“What I’m excited about with Church United is that we just don’t see too many organized groups of pastors who are willing to engage in civics and be united across denominational lines and across ethnic lines. I see that happening in Church United.”
— Pastor Elizabeth Woning, Bethel Church’s Equipped to Love
September 12, 2019
Part 1 of 2
CHANGED: Pastors network fosters unity, desire to impact culture
- CHANGED movement emerges
- To the East Coast
- Networking celebrated
- Future hope
That bond will lead the trio—Pastors Ken Williams, Elizabeth Woning and Jim Domen—on a tour to Taiwan, Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire later this fall. It is a reunion of sorts for the threesome. They met last year as “Former” gays speaking truth to Assembly Bill 2943. The proposed law was an ominous plan to use California’s consumer-protection laws to strip churches, Christian colleges and para-church organizations from being able to use published materials or conferences to discuss spiritual alternatives to homosexuality for those wishing to leave the lifestyle.
In essence, AB 2943 was saying sexual identity cannot be changed and attempting to do so was not only harmful but also futile—a fraudulent accusation by the government given the thousands of men and women who, through faith in Jesus, successfully transitioned out of homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgender lives.
“They are so bent on equality that they are erasing liberty,” said Pastor Ken Williams. “In my opinion, equality ought to be a byproduct of every American having their own liberty to pursue what is important to them. We are all different, all of us are unique so if you are going to mandate equality, who is going to measure that and how are they going to force everyone to be equal?”
Last year, Pastors Ken, Elizabeth and Jim brought their stories to the steps of Sacramento’s state Capitol where they joined more than 30 other Former gays to speak truth about the harmful affects of proposed AB 2943 that would bring to the Former LGBTQ community.
Pastors Ken and Elizabeth traveled to Sacramento from Redding, California where they co-founded and lead Equipped to Love, a ministry dedicated to equipping the church to know how to talk about LGBT issues. Pastor Jim arrived from his home base in Southern California.
Their individual stories of Christ’s transformative power—coupled with both an unbridled desire to help others find the same redemption and an unmitigated concern over an increasing threat to religious freedoms—led the trio to the pivotal, and powerful, Sacramento press conference where they also networked with other pastors.
“I don’t know of a more divisive issue,” Pastor Elizabeth said. “I found myself saying, ‘It really is like the Lord to use this issue—that is so full of controversy and conflict— to bring the church together. I watched that happen and the majority of the churches that came together were connected through Church United. Most of the churches don’t want to get involved.”
CHANGED movement emerges
In addition to addressing the media, the group unveiled a new book called “CHANGED: #OnceGay Stories Book.” In it are inspirational stories of men and women who left homosexuality. That theme is a bold challenge to the LGBT narrative that homosexuality is immutable, a myth that has paved the way to unprecedented civil rights over the past decade or so. The book is in the process of being re-released with even more stories. Click to order a copy of CHANGED.
Pastor Elizabeth, in reference to assertions that homosexuality is fixed, said she doesn’t feel offended. “I have had to guard my heart against bitterness this past year in a way that I had never had to. But overall, for me, I just think, ‘gosh, all of this is coming down to my faith, my belief in God.’
“There are lots of people who say what I’ve experienced isn’t possible and that makes me even more in awe and wonder at what God has done and knowing that He’ll do it again.”
The united front of pastors and congregations up and down the state helped to exert enough pressure that Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Cupertino), the bill’s author, withdrew AB 2943 last summer. Church United leaders believe the victory was because God honored the voices of Formers and the broader Christian community.
That effort served as a catalyst for the CHANGED movement, which has now transcended California’s borders. The synergy between Church United and CHANGED has fostered the invitations for Pastors Ken, Elizabeth and Jim’s fall tour. It will include a presentation at the International Federation for Human Rights conference in Taiwan. Last year, Church United traveled to Taiwan to help the Taiwanese church successfully defeat a same-sex marriage ballot initiative, only—like California—to have it overturned by the courts.
