Chicago Tribune, "Gay Christians Meet with Rev. Bill Hybels"

Gay Christians meet with Rev. Bill Hybels and others at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington

Soulforce urges understanding on a tour of mega-churches across the nation

By Robert Mitchum and Manya A. Brachear | Tribune reporters
9:17 PM CDT, June 8, 2008

For Dotti Berry, healing the rift between religious conservatives and gay-marriage advocates could be as simple as replacing both sides’ stereotypes with a human face.

"You can’t hate someone whose story you know," Berry said Sunday in Fox River Grove. "My hope is that by meeting people, they’ll come to realize that what they might have been taught is not computing."

Berry — visiting from Blaine, Wash., with her partner of 7 years, Roby Sapp — had just returned from testing that theory Sunday afternoon at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, one of the Midwest’s largest churches. Alongside a group of gay Christians, their family members and clergy — including Jay Bakker, the son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker — they met with Willow Creek leadership, hoping to begin a cordial dialogue about how the church views homosexuality.

The effort was one of six visits this spring organized around the nation by the gay-rights advocacy group Soulforce, each attempting to bring together gay families with leaders and members of influential mega-churches to discuss religious attitudes about homosexuality.

Members of the group that visited Willow Creek was optimistic after their meeting with the church’s leaders, including senior pastor Bill Hybels. They were treated with respect and open ears, even if only limited common ground was reached, they said. "It was a good first step today," said Berry, 54.

Willow Creek was one of the first to welcome Soulforce, which is based in Lynchburg, Va., to worship and engage in dialogue with Hybels, church elders and staff, said Jeff Lutes, executive director of Soulforce.

"Bill Hybels is to be commended," Lutes said. "They were the first church that responded to our letters and to begin to have conversations with us and show willingness to meet face to face. By being willing to sit down at the table with us, they’ve demonstrated courage."

Other pastors have not been as welcoming. Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., accepted the invitation but at the last minute insisted on a debate, and Rev. Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston did not respond to Soulforce. But he welcomed Bakker when the group showed up to worship.

Bakker, 32, who has led his own Revolution Church since 1994, said he was drawn to help Soulforce’s efforts by the group’s willingness to engage religious leaders, not fight them.

"I liked it because it wasn’t protesting, it was trying to have conversation," Bakker said Sunday. "I know from experience what happens when Christians start gossiping and rejecting other Christians."

Bakker said he came under fire when he supported homosexuality and gay marriage three years ago. But he commended Willow Creek leadership for Sunday’s meeting.

"They listened, they ate with us, when a lot of churches struggle to show hospitality to these groups," he said.

Betty Schmidt, an elder at Willow Creek, described Willow as a hospitable congregation, even though the church does not accept gay and lesbian members who don’t stay celibate.

"It’s a very warm and welcoming atmosphere," she said. "It would certainly be my experience that we would never single out or identify or discriminate against anyone."

Schmidt said she feels strongly that people do not choose to be gay, and many in the Soulforce group said they were happy to hear similar sentiments from several church leaders Sunday.

But others said such influential churches as Willow Creek could do more to adjust their views on homosexuality and treatment of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender families.

"I think for instance Bill Hybels could say just a few words from his pulpit without either opposing us or condoning us to make the world a lot safer for my children," Lutes said.

Soulforce Releases Video of Bishop Harry Jackson

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 30, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

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

(Friday, May 30, 2008) Today Soulforce posted a video of Bishop Harry Jackson’s closing remarks at a dinner meeting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) families at his Beltsville, Maryland church on May 24, 2008.

"I want to thank you for the spirit in which you have said you were going to operate and in which you have operated thus far," Jackson said to the assembled families.

The conciliatory and grateful tone of the remarks offers a sharp contrast to Jackson’s recent appearance on the Christian Broadcasting Network News, where Jackson characterized the families as "irrational," "heathen," and "aggressive."

The meeting was part of a nationwide fellowship outreach called The American Family Outing, which aims to open dialogue by inviting families at six American mega-churches to share a meal and conversation with LGBT and straight-ally families.

Prior to the meeting, a press release from Jackson’s High Impact Leadership Coalition mistakenly suggested that members of The American Family Outing planned to protest outside Hope Christian Church and that Jackson had invited the family members in to "hear the truth of the Gospel."

Jackson’s remarks to the LGBT families clarify the nature of the meeting: "I want to thank you tonight for coming. Again, if you had not invited us originally, if you had not insisted on the dialogue, it never would have happened."

