Sunday, May 29, 2011

Kenyan minister dedicated to advocating for gay Christians in Africa comes to West Michigan to visit with GIFT at noon on June 3

By Theresa D. McClellan

When you live in a country where sexual minorities are shunned by church and society, how does your faith give you the strength to support and advocate for them and how do you give comfort to gays who feel the church is compelled to persecute them?

Listen, learn and be inspired by the message from visiting Kenyan pastor, the Rev. John Makokha, who will share his journey of faith and advocacy with GIFT staff and supporters in downtown Grand Rapids at noon Friday June 3 in Room 3109 at the First Place Building, 207 East Fulton St.

The Rev. John Makokha, a pastor in Nairobi, Kenya, is also the country director of "Other Sheep Africa" an organization dedicated to advocacy on behalf of gay and lesbian Christians. He and his wife, Anne, offer educational workshops for pastors, seminary faculty and lay church members on human sexuality and gender identity.

Their ministry is based on the Scriptures from John 10-16 "And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd."

Rev. John is a senior pastor of the Riruta United Methodist Church and founded the "Children of Africa Hope Mission" where he and his wife provide elementary education, clothing and meals to orphans and other vulnerable children living in the slums of Nairobi.

Local philosophy professor and Fulbright scholar David Hoekema met Rev. Makokha last year while studying abroad in Nairobi. "We were deeply moved by their dedication to the slum residents of Nairobi they serve, to the plight of gay Kenyans shunned by church and society and to their dedication to the Lord," said Hoekema.

"We are eager to introduce John to others concerned for the future of the church in Africa," said Hoekema who has organized several opportunities for others to meet with Rev. Makokha during his week-long visit to West Michigan.

For anyone working to ensure that the message of God's unyielding love emcompasses everyone, and for those wanting to support an important ministry, this is a must-see session. So join us.

Rev. Makokha will also appear 6/4 at the Amazwi Gallery of African Art in Saugatuck. 6/5 at the 9:40 a.m. Sunday Westminster Presbyterian Church adult education forum, and 6/6 at a luncheon with Calvin College faculty and staff.

For more information, contact Professor Hoekema at 616-826-7046 or To learn more about Rev. Makokha's ministry, also see

Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
Gays In Faith Together (GIFT)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Join us in Lansing May 14 for statewide faith-based conference on LGBT inclusion

By Theresa D. McClellan
Faith Advocacy Coordinator
Gays In Faith Together

This is an exciting time for the LGBT affirming faith community as we learn from one another May 14 in a statewide conference. I wrote this press release for the Together In Faith collaborative. The lineup for this conference will prove to be an exciting time. Whatever your faith background, you will be inspired and leave with new friends.
See registration info at the end of the release.

Faith does not mean exclusion. So what does it mean for the state of Michigan when all God's children are embraced and protected?

Join us May 14 when statewide faith leaders, committed to equality for all, gather to learn from and support one another in an interdenominational, multi-faith, multicultural conference in the state's capital.

The day-long "Together In Faith" conference "Lifting Up the Voice of All-Embracing Love" featuring workshops, resources, and worship, will highlight ways people of faith can be effective in working for equality for all within their faith communities and in the broader community.

Organized by the Together in Faith collaborative, this impressive, inclusive conference pulls from peoples of faith from the Upper Peninsula, Detroit and her suburbs, Western Michigan, Southwest Michigan and all points in between.

For too long, some have used their faith to beat down and hold back God's children and Michigan has become synonymous with tight-fisted oppression. We say that has to change as our faith compels us to create justice and to have an all-embracing, all-encompassing love of all that God has made.

Together In Faith is a continually growing statewide, interfaith collaborative of faith-based LGBTQ advocates and allies. The conference will be held May 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Pilgrim United Church of Christ Church in Lansing,Mi.

To register:

Sponsored by: Inclusive Justice, Divine Peace Metropolitan Community Church, Fortunate Families, Gay Christian? Yes! Collaborative, Gays in Faith Together, Michigan Fairness Forum, Michigan Round Table for Diversity and Inclusion, Interweave & Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network, LGBT Ministries of Central United Methodist Church, Oasis TBLG Outreach Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, OutCenter, Pilgrim United Church of Christ, PFLAG Detroit, PFLAG Manistee and the Southeast Michigan Synod Diversity Task Force of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.