Sunday, November 11, 2012

Burmese Baptist Christians Translate, Print and Distribute book on the Bible and Homosexaulity

November 3rd, 2012, Book Launching Event Held in Thailand; Distribution Begun

by Rev. Steve Parelli
Other Sheep Executive Director
Florrissant (St. Louis), MO
November 11, 2012

Saw Yuri Galler, 2009,
then President of
Myanmar Gay Education

An openly gay Burmese Baptist Christian, Yuri Saw Galler, who was formerly the president of Myanmar Gay Education and a popular gospel singer in Thailand and Burma, working with Other Sheep and LifeJourney Press under a written contract agreement, recently oversaw the translation of the book The Children Are Free into Burmese, and the printing and distribution of 1000 copies.

In an email dated November 6, Yuri said the November 3rd book launching event, held in Thailand, was successful with over thirty guests attending, including individuals from NGOs (non-government organizations) and journalists who reported on the event.

  Thailand Portrait 06
David Aye Myat, in 2009,
as Support Executive of
Myanmar Gay Education, assited Yuri in the organ-izing the Other Sheep seminar.

Yuri further reported that the 1000 copies are being distributed free of charge. Already, copies have been distributed to Burmese Christians among the Burmese migrants in nine different refugee camps along the Thailand-Burma boarder. Other copies, said Yuri, are being "sent back" to Yangon, Burma, for distribution there, mainly to the parents of our LGBT Christian community.

The project, overseen by Yuri and totally funded by his friends and associates, needs to print additional copies. "1,000 [copies of the book] is not enough," writes Yuri, "but God will provide."
Printing costs per copy of the book is about $1 USD each. Donations to the printing of additional copies of the Burmese The Children Are Free, can be made by check to "Other Sheep" and designated for "TCAF Burmese Printing" and mailed to the following address: Susan Fazio, Treasurer, c/o Gordon Herzog, 16768 Old Jamestown Rd, Florissant, MO 63034-1409.


A Forward to the Burmese The Children Are Free 2012 Edition: Other Sheep's significant role in bringing the inclusive message to the Karen Burmese Christians

The following forward was written by request of Yuri, the initiator and overseer of the translation, printing, distribution project.

A Forward from Steve and Jose of Other Sheep

In 2009, as husband and husband since 1997 and as co-laborers together since 2005 in an inclusive Christian ministry called Other Sheep, we travelled to Thailand, by invitation of a local seminarian student, to network in Chiang Mai among interested theological students. One person, living in Mae Sot, who took a great deal of interest in Other Sheep, was Saw Yuri Galler, President of Myanmar Gay Education, his mother a teacher at a Baptist theological seminary in Burma. Other Sheep ( is an ecumenical Christian ministry that works worldwide to empower LGBT people of faith.
Just days before our departure from Thailand, and while we were in Bangkok working Other Sheep, Saw Yuri phoned us and told us he had made arrangements for a small gathering of Karen Burmese Christians living in Mae Sot, Thailand, to hear our seminar on the Bible and homosexuality. Could we please come, he asked. We accepted
  Thailand Portrait 15
Joyce Hanks, a feat-
ured speaker at the
2009 Mae Sot
Other Sheep
Steve, not yet knowing that Yuri and the small group that would attend were from Baptist churches, remarked, with tears in his eyes, to Jose over their first wedding anniversary dinner celebration there in Bangkok, that the opportunity to minister in Mae Sot to Burmese Christians was personally very meaningful. As a formerly ordained Baptist minister, Steve had unsuccessfully attempted to have dialogue with his Baptist peer-pastors in upper New York State about the Bible and homosexuality. Now Steve was half a world away from his own Baptist associates, yet presenting his Biblical findings to Burma Christians where Adoniram Judson (1788 - 1850), the famous Baptist missionary and first Protestant missionary from North America to Burma, had brought the Gospel. With Yuri's invitation, here in Thailand, Steve experienced a measure of deep gratitude that he was, in some real meaningful way, tying-in with his Baptist roots and addressing his contemporary Baptist detractors by presenting the message of Other Sheep to Christian Burmese living in Thailand.
On Friday, August 28, following our morning seminar in Bangkok, we drove ourselves by rent-a-car to Mae Sot (perhaps a seven hour trip) to meet Yuri and David Ya late that evening and to present, the following morning, our seminar on the Bible and homosexuality - that God is no respecter of persons. At the seminar, we distributed copies of the book The Children Are Free in English. Following the Mae Sot Burmese seminar, we hurried our way back to Bangkok where, that evening - tired and exhausted yet exhilarated, we boarded our return flight to our home in New York City.

Mai Sot seminar

Above Photo:  August 29, 2009, the Mae Sot, Thailand, Other Sheep Seminar to the Karen Burmese Christians
Left to right: Steve Parelli, David Myat, Joyce Hanks,
Yuri Galler, Jose Ortiz

Three years later, with the translation and publication of this book into Burmese by Saw Yuri, those last two adventurous days in Thailand in 2009 have become all the more significant as treasured memories.

