their parents. We seek to share a meal with representative families, clergy, and leaders at each of these churches. If we have a more in-depth conversation after the meal, we will negotiate to have our children placed in the church’s childcare facility, with supervision by both church members and some parents from our delegation. This plan should address the needs of our children, and the children from the church, especially younger ones who may not have the attention span for such an adult conversation. Our transportation will be waiting outside the church at all times with childcare volunteers in place, should parents decide to leave the conversation for any reason. Again, while the dialogue may be intense as we discuss our differences and seek common ground, we expect that each of these churches will engage us as we seek to engage them – with love and respect.

Additionally, for youth who are older than 11, COLAGE is providing training and support for those who wish to take part in the conversations with the churches. We recognize that the voices of young people are powerful and that they can authentically share their experiences as children of LGBT parents. COLAGE will help youth and young adult participants in the American Family Outing have the tools and support they need to participate in the outings.

7. Where will my family sleep during the weekend if we are traveling from outside the city?

Soulforce will negotiate a reasonable room rate at a comfortable hotel nearby. The details of these hotel arrangements will be emailed to approved registrants once finalized.

8. Do I have to be a Christian to participate in the American Family Outing?

No. However, most of our family leaders (whose profiles can be viewed on this site) do identify as strong people of faith. We are seeking families who know how to have respectful conversations about differences, and are able to take religion and the Bible seriously since our dialogue will often be based in Scripture. Each family must be willing to educate themselves and attend the local training in nonviolence.

Back to the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing: Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church

Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church

The American Family Outing

Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas

Friday, May 9 – Sunday, May 11, 2008 (Mother’s Day Weekend)

Clergy Leaders for Our Families:

Jay Bakker Troy Sanders
Jay Bakker
Pastor of Revolution NYC
Rev. Troy Sanders
The Fellowship

Lead Families:

Learn more about the following families leading the visit to Joel Osteen and Lakewood Church. Find out how your family can join them!

Schilt-Koonce Family Shilt-Koonce Family
Paige, Katy, and son Waylon (4)
Nagle-Pickham Family Nagle-Pinkham Family
Della, Ruth, and daughters Stacie (14), Samantha (14), Juliana (10), and Polly Ann (10)
Rasmus-Ford Family Rasmus-Ford Family
Amy, Kim, and daughters Madison (5) and McKenzie (2)
Lutes-Stein Family Lutes-Stein Family
Jeff, Gary, and children Niko (11), Trei (5), and Jole’ (4)
Beggs Family Beggs Family
Kim Beggs and daughter Laura
Collie Family Collie Family
Angel and mother, Mary Helen Phelps
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter
Director of National Actions
Soulforce

 

Back to the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing: Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church

Rick Warren and Saddleback Church

The American Family Outing

Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California

Friday, June 13 – Sunday, June 15, 2008 (Father’s Day Weekend)

Clergy Leaders for Our Families:

Jay Bakker Troy Sanders
Jay Bakker
Pastor of Revolution NYC
Rev. Troy Sanders
The Fellowship

Lead Families:

Learn more about the following families leading the visit to Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church. Find out how your family can join them!

Lutes-Stein Family Lutes-Stein Family
Jeff, Gary, and children Niko (11), Trei (5), and Jole’ (4)
Wright Family Wright Family
Steve, John, and sons Eli (4) and Simon (2)
Bednar-Hayes Family Bednar-Hayes Family
Robert, Danielle, and children Anika (6) and Lukas (3)
Kotchick-Moore Family Kotchick-Moore Family
Kimrey and Jeanie
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter
Director of National Actions
Soulforce
Sylvia Rhue Dr. Sylvia Rhue
Director of Religious Affairs
National Black Justice Coalition
Phelan-McIntyre Family Phelan-McIntyre Family
Chuck and Steve

 

Back to the American Family Outing