Christmas 2005
Newsletter

on this page...

New Executive
Director Appointed

Parelli and Ortiz
Report their  
Mexico, Summer
2005, Trip

Southern Cone
(South America)
Prepares for WCC
Meeting in Brazil

Empowering Clergy
to Come Out

Buenos Aires
Report, Tom Hanks

  Other Sheep News
                                      Christmas 2005

    From the Other Sheep Team – CHRISTMAS GREETINGS!

    We rejoice in the birth of our Savior.
    We rejoice in the gifts of God this year.
    We rejoice in the gifts of your prayers and support.



Ex-"Ex-Gay" Executive Director Appointed



                                                                        



             
                                                 Jose Ortiz (left) and Steve Parelli

    A year ago we were bemoaning an age crisis within Other Sheep's St. Louis board, but we are
    now celebrating the organization's rebirth! In September the Other Sheep Board appointed
    Steve Parelli (52) as its new executive director, a position that had been vacant for several
    years in this then all-volunteer organization. Steve is a former Baptist pastor who went
    through "reparative" therapy but finally accepted his homosexuality. And to make the news
    even better, along with Steve comes his life partner, Jose Ortiz (39), also an ex-"ex-gay" (they
    met in an "ex-gay" program!) and a theologically-trained Afro-Puerto Rican of
    charismatic/Baptist upbringing who is now Other Sheep's coordinator for Africa, Asia and US
    Latinos (a significant expansion of Other Sheep's ministry). We praise God for their near-
    voluntarism (Steve is receiving only a small stipend pending efforts to develop a more solid
    financial base for the organization). Enclosed is the news release of this appointment.

    Steve reports: September saw us turning a corner of our Bronx (New York City) apartment into
    Other Sheep office space, creating an executive director web site (www.othersheepexecsite.
    com), sending out news releases, and visiting area welcoming churches and lgbt
    organizations. Jose was constantly on line with seeking and hurting lgbt Christians from Africa
    and Asia.

    October and November moved us into the fast lane. We both attended the installation service
    of the Rev. Nancy Wilson as the new moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches at the
    National Cathedral in Washington, DC. In November I attended the National Gay and Lesbian
    Task Force Creating Change Conference in Oakland, CA, which resulted in some very
    significant contacts. Coming together for the first time, Tom Hanks and I met at and attended
    the Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Valley Forge and the Society of Biblical
    Literature/American Association of Religion meetings in Philadelphia. Jose joined us for the
    weekend in Philly. And Nov. 30 - Dec. 4, I was in St. Louis for my first Other Sheep board
    meeting.


A Summer of Surprises in Mexico for One Gay New York Couple
Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz

    We had planned to spend our vacation teaching English in Acapulco during July and August
    2005. However, a lawyer strongly advised against teaching without working papers. And then
    while looking for a gay church in Acapulco via the Internet, we met John Doner, Other Sheep's
    Latin America coordinator in Mexico City. We told him our ex-"ex-gay" experience and our
    interest in sharing our story. He set up meetings for us and stated that our timing was
    uncanny: the Catholic Church had just announced that Courage, the Roman Catholic
    Church's gay support ministry in the U. S. was coming to Mexico to impose celibacy on
    homosexuals, so reported the papers! So, we were going to Mexico and, as evangelical
    Christian college graduates with ministry experience, we would be responding with our ex-"ex-
    gay" story.

    In all, we spoke to nine different gatherings: five in Mexico City, two in Guadalajara, and two in
    Cuernavaca (including three of MCC's four congregations in Mexico and six other lgbt
    churches and support groups). We learned that Rev. Alfonso Leija, the MCC pastor in
    Cuernavaca, was planning to start a church in October in Acapulco (where we were living), so
    we offered to help.

    As interest built in hearing our story, our unexpected involvement with the media was a
    complete surprise. In Mexico City a gay journalist arranged four interviews, and our ex-"ex-
    gay" story was placed on the Internet (IPSnews.net) and published in La Jornada, a leading
    Mexico City newspaper. (You can view these articles on our Website at www.
    othersheepexecsite.com.) In Uruapan, a small city northwest of Mexico City, we were
    interviewed for La Jornada's Michoacan regional edition. The journalist told us that most gays
    there are closeted due to the fear of being totally rejected. In Cuernavaca we participated in
    that city's first-ever gay pride parade and participated on a panel discussion during "Sexual
    Diversity Week". We made a "splash" in their local papers, and Jose briefly spoke live on the
    radio as an ex-"ex-gay."

    We then fulfilled the promise we had made to Rev. Leija, the pastor in Cuernavaca to help him
    publicize the new gay church. We contacted the papers and TV reporters and handed out
    flyers in the Zocalo (town square) and at bars. Pastor Leija joined us on our final Saturday in
    Mexico, and with a TV camera, TV reporter and two radio reporters present, he publicly
    announced to Acapulco the coming gay church. Two days before flying back to the States, we
    watched the Acapulco TV news broadcast. Pastor Alfonso spoke clearly to all of Acapulco
    about the need for a church for lgbt people.

    How ironic. We had surfed the Web to find a gay church in Acapulco before our summer trip
    to Mexico. And there wasn't one. Now on TV, this two-guy chocolate-vanilla swirl (that's Steve
    and Jose) from New York City were being televised to Acapulco as supporters of Pastor
    Alfonso's aired comments. And to think our original plan for Acapulco was to teach English!