To Burmese Christians everywhere - gay and straight, lay and professional, may you eagerly receive this book from the hands and heart of the messengers who introduced it to Thailand and Burma: a one-time Baptist pastor and his beloved husband whose undergrad work was also in theology and world missions.

Together, as a gay Christian couple whose first love is, as best we know how, centered in God and others, we say to you, the message of this book will set you free.

Rev. Stephen R. Parelli
Executive Director of Other Sheep

Jose Enrique Ortiz
Other Sheep Coordinator for Africa and Asia

Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Bronx, New York, United States

Thursday, October 4, 2012

NFL Player Matt Birk vs. the Iowa Supreme Court on Gay Marriage

by Rev. Stephen Parelli
October 4, 2012
Bronx, New York
While supporting the right of his teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo, a Baltimore Ravens linebacker, to publically declare his support for same-sex marriage, Matt Birk, a center for the Baltimore Ravens, took issue with him and advanced his own counter-view on the marriage equality debate by authoring an opinion editorial that was recently published in his home state, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Birk offered but one argument for defining marriage as between a man and a woman:  “The union of a man and a woman is privileged and recognized by society as ‘marriage’ for a reason, and it's not because the government has a vested interest in celebrating the love between two people.  With good reason, government recognizes marriages and gives them certain legal benefits so they can provide a stable, nurturing environment for the next generation of citizens: our kids.”  Later, in the same piece, he repeats his argument:  “Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society.  As a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both.”
This NFL player’s opinion needs to go up against the big league.  How about the Iowa Supreme Court? 
In their April 3, 2009, ruling that decided “the state statute limiting civil marriage to a union between a man and a woman unconstitutional,” the Iowa  Supreme Court examined the argument that “the optimal environment for children is to be raised within a marriage of both a mother and a father.”  The Court, after hearing “an abundance of evidence and research,” and confirming the findings by independent research, “that the children are served equally by same-sex parents and opposite-sex parents,” concluded that opposition to same-sex marriage “is less about using marriage to achieve an optimal environment for children and more about merely precluding gay and lesbian people from civil marriage.” This conclusion led the Court to further remark that “stereotype and prejudice, or some other unarticulated reason [rather than optimal environment for children], could be present to explain the real objectives” to same-sex marriage.
At the end of their ruling, after having rejected other arguments against same-sex marriage, the Court writes:  “Now that we have addressed and rejected each specific interest advanced” in defense of marriage as limited to a man and a woman “we consider the reason for the expulsion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken . . . : “religious opposition [emphasis mine] to same-sex marriage.”
Obviously, Birk is no match for the Iowa Supreme Court.  In fact, his plea for dropping the “bigot” and “homophobic” labels for “people [like himself] who are simply acknowledging the basic reality of marriage between one man and one woman” losses ground against the Court’s statement:  “Whether expressly or impliedly, much of society rejects same-sex marriage due to sincere, deeply ingrained – even fundamental – religious belief.” 
In place of “bigotry,” one might say Birk is “religiously intolerant” especially in view of the fact that “marriage is a civil contract” and not a religious order or rite or creed.  Just as government, says the Court, “does not prescribe a definition of marriage for religious institutions,” neither, explains the Court, in a free society, do religious institutions, through the implementation of laws, impose upon society their particular religious views and practices.  “Civil marriage,” wrote the Iowa Supreme Court, “must be judged under our constitutional standards of equal protection and not under religious doctrines or the religious views of individuals.”  In this sense, Birk is either un-American, uninformed of the American way, or simply religiously intolerant of his fellow-citizens who hold a different belief system on marriage.
Is he “homophobic?”  Sure he is, even in spite of the fact that his pro-gay-marriage teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo tweeted “I don’t think he’s homophobic.” Matt Birk is buying into, and playing on, people’s fears when he says: “Marriage redefinition will affect the broader well-being of children and the welfare of society.” And when he ties his homophobia to his religious beliefs by saying “as a Christian and a citizen, I am compelled to care about both [society and children]” he is displaying his religious intolerance, tempting others to come very close to using the words “religious bigotry.”   
If we go with the Iowa Supreme Court’s assessment, Matt Birk, on the issue of gay marriage and optimum environment for children, is prejudice, or is being stereotypical, or his religious beliefs have left him totally partial.
According to Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, “Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr., a Ravens fan, wrote a letter to the Ravens owner, Steve Bisciotti, asking him to prohibit his players from offering political commentary.”  Matt Birk might do well to take that advice long enough to do his homework.  As for Brendon Ayanbadejo who was the player that upset Burns with his pro-gay marriage comments, he needs to go right on upsetting the state delegate long enough until the state delegate sits down and carefully reads, and fully comprehends, the Iowa Supreme Court decision on gay marriage.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Parelli and Ortiz featured in September 22, 2012, Martinique newspaper around gay marriage debate

"God loves gays!"("Dieu aime les homosexuels! »)
L.V. (Louvinia Valat) / France-Antilles Martinique 22 Sept 2012

To be Christians while remaining free to live one's sexual orientation: that is the credo of Stephen Parelli and Jose Ortiz.

