I received the following today from Soulforce, the organization that sponsors the annual Equality Rides. I volunteered with Soulforce last year and have been impressed and inspired by their deep commitment to justice and non-violent action.
American Family Outing Aims to Find Common Ground with Families in Six of Today’s Largest Mega-churches
Recently supporters of the Family Research Council received an envelope stamped with the words “EXPOSED: Radicals’ plan to attack churches!” What was the nature of the “plot” that had FRC in such frenzy? Well, in December of 2007, Soulforce, COLAGE, the National Black Justice Coalition, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches sent letters to:
- 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
In these letters we expressed a desire to share a meal with leaders and families in their congregations on a designated weekend between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2008 (see complete schedule at www.soulforce.org/afo). Our goal is simply to traverse any division and try to find common ground, despite our differences on the issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. We seek first to understand, and then to be understood, as we engage these congregations — all with pastors who have been ranked by Christian organizations as among the 50 most influential Christian leaders in America. These churches have large memberships, some exceeding tens of thousands, and each leader has an enormous influence on American culture through speaking engagements as well as best-selling books, radio and television programs that reach millions of homes each week.
I’m committed to praying for these families and the churches they’ll be visiting, and I hope you’ll to do the same. As the sacrament teaches us, reconciliation can begin with the sharing of a meal.