Charting a Distinct Course Forward

It is with a mixture of emotion that I announce that New Direction Ministries of Canada is charting our own distinct course forward with our decision to not renew our membership with Exodus International.

I came to my role with New Direction seven years ago, naive but willing. Exodus was the first learning environment that offered some direction and guidance to me as I sought to fulfill this unique and challenging post God had called me to. I came to know many deeply devoted disciples of Jesus Christ and came to respect the faith and commitment of many of the leaders within the Exodus network.

My learning did not end, however, with Exodus. As a student of the church, I have deeply valued the network of leaders within Canada who have become trusted colleagues and friends, as well as contacts within some of the expressions of church that are emerging in these turbulent days of change. I find that I am resonating with those asking questions of how to embody the gospel for the common good in a postmodern, post-Christendom, post-enlightenment world.

Increasingly over the last few years I have, as a straight leader, also become very committed to a listening posture and have intentionally benefited from seriously considering the critique of ministries with a legacy like New Direction’s. I deeply value the opportunities I have had to listen to those within the gay community and the ex-gay survivor movement. In this process, not only I – but others within our organization – have appreciated the glimpses and chances God has presented us to seek to build bridges.

At the same time, we have become uncomfortable with some of the messages expressed in a variety of ways through the very diverse Exodus network. Some of these messages run counter to the ways that we are seeking to build bridges and be part of the broader missional conversation. I am also mindful that some of the distinct emphasis of New Direction may be troublesome to other Exodus leaders – and I would not want our presence in the network to be a source of tension or disagreement.

Let me be clear, New Direction has not changed its foundational theological position nor its position on sexual ethics. However, the ways in which we express these positions embody a more generous orthodoxy than some Exodus leaders may be comfortable with.

New Direction has been a member ministry of Exodus a very long time. This decision has not come hastily nor been taken lightly. We continue to desire to honour our legacy – even as we willingly critique our past and move with purpose towards our distinct future. As with any family, there is a time to leave the nest and chart one’s own course. We believe that time has come.

There may be some who applaud this decision and others who lament it. I actually hope that this announcement comes and goes with little fanfare. New Direction is simply seeking to be faithful to carry out all that we believe God is calling us to. We have been called to relational ministry and been asked to identify with our gay brothers and sisters, to do life with them – and to call the church to join us in that. We have been called to bridge the gap. Please pray that we will be faithful to Christ and to this calling.

And please also join us in praying for Exodus. Pray that they will have the wisdom and discernment to be faithful to live out Christ’s calling in their context, to be of good support to those who are wrestling with sexuality and faith, and to speak helpful words to a church called to be a light to the world.

-WG

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