Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gay and Out on the Carnival Pride Cruise (Baltimore-Bahamas)


Today on his Other Sheep Exec Site website, Rev. Stephen Parelli posted an article on his recent cruise to the Bahamas with his husband Jose Ortiz.

Article Title:  Gay and Out on the Carnival Pride Cruise (Baltimore-Bahamas)

Jose & Steve, Nassau, Bahamas
  • “We thought it was a gay cruise,” says Jose jokingly to another gay couple on board. “After all,” he points out, “the ship is called ‘Pride.’ “ No, it wasn’t a gay cruise. But, there were gay couples on board – some couples were out, and some were decidedly not! 
  • The preacher, in his late twenties and currently going to school for his Master’s in Education, had recently come out to, and subsequently lost, his Pentecostal church in the Bronx.  He told us, in general (not revealing any identities), about Pentecostal preachers and lay people who were secretly coming to him to discuss their own personal lives as gay and closeted.
  • Apparently, Carnival is keeping pace with society’s sense of inclusiveness:  the code phrase “Friends of Dorothy” has graduated to “GLBT” (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender). 
  • Apparently, there are stage hosts and performers enough who have no skill in changing their heteronormativity terms when addressing gay couples. 
  • And to that, the comedian announced to the audience, “This is the Brokeback section where this man is sitting.”  
  • “I’m gay. We are both gay and we are legally married. You know, they marry gays in many other countries.”  The angry male I had spied, quickly put distance between us, as if his rage was about to burst out of control.
  •  It was the waiter from India who had served us breakfast one morning in the dining room on board the ship.  “How do you like the book,” Jose asked him.  “I’ve read it and I really like it,” he said.  The waiter is gay and Christian so we had given him a copy of the book The Children Are Free:  Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Remembering Michael Allen and the Parelli/Ortiz Commissioning Service of 2006

By Rev. Stephen Parelli
Bronx, New York
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Written in Memory of Rev. J. C. Michael Allen (1927-2013)
Other Sheep board member, 2002 – 2011  

Michael Allen
Our commissioning to the work of Other Sheep occurred about seven months after we had been called by the board to work as staff volunteers for Other Sheep as Executive Director (me, full time) and as Coordinator for Africa and Asia (Jose my significant other, part time).  At what point in time the commissioning service had been planned, I don’t recall.  What I do remember is my feeling a bit strange about the whole idea of a commissioning service, especially sense so much of my thoughts on God was still in flux.

For the board, and for Michael Allen, this commissioning service was of great importance to each of them, so I observed.  I could sense their faith in my call and their faith in the mission of Other Sheep.

I had told the board at my interview for the job that I was never more certain of God’s call on my life than I was in accepting the position of Executive Director of Other Sheep.  That much I knew, but not much more.  I felt certain I had been somehow fitted for this task at this time, and with Jose as my significant other who shared my excitement, calling and gifts – well, Jose and I were ready to go. If nothing else, we had each other.  But this commissioning service . . . well . . . I had to somehow manage my doubtful feelings about its earth-while significance because of my own theological misgivings.

Those attending from the Other Sheep board and J. C. Michael Allen who gave the commissioning charge – there was something special about these folk from Missouri.

Read More, Click Here

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Parelli/Ortiz Report on their 5-Country Tour of Latin America 2013

Links to Reports and Photos – Peru, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala & Colombia

Rev. Steve Parelli and Jose Ortiz:
Their 2013 Other Sheep Summer Ministry to Five Latin
American Countries
June 25* – September 1, 2013

*Steve arrived in Peru on June 25th, Jose on June 28th
For a full Report (PDF) and Photos per country, click on
the respective link below:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Soulforce Stands with H. Adam Ackley, Theology Professor at Azusa Pacific University Dismissed for Coming Out as Transgender

Echoes Ackley's Concern for Toxic Message His Dismissal Sends to Students at the Christian University  

Source:  Soulforce; received by email - general mailing, Monday, September 23, 2013 at 6:15PM

Last week, H. Adam Ackley, a theology professor at Azusa Pacific University, was encouraged to resign after 15 years of distinguished service to the school when he told administrators that he was transgender. The school is an evangelical Christian university outside of Los Angeles that Soulforce has visited on its Equality Ride, and has worked with students at the school attempting to improve campus conditions for LGBTQ students and faculty.
Ackley was asked to resign despite not having broken any school policies. The reason the University cited was that his "privacy" should be protected as he transitions from female to male, and that this process might be confusing to students, parents, or donors of the University.

