Jay Bakker and Joel Osteen meet to discuss faith, family, and freedom

On Mother’s Day, Jay Bakker [pictured], son of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, brought a group of LGBT families to worship at Lakewood Church, in Texas – the largest mega-church in the U.S. After the service, Bakker met privately with Lakewood’s pastor, Joel Osteen, to talk about faith, family, and LGBT people.

After the meeting, Bakker released the following statement:

“Joel Osteen and his family were very kind and courteous. They reserved special seats for our group of families, and they spoke compassionately to me on the first Mother’s Day since my mom’s death. But our conversation indicated that they do not share our convictions and that Lakewood Church is not yet ready for an open dialogue with LGBT families.

“I believe it’s important for the church to have these conversations, because we are all one body. Open dialogue can dispel the fearful misperceptions that keep us apart. In the end, it’s about communion and loving one another in spite of our differences.

“I have hope for the future that LGBT families will be able to meet with Lakewood Church eventually.”

Earlier in the week, Lakewood officials had expressed an unwillingness to meet with Bakker. A tip from a Lakewood Church member led Bakker to seek out Osteen after the Saturday evening service, during the time when the pastor greets new visitors to Lakewood. The two exchanged remembrances of Bakker’s late mother, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, and arranged to meet privately the next day.

Bakker’s conversation with Osteen came just a day after The American Family Outing hosted a picnic in a Houston park for families from Lakewood Church. A handful of Lakewood members attended the picnic and expressed their appreciation for the effort to start an open conversation about the status of LGBT people at Lakewood.

In Houston, Rice University Professor Stephen L. Klineberg’s data can confirm the impact of simply getting to know someone who is gay or lesbian:

“One of the most powerful predictors of area residents’ attitudes toward gay rights, as powerful among religious fundamentalists as it is for the more secular respondents, is the simple question, ‘Do you have a personal friend who is gay or lesbian?’”

5/7/2008
Jay Bakker, son of Tammy Faye, invites Pastor Joel Osteen to meet lesbian moms on Mother’s Day

At a press conference in Houston May 7th, Jay Bakker issued an open invitation to families from Joel Osteen‘s Lakewood Church – the largest church in the U.S. – to share a picnic with LGBT families in Houston’s Levy Park on Saturday, May 10, 2008.

After the press conference, Bakker attempted to deliver his invitation in-person, but Lakewood staff told him that no one was available to accept the letter.

Several prominent mega-churches, including The Potter’s House in Dallas, Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, and Hope Christian Church in Maryland, have agreed to meet LGBT families.

Bakker is pastor of Revolution NYC church. His non-traditional approach to ministry achieved national attention in the Sundance Channel series One Punk Under God, which documented his journey to become an LGBT-affirming Christian. Jay is dedicating the Mother’s Day visit to Lakewood to the memory of his mother, Tammy Faye Bakker-Messner.

Bakker is one of the clergy leaders of The American Family Outing, a nationwide fellowship effort between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day 2008, in which LGBT families and supportive straight families will seek peaceful and heart-to- heart dialogue with six of today’s most influential evangelical leaders and their mega- churches about faith, family, and LGBT people.

Invitations to dialogue were initially issued in late 2007. Christian leaders such as Jay Bakker and Peggy Campolo have followed up with phone calls and letters to the churches. Several congregations, including Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, which is ranked the most influential congregation in America by Church Report magazine, have responded to The American Family Outing with interest and graciousness. Lakewood Church has yet to respond.

The American Family Outing took place in Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Illinois, and California – on the weekends between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, 2008.

The project reached out to the leaders of 6 of America’s most influential mega-churches, including T.D. Jakes and Rick Warren.

Gay and lesbian families asked to meet with their congregations with the goal of changing hearts and minds in some of the most influential churches in the nation. In each city visited, the LGBT group educated thousands of citizens through media coverage of same-sex families.

The American Family Outing is a collaboration between Soulforce, COLAGE, National Black Justice Coalition, and Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.

Soulforce is a national civil rights and social justice organization. Our vision is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.

The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC) is an international fellowship of Christian churches with a special ministry to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black same-gender-loving, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people. The Coalition works with our communities and our allies for social justice, equality, and an end to racism and homophobia.

COLAGE is a national movement of children, youth and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer parents. We build community and work toward social justice through youth empowerment, leadership development, education, and advocacy.

Article adapted by ProudParenting.com from original press releases.
Images: SundanceChannel.com, Soulforce.org

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