In a stunning announcement, Alan Chambers, the president of the so-called “ex-gay” Christian ministry Exodus International, tonight announced he is shutting down the 37-year old organization — and turning it into “Reduce Fear,” a new Christian ministry. Earlier today, Chambers published an apology, but tonight on the group’s website and at what is to be Exodus’ final annual conference, Chambers said that the “Board of Directors reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture.”
“This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” Chambers writes. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
Oprah’s OWN network Thursday will air a documentary on Exodus, which Chambers participated in. The “closing down” and name change is not expected to be in Ling’s special report.
Jim Burroway, who has chronicled the ex-gay movement and Alan Chambers for years, live blogged the conference and writes at Box Turtle Bulletin that Chambers tonight “[s]peaks of ‘fear that keeps us acting a certain way, living a certain way, living like a child of an angry God.” He quotes or paraphrases Chambers as saying “I was living my life pretending I’m something I’m not because I was living in fear of the church. It has been the most amazing journey to come to the realization that my Father in heaven will never abandon me. There is nothing I did to earn his love. My relationship is secure. I long for the day for people to live their lives to live in a way that pleases God, not because they have to and because they can. And so they will live in all kinds of ways, in ways that you may not agree with. He alone will judge. He didn’t call us to be prosecutors, but witnesses.”
On the Exodus website, Chambers adds:
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
Chambers continued: “From a Judeo-Christian perspective, gay, straight or otherwise, we’re all prodigal sons and daughters. Exodus International is the prodigal’s older brother, trying to impose its will on God’s promises, and make judgments on who’s worthy of His Kingdom. God is calling us to be the Father – to welcome everyone, to love unhindered.”
For these reasons, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to close Exodus International and begin a separate ministry. “This is a new season of ministry, to a new generation,” said Chambers. “Our goals are to reduce fear (reducefear.org), and come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming, and mutually transforming communities.”
Local affiliated ministries, which have always been autonomous, will continue, but not under the name or umbrella of Exodus.
But make no mistake about it. This is the end of an era, and major milestone in the history of the ex-gay movement. I imaging we’re going to hear a lot of reactions over the next several days to come, but tonight, Exodus has come to a quiet and — dare I say it — a very dignified end.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.