Lead Them Home is pleased to announce The Lighthouse, an after-school fellowship group designed for evangelical teens who experience same-sex attraction (SSA). In addition to nourishing spiritual identity in Christ, this program will mitigate suicidality; reduce social isolation; and protect teens against bullying.
MORE ABOUT THE LIGHTHOUSE
Our 24-month pilot beginning in January 2011 will assess the demand for this kind of support within the evangelical church. Parents are required to accompany their teen to all meetings. Parents will be able to encourage – and be encouraged by – other Christian parents of SSA teens. The location and meeting times will remain confidential to maintain the privacy of attendees.
The Lighthouse offers an alternative to the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) available in many public schools. It is important to note that we are neither competing with nor aligning against the GSA. We will care for evangelical teens not served by the GSA. As you can imagine, many evangelical parents do not allow their teen to attend the GSA. Several have asked, “Is there an alternative?” Now there is.
Our program will help SSA teens intimately encounter Christ’s love; build vision for life purpose as a child of God; help teens develop critical support networks; increase parent-child relational connectivity; and nourish personal value. We will minister to teens who often experience loneliness and personal pain due to isolation.
HOW TO ATTEND OR VOLUNTEER
The location and meeting times are strictly confidential, so that families can be assured of privacy. To attend, simply call (877) 683-6867 or email me. Please take a moment to share this article with counselors, church leaders and Christian families who have SSA teens in the Boston area. Interested volunteers may contact me. You must pass a CORI Background Check.
BACKGROUND: THE CREATION OF THE LIGHTHOUSE
Many of you are aware of recent publicity surrounding Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers student who jumped off the George Washington Bridge on September 22. Since July, there have been approximately 8 to 12 high profile gay teen suicides around the country. Nearly all of these suicide deaths involved bullying. Many of these teens had been teased and bullied on a daily basis for years.
Despite all the publicity about these recent deaths, I actually began my research on gay teen suicide two years ago. The more I studied, the more I became convicted that the evangelical community has largely not noticed the estimated 500 to 1,500 gay teens who commit suicide each year in America. It was the tragic suicide of 11-year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover from nearby Springfield, MA in April 2009 that catapulted me into action. Carl suffered extensive anti-gay bullying before hanging himself in his room.
Within two months following Carl’s death, I began planning what may have been the evangelical church’s first-ever Gay Teen Suicide Prevention Seminar. The event was attended by over 50 area pastors, counselors, and parents of vulnerable teens. One of my keynote speakers was an LGBT+ specialist in gay teen suicide prevention. Another was a suicide prevention specialist at nearby Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. I sensed a “call” emerging and further research ultimately led to the creation of The Lighthouse.
HOW TO START THE LIGHTHOUSE AT YOUR CHURCH
Lead Them Home will publish a training guide and curriculum by early 2012. Until then, I offer a special training that addresses significant research to help your church begin the consideration process. We want to get the pilot up and running and gain further insights prior to creating additional ministry sites. Importantly, no church should jump into this kind of venture without extensive training. Contact me for more information.
JOIN OUR SUICIDE AND BULLYING PREVENTION EVENT
Now through March 2011, show you care by highlighting the problem of gay teen suicide and bullying at your church, campus, life community or ministry. To get started, join our Evangelicals Grieving the Gay Teen Suicide Surge event on Facebook. You will find resources to help you feature this topic. Or simply contact me to schedule my special “Caring for SSA/Gay Teens” message. Please post this event at your Twitter or Facebook sites.
Lead Them Home, a division of Lead Them Home, Inc., equips evangelical communities to reflect Christ’s love to SSA and LGBT+ people in the church. Founder Bill Henson is host of Lead Them Home Radio and author of this blog. He trains church leaders, counsels families, and speaks at campuses, conferences, and churches across America. To schedule Bill or to obtain more information, call (877) 683-6867 or email Bill.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: Please let us know what you think about The Lighthouse. To contribute your thoughts, simply use the comment form below. You may elect to comment as “Anonymous.” Share this article with others on Facebook, Twitter, Buzz or by email.