Thousands of LGBT Advocates Pause to Grieve the Death of David Kato

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2011
Media Contact: Pedro Julio Serrano 787-602-5954

Thousands of LGBT Advocates Pause to Grieve the Death of David Kato

In the wake of the brutal murder of David Kato, gay advocate in Uganda, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders attending the Creating Change conference in Minneapolis, February 2-6, paused to remember his life and vowed to work even harder to tell our stories and move public opinion to accept LGBT people in all countries.

At a memorial vigil on Friday night, February 4, LGBT faith leaders and advocates from across the country and the world grieved the loss of their brother, David. 

"No form of intimidation will stop our cause," said Mr. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). "The life and death of David will be honored as we struggle for justice and equality and win the hearts of people around the world because we are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.  David is gone but the struggle will be won. David wanted to see a Uganda where all people will be treated equally. It is our turn to pick up the mantle and carry on."

"Faith leaders have been working for the last year to expose the efforts of some American Christian conservatives to spread anti-LGBT attitudes to Africa, and Uganda in particular," said Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition.  "So-called ‘ex-gay’ ministries have failed so dismally in the United States that they are now exporting their damaging beliefs.  They will continue to fail because diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity is inherent to humankind."

"Jesus taught us that we must love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.  But some of our Christian brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world turn Jesus’ ministry on its head," said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "They preach judgment, condemnation and rejection and use fear to raise money and stoke violence.  Where is the love?  The murder of David Kato must be investigated and those responsible need to be brought to justice.  But all of us–Ugandans, Americans and all our neighbors around the world–need to build societies in which love, respect and human dignity rule the day, no matter what faith tradition or culture we come from."
"David Kato was a member of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Sadly, most Ugandan Anglican leaders preach messages of rejection and condemnation under the guise of religion," said the Rev. David Norgard, president of Integrity USA.  "As members of the Episcopal Church, we have a long standing relationship with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda as members of the global Anglican Communion and must face the fact that the Church has been a big part of the problem.  It is long overdue for Christians, and good people of all faiths, to be the solution: to stop this violence, to sow love where hatred now festers and to respect the dignity of every human being."

"As African Americans and Baptist/United Church of Christ clergy, we minister to straight, same-gender loving and transgender people in the District of Columbia. We are devastated by the loss of David Kato, a powerful advocate for justice in Uganda," said the Revs. Dennis and Christine Wiley.  "We have seen how the strategy of fear mongering is being used to drive a wedge within the African American community despite a long tradition of accommodated differences in gender identity and love partnerships among our own.  Today, some religious leaders make a living on the backs of gay and transgender people through fear and misinformation.  They preach a message of exclusion rather than a gospel of love.  In Uganda, this led to a murder and ongoing persecution.  It is time to stop."

"My prayers go out to the people of Uganda who lost a courageous soul to brutality.  As a Bishop and pastor to same gender loving and transgender African American Christians in the United States, I have seen firsthand how true faith saves lives and how hate in the guise of religion destroys people and communities," said Bishop Tonya Rawls of Unity Fellowship Church Movement.  "Africans and African Americans know firsthand how Scripture has been used to justify slavery, colonialism and racism around the globe.  Using Scripture to condemn people for their sexual orientation and gender identity is just as wrong.  God’s love always trumps hate." 

"My heart aches for David Kato’s family and the good people of Uganda who have lost a hero and prophetic voice for justice," said Dr. Sharon Groves, interim director of religion and faith for the Human Rights Campaign.  "I hold my faith dear; it is faith that can heal and helps us understand that God is love.  So, I cannot sit idly by while a few radical preachers from the USA use the Bible to foment hate crimes in Uganda.  As we mourn the death of David Kato, I call on faithful people worldwide to speak out against the export fear and lies in the name of religion.   Let us say in a unified voice, ‘not in my name.’" 

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, said, "Around the world MCC is known as the human rights church.  We honor the life of David Kato who lived boldly and settled for nothing less than his full humanity.  We pray for people in Uganda, the US and everywhere who fear people because of who they love and who they are. We pray for advocates who risk their lives every day and commit ourselves to work even harder to bring a day of peace, understanding and respect."

"As a Jew, I know what it means to be persecuted for who you are.  The headlines, attacks and religious drum beat of judgment and rejection has an all too familiar ring to it.  Human beings can be fomented into horrific acts.  We must be vigilant to make respect for difference the most basic of human values for all civil societies because we are created b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God," said Dr. Joel L. Kushner, director of Judaism and sexual orientation, Hebrew Union College – JIR.

