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01/09/2008

Group to help megachurches find 'Soul'

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 1-141Last week, we showed you how Focus on the Family's Caleb Price was criticizing the Soulforce group for encouraging a dialogue between the gay community and evangelical mega-churches. Our beef, essentially, was that Caleb was making it sound as if the group was somehow being insincere in seeking the interaction, because, as we all know, groups like FOF can't describe any pro-gay endeavor without trying to make it sound somehow insidious. Which actually makes sense that they'd hold such a position, as actually getting to know and listening to the gay community is the Achilles heel that's ultimately going to bring down those who prefer to issue gay-condemantory monologues. But we digress.

What we really want to tell you about is that Soulforce has revealed new information regarding their plan to dialogue with these megachurches and pastors, an endeavor they are calling an "American Family Outing." Read all about it below:

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On behalf of the four partner organizations [Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC), the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), and COLAGE], Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes has written letters to:

* Rev. Joel Osteen and the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas
* Bishop T.D. Jakes and The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas
* Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. and Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland
* Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia
* Rev. Bill Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois
* Dr. Rick Warren and Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California

"These pastors are part of a new generation of evangelical leaders in America," says Lutes. "We are calling on them and their congregations to demonstrate a new kind of leadership, one that models compassion and justice for all families, including families with two moms and two dads."

The letters inform each pastor that a delegation of families with two moms and two dads, as well as supportive heterosexual-parent and single-parent families, plans to visit each church. The letters invite their congregations to collaborate in creating opportunities for meaningful conversations. Over the next several weeks, staff from Soulforce, UFMCC, NBJC, and COLAGE will negotiate peaceful forums with members from each of the congregations.

Then, over the weekends between Mother's Day (May 11, 2008) and Father's Day (June 15, 2008), dozens of families with children will travel by air and by bus to engage in dialogue about faith, family, and the harm done by religion-based discrimination to LGBT families.

Righteous.

We'll let you know which evangelical pastors respond favorably to the request (we hope for most, yet expect few), and which stick their fingers in their ears and refuse to even listen to the gay rights crowd (we hope for few, but expect most). While you're waiting for that, go ahead and read the full Soulforce release at the link:

LGBT Families Ask Six Mega-Churches "Can We Talk?" [Soulforce]

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