Ex-gay ministry may have been casualty of political endorsement

First, the Donnie McClurkin kerfuffle and now the Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell endorsement. That is not a sentence, but I’ll bet a few Barack Obama supporters muttered that and more after it was recently learned that Rev. Caldwell’s church promoted Metanoia (ex-gay) Ministry on it’s church website. In a Politico.com article, Rev. Caldwell said this about the ministry:

By Monday, Caldwell’s church, Windsor Village United Methodist in Houston, scrubbed its Web site of any reference to the gay conversion program, Metanoia Ministry.

In a Politico interview Tuesday, Caldwell said his 14,000-member church – one of the largest United Methodist congregations in the country – is not affiliated with Metanoia.

“I got to tell you, this is going to sound real stupid, but I didn’t know it was on our website,” Caldwell said. “I was surprised and embarrassed by it. I’m embarrassed from the standpoint that I should have known. We have 120 ministries at the church. You can’t be on top of everything.”

When asked if he opposed such programs, Caldwell said: “It’s not a ministry of the church. It is not supported financially by the church. It is not located at the church. That is pretty much where I am with it.”

The Google cache of that website is here. I have written Barbara Hicks to find out if she still is affiliated with Metanoia and how the ministry functioned. Rev. Caldwell’s statements are curious in light of the Metanoia webpage. The webpage looks and sounds like the reader is to get the impression the ministry is a part of the church.

UPDATE: The cache has been removed but here is a saved web capture and a pdf file of the Metanoia Ministry and the Windsor Avenue church.

37 thoughts on “Ex-gay ministry may have been casualty of political endorsement”

  1. I am disappointed with Pastor Caldwell’s response to this situation.

    I used to attend Windsor Village and did so about a year after walking away from my homosexual identity.

    I was blessed to be counselled by Barbara Hicks which helped me in my further recovery from homosexuality.

    I helped to write the webpage that is in discussion and I also attended a meeting for those who desired to work with the Metonia Ministry. I no longer attend Windsor Village because I moved to California.

    I can’t say if Pastor Caldwell knew about the ministry but I am deeply concerned with his response to this matter.

    I feel for those who are members of his congregation and looking for clear direction in this matter, especially those who are struggling with unwanted homosexual desires.

    We have to take a stand and let go of the fear of being labled homophobic.

  2. What happened to “choice”? Just because a certain ministry does not meet the need of one doesn’t mean it won’t meet the need of another. It saddens me that once again someone caved in to the political correctness and has made something so important to those who are quietly looking for support and encouragement that much harder to find. This seems very cruel and self serving to me.

  3. I thought these were pertinent questions and then realized we got sidetracked. Any thoughts?

    How about this spin? There are approx. 120 ministries at the church. Yet only one had to be scrubbed from the church website. Let me repeat: from the church website. Shades of censorship? (If it isn’t, what do we call the influence behind the scrubbing?)

    Or this spin? Let’s for a moment imagine that the church ministry was ‘pro-gay’. Would it have been scrubbed? If it had, would gay people be outraged? Why? –or Why not?

  4. Eddy,

    It’s a long history of hateful treatment towards gays that has caused this. Just as some white folks were horrible towards blacks, regular white folks had to pay the price – it has taken a long time (and yes there was fallout on to others who were never racist) to overcome the racial barrier.

    This is the way things are in this world.

  5. Mary, I hear what you’re saying … I think. And I agree with the part that Metanoia may be paying the price for the political actions of others. I just identify different folk as the culprits, that’s all.

  6. Warren, I don’t know if the ministry is kaput. I haven’t been in contact with Barbara since last year. Just speculating about what the outcome might be if it were.

    BTW – does the word “kerflooey” (or however it’s spelled) derive from the same root as kerfuffle?

  7. And when a Christian ministry to homosexuals does not get politically involved they find they are political collateral anyway and are censored from their churches’ own website.

    Seems the answer isn’t as simple as ‘staying out of politics’.

  8. Karen, I am really sorry – it was not me who took the website down. We have to take a hard look at the actions of the past and see how it has hampered today. That is why this particular ministry – to homosexuals – should stay out of politics.

  9. Karen,

    Metanoia lost it’s effectiveness when it was removed from that site (it’s reach is diminished) I do not know their political stance – but hope they don’t have one. I believe it is a tragedy of the anti-gay rhetoric from the past from gay bashing christians in other organizations that also “help” homosexuals overcome. This is a legacy of hate that christians today have to overcome.


    Exodus in the past has put on it’s website front and center their endorsment of the marriage amendment. Today it is referred to on this page:


    and it is NOT asking us to vote this time – just making their statement.

    And here http://exodus.to/content/view/34/57/

    is it’s non-enodrsment of the “thought laws” aka – hate crimes bills. Looking at their site tonight they do have a page of affiliations that are political. Which speaks louder than anything else. I understand they are an umbrella organization for many ministries that are geared towards “helping” homosexuals and that each individual organization has it’s own politics.

    I do support their right to manage in anyway that they so choose. I just disagree with it. And think it is counterproductive in the long run and big picture.

