House of Bishops Presentation


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Five representatives of the Zacchaeus Fellowship spoke before the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada on the afternoon of Thursday, 27 October 2005.

Our chaplain, The Rt. Rev. Terry Buckle, the bishop of the Diocese of Yukon and the acting metropolitan for the Province of British Columbia and Yukon, introduced us and presented us to the House. He spoke of Zacchaeus, the tax collector, and how the social outcast came to Jesus when called, and how his life was transformed when he encountered Christ. Our chaplain commented on how the name of the group is not an accident. He also pointed out how several group members had travelled great distances to make this presentation, and that fact should speak to our commitment to this cause.


Order of Presentation

Introductions

Dawn McDonald

My name is Dawn McDonald, and I am the rector of Holy Cross Japanese Canadian Anglican Church in the Diocese of New Westminster.

My parents were missionaries in Japan. I have struggled with same-sex attractions for most of my life. My first attraction being that at 13, to a classmate. I tried very hard to ignore and overcome my feelings for other women, but I succumbed and entered a homosexual lifestyle when I turned 20. I lived in the lifestyle for a little over 13 years.

I thought I was happy in the lifestyle, and I was not looking for any change when I experienced God’s Unconditional Love in a supernatural way. It is in experiencing God’s deep love for me that I experienced profound healing in my inner most being, and I was freed of the same-sex attractions. I have now been married for almost 8 years to a wonderful man, and I have no doubt that my sexual orientation has been changed. While my experience is not unique, I also realize that such supernatural healing of sexual orientation is not the norm, but for the most part, a journey and a process. Although my sexual orientation has undergone change, today, God’s healing work continues in me, and I am still very much on a journey towards wholeness. God’s work is gentle, though His reconstructive surgery is not without pain. Yet, the reward is well worth the pain, for I know I am coming out a better person for subjecting myself to the Lord, and the peace and joy I experience in this process is out of this world.

I am one of the founders of Zacchaeus. And I would like to tell you why I worked to found Zacchaeus. To simply and blanketly assume that all who experience same-sex attractions would like to have their sexual orientation affirmed by the Church is false. Our personal experiences here is that there are many in the pews who struggle with same-sex attractions and simply want the Church to walk with them as they seek an alternative to living out the gay lifestyle. Sadly, many such individuals are afraid to speak out, for they are afraid the Church would either affirm them, or condemn them. Traditionally, we have been very lousy, and have come across as very condemning, while more recently, the pendulum has swung too much to the other way, with attempts being made to coax us to embrace same-sex attractions as good and God-given. We call such individuals “silent sufferers.”

My life has been full of traumatic experiences, but the darkest day of my life was when the Diocese of New Westminster (my diocese) embraced the blessings of the same-sex unions. For me, it meant that the Church was no longer in the position to support us in seeking an alternative, nor was it walking with us in our journey towards wholeness in Christ. Hope has been robbed from us.

Out of my deep concern for those silent sufferers who are still struggling with same-sex attractions but do not wish their orientations affirmed by the Church, I gathered signatures for the letter we wrote to the General Synod asking for our voice and stories to be heard. And when the motion at the General Synod in effect excluded us from the dialogue at the family table because our existence was simply going to “complicate things” we felt very insignificant. It was then that we realized we cannot stop speaking out, nor allow ourselves to be silenced in hopes that we would go away. If not for anyone else, for the sake of silent sufferers, we need to be the voice of hope in this Anglican Church of ours. And so, together, with some of my friends here, and some who are praying for us elsewhere, we founded the Zacchaeus Fellowship.

Daryle Duke

My name is Daryle Duke. I live in Winnipeg and have worked as a psychiatric nurse for eighteen years. I have attended an Anglican church since about six years of age. My entire family dropped out within a few years – but I always felt that walking with God was the right thing to do. I was baptized and confirmed at age thirteen when I was able to speak my vows for myself. At that same period of time I kept a hidden and growing secret fantasy life about male peers, which frightened me. I remember sitting quietly in church, listening to sermons, and wondering if this could be a safe place to disclose my many burdens.

After many years, exploration with fantasy and pornography became a constantly occupying sexual addiction. I crossed a line behaviourally in my twenties and began exploring anonymous sexual encounters in gay cruising areas of my city, and turned for a time away from God. A crisis point came when I was named as a possible contact for a sexually transmitted disease and had to undergo mandatory testing and follow-up through the department of health.

I then resolved to make a sacramental confession and began a long season of counselling and group therapy to explore underlying causes of compulsive behaviours. Today I have been happily married for eleven years and have two daughters – something I thought was inconceivable as a teenager, as I had determined not to enter into marriage dishonestly.

Out of my experience of healing and increased insights and ministering to others such as myself, many sinful behaviours and temptations have been removed from me. This has been a process of maturing and developing godly disciplines by which I now live out on a daily basis. To conceptualize this testimony in a few words, I live at peace and that this life that our Lord has given me is very, very good.

Alan Yoshioka

Bishops and Archbishops, I thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

My name is Alan Yoshioka. I’m an associate member of the Zacchaeus Fellowship and belong to Holy Family Catholic Church in Parkdale, Toronto.

