May 26, 2008

American Family Outing Update: The Potter's House Visit


Although Bishop T. D. Jakes was unavailable while recovering from back surgery, the leadership of his church, The Potter's House, in Dallas, TX, met with representatives from Soulforce. According to this report by participant Rev. Gil Caldwell, the hosts were gracious and the discussion constructive.

Early on, I sought to set forth the "why" of my commitment as an ally/advocate of LGBT persons and same gender couple-led families. I attempted to link my Civil Rights experience for racial justice to that of the justice struggle for Gay rights, but soon realized that our hosts were unwilling to engage in give-and-take on our disagreements. They sought to impact us with their ministry to HIV/Aids persons, but were unwilling to acknowledge that they acknowledge same gender persons as such, ill or not. All of our group raised questions and/or made helpful comments. Their expressed willingness to engage in further conversation, will I hope, receive a positive response from us soon. At the end of the meeting, Jeff Lutes, the Executive Director of Soulforce, had a telephone conversation with Bishop Jakes. Sitting next to Jeff I was able to hear and "feel" the affirmation expressed by Bishop Jakes for our willingness to dialogue, rather than confront. I did hear the Bishop express a concern that I have heard from other black pastors about how anti-hate legislation might curb their right to preach and teach their understandings of "Biblical Truth" as they interpret its meaning for same gender loving persons. I think over and over again how we must help all preachers understand how their negative "Biblical pronouncements" about LGBT persons harms and hurts LGBT persons and gives some violent persons rationale for their violence against them. It was the same for those preachers who preached racial segregation as being legitimated by Scripture. Many of them could never comprehend how their words from the pulpit energized the verbal and physical violence of the KKK against black persons.

My first hand experience with the "American Family Outing" of Soulforce at the Potter's House in Dallas confirmed my belief that the reality of "Family" in all of its many configurations when shared and experienced, has the capacity to break through the walls of prejudice and bigotry. Years ago as a boy in North Carolina I used to hear my Mother speak of a woman "with child" as being in a "family way." On Sunday, May 18th, representatives of Soulforce and the members of the Potter's House experienced a taste of the authenticity of what it means to be in a "family way."

Here is a report from The Dallas Morning News (which took almost a week to get printed).

The American Family Outing was in my area this weekend meeting with Bishop Henry Jackson from Hope Christian Church. Bishop Jackson has been an outspoken opponent of gay rights, so this visit had the potential to be the greatest challenge of this initiative.

I'll post an update as soon as one is available. May God's blessings be with those who are participating in these meetings, including both the Soulforce representatives and members and leadership of the host churches.

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