Other Sheep News
                             Summer 2003


TOM HANK’S REPORT

Tom Hanks participated in the second meeting of gay Christian groups in the Southern Cone held in
Montevideo, Uruguay during Holy Week.  He gave workshops on Romans in Spanish and English at
the General Conference of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), July 1-6 and will be in St.
Louis July 7-22 before returning to Argentina.  In Buenos Aires he is working with a group of
Argentines to establish a Foundation to support ministries to sexual minorities.  Amongst the projects
are a publishing house and a program for older and retired lesbians and gays.  He gives a weekly
Bible course at the MCC and is working on a commentary on Romans, due this fall, to be published
by Sheffield Press in a volume edited by Bob Goss.  


MEETING OF LEADERS IN MEXICO CITY

On December 27-29, 2002, Otras Ovejas (Other Sheep) sponsored a meeting of men and women
working in Christian ministry to the lgbtt population of their areas in Central America and Mexico. As
we explained in the previous newsletter, one of the most serious problems which these people
experience is isolation. They too often are struggling alone, the only one in their city trying to develop
a ministry. We brought them together so that they could feel part of a movement much bigger than
themselves, and so that they could share ideas and experiences.  

Men and women, lay and cleric, participated from San Pedro Sula, Honduras; San José, Costa Rica;
Managua, Nicaragua; Panama City, Panama; Dallas, Texas; and the Mexican cities of Juárez,
Zacatecas, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Querétero, Mexico City and Cuernavaca. In all there were 34
participants. The representatives from San Salvador, Tegucigalpa and Guatemala City were not able
to come due to visa problems. It is no easier to obtain visas for Mexico than it is for the United
States.  

After a morning of getting to know one another and our different ministries, there were panel
presentations with time for dialogue among all the participants. We talked about the challenge of
working ecumenically, the problems we have to confront in starting and maintaining a group, and the
question of the development of leadership. There was also time for singing, prayer and preaching,
ending the weekend with the Lord’s Supper, presided over by four ordained ministers: the Rev. Alma
Matos (Pentecostal), who sang the consecratory prayer, Rev. Elder Armando Sanchez (MCC), Rev.
Hector Gutierrez (Roman Catholic), and Rev. Jerry Cleator (Roman Catholic). At the conclusion there
was a ceremony in which all the participants re-committed themselves to working to bring the Good
News of Jesus to the lgbtt people in their area.  

Two practical results came from the meeting. We have set up a virtual community on the internet
through which we can exchange ideas, experiences, advice. We are also investigating setting up an
institute for continuing theological and pastoral education for these men and women, again using the
resources of the internet. The Rev. Hector Gutierrez, Central America/Mexico assistant to the Rev.
Darlene Garner, Region 6 Elder of the Metropolitan Community Church, has taken charge of this
project for us. We will be developing this program in cooperation with Metropolitan Community
Church.  

The participants of the meeting were very positive with the experience, and we are now planning our
second meeting in Costa Rica sometime late this year or next year.  


OTHER SHEEP MISSION TRIP TO CENTRAL AMERICA - MARCH 2003

Pepe Hernández and John Doner  

During the first two days of 2003, TACA, the Central America airline, offered a discount of more than
40% for travel at a later date in Central America, and we couldn’t resist. It seemed like a gift from
heaven. For some two years Pepe and I had wanted to return to Central America to follow up on our
one-month trip in 2000, and this was finally the time to do it. So we left Mexico City on March 3rd and
began a three-week mission trip to four of the seven principal cities in Central America – San
Salvador, El Salvador; Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, Honduras; and Guatemala City, all of which
we had visited in 2000. Each has a population in excess of one million. Our primary purpose was to
continue to promote efforts toward the development of Christian ministry with lgbtt (lesbians, gays,
bisexuals, tranvestites and transsexuals) in each of these cities. With the exception of San Pedro
Sula, due to visa problems these cities had not been represented in our regional meeting of lgbtt
Christian groups in Central America and Mexico last December. Personal contact was needed. An
lgbtt ministry had begun in Guatemala City, but there was not yet anything in the other cities.  