Jackson concluded his remarks by saying "I believe that we have learned quite a bit from this time together."

View Jackson’s complete closing remarks. View the CBN interview.

Speaking to the discrepancy between the two videos, Paige Schilt, Soulforce Media Director said, "Sometimes, when our interlocutors are in the grip of profound misinformation, they do not treat us with respect and integrity."

"It is tempting to withdraw or become defensive — and yet we persist in our witness. Why? Not because we are naive, but because we believe that, ultimately, no misinformation or slander can obscure the goodness and authenticity of our families and our quest for justice," Schilt continued.

In previous weeks, AFO families have visited Lakewood Church in Houston and The Potter’s House in Dallas. In these successful visits, American Family Outing 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.

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.

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Washington Blade, "Church’s Gay Rights Debate a ‘Baby Step’ Forward"

Church’s Gay Rights Debate a "Baby Step" Forward

JOSHUA LYNSEN

Friday, May 30, 2008

The National Black Justice Coalition is hailing a local church’s gay rights debate as "a baby step" forward.

Dr. Sylvia Rhue, the organization’s religious affairs director, said the May 24 debate at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., was a valuable meeting between Bishop Harry Jackson and gay rights supporters.

"Bishop Jackson did say that this is the first time that he’s heard such cogent answers to these questions and that he had heard things he’d never heard before," she said. "This is a baby step thing."

The meeting, coordinated by the National Black Justice Coalition and Soulforce, took months to organize.

Soulforce first contacted Hope Christian Church in December to see if local same-sex couples could meet privately with Jackson. Rhue said plans were made so all involved could hold a "civil discourse on common ground."

But in an unexpected twist three days before the meeting, Jackson’s anti-gay High Impact Leadership Coalition issued a press release saying Soulforce had "targeted" the church "for protest and demonstration."

Soulforce responded by calling on Jackson to share a "heart-to-heart" conversation with gay rights supporters, and Rhue said an agreement was reached to hold the meeting along with a debate.

Rhue said about 60 people attended Saturday’s debate, and she and other gay rights supporters returned to the church for Sunday service.

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.
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Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. Video and CBN News Interview

The American Family Outing

Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. Video and CBN News Interview

May 24, 2008 with the families from the American Family Outing

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May 27, 2008 interview with CBN News

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Back to the American Family Outing

Washington Times, "Christians, Gays, Not of One Accord"

Christians, Gays, Not of One Accord

Julie Duin

It was a meeting of opposites: 30 conservative black Pentecostals from Hope Christian Church in Beltsville dining with 30 activists from Soulforce, a pro-gay religious group.

While there was no rancor or overt anger, there also was no meeting of minds. After nearly 90 minutes of debate Saturday night, no one on either side of the question of what the Bible teaches about homosexuality would admit to changing their minds.

"It was noncombative, nonpunitive dialogue," said the Rev. Troy Sanders, a gay black pastor from Atlanta who was one of the Soulforce speakers. Soulforce members queried after the dinner said they were pleased with their reception, and several said they would attend Hope Christian’s Sunday service.

Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of the 3,000-member church, acknowledged the evening was "historic" but made no promises about any changes in teaching or policy. "We’ll have to pray about discrimination issues in the gay community," he said.

Soulforce has targeted six megachurches with its gospel of "freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual and all transgender people," and Hope Christian was their third stop on a six-week nationwide tour called the "American Family Outing," Soulforce’s campaign to showcase gay couples with their children.

On Dec. 1, Soulforce leaders contacted Bishop Jackson, asking for a "dialogue on homosexuality and Christianity."

"Even though we disagree on the Bible," said Jeff Lutes, Soulforce’s executive director, "we can relate about our kids. We’re trying to reach out across that divide, make a connection and see what happens from that. Typically, fear goes down when people make connections."

Soulforce got a chilly reception May 18 from the Rev. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston; He refused to meet with the group. The reception was better May 11 with the Rev. T.D. Jakes and members of the Potter’s House Church in Dallas. Coming visits include the Rev. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and Bishop Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga.

Bishop Jackson was chosen because of his high profile among the religious right. He heads the High Impact Leadership Coalition of conservative black church leaders, instigated the 2005 "Black Contract with America on Moral Values" and co-authored the recent book "Personal Faith, Public Policy."