Sign a petition started by Azusa Pacific students calling on the University to make its campus safe for transgender students, faculty, and staff!

Ackley has expressed that he feels free and ready to live his life openly, but has strong pastoral concern for how his students might be taking the University's decision.

We stand with Adam Ackley in his requests to the school for the following:
1.) That Ackley be allowed to complete the semester instructing his students, helping them process and learn from his transition.

2.) That the University honor its commitment to cover Ackley's medical benefits, including doctor-prescribed hormone treatment and the modest, outpatient "top surgery" procedure he requires for his gender transition.
3.) That the University make clear by what policy they dismissed Ackley, and that his dismissal had nothing to do with any misconduct as a professor.
Furthermore, Soulforce stands in support of students, faculty, and staff, who have received a toxic message that the broad diversity of gender expression is somehow shameful, wrong, or "against God's will."
Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, Executive Director of Soulforce said, "We absolutely stand with Adam, this extraordinary teacher, pastor, and person of faith. But, like Adam, our deepest concern is for the students and faculty of this campus where the administration has now publicly sanctioned an anti-LGBT climate. The administrators say that students will be "confused" by the transitioning of a transgender person when, in truth, the students are not confused at all. It is the administrators that are confused, and intolerant, of the range of sexual and gender expression that we recognize as integral to the Creator's design for humankind and all nature."

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Gloucester Point, Virginia, Bethany United Methodist Church 'Church and Society Committee' calls seminar on the Bible and homosexuality a success

by Nancy Orth, Chairperson
Church and Society Committee
Bethany United Methodist Church
Gloucester Point, Virginia

April 30, 2013

On Saturday, April 20, from 1 - 4 p.m.,  the Rev. Steve Parelli and Mr. Jose Ortiz of Other Sheep (, invited by the Church and Society Committee of Bethany United Methodist Church in Gloucester Point, Virginia presented a seminar entitled Talking Points – What you need to know and say when they say: “But the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality!”  On Sunday, April 21, during the Sunday School hour, the Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz spoke to a group about the fallacies of the “ex-gay” movement.

Logo for the Board of Church and Society.

Approximately 50 people attended the 'Bible and homosexuality' talk on Saturday including the minister of Bethany Church. Rev. Parelli, assisted by Mr. Ortiz, gave a scholarly, and very interesting, PowerPoint lecture on what have come to be known as the “Clobber Passages,” six references in the Bible commonly used to condemn homosexuals (Gen. 19, Lev. 18:22 and 22:13, Romans 1, I Cor. 6:9 and I:10, Jude 7). In an attempt to create an informal atmosphere this event was held in the church fellowship hall with refreshments provided. The attendees sat around tables and were given paper and pencils to write down questions or comments to ask at the end of the presentation. A ten-page handout of notes that followed the PowerPoint material was provided each attendee.

The audience, for the most part, was engaged and positively receptive. There were six people who negatively challenged Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz, by quoting scripture and condemning them as homosexual. This created some awkward moments but did not de-rail the afternoon. Rev. Parelli and the hosting committee did ask this group to allow him to stay on topic and offered to discuss their concerns after the presentation was over. Three of these attendees left before the end of the session and some of the others stayed afterwards and talked with Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz. There were also a number of people who had very positive comments about the talk and relayed these to Rev. Parelli, Mr. Ortiz, and members of the hosting committee.

The 'Bible and homosexuality' seminar was announced in the "Church News" section of the April 18 Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal. The general public was cordially invited.  The larger amount of the attendees was from Bethany Church, a few were from the community at large.

On Sunday, April 21 Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz attended the early morning worship service prior to speaking to a Sunday School class about the fallacies of the “ex-gay” movement, including their own related experiences.  This was well-received.   After Sunday School Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz were taken to brunch at a nearby restaurant. Twelve church members accompanied them and continued the discussion.

The Church and Society Committee deemed the visit a success and has sent out a survey asking for input.  Of course the survey is aimed at those who attended but also welcomes comments from any member of the congregation. These results will help the committee to answer the question “Where do we go from here?”

It was certainly a pleasure and privilege to have Rev. Parelli and Mr. Ortiz visit Bethany. They were the perfect guests and very enjoyable to be around. They are welcomed back!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Introducing Verlin V. Byers, Other Sheep Coordinator for Latinas/os in the USA

By Verlin V. Byers
Other Sheep Coordinator for Latinas/os in the USA

(Editor's note:  For Verlin's photo and the Other Sheep home page of  Latinas/os USA, click here. Verlin became Coordinator in November of 2011.)