San Salvador, El Salvador -- Pepe and I met Mario Bran in San Salvador in 2000. He is from an
evangelical background and had earlier shown interest in providing spiritual support to lgbtt in San
Salvador. After our first visit he attempted to begin a study group, but he found little support from
others and the group did not develop. During the three years between our visits various persons in
San Salvador had contacted us as a result of our Website, and three men showed particular interest
in helping start a Christian ministry. We met with Mario and these three (Nico Rodriguez, Balmore
Garcia and Edwin Aguilar), plus another man interested in a ministry, Manuel Hidalgo. Three are
evangelicals and two are Roman Catholics. They all committed to begin working together to prepare
for the beginning of an ecumenical Christian ministry in San Salvador, and we are attempting to
support and encourage them via telephone, e-mail and prayer. We also talked with a young
evangelical lesbian who is interested but who is beginning her own small business and does not have
time to participate at this point.

Our last day in San Salvador we met a Baptist minister, Rev. David Ramos (one of Tom Hanks’
former students), who is very much liberationist in perspective and is totally supportive of lgbtt. Even
more important, he told us of his former assistant pastor who is gay and is now in a rural area as
pastor (to avoid conflict in the church). Our Salvadoran team will be following up on these new
contacts.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras -- In Tegucigalpa we met several people who showed interest in working to
develop a ministry with lgbtt. In 2000 we met the leaders and staff of Colectivo Violeta, an AIDS and
gay rights group, who showed significant interest in the formation of a Christian ministry. One of
them, Nelson Silva, a psychologist totally accepting of lgbtt, is a former Roman Catholic seminarian
who left the seminary in order to get married and have a family. He more recently has been active in
an evangelical church and currently directs an AIDS prevention program with the Red Cross. We also
talked with several other interested people, one of whom has significant church leadership
experience, Julio Cesar Navarro. There was not enough time for us to meet with these contacts as a
group, and Nelson agreed to work with them to explore the possibility of developing a ministry with
lgbtt.

San Pedro Sula, Honduras -- Three hours north of Tegucigalpa is San Pedro Sula, the home of
German Turcios, who attended the Encuentro in December and whom we met in 2000. German is a
Roman Catholic layperson who is very active in the Dominican family in his city. He was active in a
Christian gay group that was formed in San Pedro Sula several years ago by a Dominican priest now
in Costa Rica. However, this group disbanded prior to our 2000 visit as a result of the brutal murder
of the man in whose apartment the group met. We are encouraging German to begin this ministry
again, and we met with several of his friends who were in the group.

Guatemala -- The Grupo de Asistencia Espiritual (Spiritual Assistance Group) in Guatemala City has
been ministering with lgbtt for about two years as a program within OASIS, the primary gay-oriented
AIDS organization in Guatemala. There had been intermittent attempts in the late 90's to begin a
ministry in Guatemala, and in 2000 Pepe and I met with three of the leaders, all Roman Catholics.
Soon after that they began the current ministry, and with the involvement of an evangelical, they
developed an ecumenical form of ministry. Initially they had discussion and Bible studies and periodic
liturgical services for special events, but more recently they had services every other week on
Sunday morning. Attendance was usually 20-25, with more than 100 for special event services, such
as Christmas, Easter and Gay Pride Week.  

In December 2002 the sponsoring organization (OASIS), which provided space and publicity,
suffered a severe budget cut and began undergoing significant reorganization. As a result, the
Spiritual Assistance ministry was cancelled. We met with the OASIS board president, Jorge Lopez,
and the group leaders now plan to resume their ministry soon. Donald Byrne, an attorney and former
Roman Catholic deacon who had been denied priestly ordination, has continued providing pastoral
care. The other two leaders are Marlon Vega, a Pentecostal, and Guillermo Gonzalez, a Roman
Catholic; the latter is presently studying theology in preparation for ministry.

Three weeks was not enough time to accomplish what needed to be done in these four cities, and we’
re looking forward to another trip (when our funds allow it). We appreciate your prayers for the
leaders we’ve mentioned, and for those yet to be discovered, and for their efforts to begin or resume
a Christian lgbtt ministry in their cities.


