For the record, Iíve commandeered the gentle, soothing, and gracious email portrayal.
I met Jeff a couple of SoulForce conferenceís ago...both times. Since then, Iíve always fantasized about being terrifyingly mobbed by local reporters wanting to exploit the ďprotestĒ conference, and then (in my fantasy) would remember that I could always go and run to try to find Jeff Lutes to come out and give them a reasoned response.
Those days are gone.
Most of the following is an account of Jeff's activism--the hardware part. The pulsating few minute video trip into the livelihood of non-violent gay-activism is the software part.
Soulforce Regrets to Announce the Resignation of Our Executive Director, Jeff Lutes
A Message from Soulforce Co-Founder Mel White:
The Soulforce board of directors has appointed Bill Carpenter, who has served as Director of National Actions for many years, as Interim Executive Director. Bill will work with Soulforce staff to continue operations of the organization, including the upcoming Equality Ride in early 2010. Bill has a long history of service to Soulforce, since our very first action in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1999, and I'm grateful to him for taking this role at an important time in Soulforce history. I believe he is uniquely qualified to serve as Interim Executive Director while we undertake a nationwide search for the next Executive Director of Soulforce.
In January 2006, Jeff succeeded me as Executive Director of Soulforce. We are grateful for all he has accomplished in his time as Soulforce Executive Director. Here are a few examples:
Organized nonviolent direct actions in 2005 and 2006 outside the world headquarters of Focus on the Family. Those protests clearly demonstrated the tragic consequences of James Dobson and his antigay rhetoric and are featured in the films For The Bible Tells Me So and SoleJourney, both distributed by First Run Features.
Originated the Ex-Gay Survivor Conference in 2007 which exposed the misinformation campaign of Exodus International and spoke clearly to the damage being done by its ex-gay ministries across the country. The conference brought 200 survivors of ex-gay ministries together from all around the world for healing and empowerment. This much needed event received coverage on NPR and media outlets across the country, including CNN's Paula Zahn.
Created The American Family Outing in 2008 which took dozens of LGBT couples and their children to dialogue with mega-church leaders Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Bill Hybels, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bishop Harry Jackson, and Bishop Eddie Long.
Originated Seven Straight Nights for Equal Rights which created rallies and vigils in 2007 and 2008 by heterosexual allies in 38 cities in 28 different states across the country.
Produced Dear Dr. Dobson: An Open Letter Video , the DVD that challenges the antigay rhetoric of James Dobson and warns of its tragic consequences in the lives of LGBT people, their friends and families.
Managed Soulforce during the birth of our young adults program, Soulforce Q, and the first three Equality Rides.
Strengthened the reputation of Soulforce through countless print, radio and television interviews and by speaking at dozens of churches, universities and rallies around the country.
Jeff Lutes has led Soulforce through challenging times and we are grateful. Jeff will continue to write and speak powerfully about the role of relentless nonviolent resistance in our struggle against religion-based oppression.
Again, we thank Jeff for his role in strengthening Soulforce and for modeling in his own life what it means to be a man of faith committed to doing justice on behalf of all those who suffer religion-based oppression.
I met Jeff at a fundraiser here in the City. Savvy Man with a Big Smile and Big Heart.
11-12-2009 12:04 PM
I never met Jeff Lutes. But I know from his words that he showed strong leadership. It was a year ago in November 2008, when Jeff said these words in a 365gay.com article after the passage of prop 8 in California and the defeat of marriage rights there:
"Itís time for all of us to rise up like thousands are doing now in the Golden State and elsewhere."
"We are tired of defeat, token change, defending ourselves against charges of moral inferiority, and being told to 'wait' in the land we love while liberation occurs in other countries."
"Donít wait on an LGBT rights group to take the lead. Most of the protests in California were organized by just a handful of people. You can do it too."
"Letís take it to the streets." - Jeff Lutes, November 2008