NEWSPAPER, Saturday, September 22, 2012, issue
FRANCE-ANTILLES MARTINIQUE NEWSPAPER, Saturday, September 22, 2012, issueArticle (originally in French) by Louvinia Valat, Journalist, France-Antilles Martinique
Translated to English by Stanley Hanks

TESTIMONIAL. Stephen Parelli and Jose Ortiz serve as director and coordinator, respectively, of the association "Other Sheep", a group which defends the idea that one can be Christian and gay at the same time, without betraying God or one's faith. This is the battle they have been fighting for over 15 years, both as a couple and as Protestant Christians. This is currently of particular relevance for us in view of the parliamentary debate over gay marriage.

Stephen Parelli and Jose Ortiz visited us in August for a few days before going to St. Lucia to hold a series of workshops on controversial subjects such as: Can one be both Christian and gay? What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Doesn't it treat it as a perversion, an abomination?

Stephen and Jose are, above all, a couple - and they have been together for fifteen years. They are Christians, and they have been legally married since 2008. We would never have had the chance of meeting them if their homosexuality hadn't made it necessary for them to reconsider their faith in the light of their sexual orientation.

In the US, their home country, and everywhere else in the world where Christians await their visit, Stephen Parelli
(Director of Other Sheep) and Jose Ortiz (Coordinator for Asia and Africa) do their best to show that "God is love"
(1 John 4). It is a love which is not exclusive or sectarian.

To prove this, they support their case with the Bible. But without flights of fantasy or extrapolation: instead, they
apply a scholarly approach. Both Steve and Jose have concluded Bible studies at bachelor's degree level; Stephen,
who also holds a Masters in theology, served as a pastor for approximately twenty years. They base their
arguments on the text - or, to be more specific, on a reading of the text in light of the evolution undergone by

IMPOSSIBLE TO BE "EX-GAY"For these two men, their battle necessarily possesses a very personal component. For years, formerly convinced
that their faith was incompatible with their love, they had attempted to stop being gay! They had tried, for instance,
by attending support groups for "Christians who are trying to overcome their attraction for people of the same sex",
praying constantly and waiting for a miracle which was not to occur - until they finally had to give up. "We finally
came to realize that it is impossible to be 'ex-gay'."

However, their mission is not a crusade for homosexuality. Rather, they are fighting for the fundamental right to be a Christian. Neither are they defending a Protestant approach as opposed to Catholic "certitudes", for, in their view,
"all Churches are concerned".

That is what inspires the two to take up their pilgrim's rod and travel the world to meet with Christians everywhere.

Their goal is to exchange views with them in a series of workshops, using materials edited and published by Other
Sheep, in the hope that these Christians will grow to understand that "God accepts gays, lesbians, bisexuals and
transgender people".

To contact Steve and Jose, or to find further information, you can visit the website

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Service Providers who Failed to Show us Respect as a Married Gay Couple

Excerpt: “It was as though we were on life support for equal rights, human dignity.”

by Rev. Stephen Parelli, Bronx, NY
Written September 16, 2012

We’ve been home less than two weeks after traveling abroad for two months working in five foreign countries on behalf of human rights for LGBT people, and on two separate occasions – here in the USA – Jose and I have been mistreated as a married couple by professionals who should have known better.

The first occasion occurred at US immigrations upon our arrival in the States. The officer, a Caribbean male in his 50s who checked our passports, upon learning our marital status and that our work abroad was in the area of LGBT human rights, made the comment “So, whose the wife?” In good form we answered directly that neither is the wife but that we are husband and husband. To that he said, “Someone has to be in control.” He made some other off handed, inappropriate remarks related to our work abroad.

Of course, his comments were totally inappropriate and I immediately went to his supervising officer, a Latino male in his 40s, and reported him. The supervisor was deeply apologetic and said he would handle the matter immediately and directly but that he would not have us write it up to go on record and was that OK. Yes, that was OK with us. The supervisor was obviously upset and to show he was genuinely sympathetic told us of a close relative of his who is gay.

The second occasion occurred yesterday. Jose’s doctor ordered him to the emergency room because blood tests showed his potassium to be dangerously high. Upon admittance at the ER, the attending person, a young African American woman, who called Jose by name from the waiting room to check his vital signs, looked at me strangely when I attempted to join him. (I was sitting next to Jose in the crowded waiting room when she called his name. I gathered my stuff and had to step quickly to catch up with Jose at the door of the initial examination room which was a mere 15 feet from where we sat. It didn’t occur to her that we were together, he being black, me white, both male; she had called for an “Ortiz,” so who was I.) “Who are you?” she asked me with a bit of that New York attitude tone in her voice (which is common enough). Jose answered, “He’s my husband.” I forget her reply to Jose’s introduction of me but it was pejorative at worst or a show of resigned, unhappy toleration at best.