"The United Church of Christ is a denomination that continues to stand up for LGBT people," said the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, UCC Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy.  "We urge all denominations to turn the tragedy of David Kato’s death into a moment of gospel clarity that no individual or group should be persecuted in the name of the Bible.  False ideas and fear have no place in Christianity."

Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of The Fellowship, said, "We know that David Kato’s life laid the ground work for what is to come.  He had a vision and he pursued it.  It was a vision of a country and a world that is safe for all of us to live and love and pray together as beloved children of God.  David shone the light and all of us are better for his work and life."
“David fought bravely against a rising tide of persecution fomented and fostered in no small measure by a conservative evangelical network emanating from the U.S. that uses disinformation to spread fear and mistrust," said Pam Spees, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. "We call for accountability and for people in religious communities to publicly stand against the persecution of LGBT people. We can do no less."

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The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is an interfaith network of leaders from eighty-five pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) faith, spiritual and religious organizations. We work in partnership with other groups to promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people within society at large and in communities of faith. We promote understanding and respect within LGBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty, and to achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice.

LGBT EQUALITY GROUPS TEAM UP FOR 2009 ANTI-HETEROSEXISM CONFERENCE IN WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: September 24, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Carlos Perez de Alejo, Soulforce Media Director, 321-948-3423
Jeff Lutes, Soulforce Executive Director, 512-419-0600
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(AUSTIN, TX) From November 20-22, advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality will join clergy, educators, mental health professionals and allies at the 2009 Anti-Heterosexism Conference in West Palm Beach, Florida.  The conference offers a range of in-depth workshops and is open to everyone who seeks to challenge the harmful affects of heterosexism, reparative therapy, ex-gay ministries and other efforts to change people’s sexual orientation.

“First off, it’s important to be clear that the title of the conference is the Anti-Heterosexism Conference, not anti-heterosexual,” says Jeff Lutes, Executive Director of Soulforce and one of the organizers of the conference.  “Heterosexism is the widespread assumption that heterosexual relationships are somehow superior to same-sex relationships, which leads to all kinds of abuse and discrimination against LGBT people. We want to highlight where heterosexism seeps into the social, cultural, religious and political fabric of society, and how we can begin to unravel its damaging consequences.”

Through a weekend-long series of workshops and keynote speakers, conference attendees will learn to challenge heterosexist attitudes and practices, speak out against the dangers of reparative therapy and other conversion efforts, and become strong advocates for LGBT equality.  

Keynote speakers for the conference include Dr. Sylvia Rue, Interim Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition, Rev. Deborah L. Johnson of Inner Light Ministries, and Dr. Jack Drescher, Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.  Joining Soulforce as co-sponsors of the conference are Truth Wins Out, the National Black Justice Coalition, Beyond Ex-Gay, Box Turtle Bulletin and Equality Florida.

The Anti-Heterosexism Conference also serves as a counterweight to the anti-gay think tank, NARTH (National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality), which will be hosting its annual conference on the same weekend in West Palm Beach.  For years NARTH has promoted reparative or “sexual orientation conversion” therapy, claiming that LGBT people can and should change their sexual orientation. 

However, after a thorough review of the literature on conversion therapy, the American Psychological Association (APA) concluded that sexual orientation is unlikely to change through therapy and adopted a resolution in August 2009 calling on mental health professionals to avoid telling clients they can change from gay to straight through “therapeutic” efforts or other treatments.  The resolution builds on an APA report from 1998, which warned that reparative therapy can lead patients to “depression, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior,” because “therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” 

In November, individuals and organizations from across the country will come together for the Anti-Heterosexism Conference to work through the process of moving beyond the dangers of heterosexism to a more just and equitable environment for LGBT people.  “It’s time we named the problem,” says Lutes, “and begin walking together through the solution.”

For more information on the conference, visit: https://soulforceactionarchives.org/anti-heterosexism-conference

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.

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

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: June 24, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

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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.

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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

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SOULFORCE PRESS RELEASE: May 27, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

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(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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Soulforce Releases Letter from Bakker to Osteen

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SOULFORCE MEDIA ADVISORY: April 24, 2008
For Immediate Release

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

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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

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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

 

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