The Beltsville church hosted Soulforce at a dinner Saturday night, along with a debate in which each side asked the other eight questions. The church posed queries such as "Why do you think gay marriage is sanctioned by God?" and "Why do you think pastors who preach against gay rights are bigots?"

Soulforce questions included "If your child came out to you, how would you want your child to be treated?" and "What programs do you have in place for same-gender-loving couples?"

"We have no programs," Bishop Jackson quickly responded. Rather, they use the services of the ex-gay group Exodus International because homosexuals "need ministry," he said.

That comment did not go over well, judging by the stony looks on the faces of Soulforce attendees.

The bishop acknowledged he was suspicious when Soulforce first wrote him to say they were showing up, uninvited.

"Some of the history of your organization has confrontation with it," he said. "I have been threatened with physical harm by people who are openly gay."

Soulforce representatives got incensed at one question that mentioned survey data on the relative wealth of the gay community and asked why homosexuals "have hijacked the civil rights movement."

Michelle Freeman, a Houston resident attending the dinner with her lesbian lover, informed the group they could not marry, nor get tax breaks, "so in the eyes of the law, we are not equal," she added. Homosexuality "is not a choice, it’s biology. So it’s a civil rights violation."

Dallas Morning News, "Gay Rights Group Visits the Potter’s House"

Gay rights group visits the Potter’s House

Saturday, May 24, 2008
By Sam Hodges

Dallas megachurch the Potter’s House had the welcome mat in place last Sunday for a visiting gay rights delegation but didn’t give ground on such issues as gay marriage.

"We were treated very well," said Jeff Lutes, executive director of Soulforce, a national group that pushes for full inclusion of gay people in churches.

"I think it was an important first step."

Soulforce and three other groups with a gay rights focus have had members visiting prominent megachurches, including Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, in a campaign called the American Family Outing.

A 30-person contingent, consisting in part of gay couples with children, attended the 11 a.m. service at the Potter’s House, a 30,000-member congregation.

"They seated us on the third row, and there were no questions or issues around the fact that some of us were clearly couples," said Deneen Robinson, an elder in Living Faith Covenant Church, a predominantly black church in Dallas that is "welcoming and affirming" to gay people.

After the service, some of the visitors met with staff of the Potter’s House. Bishop T.D. Jakes, the well-known founder and pastor of the church, was recovering from back surgery and did not attend. But he did call Mr. Lutes.

"Bishop Jakes responded favorably to our request for ongoing conversation," Mr. Lutes said.

Both sides agree that they have differences, including on gay marriage.

"Our theology is based on the Bible, and in the Bible it states that a union is between a man and woman," said Curtis Coats III, a spokesman for the Potter’s House.

Mr. Coats and Mr. Lutes said the visitors and church staff found common ground on such issues as the importance of HIV testing, something Bishop Jakes has promoted as part of an extensive outreach ministry.

Shayne Lee, a Tulane University sociologist, said Bishop Jakes’ pragmatism was clear in how the meeting was handled.

"It does show on his part a willingness to engage with people who are different, and, strategically, to keep that dialogue low key," said Dr. Lee, author of the book T.D. Jakes: America’s New Preacher.

Reports from the American Family Outing

The American Family Outing

Reports from the American Family Outing

Photos:

Photos from the Saddleback Church visit

Photos from the Willow Creek Community Church visit

Other Sheep’s Photos from the New Birth visit

Photos from the Hope Christian visit

Other Sheep’s Photos from the Hope Christian visit

Photos from the Potter’s House visit

Photos from the Lakewood visit

Email Alerts

Email Alert 6/20/2008
American Family Outing Concludes with Visit to Dr. Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church

Email Alert 6/13/2008
American Family Outing visits Bill Hybels & Willow Creek

Email Alert 6/6/2008
Report on the American Family Outing Visit with Bishop Eddie Long

Email Alert 5/30/2008
A Spirit of Integrity and a Gospel of Deception: The Starkly Different Theologies of Bishops T.D. Jakes and Harry Jackson, Jr.