My name is Verlin Byers and I would describe myself as a follower of Christ who happens to be gay.

Religious Heritage, Education and Past Missions Work
My religious heritage comes from the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition, but I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene and have a B.A. in Psychology from Northwest Nazarene University (NNU). I served as a missionary with the Nazarene Youth In Mission program for two summers during university in Brazil and Portugal. After graduating from NNU, I returned to Brazil in 1992 to volunteer as a Community Development Worker with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). My time in Brazil abruptly ended after two years of service when I was forced to “come out.”

Current Residence, Work and Church
I currently live in Portland, OR where I work in social services and am an active member of the United Church of Christ.

I do speak Portuguese and Spanish, with greater fluency in Portuguese due to my work in Brazil.

Vision and Passion
My hope and passion is to see lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered individuals who have been oppressed by the Church restored to healing and wholeness.

In John 21 Jesus asks Simon Peter if he loves him more than the other disciples. He actually asks the same question three times and Peter gives him the same answer each time. He responds that
Jesus knows Peter loves him. And three times, in the course of the conversation, Jesus tells Peter to take care of his sheep: "Feed my lambs . . . Tend my sheep . . . Feed my sheep."

I find this image very meaningful and hope it guides the work I do, particularly with Other Sheep.

Contact Me
If you have any questions, concerns, comments, or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to contact me.  For my contact information, click here

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A Formal Public Apology by John Paulk, a Former "ex-gay" Leader

Of related interest:

See Rev. Steve Parelli's paper Is There Really Such A Thing As 'Ex-gay'?

Date:  Wed Apr 24 12:00:51 2013
Subject: A Formal Public Apology by John Paulk

I am passing along a statement by John Paulk, a former advocate of the ex-gay movement and conversion therapy and author. He was the founder and former leader of the ministry Love Won Out which was launched by the organization Focus on the Family.
The purpose of his statement is to apologize and renounce his involvement
in the 'ex-gay' movement. Full statement below my signature.
Any further media inquiries can be directed to

Ross Murray
Director of News and Faith Initiatives


john paulk
John Paulk, onetime poster boy for ex-gays (photo source)

A Formal Public Apology
by John Paulk

For the better part of ten years, I was an advocate and spokesman for
what's known as the ex-gay movement, where we declared that sexual
orientation could be changed through a close-knit relationship with God,
intensive therapy and strong determination. At the time, I truly believed
that it would happen. And while many things in my life did change as a
Christian, my sexual orientation did not.

So in 2003, I left the public ministry and gave up my role as a spokesman
for the "ex-gay movement." I began a new journey. In the decade since, my
beliefs have changed. Today, I do not consider myself "ex-gay" and I no
longer support or promote the movement. Please allow me to be clear: I do
not believe that reparative therapy changes sexual orientation; in fact,
it does great harm to many people.

I know that countless people were harmed by things I said and did in the
past.  Parents, families, and their loved ones were negatively impacted by
the notion of reparative therapy and the message of change. I am truly,
truly sorry for the pain I have caused.

From the bottom of my heart I wish I could take back my words and actions
that caused anger, depression, guilt and hopelessness. In their place I
want to extend love, hope, tenderness, joy and the truth that gay people
are loved by God.

Today, I see LGBT people for who they are--beloved, cherished children of
God. I offer my most sincere and heartfelt apology to men, women, and
especially children and teens who felt unlovable, unworthy, shamed or
thrown away by God or the church.

I want to offer my sincere thanks to everyone who encouraged me to take
this initial step of transparency. Even while promoting "ex-gay" programs,
there were those who called me on my own words and actions. I'm sure I
didn't appreciate it at the time, but they have helped me to realize this
truth about who I am.

This is a life transition that has been and will continue to be,
challenging. Sadly, my marriage of 20 years is in the process of ending. I
want to take the time to make sure my next actions come from a place of
truth and authenticity. Therefore, I'm drastically limiting my public
engagement until my own personal life can be settled. After that I eagerly
anticipate giving back to the community.

Finally, I know there are still accounts of my "ex-gay" testimony out
there being publicized by various groups, including two books that I wrote
about my journey. I don't get any royalties from these publications, and
haven't since I left the ministry nearly ten years ago. I discourage
anyone from purchasing and selling these books or promoting my "ex-gay"
story because they do not reflect who I am now or what I believe today.

John Paulk