Exodus Loses 11 Ministries Following Recent Changes

Jim Burroway

June 14th, 2012

As we’ve been tracking changes taking place with Exodus International’s messaging and change in focus over the past several months, many of us have been wondering if some of those changes might result in an exodus from Exodus. Eleven ministries out of perhaps 250 isn’t exactly a rush for the doors, but the year is also only half over since Exodus president Alan Chambers tried out his new talk last January and began distancing Exodus from NARTH.

Two of the ministries to leave the Exodus fold are particularly noteworthy. Frank Worthen’s New Hope Ministries in San Rafael, California, is the surviving granddaddy of ex-gay ministries. It was founded in the early 1970s. Also in the mid-1970s, Worthen’s New Hope created a residential program called, Love In Action, which eventually became an independent ex-gay ministry. (Love In Action recently changed its name to Restoration Path, and remains in the Exodus network.) But most notably, Worthen was one of the co-founders of Exodus International itself in 1986 1976.

Also departing from the Exodus umbrella is Andrew Comiskey’s Desert Stream Ministries, currently located in Grandview, Missouri, with several branch ministries around the world. Comiskey wrote an open letter to Chambers in April criticizing Exodus for distancing itself from the particular type of ex-gay therapy known as Reparative Therapy.

Ex-Gay Watch’s David Roberts wrote of another ministry that is going its own way: “And perhaps most amazing of all, Exchange Ministries, located in the same city as Exodus [Orlando], was the ministry where Chambers got his start.”

Update: David Robers clarifies with this comment: “Actually, if comparing apples to apples, it’s a little more dramatic.  The current total in the Member Ministries listing— the actual ex-gay ministries to which Exodus would refer people for counselling, etc — is at 70 now.” Made a note of it. Believe me, after this week we want to make sure we’re comparing apples to apples.

David Roberts

June 14th, 2012

“Eleven ministries out of perhaps 250”

Actually, if comparing apples to apples, it’s a little more dramatic.  The current total in the Member Ministries listing — the actual ex-gay ministries to which Exodus would refer people for counselling, etc — is at 70 now.  

The Exodus website listed 90 last year (April) but apparently a couple of those had already gone out of business.  Others have dissolved since, for a total of 9 ministries gone bust.  The other 11, according to Exodus themselves, left due to disagreements with their recent changes. 

The balance of the 250 you mention are church affiliates, something they started in 2009.  From what we can gather, these require very little commitment in either direction (not even a support group) and can’t be put in the same status as the member ministries.

Our point was not just to highlight ministries that have dumped Exodus, but the fact that ex-gay ministries are going away as well.  Exodus has fewer now than it has ever, by quite a number.


June 14th, 2012

Even if a ministry continues to exist by itself, them leaving is a good thing. It means they have less power and reach to spread their message.

Timothy Kincaid

June 14th, 2012

This may well evolve into two separate and distinct camps: the ‘values living’ ex-gays and the ‘change seeking’ ex-gays. Such a change is, I think, good for young conservative same-sex attracted Christians.

Given a choice, they may not feel pressured into achieving the impossible and can opt to go with Alan’s group where they can find support and structure while they figure out where they fit in the world.

Meanwhile the Change group will increasingly find themselves needing to prove why they still hold to the reorientation paradigm, a task that will only become more difficult.

And all the while the competing viewpoints will be acting out this drama in front of the conservative church. While Exodus may not have caught their attention, this divergence might. And it might generate thought not only about how they are treating the gay kids in their pews but their gay neighbors as well.


June 14th, 2012

“And all the while the competing viewpoints will be acting out this drama in front of the conservative church. While Exodus may not have caught their attention, this divergence might. And it might generate thought not only about how they are treating the gay kids in their pews but their gay neighbors as well.” – Timothy Kincad

I am in total agreement.

Michael Bussee

July 19th, 2012

Many of the Exodus affiliates are just individuals with a printed testimony. They are not necessarily “ministries” in any formal sense. This has always been the case.

Back in the 1970’s some of our “affiliates” were nothing more than an “ex-gay” guy with a business card and a PO Box where you could send “Love Offerings” to help support his work. Gred Reid (one of the founders) is an example. So was Frank Worthen at the time Exodus got started.

There was no real screening. No standards. No training. No accountability. As long as the “affiliate” agreed that gay sex was “sin” and that gays could “change”, they were IN. There were no real quality controls.

I suspect this is still pretty much the case. So when Exodus boasts 250 affiliates and 70 that offering counseling of some sort, I think it’s important to remember that “affiliate” is just about as vague as “change”.

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