August 16, 2010

The Right Reverend Jack Leo Iker
The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth
2900 Alemeda Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76108

Dear Bishop Iker:

Greetings in the holy and redemptive name of Jesus! 

It is a blessing to write to you because I truly believe that it is the result of the Holy Spirit’s leading.  In June I had the opportunity to meet with Gary and Cora Werley and Fr. Christopher Culpepper during a visit to Fort Worth on behalf of the Christian ministry Exodus International, for whom I work.  I was overjoyed to learn that the Werleys have been thinking and praying about how a redemptive approach to the issue of homosexuality can become a formal part of the ministry of the Anglican Communion in America. 

I believe the call we have as Christians, and especially as Anglicans, is to build a church that has an active and redemptive pastoral response to contemporary issues of sexuality.  Such a response should be every bit as faithful, courageous, and true to Jesus as our theological response has been.

More than any other denomination in our country, North American Anglicans have been and continue to be tested about the truth of biblical sexuality.  The consequences of an orthodox stance on biblical sexuality are particularly brutal in today’s society.  Our motives, our beliefs, and our witness for Christ have been impugned.  The cost of our faithfulness goes far beyond the loss of property, legal expenses, and other financial considerations.  The greater cost has been the loss of our good name. Those who oppose God have managed to fashion an identity for the Anglican Church that has been eagerly carried by the mainstream media.  They have made us “the church that hates homosexuals,” the last place anyone seeking healing and compassion – including friends and family – would turn. 

That requires a response. But, with respect, I believe our response must be in the form of action, not words. I am writing to humbly suggest how the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth may provide a pastoral complement to its stance on truth regarding homosexuality and serve its parishes to minister grace and truth to individuals struggling with homosexuality, and to their families and friends who also suffer.

For 35 years, Exodus International, the ministry I represent, has been ministering to individuals and families who struggle with homosexuality.  Exodus encourages, educates, and equips the body of Christ to address the issue of homosexuality with grace and truth.  Through its nationwide referrals to counselors, peer-to-peer ministries, and churches; its training and equipping resources; and its encouragement for churches to address issues of biblical sexuality, Exodus is working to proclaim freedom in Christ.  

Exodus’ network of churches is already ministering to those who have experienced sexual brokenness.  They recognize that God’s plan for mankind is one of redemption and reconciliation that includes our sexuality.  They are walking with individuals no longer bound by their sexual orientations or behaviors but, instead, are finding a new life and identity in Jesus Christ.  Indeed, God is calling individuals and families into freedom who can boldly say “That is what some of us were.  But we were washed, we were sanctified, and we were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” 

I am recommending that the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth consider partnering with Exodus International as we seek to serve the body of Christ in ministering grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality.  We know from recent experience how no one in our parishes is far from the issue of homosexuality.  Exodus stands ready to equip priests, lay ministers, youth workers, and congregations to respond as Christ’s Body to those seeking healing, wholeness and holiness in this area. 

In the service of Jesus,

Paul Webster
Director of Ministry Advancement
Exodus International

Good Shepherd Anglican Church
San Marcos, California