Jose and I were both indignant on the inside, but very non-pulsed on the outside. I responded to her without hesitation, pressing the issue. “Most people congratulate us when they learn we are a married couple,” I told her politely, meaning to indicate, quit clearly, that her professionalism was lacking in her treatment of us as a gay married couple, that we should be treated like any married person and person. While attending Jose – checking his blood pressure – , she answered me: “To each his own.” To that I said, “You wouldn’t say that to a heterosexual married couple.” The conversation was over. She made no further comment; she would not apologize nor amend in any way. Her disrespect of our marriage would not be addressed, not by her. There was some moral, religious, cultural line that she would not cross. Whatever caregiver there was in her that qualified her for the ER, it did not have to include showing respect for same-sex couples.

She finished taking Jose’s vital signs and a second woman, an older white woman, entered and sat at a desk in the same room and asked Jose to describe his symptoms. The African American woman answered a phone call and, to her coworker who was taking down Jose’s symptoms, remarked loud enough for all to hear that the neighborhood kids where asking for another overnight at her home, that they spent all their time at her place, they had so much fun there. She stood next to me, talking on the phone. I noted her name on her ID badge. I typed it into my cell phone.

From this initial room we were taken to the ER room. “Not so busy today,” the supervising nurse would later remark. It appeared plenty busy to us. This is the Bronx. A not so busy day is when every bed and chair is filled. We were shown where to sit to wait. Immediately I was In my own thoughts: I need to write a letter tomorrow addressing the inappropriate way we were spoken to; but no, that’s too time consuming; I know, I need to address it now. After reading over the remarks of the offensive conversation which I had written to a note pad on my cell phone, I walked to a central desk area in the ER over which hung the sign “Registration” and I asked if I could speak to a supervisor, that I needed to complain, that we were improperly spoken to as a gay married couple.

I cited the remark that was offensive: To each his own I told the personnel who had said she could call for the supervisor. Having heard to each his own, there was no hesitation on her part. I could sense her own indignation by the way in which she urgently handled my request to speak with someone. It was as though we were on life support for equal rights, human dignity. She immediately called the supervisor who appeared in seconds.

As I registered my complaint with the supervisor, a white attentive woman in her middle years, I was genuinely kind in my remarks regarding the African American woman. I told the supervisor that I was simply raising awareness; that I did not intend for any report of complaint to be placed in the woman’s file; that perhaps the way to handle it is through staff meetings in general discussion. No, the supervisor told me in a matter-of-fact manner, she would address the person directly and apparently now. But first she made sure Jose was attended to in the ER room; then she headed off in the direction where the offence occurred.

At the end of our stay, the woman who questioned Jose on his symptoms happened to pass Jose’s bed as she was leaving at the end of her shift. She stopped and spoke with him. She was glad to hear all was well and that he was going home soon.

In complete contrast to her co-worker, the offending woman who took Jose’s vital signs and I saw each other at a distance, alone in the halls, and the situation was sadly different. I had stepped out of the ER room through a side door into the hall ways in search of a restroom. As I continued in my direction towards her, she busied herself with the empty waiting beds that lined the hall. I passed her with her back towards me. It seemed natural enough the way she busied herself; not too awkward, though somewhat.

Her indifference, expressed by her body language, represents my parents who for fifteen years now have refused to talk, have refused to acknowledge I exist. She represents that conservative, often religious, cross-section of Americans who believe the ideals and values of our country are being so undermined, so irreversibly changed, that only an ill-fated, God-judged catastrophic ending can await this young republic on account of our collective perverse sins. Because she may believe and feel these things so very strongly, I empathize, having been an evangelical Baptist minister, and I disempower my negative feelings towards her by drawing upon my understanding of the grid through which she sees life, the grid she’s never attempted to deconstruct for her own sake. And in some sense I feel sorry for her and for her son or her nephew or niece or close associate whom she will fail to understand some future day when they tell her they are gay, and by her actions and words jeopardize a significant relationship that she treasures.

As I passed her I thought she’s a great person no doubt; she’s a mother with children at home; a mother who hosts overnights for her children and their friends. If only she knew how all that family and fun stuff is what Jose and I are essentially all about.

As Jose and I walked the mile or more from the hospital to our home, we discussed the verbal mistreatment. Jose was totally supportive of my reporting it; in the ER he commended me upon learning I had reported it. After all, he’s a guidance counselor in the Bronx public schools. He addresses this kind of inequality all the time. Bringing awareness to others is part of his job.

We talked between ourselves of our past experiences of other like situations. There was recently the American missionary in Guatemala whose mouth fell wide open when we told him we were Christian and gay; there was the hotel in Africa that refused us stay when we asked for a matrimonial bed declaring ourselves legally married. But more often than not, most people do respond with cheers and smiles. More often people are genuinely happy as if they had just been personally invited to the wedding. And when we tell them we’re 15 years together, the congratulations roll with an element of delightful surprise in their voices.

But once in a while we do meet conservatives for whom we represent all that is wrong about society morally, and they have a very difficult time masking their feelings in front of us. On this most recent occasion, this hospital personnel who admits people to the ER, with all her motherly love for her children at home and her attentiveness to their neighborhood events, she just couldn’t accept Jose and me as married. And in spite of whatever professionalism she should have mustered on our behalf, she could not. We represent something too destructive, anti-society, to treat us like other human beings who are deeply in love, deeply committed, and legally married. Little did she know that Jose had just been told to go to the ER immediately because blood tests indicated that a heart attack could be imminent.

