The shutdown of Exodus International, a controversial organization which claimed to help gay Christians become straight, will not stop similar work from continuing in Central Pennsylvania.
Exodus International has been around for 37 years and now the group’s president, Alan Chambers, has issued a public apology to anyone who has been harmed by its methods.
“Please know that I am deeply sorry. I’m sorry for the pain and the hurt that many of you have experienced. I’m sorry that some of you spent years working through shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change,” Chambers told a group of former Exodus members in a clip on OWN TV.
The news of Exodus’ closure was surprising to John Nesbitt, executive pastor of the West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Monroe Township, Cumberland County. The church’s Free! ministry has been affiliated with Exodus and its methods since 1986.
“We have no reason not to continue Free! ministry here and it’s not dependent on Exodus International,” Nesbitt said.
On the church’s website, the Free! ministry is described as providing “consultation for those who wish to stop their same-sex attractions.”
“The way I act, the way I behave is a choice,” Nesbitt said. “And so this exists to help people completely voluntarily, who want to deal with that particular area of their life.”
Louie Marven, executive director of the LGBT Community Center of Central Pa said Exodus’ shutdown is a good thing, but he hopes the local Free! ministry and others will also work to adopt a different approach towards the LGBT community.
“It’s not necessarily about theological right or wrong, or good or evil,” Marven said. “It’s about how we can create more positive, safer communities for everyone to feel accepted.”
The former board members of Exodus International have now formed a new ministry called “Reduce Fear.”
They say their goals are to “come alongside churches to become safe, welcoming and mutually transforming communities.”
Read Chambers’ apology letter here.