“We are representing former LGBTQ people to help promote the message that we deserve rights as well,” Pastor Jim said of the international presentation. “Our stories are legitimate and our rights should be protected.”
To the East Coast
From there the threesome will head to the nation’s Capitol with African American pastors from California. The contingent will meet up with seven other Formers from across the United States of America to speak to lawmakers about the dangers of HR 5, known as the Equality Act.
The sweeping pro-homosexual legislation would elevate gay rights above religious liberties. It passed through House of Representatives on May 17 on a vote of 236-173, mostly on party lines. It moved on to the Senate where its fate is doubtful.
“The Equality Act would dramatically change Christianity in the United States of America as we know it,” said Pastor Jim. “It’s alarming what it would do to the church, Christian universities, anything Christian in the United States. Essentially, the government would be dictating what is Scriptural, what is sin, what is not, what is appropriate in the law, and calling it normalcy.
“Our goal is to bring clarity to politicians by stressing that sexuality is a behavior and a choice, not an ethnicity. Sexual behavior preference is a not a ‘right’ that should be protected.”
The Church United/CHANGED tour will end in New Hampshire, where Williams and Domen will share ideas and resources with their New England pastors, showing them ways to contest the progressive agenda gripping the region.
“Pastors from across the United States are reaching out to Church United asking for help,” Pastor Jim said. “They want to know how Church United can help the church in their state and how to respond to the cultural issues.”
“God is showing Church United that whatever the cultural issue is, if we put the spokespeople at the tip of the spear and the church gets behind them, we can speak truth and guide policy,” Pastor Jim said. “We can stop such affronts to the church. Pastors can be modern-day Josephs and Daniels, rising above the rhetoric or the fray of partisanship by addressing the spiritual nature behind all these issues.”
Donors in New York, Texas and Nevada are underwriting the tour.
“All three donors are seeing the value of Church United and the impact we are having,” he said.
All three pastors agree the networking opportunities through Church United and CHANGED are providing invaluable support to clergy and their congregations.
“There is such a crisis of faith right now and also an ignorance in culture—in American culture in particular—of how religious freedom is on the chopping block,” Pastor Ken said. “It’s not immediately obvious to the average American that there’s a link between a threat to religious freedom and LGBT rights.”
That is why, Pastor Ken argues, it is so important that spiritual leaders understand “what the ramifications of those bills would actually be because it’s bigger than just empowering a lifestyle that many of the pastors don’t agree with.”
They warn that unless pastors and other Christian leaders are able to turn back the tide as seen in legislation like the Equality Act, there is a legitimate threat that the government will begin mandating that people of faith acquiesce to the LGBT agenda.
“The notion that the few in government are going to be mandating that I pursue different beliefs is dangerous,” Pastor Ken stressed. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had that in America where LGBT activism would be so strong within the government that now the people would be mandated on what they must believe and that they would not be allowed to hold to a conservative interpretation or traditional interpretation of Scripture.
“There are definitely leaders out there who are so strong in their own ideologies they are willing to bypass the freedoms that are woven into the fabric of our nation and are foundational—that being religious freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience.
While the advancing homosexual agenda appears daunting, Pastor Elizabeth is encouraged by the heightened interest of pastors.
“What I’m excited about with Church United is that we just don’t see too many organized groups of pastors who are willing to engage in civics and be united across denominational lines and across ethnic lines,” Pastor Elizabeth said. “I see that happening in Church United.
“What is happening there is absolutely pivotal for the state, if not the nation because it’s a model that I think is being successful. I think its focused on issues that are vital for morality in the United States but also, I think its what God is doing. I think He’s looking for a united church.”
Knowing she’s not alone also helps to fuel her determination to continue pressing on—and in.
“What I love about (unity) is that the exposure and the risks that you run—which I think end up isolating an individual church making a stand—are lessened when you are in a group,” she said.
View or purchase CHANGED #oncegy stories over 54 CHANGED stories at www.CHANGEDmovement.com – there are hundreds of personal stories waiting to be vetted and added to the CHANGED team!