Email Alert 5/22/2008
Bishop T.D. Jakes Agrees to Ongoing Dialogue with LGBT & Straight-Ally Families

Email Alert 5/15/2008
Jay Bakker Meets with Joel Osteen on Mother’s Day

Email Alert 5/9/2008
American Family Outing to Six Mega-Churches Has Begun

Press Releases:

Press Release 6/24/2008
"Gay Days" at the Mega-churches: LGBT Families & Allies Reflect on the American Family Outing

Press Release 6/4/2008
Gay Dads to Celebrate Father’s Day at Saddleback Church

Press Release 6/2/2008
Bishop Long Meets with LGBT Families: A Story of Family Reconciliation

Press Release 5/30/2008
Soulforce Releases Video of Bishop Harry Jackson

Press Release 5/30/2008
New Birth to Meet with LGBT Families

Press Release 5/27/2008
LGBT Families Share Their Witness with Hope Christian, Bishop Jackson

Press Release 5/22/2008
Soulforce Releases Letters to Bishop Jackson, Seeks to Dispel Misinformation

Press Release 5/20/2008
"A Real Exploration of Common Ground": AFO Opens Dialogue with The Potter’s House

Press Release 5/15/2008
LGBT Families to Meet with The Potter’s House

Press Release 5/12/2008
American Family Outing Begins Dialog with Lakewood

Press Release 5/7/2008
LGBT Families to Host Families from Lakewood Church

Press Release 4/24/2008
Soulforce Releases Letter from Bakker to Osteen

Press Release 4/8/2008
American Family Outing Seeks to Dispel Divisive Tactics

Press Release 2/15/2008
Jay Bakker to Join Gay and Transgender Families at Austin Training

Press Release 1/8/2008
LGBT Families Ask Six Mega-Churches "Can We Talk?"

Back to the American Family Outing

Soulforce Releases Letters to Bishop Jackson, Seeks to Dispel Misinformation

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 22, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

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

(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.
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Creator’s Syndicate, "A Gay Friendly Message to Mega-churches"

"A Gay Friendly Message to Mega-churches"

by Deb Price

When Michelle Freeman fell in love with a woman 12 years ago, she felt compelled to leave her predominantly African American church.

"The last sermon I heard as a practicing Baptist was very anti-gay," recalls Freeman, 42. "I had internalized homophobia. But when I met Georgia, I wanted us to worship in a place where we could be ourselves."

Her partner, Georgia Chambers, had also grown up in a predominantly African American church with anti-gay messages. The Texas couple transferred their spiritual gifts and needs to the Metropolitan Community Church, a gay-friendly denomination.

Strengthened by their relationship and spiritual growth at MCC, the couple recently decided to join an outreach mission that, between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, will visit six influential mega-churches. "I am taking a stand for the God I love, who I know made us all equal," explains Chambers, 39.

The "American Family Outing" has four sponsors: Soulforce, which adapts the principles of nonviolence honed by Mohandas Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to challenge anti-gay messages in places of worship; the National Black Justice Coalition; MCC; and COLAGE, whose members have gay parents. (To participate, go to soulforce.org.)

The sponsors have asked the six mega-churches to welcome Outing’s gay and gay-friendly families for meals, conversation and worship.

But even if the mega-churches don’t extend the hand of fellowship, they will be visited. Respecting the six mega-churches’ work on such issues as poverty and AIDS, the Outing visitors hope to sow seeds of love and understanding so that, one day, mega-churches will help to end physical and spiritual violence against gays.

The outreach comes at a pivotal moment in the evangelical movement: the passing of the old guard — signaled by the deaths last year of the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. D. James Kennedy — and the rise of a new generation of mega-church leaders, who reach mega-millions through massive worship services, TV and radio shows, books and CDs.
The new generation tends to be less fiercely anti-gay. Their subtle softening of anti-gay rhetoric and shifting of priorities reflects polls showing that evangelicals in the pews care more about issues like health care and the Iraq war than about gay marriage.

Three mega-church preachers to be visited largely avoid gay issues: Joel Osteen, pastor of the largest church in America, Lake Wood Church in Houston; Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California and author of a Christian classic, "The Purpose-Driven Life"; and Bishop T.D. Jakes, the African American senior pastor of The Potter’s House in Texas, who was dubbed "America’s best preacher" by Time magazine.

Two others serve up a more familiar anti-gay message: Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., the African American pastor of Hope Christian Church in Maryland, and Bishop Eddie Long, the African American pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia.

In between is Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois.

Freeman, who plans to visit New Birth and Hope Christian with her partner, wants to worship and talk with families there.

"Our relationships are just as sacred to us as yours," she plans to say. "The only difference, at the end of the day, is instead of a man and a lady, we are two ladies."

Deb Price of The Detroit News writes the first nationally syndicated column on gay issues. To find out more about Deb Price and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.