From 1984 through 1986, I wrote a weekly column on gay and lesbian issues in a student newspaper – the first of its kind in Canada, I believe. I was well connected with gay community organizations and attended Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto regularly for seven years. For sixteen and a half years I was sexually active as an openly gay man.

I have been celibate now for the past five years and counting. I’ve participated actively in the Zacchaeus Fellowship since last fall and found in it a community of men and women who understand the joys and trials of holding fast to traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality. I value the group for the fellowship and prayerful support it provides.

Don Alcock

My name is Don Alcock, and I am Rector of St Thomas the Apostle and St David’s Anglican Churches in Cambridge, Ontario, in the Diocese of Huron.

For most of my life I struggled with same-sex attractions but was too ashamed of what I believed to be wrong in the eyes of God and too fearful of the repercussions to come out openly. I longed to change but feared seeking help in the church, so I suffered silently in the pews. Beginning in the early 1990s God began to transform me, but while in seminary I turned my back on what God was doing in my life to embrace the so-called real me, a gay man. God in His infinite mercy did not give up on me, but continued to bring loving Christians into my life, who helped get me back on the path of healing. I hoped only to live in celibacy without the desires for another man, but God had more for me than I could ask or imagine: He brought a loving Christian woman into my life and I have been happily married now for three years.

I joined the Zacchaeus Fellowship for the opportunity to give back to others what was given to me – the love and support needed during the journey out of the lifestyle. For me, our Fellowship is an outlet to proclaim God’s healing and transforming love and mercy. God has called me to speak out to bring hope to others who are struggling with same-sex attractions and to those who wish to help others on their journeys.

Alan MacGowan

My name is Alan MacGowan. Thank you for your grace in allowing us to speak.

I am a member of St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Parish of Chatham, Diocese of Frederiction. I am a professional architect with a large church developer.

My early years consisted of trying to find my identity, and to establish my masculinity. While reacting to my various life experiences, I got caught up in the gay lifestyle. Realizing that lifestyle was incompatible with my parents’ Christian teaching, I lived with confusion, insecurity and rejection. I did not attend church nor did I follow God.

As I continued to struggle with my masculine identity, I became active in the gay lifestyle of Toronto. I was the founding president of a brotherhood of men called Spearhead, which soon became one of the first and largest homosexual organizations in Canada. Five years later, friends introduced me to a small gospel church in Kitchener, Ontario, where I heard the gospel and accepted the Lord.

While actively participating in church teaching and studies at that time, I came to realize I had not totally submitted my life to God, and thus did not receive the anticipated victory over my homosexuality. I struggled over twenty years with same-sex identity.

Three years ago, after attending Alpha and Cursillo, I came to realize the seductive deception I had accepted into my life as a young man. Even though I had lived my life as a homosexual, overnight at the age of 67, by the grace of God, my psyche was changed from a homosexual perspective to heterosexual. I became a new man. Sixteen months later I met and married a wonderful Christian lady. Today I celebrate victory, through the transformation of my mind, as revealed in Romans 12:2.

Who is Zacchaeus?

Delivered by The Rev’d C. Dawn McDonald

Who is Zacchaeus? Zacchaeus is David, a gay man who’s chosen to be celibate… Dawn, a woman whose sexual orientation was turned around by God… Rob, a same-sex attracted man who chose to be faithful to God and who over time experienced significant healing…

Zacchaeus is a fellowship of men and women who hold to the church’s historic view on sexuality in the face of former or present struggles with same-sex attraction.

We are people on a journey towards wholeness in Christ, offering ourselves and our bodies as living sacrifices. We have adopted Romans 12, verses 1 and 2, as our passage.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers [and sisters], in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We have heard many quote the Lambeth Resolution 1.10(c), especially the part that reads “We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized persons, regardless of sexual orientation are full members of the Body of Christ.”

We are thankful for the inclusion into the Church through baptism, but we feel the Church is not listening to the voice of those individuals seeking an alternative to acting on their same sex attractions.

The same Lambeth resolution also reads: “Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationships,” and we believe this portion of the resolution refers to us.

That is who Zacchaeus is.

The structure of Zacchaeus

Delivered by Daryle Duke

Our membership consists of priest and lay Anglicans from coast to coast across Canada. We originally came together to be a voice of hope for those who struggle with same-sex attractions.

We began informally through various contacts including word-of-mouth and e-mail. As word of our ministry expanded, several non-Anglicans have more recently inquired about joining Zacchaeus. We have therefore offered “Associate Member” status to Christians in other denominations who like us have experienced shame and fearfulness related to a disclosure and cultural stigma of same-sex attraction. These non-Anglicans share our vision, life experience, and ministry. We know how lonely it can be out there.

Thirdly we maintain contact with individuals who share our vision, and also with people who share our struggles, but because of stigma are afraid to identify themselves as ex-gay; yet these two groups remain interested in what Zacchaeus has to say. We refer to them as “Friends of Zacchaeus.”