She did her basics: she took Jose’s vital signs. She could have given more heartfelt, human care – the so called “bedside manners” that often make all the difference in the world when it comes to caregiving. When Jose introduced me as his husband, all she needed to do was welcome me as she would have any married couple. Kind of simple enough to do, and oh so professional. But instead, to each his own is not a fitting remark for any hospital staff to make. Otherwise, our ER experience was totally positive. Everyone gave us excellent care. And we did our part – we raised the awareness level of what proper treatment of all individuals should be by reporting the offensive remarks we unfortunately received as a married couple.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Kenyan Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu reaches out to LGBT people with affirmation and hope

Anglican Bishop Kalu of Mombasa, Kenya: "Homosexuality is not a choice but homophobia is."

by Rev. Steve Parelli - an abridgement of an article by Rev. Kimindu and Joyshee Gideon
August 13, 2012
Gros Islet, St. Lucia

Rev. Michael Kimindu, President of Other Sheep Africa, in a news flash released on August 13, 2012, by email, reported that Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa, Kenya, upon openly meeting with Rev. Kimindu, LGBT persons and others, publicly stated that "from what I'm gathering from you, I say homosexuality is not a choice but homophobia is." 

The Bishop said this was his first time ever to see or meet with LGBTI people from Kenya or anywhere. He said it is indeed a shame for him that he has been shepherding LGBTI people in the Anglican Church without even knowing it.

The Bishop, reminiscent of Peter's words to the Jerusalem Council when he spoke on the early church's potential discrimination against Samaritans, said that wherever homosexuals manifest the fruit of the Spirit of Galatians 5:22-23 (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control), "where is the difference then" between them and us.

The Bishop strongly condemned the brutal killing of Mjomba, a Kenyan living and working in Tanzania where he was murdered, as a "heinous and cowardice" act and expressed the wish that someday soon LGBTI people will live in a free world without "violence and discrimination."

Kimindu called upon the Bishop to instruct his clergy to pastor and shepherd homosexuals without discrimination. 

The Bishop agreed that his meeting and comments with Rev. Kimindu and the LGBT community were to have "wide circulation."

For the full original report, as given by Rev. Kimindu and Joyshee Gideon, click here (Changing Attitude).

Monday, August 6, 2012

News Flash: Steve and Jose of Other Sheep featured on "atv" Martinique

by Rev. Steve Parelli, August 6, 2012
Schoelcher, Martinique

At this link, select "Journal du 05 Août." The TV segment on Jose Ortiz and Steve Parelli begins at 7:02 (however, it appears you cannot fast forward).

The "Journal du 05 Août," according to reporters who made the interview with Parelli and Ortiz of Other Sheep, will be available for one week only.

It was aired last night twice here in Martinique: at 7:00 PM and 11:30 PM.

Parelli, who lived here in Martinique in 1970 (when he was 17) for four months with American missionaries, was told by an interested Martiniquean friend of 42 years who has watched the developments around Other Sheep's visit to Martinique, that evangelical Christians who know Parelli were taken back, but that the stone has been cast - that serious dialogue among evangelicals will have to follow at some point now that a familiar Christian face has been placed on the issue.

Parelli and Ortiz are in Martinique for two weeks. They are contacting pastors, laity and churches by phone, email, and in person. They are making a tour of the island by car distributing two writings to churches: one on Parelli's "ex-gay" experience and the second on what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality. The papers, in French, are listed (and linked to) on the Other Sheep French-language resource page.

In addition to the TV news coverage, Parelli and Ortiz have been interviewed by a newspaper journalist and a radio news commentator. Both have stated that their respective news items should come out within the next few days.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Le retour d'un Baptiste gai à la Martinique

Notre numero de mobile est: 0696 44 32 69 jusqu'à ce Aout 11

Bonjur le Pasteur,  

Steve (à gauche) avec Jose en face de
la maison de la famille Weeks, Vauclin, la Martinique,
où Steve a vécu pendant une semaine en 1970
Cette lettre est pour vous informer que Stephen Parelli, qui durant son adolescence est venu à la Martinique en 1970 pour vivre avec des missionnaires baptistes évangéliques pour quatre mois à Le Robert (Les Austins; and Les Weeks au Vauclin), est maintenant de retour comme le directeur exécutif de Other Sheep (d'autres brebis)-une ONG qui travaille dans le monde entier pour l'inclusion des chrétiens qui sont gais et lesbiennes. Pendant le temps qu'il était dans Le Robert avec la famille Austin et Le Vauclin avec la famille Weeks, Stephen savait qu'il était gai. C'était quelque chose qu'il ne pouvait pas partager avec sa famille, l'église ou les missionnaires avec lesquels il s'est rendu. Il ne retourne pas à la Martinique seule.