FROM JERRY CLEATOR

I have been working hard with our specifically Roman Catholic group, New Wine. Suddenly men and
women are coming out of the woodwork wanting to join forces with our ministry, so much so that we
have to work out a plan on how to integrate them. It is an opportunity to expand the ministry
significantly.  

We have an integrated group of workers, men and women, lay people and priests, homosexuals and
heterosexuals. An interesting development is how the heterosexual community is responding. They
like our message that we are not trying to form another ghetto but are working to build an inclusive
church.  

We have started to work with a group of parents of gays and with them we are planning our first
retreat for parents. Besides our retreats, which we are giving several times a year, we have a special
Eucharist the first Sunday of every month which we call the "Inclusive Mass," celebrated in a chapel
of the Instituto Cultural Tecnologico, a Roman Catholic center. It is a chance for a more participative
liturgy directed by the people themselves and where those who feel in any way alienated from the
church can feel welcomed once again. We have also taken over responsibility for the Eucharist every
third Sunday at the Dominican parish, Divino Redentor. Our goal is to open the community to the
experience of an inclusive church. The "gay group" is clearly in the forefront running the liturgy and
the preacher touches specifically gay themes in his sermon. The response of the people has been
very enthusiastic and this has inspired the pastor to ask the youth group to also take direction of one
of the Sunday Eucharists.  

I have been trying to organize a support group for gay priests. It has been the most frustrating task I
have taken on in Mexico. The most we have been able to gather together are five priests, and then
not all at once! The fear level of being discovered is extremely high. Even priests with HIV do not
want to know each other because of the shame factor. I will keep trying. The high level of fear just
confirms the importance of reaching out.


RENATO LINGS UPDATE

Renato Lings, one of the members of our European advisory board, has decided to pursue a
doctorate in Theology (Biblical Studies). He has moved to Plymouth in England to study and perform
research at the College of St Mark & St John, probably until 2005. For his thesis Renato is able to
put his translation skills and experience to good use. The subject is: ‘Misleading  
Language in Contemporary Bible Translations.’ The primary focus is on three ‘clobber texts’ from the
Hebrew Scriptures.


LGBTT BEST-SELLER PUBLISHED IN SPANISH

Daniel Helminiak's book, What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality, has now been published
in Spanish (Lo que la Biblia realmente dice sobre la homosexualidad) by Egales, a gay publisher in
Spain, and should soon be available in the U.S.  The English version has been a long-time best
seller in gay bookstores, with 65,000 copies in print.  Other Sheep's John Doner was heavily involved
in the translation, and he and Pepe Hernandez promoted the book in straight bookstores in Central
America during their recent mission trip.


WE NEED YOUR HELP

Recently I made a list of all the projects which Other Sheep has been involved with over the past ten
years. I was amazed. For such a small group, without any paid staff, we have sponsored workshops,
given retreats, translated and written books, sent literature all over the world, responded to hundreds
of e-mails resulting from our Websites, worked on human rights issues in Missouri, attended many
international conferences and networked with individuals and organizations for the spread of our
message that we are all children of God and no one should be excluded from the table of love
because of their sexual orientation.  

As this newsletter indicates, we are still very active in the ministry.  Yet, we have hardly scratched the
surface. We ask you to consider making a donation regularly to Other Sheep so that we may both
continue and expand our efforts.  Please send your checks to OTHER SHEEP c/o Gordon Herzog,
16768 Old Jamestown Rd., Florissant, MO 63034-1409, USA and tell him how much you would like to
contribute each month. He will send you a reminder and make sure that you are kept abreast of
where the money is going.  

Sincerely,
Jerry Cleator, O.P.
Executive Director



    OTHER SHEEP USA ADDRESS
 
    Please note the address:

    OTHER SHEEP
    16768 OLD JAMESTOWN ROAD   
    FLORISSANT, MO 63034-1409  
    Tel: (314) 355-2060 (also serves Herzog & Kanter LLP)  
    Fax: (314) 653-0657   
    e-mail:   osworldwide@aol.com
      
                                                 
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Other Sheep News
Summer 2003
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also."  
John 10:16 NRSV
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