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Aug-04-2007 18:45printcomments

Love Welcomes All in Oregon is a Response to Anti-Gay Group's Presence

Oregonians hold supportive event in response to out-of-state anti-gay group's "Love Won Out" Conference.

Rap session at PFLAG courtesy:
Members have a rap session at PFLAG courtesy:

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Religious leaders, survivors of the "ex-gay" movement, PFLAG members (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) joined together today for Love Welcomes All, an interfaith prayer vigil and PFLAG meeting meant to bring a welcoming message. The event was held in response to the anti-gay group Focus on the Family's "Love Won Out" Conference in Portland.

"Our message is one of love, acceptance and hope," said Rev. Tara Wilkins, Executive Director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations. "Our Christian churches denounce the notion that one has to change God's gift of sexuality. It is messages like those of the Love Won Out program that divide families, cause alienation, and all too often lead to suicide in those who feel they can never conform to the standard of self-denial."

"I was having a complete mental breakdown and seriously contemplating ways to end my life," said Portland resident and survivor of the ex-gay movement Jonmarc Ross. "It wasn't being gay and holding on to my faith that nearly killed me; it was misguided faith in the belief that I had to change."

He continued, "Today I celebrate that I left that scared self loathing boy behind and began a very long and painful journey to a place where I can finally see a man that God loves."

Love Welcomes All was held at Ainsworth United Church of Christ in northeast Portland. The event began with a brief press conference at 5:45 PM, followed by an interfaith prayer vigil.

PFLAG then held a two-hour emergency meeting designed to bring open discussion and comfort to any individuals or families seeking support, including those who may have attended the anti-gay "Love won Out" conference. All events were open to the public; the PFLAG meeting was closed to the media to respect the privacy of individuals in attendance.

"When God led me out of the ex-gay movement, I finally learned that love truly welcomes all. I was led to the open doors of welcoming congregations and spiritual communities, and I encountered the loving God I had only heard of until that moment. It was a truly sacred experience of coming home to God and my self", said Rev. Wes Mullins, Associate Pastor at Metropolitan Community Church of Portland.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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