In a press release posted on the ministry’s website Wednesday night (19 June), the US-based Exodus International announced the decision to close after nearly four decades.
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, said: ‘It is strange to be someone who has both been hurt by the church’s treatment of the LGBT community, and also to be someone who must apologize for being part of the very system of ignorance that perpetuated that hurt.
‘Today it is as if I’ve just woken up to a greater sense of how painful it is to be a sinner in the hands of an angry church.
‘Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced. I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change,’ he added.
‘I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives. For the rest of my life I will proclaim nothing but the whole truth of the Gospel, one of grace, mercy and open invitation to all to enter into an inseverable relationship with almighty God.’
The apology coincided with the ministry’s annual conference in California.
‘We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change — and they want to be heard,’ Exodus board member Tony Moore added.
John Smid, the organization’s former Executive Director, also came out as gay last year, declaring: ‘One cannot repent of something that is unchangeable.’
The organization’s founder, Michael Bussee. famously left the organization to begin a long term relationship with another Exodus International senior office holder, Gary Cooper, and the couple spent the rest of Cooper’s life together before his death from AIDS in 1991.
Exodus’s ‘gay cure’ movement reach was far-reaching, influencing other groups in the Europe, Africa and Asia.
Jean Sayoni from Singapore LGBT rights group Sayoni, questioned whether other affiliated ‘gay cure’ groups would shut down.
‘In all my years with Safehaven, I’ve seen enough damage caused by these ignorant bigots,’ she said. ‘For the churches in Singapore I think they will probably continue to bury their heads in the sand and hold on to their backward beliefs.’
Exodus International now plans to launch a separate ministry aiming to be more welcoming to the LGBT community.