Il m'a apporté, Jose Ortiz, son partenaire et son mari depuis 15 ans. Je suis le coordinateur de Other Sheep pour Afrique et en Asie. Nous serons ici en Martinique jusqu'à ce Aout 11. Voici une petite description de qui nous sommes et ce que nous faisons:

La mission de Other Sheep est de montrer de façon concrète l'amour inclusif de Dieu à la communauté gaie et lesbienne et aux églises chrétiennes c'est-à-dire que Dieu ne condamne pas les homosexuelles. Pour réussir à cette mission, nous fournissons du matériel pédagogique et des séminaires qui partagent des informations à partir de la science théologique récente, les sciences sociales et l'expérience personnelle.

Quant à la perspective personnelle, tout les deux Parelli et Ortiz ont obtenu des diplômes de baccalauréat dans la Bible et Parelli a une maîtrise en théologie. Durant son adolescence, il est venu à la Martinique en 1970 pour vivre et travailler avec les missionnaires évangéliques. Pendant ce temps, il savait qu'il était gay, mais a également eu un grand désir d'être un prédicateur. Parelli est devenu un pasteur baptiste d'une dénomination évangélique conservateur pendant 20 ans. En 1997 Parelli rencontré Ortiz dans un groupe de soutien pour les chrétiens qui tentaient de surmonter leur attirance pour les personnes du même sexe. Après avoir assisté à neuf mois, ils avaient décidé de ne pas poursuivre la tentative infructueuse de changer et d'accepter l'amour qu'ils éprouvent pour l'autre.

Leur relation amoureuse a duré 15 ans. Ils ont été mariés légalement dans l'État de Californie en 2008. Toutes ces années Parelli dit Ortiz qu'un jour il reviendrait à la Martinique avec Ortiz. Maintenant 42 ans plus tard et après plus de 10 ans de recerche, Parelli est de retour en Martinique pour partager les bonnes nouvelles que Dieu aime et accepte gais, lesbiennes, bisexuels et transgenres.

Nous serons disponible ici en Martinique jusqu'à Août 11 à discuter de toutes les questions que vous pourriez avoir concernant le sujet des chrétiens qui ont l'orientation homosexuelle et la base pour les acepter pleinement dans les eglises chretiennes. Notre numero de mobile est: 0696 44 32 69.

Jose Ortiz
Other Sheep Coordinator
pour Afrique, et Asie
Steve et moi voudrions partager avec vous les liens de notre site Web qui contiennent des informations en français sur notre travail pour les droits de l'homme et ce que la Bible dit concernant l'homosexualite
Les voici:
La page des resources en francais:
des autres liens:

La Bible est un placard vide (The Bible Is An Empty Closet)
par Ralph Blair ©Ralph Blair, tous droits réservés (Traduction : Fred Wells)

Une évaluation du mouvement américain « ex-gay » sur la base des expériences de l' auteur,ainsi que sur les écrits des dirigeants du mouvement « ex-gay »Par Stephen Parelli, théologien, directeur de « Other Sheep », (en juin 2006). Traduit de l'américain par Stanley Hanks et Jean Vilbas (2012).

Friday, July 20, 2012

Police Prevent Kampala Other Sheep Conference from Shutting Down

190 attend full-day Kampala religious seminar sponsored by Bisexual Movement Uganda

Reporting on Uganda from Istanbul
by Rev. Stephen Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, July 20, 2012, Istanbul, Turkey
On Wednesday July 18, Bisexual Movement of Uganda conducted a one-day seminar at a public establishment in Muyenga, Kampala, on "Religious Freedom in the Context of Theological Diversity and Human Sexuality." Brian Ochieng, director of Bisexual Movement Uganda, reported that 190 people, including 36 university students, 80 plus high school students, local community people, and clergy, attended. 
Morning Session on 'Liberty of Conscience'
In the morning session, Rev. Stephen Parelli, Executive Director of Other Sheep, spoke on ‘Liberty of Conscience,’ a human rights’ principle that teaches that in matters of faith and practice each individual’s conscience is free to answer to God alone without the interference or molestation of the government.  Parelli said the anti-gay-marriage laws in America, and the Uganda anti-gay bill are, in effect, a denial of the free-exercise of the individual’s ‘liberty of conscience’ in matters of what God has or has not said about homosexuality.
Parelli, referencing the Iowa Supreme Court April 3, 2009, decision for gay marriage, cited the court’s statement that religion was the driving force behind the laws against gay marriage throughout America, and that, therefore, state governments, by legislating religious teachings, are acting unconstitutionally.  Parelli said the Iowa Supreme Court upheld ‘Liberty of Conscience.’ 
Throughout the morning session, Parelli gave out complimentary copies of the book The Children Are Free to attendees who answered correctly questions Parelli put forth on ‘Liberty of Conscience.’  Parelli wove his personal story throughout the presentation, illustrating his theme, keeping the interest and connecting with his audience.  Four individuals from the audience volunteered to come to the platform and represent four different historical characters from the Reformation and British-American Colonial periods as Parelli related the historical development of ‘Liberty of Conscience.’
Afternoon Session on Theolgoical Diversity and Human Sexuality