  10. Karen – Is Metanoia Ministry kaput? You sound like it is. And if it is, then it sounds like it was Rev. Caldwell that did it in.

  11. Mary writes … “Metanoia lost it’s effectiveness because of the other political activities of other ex gay ministries. Guilty by association. Now it’s reach is even smaller.”

    This argument is so illogical, I’m not even sure how to respond. Other than repeating again that Metanoia is an “ex-gay” ministry only in the fervid imagination of pro-gay activists.

    And don’t be so sure that Metanoia has gotten “smaller” or “lost its effectiveness.” Just because the ministry information was removed from the church website doesn’t mean the ministry has ceased to exist. (And no, before anyone asks me, I do not know that for a fact.) But I know that Windsor Village is not the kind of church that is easily cowed.

    But I’m asking all of us to look and think a few feet beyond our computer screens and consider this … suppose the ministry has been jeopardized or destroyed by the actions/statements of the senior pastor. What exactly did that accomplish?

    I worked with Barbara during the time she was developing the ministry. I know the time and thoughtfulness – not to mention “blood, sweat and tears” – that went into the planning, preparation and training. Metanoia helped not only those with unwanted homosexuality, but folk other churches in the Houston area wouldn’t deign to touch – the homeless, prostitutes and drug addicts.

    Oh my, yes, guilty by association.

    Mission accomplished, pro-gay activists! Job well done!

  12. Except that kind of blame was being thrown around 30 years ago before any political comments were made by anyone in Exodus. Our ministry was accused of having a political agenda when, in fact, my co-leader and I didn’t share political views and never spoke our views in public. I wasn’t even registered!

    Finally, someone admitted, “The fact that you exist is a political statement. Your saying that you’re ex-gay is a political statement. Saying that people can change is a political statement.” I believe that’s all that happened here.

    I don’t think there was any guilt by association here; the guilt was simply in calling it something that needed redemption.

  13. Karen,

    Case in point: Metanoia lost it’s effectiveness because of the other political activities of other ex gay ministries. Guilty by association. Now it’s reach is even smaller. One less chance for a struggler to find answers, hope, comfort, compassion within his/her church because of politics.

  14. Karen–

    Good to have you back for a spell! I really don’t have much to add. I appreciated your observation that it was the senior pastor who focussed on ‘earthy matters’ and things political. And I was very impressed that we got through a dozen comments before making an Exodus connection. (There isn’t one by the way. As far as I can tell, this Metanoia Ministry is not affiliated with Exodus in any way. If so, I doubt they would have chosen a name so similar to one of the oldest Exodus-affiliated ministries.)

    I also agree with you that Exodus does not fit the image that Mary or Timothy conveyed. Neither of them seemed to have a good grasp on the ‘umbrella coalition’ concept when I labored to explain it some months back and, even now, although they see a distinction between Exodus HQ and its member agencies, they have a better picture of the agencies than they do of HQ.

    My impression is that political involvement has been well less than 10% of the focus of Exodus HQ. But it is the political involvement that makes the news. I thought and still think that making any public political statements is a wrong path for Exodus. Individuals should get involved locally and speak and vote as their conscience directs them…making it clear that it’s their voice and their vote…not that of all ex-gays or all Exodus affiliates.

    How about this spin? There are approx. 120 ministries at the church. Yet only one had to be scrubbed from the church website. Let me repeat: from the church website. Shades of censorship?

    Or this spin? Let’s for a moment imagine that the church ministry was ‘pro-gay’. Would it have been scrubbed? If it had, would gay people be outraged? Why?

  15. Karen,

    It has been my observation as well that Exodus has and continues to listen and correct those things that were not conducive to their ministry.

  16. Mary … from the original story Warren posted, it was the senior pastor at Windsor Village United Methodist Church who was apparently focused on “earthly matters” and “politics,” not the leaders involved with Metanoia ministry. Your riff on the topic therefore doesn’t logically apply to the topic at hand.

    Timothy … since I just returned home from the Exodus leadership conference in Orlando, I know that what you wrote above is no longer true, if it ever was. I don’t expect you to believe it; you’ll just have to watch it play out like the rest of the so-called “concerned.”

  17. Briefly, our focus should be on the Kingdom of Heaven and not on earthly matters and politics. It seems to sour the motivation that is presented to those who struggle or who are gay. It blurs the focus and intent of the mission.

    Vote however you want to – that is a privilege and a right of this society. And keep in mind how a focus on earthly matters has distanced yourself from one lost sheep – just one. Please see Luke 15:1-7

    This is not being a heretic – this is being wise to understand the life of those with same sex attraction and how we can keep the conversation open.

  18. Karen and Eddy,

    What Exodus has done that is shameful is to change priorities from an organization that seek to meet the spiritual needs of those who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions to an organization that spends much (if not most) of its efforts and budget on anti-gay political efforts.

    Perhaps your ministries are still focused on ex-gay persons, but even the most casual glance at the national organization will readily reveal that this is no longer their highest priority.