Five of our members have come together to form a board of directors. The Reverend Dawn McDonald and the Reverend Dr Don Alcock serve as chair and vice-chair respectively. We are thankful for the work of our chaplain, Bishop Buckle, who advises this group, keeping us straight. He encourages us to remain focused upon our mission, for example, following General Synod, when we were feeling dismay and anger at having our voice excluded from the family table.

Self-identifying as “ex-gay” or “celibate homosexual” is today becoming increasingly counter-cultural. Some of our members and others that we have spoken to share experiences of being shunned and marginalized. Some have received threats to person or property. We cling to what the Good News holds for all of us, regardless of our particular brokenness. We speak of God’s grace and mercy, available for those who suffer in silence – afraid that opening their hearts before others may result in rejection.

What Zacchaeus is doing

Delivered by The Rev’d Dr. Don Alcock

I wish to take a few minutes to explain some of what Zacchaeus is doing.

For the church, we share our stories and give witness to God’s transforming love and power in our lives. That gives hope to those Anglicans who uphold the traditional understanding of the Scriptures. Our experiences testify to those struggling with their unwanted same-sex attractions that there is hope in the Gospel and that there are others who have gone before them and who are also willing to walk with them. We pool our experiences and knowledge to be a resource for those wanting to minister to these silent sufferers and to those asking questions about their sexuality.

Within our Fellowship, we support one another in our struggles. We hold each other accountable. We pray for one another. We use a variety of communication technologies to support one another. It is very lonely being ex-gay or living in celibacy, and we walk with each other to overcome that isolation.

Those with same-sex attractions, we direct them to Romans 12, verses 1 and 2, which read: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.” This is our source of hope and encouragement to stand against the culture of this world and to be transformed by God.

We remind the friends and families of gays and lesbians that it was through contact with and the prayers of folks like them that we came to be who we now are. We direct them to resources for ideas and information, either on our webpage or through personal contacts. We make such people aware of the shame and pain many silent sufferers feel, as well as their fear of rejection and the cultural stigma. We encourage them to love them and to pray for them.

We want it known that we are neither an ex-gay ministry nor a counselling ministry, although we do refer people when asked. We are not a political lobby group but a pastoral fellowship. We are not militant, but we try to exemplify the love of Christ in everything we do and say.

What Zacchaeus promotes

Adapted with permission from Courage
Delivered by Alan Yoshioka

As members of the Zacchaeus Fellowship, we promote these goals for ourselves: chastity, prayer and dedication, fellowship, support, and witness.

In brief, we aim…

  • to live chaste lives in accordance with Scripture and traditional Church teaching on homosexuality.
  • to dedicate our lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, and prayer.
  • to foster a spirit of fellowship in which all may share thoughts and experiences, and so ensure that no one will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.
  • to encourage one another in forming and sustaining chaste friendships.
  • to live lives that may serve as good examples to others and, as we are able, to speak publicly about how God has transformed our lives.

Conclusion

Delivered by Alan MacGowan

Bishops and Archbishops, You have heard what we as a group stand for in our church and in our community.

If the Church is to be effective in this day and age, it must be a voice of hope in the world – a voice which seeks to give hope to a people living in a world where there seems to be only hopelessness.

The Zacchaeus Fellowship exists to bring hope to the homosexual/lesbian, and to the Church. It is our hope that the Church may see the Good News that the Gospel holds for all of us in our brokenness, and particularly how that good news of God's grace and mercy contains a message of hope for those affected by same-sex attractions. Each of us here today has experienced that lifestyle, and now understands that hope and faith in Jesus Christ brings wholeness and freedom. The person living the homosexual life of brokenness can realize victory and a fullness of life, one which God created for each and every one of us.

We are a Christian fellowship within the Church that offers support to anyone who desires to leave the practice of homosexuality in obedience to the Lord's call upon his or her life. We can be a helpful and life-giving resource in the Anglican Church.

Each of us has been strongly attached to homosexuality at some time in our lives; at the time, that was all we were familiar with. Some of us declared, vehemently at times, that we were satisfied with our sexuality. But in hindsight we see only a pale counterfeit of the real fullness of life which can be experienced in restored and redeemed fellowship with God.

Though we acknowledge that pastoral oversight needs to be available to everyone, including those who see nothing wrong with homosexual practice, we know from our own personal networks that, within the church, many people are struggling with same-sex issues – whether directly or indirectly. They are those who are referred to in Resolution 1.10(c) and we believe we can be of service to them.

Let me summarize what we have to offer.

  • The Zacchaeus Fellowship offers hope to each of us in our relationships – both with each other and God. We can hold each other accountable, and pray for each other, and those who seek our assistance.

  • We believe we are that part of the Church that provides pastoral care and moral direction to those seeking God’s transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of their relationships.

  • We are the voice of hope to those silent sufferers who do not want their same-sex attraction affirmed.

  • We are the voice of hope to those traditional Anglicans in the pew who believe in the transforming power of God.

  • We are the voice of hope to families and friends of gays and lesbians.

From our own experience we speak of a wonderful reality:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

May I conclude with our flagship scripture:

I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.




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