In the afternoon session, Parelli and Mr. Jose Ortiz, Other Sheep Coordinator for Africa, enacted a conversational dialogue on what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.  Brian Ochieng, who had attended the 2008 Other Sheep Kampala seminar, translated the Parelli-Ortiz enactment into Luganda with spirit, conviction and animation, himself familiar with the material being presented.  One hundred copies of the paper “Talking Points” on the Bible and homosexuality were made available to the attendees.
NGO/ Religious Leaders Comment
Following the seminar, Eddy Kalayango, Executive Director of Rainbow and Diversity Organization Uganda (RADO) texted Rev. Parelli saying “thanks for your teachings and sharing this knowledge with us; I hope one day society will accept the LGBTI community in Uganda and respect its liberty of conscience” (used with permission).
Rev. Michael Kimindu, President of Other Sheep Africa, sent greetings to the attendees from Nairobi, Kenya, which Parelli relayed to the audience. 
Bishop Christopher Ssenyonjo of Kampala expressed his support of the meeting in emails to Rev. Parelli.
Police Prevent Local Official from Stopping the Conference
Following the morning session on ‘Liberty of Conscience’ the seminar was put on hold when a local official entered the grounds demanding that the police, already present by arrangement of the hosting NGO, immediately shut down the conference.  The local official maintained that homosexuality was being promoted illegally.  An attendee of the morning session had left the grounds to report his disapproval of the seminar to the local official.  Police protection had been arranged prior to the conference by the NGO organizers of the day-long seminar. 
Parelli, after finishing the morning session, was escorted by a police officer to an area on the grounds, a distant from the conference hall, where he was asked to remain while other police, the objecting local official, the offended attendee who reported to the objecting local official, and Brian Ochieng, discussed the matter.  Mr. Jose Ortiz accompanied Parelli.  Lively but controlled and subdued dialogued ensued between Brian, the police and the objecting local official.  Brian maintained that the conference was on the Bible and religious freedom, and not the promotion of homosexuality as a lifestyle.  Upon the arrival of another NGO leader who had assisted Bisexual Movement Uganda in obtaining the police protection, the matter was resolved and the conference continued without being aborted.  Police protection continued.  
Objecting Local Official, Addressing Attendees in the Conference Hall, Apologizes for Interruption
While attendees waited, seated in the conference hall, for the final preparations for lunch to be completed, the objecting local official asked to speak to the gathering.  He spoke in Luganda.  According to one NGO leader who spoke with Mr. Ortiz, the objecting local official apologized for the interruption he caused and announced that the seminar would continue.  The room erupted into applause.
In keeping with certain accepted practices as the norm, because the objecting local official was working on behalf of his community without compensation, after the police refused to cooperate with him, he requested Other Sheep to cover his cost of transportation for reporting his objections to the police on behalf of his community.  Other Sheep, following the recommendation of NGO leaders, covered the traveling costs of the objecting local official.
190 Assisted with Meals and Transportation
A light breakfast, lunch and transport money was provided the 190 attendees. 

Other Sheep, a Worldwide Organization

Other Sheep, situated in the USA, is a non-profit, faith-based organization with Coordinators in Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America.  Rev. Parelli works full time as a volunteer with Other Sheep.  Since 2005, Parelli and Ortiz, legally married in 2008 in the state of California, have spoken in 17 countries worldwide.  Other Sheep works worldwide for the full inclusion of LGBT people of faith within their respective faith traditions.
NGO leader Brian Ochieng on the Conference and the Uganda anti-gay Bill
Brian Ochieng, commenting the day before the July 18 Kampala seminar was held said he is hoping people will see the Uganda anti-gay bill issue from a new perspective.
Links to Parelli's papers: 100 copies of each of the following two papers were made available, free of charge, at the Kampala July 18 Conference:
Talking Points - What the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality
Note: Other Sheep was in East Africa from July 3-19, 2012. Two separate NGOs in Uganda each sponsored one Other Sheep seminar; one NGO in Rwanda sponsored one Other Sheep seminar.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Other Sheep Rwanda Holds Seminar on Sexual Orientation

by Rev. Stephen Parelli
Gisenyi, Rwanda
July 15, 2012

Rev. J. Elie Gasana, Other Sheep Coordinator for Rwanda and Democratic Republic of the Congo, hosted a one-day workshop in Gisenyi, Rwanda, on July 14.  Other Sheep Executive Director Rev. Stephen Parelli offered two papers (in French) and Alfred Ssekabanja of Uganda Victim Support Organization was guest speaker. 

Twelve clergy and one lay leader, whose ministries range from the local to national level in Rwanda, participated. In addition, one participant was identified as doing “Other Sheep work in the DRC.”   

The attendees were arranged into discussion groups, with designated leaders, to read and interact between themselves on the two papers and to prepare written questions for Parelli to address before all the attendees.

The first paper, authored by Parelli, dealt with his own journey through his ex-gay experience.  The second paper, authored by Dr. Ralph Blair and used with permission, addressed the Bible texts traditionally used to condemn sexual minorities.  Each attendee received a hard copy of each paper.