  19. Mary–

    When you say you are ashamed of ‘Exodus and its organization’, do you mean you are ashamed of the way Exodus is organized? or are you ashamed of the organizations who are a part of it?

  20. BTW, I am not ashamed of the gospel – I am ashamed of the so called people who preach it. I am ashamed of people like Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, Exodus and it’s organization, etc…

  21. No – shame on those who promote hate and use ministry as a political tool to spread political adovocacy. It is one thing to help those who have unwanted same sex attraction. It is quite another thing entirely to vote against gay rights because you don’t believe it is to your pleasure. Unfortunately, many ex gay ministries have become political and hence have lost their power to really help people.

    Can you imagine reaching out your hand to help someone and saying at the very sametime – by the way – if you don’t change or see things my way – I am going to vote against your rights to marriage, love, happiness?? You might as well make a fist – which is exactly what ex gay ministries have done. They have truly lost any power they could have had by doing such a thing.

  22. Ah Karen, I sometimes write and make no sense anyhow. Thank you for the bakground on Metanoia.

  23. And just for the record. Metanoia leaders do not consider it an “ex-gay” ministry. They are not affiliated with Exodus and they do not subscribe to or use reparative therapy. If you need a label, their approach is rooted in Black Pentecostal or Charismatic traditions.

    By using that broad “paint brush” again, pro-gay activists have simply seized on another poster-issue they can harp about. And a good ministry gets caught in their cross-hairs. Shame on them.

  24. Thanks for clarifying, Mary. I was tired last night and couldn’t make sense of your post. Par for the course for me, in many ways.

    Byron writes … Either way, Caldwell does not come off looking very good in this situation.


  25. OK, but it seems to me that a guy in his position would know the church’s stance on a given issue, wouldn’t he? It’s hard for me to fathom a guy in his situation having to go look in a book somewhere as to what his church’s stance is on these volatile topics.

    Too, it might make a difference as to what religious affiliation one had. Maybe I overspoke, although in my particular church setting, I think it’d be inappropriate not to voice a personal opinion on this type of subject, given this opportunity (and I have little doubt that my congregation would agree). And if I had to worry that I served a congregation that differed from me that substantially on such a very basic subject like marriage, I have no doubt it’d be time to part ways. This isn’t a color-of-the-carpet issue.

    Either way, Caldwell does not come off looking very good in this situation.

  26. Karen,

    I know nothing of the Metanoia project except that it is there to reach out and help those with unwanted same sex attraction. I was not calling them mean.

    What I was saying is that the mean people are those who hate homosexuals.

    People often confuse the two.

  27. Karen,

    Thank you and this is what I was talking about. Church policy is in place for good reason. There will always be certain individual who find they have difficulty with one policy or another. Pastors that take it upon themselves to make public statements that go against church policy are not respecting the church that they are supposedly leading, they are only putting their own individual needs above that of there congregation.

  28. To be more specific, the United Methodist Book of Discipline (our official policy) states:

    “Marriage-We affirm the sanctity of the marriage covenant that is expressed in love, mutual support, personal commitment, and shared fidelity between a man and a woman. We believe that God’s blessing rests upon such marriage, whether or not there are children of the union. We reject social norms that assume different standards for women than for men in marriage. We support laws in civil society that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Paragraph 161.c

    Same-sex unions may not be done in our churches or by our pastors. It’s a chargeable offense for clergy. (Meaning: you can be defrocked.) Some, especially in the west, have disobeyed this, but that’s our denominational standard.

  29. Byron and Concerned … Kirbyjon’s statement could also mean “I have to check and see what official United Methodist teaching and/or policy says.” That answer would be that we oppose same-sex unions or marriages.

  30. Concerned,

    It’s hard for me to argue against that principle in general, and in so many ways; in general, I’d agree with you. But notice the question: “when asked if he would support civil unions and gay marriage…” We so much need to get back to thinking about more than the individual, as Christians, but to check with the church before he issues an opinion? We’ll have to agree to disagree on that. As a pastor, I’d hope my church would fire me if I gave such a response.

  31. Byron,

    This seems to me to be the correct thing for an individual in a church community to do. It should never be all about one person. Our lives should never be all about the individual. If more people today consulted others before opening their mouths perhaps there would be less pain in the world.

  32. I may have misunderstood you, Mary. Are you implying that the Metanoia program is or was mean? I heard Barbara do a presentation on the model two or so years ago; it is very kind and compassionate, based to large degree on the work of another African-American woman named Jakii Edwards.

  33. Did you catch the last line of Caldwell’s article?

    When asked if that meant he supported civil unions and gay marriage, Caldwell said: “I would need to check with the church.”

    What a weiner. He has to check with his church to tell us what he thinks. There’s guts for you.

  34. The sad thing is that those who want to change homosexuality are often those who want to be mean. Why does it have to be that way? Why can’t people embrace homosexuals and have their same faith, too? Guess it makes sense that one should not make their own religion a political policy. It is too bad that removing this program from the website came as a politcal gesture rather than adding to it an expression of loving others.

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