Exodus International, the North American umbrella network of ex-gay ministries, announced tonight that it is shutting down and relaunching as a new ministry. Its remaining member ministries — those that have not already joined the hardline ex-gay rebel group, Restored Hope Network (RHN) — will continue to operate, but not under the Exodus International umbrella.
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change – and they want to be heard,” Tony Moore, Board member of Exodus. The message came less than a day after Exodus released a statement apologizing to the gay community for years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole.
Exodus lost additional support in 2009 following its involvement in a Uganda conference which precipitated that country’s kill-the-gays legislation; Exodus later repudiated its involvement, but the leaders of what is now RHN have not repudiated their own involvement. The final blow to Exodus may have occurred when Exodus president Alan Chambers appeared at a Gay Christian Network conference in 2012 and admitted that 99 percent or more of “ex-gays” have not changed their sexual orientation. Upon that honest statement, several key member ministries rebelled and left Exodus to form RHN.
The announcement of the Exodus shutdown continues:
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
Chambers continued: “From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”
For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
The shutdown and reorganization of Exodus accomplishes several objectives:
It insulates the current leadership from more than a decade of bad news involving scandals at Exodus member ministries.
It likely frees Exodus leadership from serious real estate and financial obligations.
It insulates now-severed Exodus ministries from new complaints of psychological warfare that are being aired by the ministries’ former patients, in a TV program that will air at 10 p.m. June 20 on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
It frees member ministries to go their own way, to join the new organization, or to join hardline antigay activists at RHN, an ex-gay network that refuses to hear reports of abuse by its member ministers, supports antigay laws, and contends that anyone can change one’s sexual orientation through widely discredited antigay therapies.
Chambers underwent a personal transformation over the past year, and this week offered an apology for member ministers’ past abuses — an apology that by most accounts seems sincere.
Closing the organization so soon after the apology may give moderate Exodus leaders a chance to start over, free from the baggage of impenitent and allegedly abusive members — or it may allow those unapologetic members to escape ongoing confrontation with the consequences of their alleged abuse.
The closure of Exodus forces remaining ex-gay activists to make clear choices: Do they follow the new ministry’s model of reluctant grace and self-denial; do they affiliate with RHN’s political and religious extremism; or do they seek out the religious and personal freedom that — critics say — both Exodus and RHN have denied to them?
“It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the Church’s treatment of the LGBTQ community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt,” said Chambers. “Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.”
Chambers also said:
“I am sorry for the pain and hurt that many of you have experienced. I am sorry some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.
“I am sorry I didn’t stand up to people publicly ‘on my side’ who called you names like sodomite—or worse. I am sorry that I, knowing some of you so well, failed to share publicly that the gay and lesbian people I know were every bit as capable of being amazing parents as the straight people that I know. I am sorry that when I celebrated a person coming to Christ and surrendering their sexuality to Him, I callously celebrated the end of relationships that broke your heart. I am sorry I have communicated that you and your families are less than me and mine.
“More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection. I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.
“You have never been my enemy. I am very sorry that I have been yours. I hope changes in my own life, as well as the ones we announce tonight regarding Exodus International, will bring resolution, and show I am serious in both my regret and offer of friendship. I pledge that future endeavors will be focused on peace and common good.”
A church member who spoke to THE WEEKEND STAR said that the men were discovered having sex when a young church brother, who had been suspicious of the pastor's 'undercover activities', one night came across his vehicle at the church.
His suspicions were further fuelled by the realisation that there were no scheduled meetings that night, and that the grill to the front of the church was also closed.It was said that the church brother decided to 'screechie' into the church from a window at the side of the building.
On entering the church, the young man was hit with the sight of the men in a sexual act. The church brother at first kept his discovery to himself but with the knowledge of the incident so overbearing he eventually told a church officer who convened a meeting with the pastor and other church officers.
The pastor is reported to have admitted to the incident, and has since resigned while the deacon has stopped attending the church.
"The act itself is bad but to do that in the church is just disgraceful," the very disturbed church member said.Efforts by THE WEEKEND STAR to get an official comment from the church were futile. Meanwhile the Montego Bay Ministers Fraternal (audio below) and others are planning a march on Sunday June 23, 2013 two days before the Supreme Court case by Javed Jaghai challenging the buggery law and his own issues with a former landlord who evicted him due to his sexual orientation