The majority of the time was spent on the first paper with discussion and questions around homosexuality as an orientation.  Parelli said:  “Whatever questions you have about homosexuality, ask the same question about heterosexuality and you will have your answer.”  Parelli repeatedly followed that formula in answering questions from ‘is it a choice’ to ‘how does one become a homosexual’ to ‘what is same-sex sexual activity like.’

In discussing Parelli’s paper, one attendee, whose influence is on a national level within her denomination, commented that for the first time she now understands that it is not a choice to be homosexual.  She said she had looked at gays as she had looked at sex workers, that is, that whereas sex workers can elect to do something else (everything being equal), she now realizes the option to do something else does not exist for homosexuals.   Her paradigm shifted from equating gays with sex workers to understanding that homosexuality is an orientation like heterosexuality.  Her group leader reported that she said, almost in tears, why should gays be harassed for something they cannot change.

Speaking in the language of Kinyarwanda, Alfred Ssekabanja, guest speaker from Uganda and himself Rwandan, shared his personal story as to how he came to work on behalf of the human rights of LGBT people in Uganda.  He said he must help affirm the human rights of LGBT people even at the risk of being rejected by the church.  He said he cannot stand silent in Uganda and watch the discrimination, rejection and even the possible death of LGBT people; Uganda cannot become another Rwanda where people are judged ‘by their nature and not by their character.’  He said our Christian religion did not keep us from horrific genocide in Rwanda where 99 percent of the people profess the Christian faith.  He said our Christian faith, which is more about fearing God and less about loving one another, was not able to keep us from genocide; our beliefs must change. He said if we have learned nothing from the Rwanda genocide, we will still discriminate.

In group discussion, one member evoked the word ‘kwihanganirana’ which means:  “I am different; you are different; but we must live together.” The group leader reported that what is meant is tolerance, being patient with one another and accepting differences.

Ssekabanja served as interpreter between English and Kinyarwanda. Gasana, who acted as moderator, served as interpreter between English and French.  The meeting was conducted in the conference room of a local hotel establishment.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

'Liberty of Conscience' is Focus of Kampala Other Sheep Conference

By Rev. Stephen Parelli
Kampala, Uganda
July 12, 2012

A local pastor who attended the recent two-day Kampala conference on "Religious Freedom in the Context of Theological Diversity and Human Sexuality" told the attendees that he was especially impacted by the workshops on 'Liberty of Conscience.' The pastor said that in spite of the contemporary alternative view, as taught by the presenters, that Sodom and Gomorrah is about inhospitality, social oppression and rape, and not, therefore, a condemnation of gay love, he still believes the Biblical destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a condemnation of all gays. The pastor went on to say, however, that because of 'Liberty of Conscience' he now understands it is not parliament's place to write anyone's religious views or interpretation of 'Sodom and Gomorrah' or any part of the Bible into civil law.
The workshops on 'Liberty of Conscience' covered the origins of religious freedom in the West with an emphasis on 17th century Roger Williams' teaching on 'Liberty of Conscience' and its development and practice in the British colonies in America, and its present day application to Uganda. Rev. Stephen Parelli of Other Sheep, the workshop presenter, said the single greatest contribution of the 17th century to the advancement of human rights was the teaching of 'Liberty of Conscience.' Rev. Parelli said human rights cannot be sustained without 'Liberty of Conscience.'
In reference to Barak Obama's support for gay marriage, Rev. Parelli, citing a quote from Obama's book The Audacity of Hope, said Obama understands and supports the concept of 'Liberty of Conscience.' Obama, said Parelli, wrote: "Our argument [over gay marriage] is less about what is right, [and more] about who makes the final determination - whether we need the coercive arm of the state to enforce our values, or whether the subject is one best left to individual conscience and evolving norms."
Quoting again from Obama's book, Parelli said Obama sees the evangelicals in America today as out of touch with the evangelicals of 18th century America who understood the separation of church and state and wrote it into the Bill of Rights. Parelli said the evangelicals in America and the evangelicals in Uganda have both set aside the principle of 'Liberty ofConscience' and are using the government to make their religious beliefs the laws of parliament. Parelli said the Iowa Supreme Court's 2009 decision in favor of gay marriage discusses at length the unconstitutionality of the use of religious ideologies as the basis or motive for arguing for anti-gay legislation.
Other Sheep Coordinator Mr. Jose Ortiz, speaking on "A Theology and Ethics for Human Sexuality" said discrimination against sexual minorities thrives when all males must prove their manhood, and when all people in general must prove their worth.
Attendees in the workshops on "Talking Points (What you need to know and say when they say: 'But the Bible clearly condemns homosexuality!)," interacted with the presenters and one another in lively discussions around the paper "Talking Points."
Copies of the papers on 'Liberty of Conscience' and "Talking Points" were made available to conference attendees.
A complimentary copy of the book The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships was presented to each attendee.
The conference, held on July 6 and 7 in the greater area of Kampala, was initiated, organized and sponsored by Uganda Victim Support Organization a faith-based NGO of Uganda. 31 people, including clergy, lay leaders, and human rights activists attended the conference.