    Yes, God had something else in mind. All during our summer in Mexico we were sensing
    God's call to work with Other Sheep. John Doner and his life-partner, Pepe Hernandez, came
    to Acapulco during our final week in Mexico to speak more with us about the organization and
    to learn more about us. As a result, John recommended us to the Board, and we sought the
    position of Other Sheep's executive director. Other Sheep: Mexico's gift to us.


Southern Cone Gay Groups Prepare for WCC Meeting in Brazil

    Leaders of 12 of the lgbtt Christian ministries in South America's Southern Cone (Argentina,
    Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) met in September near Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Rev.
    Dr. Tom Hanks, OS founder, Elsa San Martín, founding member of the Fundación Otras
    Ovejas in Argentina, and OS Latin America coordinator John Doner represented Other
    Sheep. Primary purposes for the meeting were to provide support and encouragement to
    leaders isolated by vast distances and exchange of experiences and resources. The
    multiplication of lgbtt ministries in Brazil was particularly encouraging. One significant outcome
    was the beginning of planning for having an effective presence at the World Council of
    Churches meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil from Feb. 14-23, 2006. (See following article.)


Other Sheep Prepares New Strategy for WCC in Brazil—and Beyond:
Empowering Clergy to Come Out

    Given the worldwide political power of homophobic religious fundamentalisms and the high
    number of closeted clergy in virtually every religious tradition, arguably the most urgent
    strategic need in the next decade (2006-2015) is for closeted clergy and religious leaders to
    come out, tell their story, but continue as faithful ministers. If during this decade, instead of
    more than 90% of gay clergy being closeted, we could see 90% come out and become
    publicly supportive of gay rights, the power and influence of reactionary fundamentalisms of
    all sorts would be decimated. Yet, at present, although a few individual clergy have come out—
    or have been outed—often losing their employment and support of family and friends, no
    organized effort exists to encourage them and provide the necessary network of support to
    make their coming out a positive experience, rather than a personal disaster.

    The admirable "Point Program," recently publicized with a TIME cover story, has provided
    university scholarships for some 50 young gays and lesbians rejected by their families (out of
    more than 5,000 applicants). Yet nothing exists to provide support and encouragement for the
    thousands of closeted clergy, who often face similar needs. The election of Cardinal Joseph
    Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI, with his homophobic policies opposing gay priests and
    seminarians, along with continued headlines throughout the world of clergy caught in
    pedophilia scandals, guarantees that this issue will be front-page news for the foreseeable
    future. However, if the result is to be positive, closeted clergy need to be offered an
    alternative to suffering in silence or exploding on front pages in scandals.

    Since our origin in 1992, in itself a positive response to the coming out experience of one of
    its founders, Other Sheep has sought to encourage closeted clergy to come out and speak
    out, as part of a pastoral ministry for sexual minorities that has involved the establishment of a
    worldwide network of resource centers. Now, however, with positive resources available in
    many languages through the internet, the time has come for a new emphasis, in collaboration
    with numerous national and denominational groups, to empower clergy to come out and
    speak out. In addition to recent dramatic developments in the Roman Catholic Church, in one
    country alone, through a very limited program of scholarships, stipends and reemployment,
    we have been able to help three Southern Baptist pastors and an ex-nun as they seek to
    transform their coming out experience from one of tragedy to one of positive ecclesiastical
    and political impact.


Other Sheep Foundation, Buenos Aires - Tom Hanks

    In addition to providing scholarships and encouragement to Baptist pastors and an ex-nun in
    their coming out process, the Foundation has launched its website with space for making
    available on-line entire books of gay theology that we have already translated (www.
    fundotrasovejas.org.ar). The publishing house, Epifanía, has published 3000 copies in
    Spanish of gay theologian Chris Glaser's Meditations with Henri Nouwen (one of Latin
    America's most popular Catholic devotional writers), but the big fish that control the capitalist
    distribution system, in collaboration with Vatican-led opposition to sexual minorities, have
    made it difficult to distribute the book widely even within Argentina (only 300 have been sold
    to date). Hence the decision to make books available on-line before they are published, and
    thus free readers from the control and censorship of oppressive economic interests and
    religious prejudice. We are glad to report that so far both authors and publishers have
    recognized the need to resort to Internet publishing and forego any possible immediate
    income from their considerable investments. My commentaries on Hebrews and Romans are
    due to be published in a one-volume gay/queer commentary (SCM Press) next year. Longer
    commentaries on Romans and John are in the computer, awaiting final revisions. Now in
    Mexico to give a course on Psalms, my next project will be to get in publishable form years of
    teaching notes and hundreds of pages on that Christian favorite in the Hebrew Bible.


We are growing and need to support our new Executive Director and pay the many expenses.
    We need funds to continue and funds to get a base that will permit growth.

    PLEASE FORWARD YOUR CONTRIBUTION to our office address:

    Other Sheep
    16768 Old Jamestown Rd., Florissant, MO 63034-1409

This website was reconstructed in June of 2007
Visits made to this web page since June 2007
"I have other sheep that are not of this
fold.  I must bring them in also."  
John 10:16
Counter
 
Other Sheep News
Christmas 2005

From the Other Sheep Team – CHRISTMAS GREETINGS!

We rejoice in the birth of our Savior.
We rejoice in the gifts of God this year.
We rejoice in the gifts of your prayers and support.
"I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also."  
John 10:16 NRSV
Other Sheep Websites